4 Fountain Court, Barrister, Birmingham
|Arts and Media|
Career Change Story
When I initially left Chambers I had not decided whether or not to return after a period of maternity leave. However, after a few months Chambers told me that I would have to pay to retain my tenancy. Financially, this was not feasible, so I left Chambers and became a full-time stay-at-home mother.
After several happy years of discovering and experiencing life outside a conventional work environment and within the stay-at-home mothers' network, I began to see comedy in the situations that surrounded me. Parents being frustrated by their children, their children's friends, the friends' parents, teachers and husbands; playground and school car park tensions and the inevitable illicit relationships that spring up wherever adults get together struck me as good material for theatrical comedy.
As Chairman of the PTA, it was my responsibility to devise social and fund-raising events. I produced a Parent and Teachers' Revue, for which I wrote a number of sketches entitled, for example, "Parent's Evening" and "The Second Hand Uniform Shop". I also wrote a diary piece entitled "Mrs Bridget Jones's Diary". The sketches and diary piece were well received. They appeared to strike a familiar chord with the audiences. Based on the sketches and diary piece I wrote a one-hour long comedic monologue, which I subsequently performed to a public audience at the Bridge House Theatre in Warwick. The show was a sell out. I performed that play (entitled "Ten Days ... that shook the kitchen!" at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008. Once more it was a sell out. I have since written two more plays "Family Matters" and "Double Booked". I now perform all three plays at venues throughout the UK. Enquiries from social and fund-raising organisations are welcome. I travel with my own sound and lighting technician and equipment.
Career Change Reflections
In some ways being a barrister is similar to being a writer and performer. One writes and presents one's own material. In both professions I have been self-employed. I am accustomed to being assessed as "only as good as my last performance". Variety is a further similarity. No two venues and no two courts are the same. Similarly, no two audiences and no two juries are the same.
That said, the two most striking differences between the two occupations are creativity and comedy. A barrister is tied to the facts and issues contained in his/her instructions. A lawyer tidies up the mess that other's create for themselves.
As a writer/performer, my imagination and freedom of expression are only skirted by boundaries I set myself. Instead of cleaning up after others, I am free to create something new and original. Then there is the whole "making people laugh" thing. Precious little scope for legitimate comedy in the law, and I thrive on that.
As for tips... well, if you want to do it, and can, then do.