Silk Episode 2

Inner templeHow could Clive Reader ask such an obvious leading question? There were very few inaccuracies in this episode, and I suspect that was because there were fewer courtroom scenes, but that leading question did stand out. In case anyone doesn’t know what a leading question is – it’s a question that suggests the answer to the witness. It used to puzzle me when I first qualified but I was told I would know one when my opponent asked one and the advice was right.

In contrast I thought the scene where Caroline Warwick cross examines the defendant in the rape trial was worthy of an experienced barrister. Of course she really shouldn’t have been sent off to Bury St Edmunds to prosecute in a rape trial and her indignation is understandable. Unfortunately women are instructed in sexual abuse cases far too often, and I remember a very senior female Silk complaining about being given yet another rape trial. One thing that did jar however  was her rudeness to the barrister defending in the case. Silks try to be nice to more junior members of the Bar as they can often be the source of work. Although Martha Costello is shown representing a defendant without a junior barrister, Silks usually have a junior barrister with them. If a junior barrister is instructed and wants a Silk to lead them in the case they are unlikely to suggest someone who has been rude to them.

Amy Lang is a new pupil in chambers – a trainee barrister.  Once a young lawyer passes their exams, they are called to the bar in a ceremony at the Inn of Court of which they are a member, but they are not allowed to practice until they have completed pupillage. For twelve months they serve a kind of apprenticeship, accompanying their pupilmaster  (never a Silk) to court, reading their briefs and doing any paperwork they are asked to do. The first six months they can not appear in court or accept instructions on their own behalf and now they are assisted by their chambers with a grant. In the second six they are able to work and will receive payment – fees for that work. Amy should have already done six months as a pupil so her ignorance about the acronyms was a little surprising. Poor Amy makes a complete hash of her first appearance in court – she isn’t the only one and won’t be the last- but a ruling that your instructing solicitors should pay the costs of the hearing is a real no-no.  A barrister is meant to cover the back of their instructing solicitors . She was lucky that Billy was in a good mood-upsetting solicitors who regularly instruct chambers could have ruined her chances of success


Waiting for the jury to return with a verdict is a difficult time,many barristers escape to the Bar mess, drink coffee with friends, read the newspaper and  a few try to work, but concentrating is often impossible. For Martha the client comes first, so she spends the time with him. It is a reflection of the type of barrister she is;as Clive says  she always ends up liking her clients, so she stasy with him. 

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About scribblingadvocate

Born in Lancashire, Law degree from Sheffield University and MA in Creative Writing from Exeter. A barrister for twenty five years, who appeared in the Crown Courts in and around London. When I retired we moved to live in Devon, first on Dartmoor, more recently overlooking the Exe Estuary. After twenty years I still feel an exile from London. Married, no children but own an affable Springer Spaniel. I love reading, walking and travel. I completed an MA in Creative Writing at Exeter University and have written three books, Crucial Evidence, Reluctant Consent and Legal Privilege, all set in London. You can email me

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