baity

A barrister's claim that it is “significantly harder" to become a barrister than a solicitor has drawn a heated response from lawyers.

Natalie Connor, who was a tenant at 7BW and 11KBW before becoming a General Counsel at various tech companies, made the assertion while justifying why she thought barristers should be allowed to sign off the work of would-be solicitors.

Currently only a solicitor or a person registered with the SRA as a Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) can sign off the qualifying work experience which must be undertaken by people taking the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) route to qualification.

Connor said the SRA “is penalising me as an employed barrister” with its restrictive rules. “Let me clarify a few things here”, she said.

“It is significantly harder to become a barrister than a solicitor. It's more competitive to train and qualify”.

“You're then self-employed from day dot in a 'learning by doing' approach at the coalface of real-life legal disputes”, and, “not photocopying client files”, like would-be solicitors.

“As an in-house GC/Head of Legal, I do the equivalent role to a solicitor in every respect” and “am more (not less) heavily regulated that solicitors are”, she said.

“Despite all this, the SRA seems to think I'm not capable of signing off on the work of paralegals to confirm that it meets the standard of a junior lawyer”.

“I find this frankly stunning 😯 “, said Connor, who accused the SRA of “officially introducing a restraint of trade”.

Before Connor’s finger had even lifted off the ‘Post’ button, lawyers were arriving to defend the honour of solicitors, or snapping open their camping chairs to watch.

“The first 6 months of training contracts are not just spent copying files, you're undermining the value of training contracts and the work trainees do”, said Care Quality Commission solicitor Sophie O’Connor.

“I can’t agree with you that training to be a solicitor is ‘easier’”, said St John’s Buildings barrister Simon Heaney. A rigorous training contract was “a very tense and difficult experience”.

Others said it wasn’t helpful to suggest barristers were higher up the mental pecking order than solicitors. “The perception from a lot of the public is that those who choose the barrister route are intrinsically more intelligent or work harder, and this sort of narrative only furthers the unnecessary rhetoric”, said senior legal counsel Phoebe Greenwood.

Solicitors weren’t necessarily thicker than barristers, but they did have it easier, insisted Connor. “I definitely wasn't trying to make a broader point about somehow being better or more intelligent than solicitors”, said Connor, but being a pupil “felt harder in the sense of requiring more grit and resilience on a daily basis” with “a lot less hand-holding”.

Whereas her friends who are solicitors “all bemoaned the amount of ‘grunt work’ they had to do in the early part of their training contract”, it is ”the opposite for pupil barristers. We are pushed to the absolute intellectual limits”.

“It is categorically harder being a pupil barrister”, maintained Connor, “And I stand by that”.

Connor found herself fighting on two fronts as lawyers also, and perhaps for the first time ever, defended the SRA's position.

“Isn’t it entirely UNsurprising that a regulator should want someone it regulates (rather than someone it does not) to sign off on certain matters in relation to new persons joining the profession?” said Southern Right Capital General Counsel and former Weil counsel Peter Orlov.

"’The BSB said it was fine’ probably wouldn't be a reasonable excuse if something went wrong”, added regulatory oversight solicitor Steve Violet.

Other lawyers took Connors’ side, including Jenifer Swallows, the former CEO of the government-backed LawtechUK, who called the SRA's supervision requirements “Insanity”.


connor post

 


    LU icon Join thousands of candidates from hundreds of firms and businesses on LawyerUp, the app where top employers get in touch directly when they like you for a role. It's available on the App Store and Google Play.

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Anonymouse 28 June 24 08:59

Whether or not it’s easier is not the point. Barristers are trained to do one thing and solicitors something else.  If you want to conduct litigation, retrain as a solicitor. Not hard.

Barnsbury 28 June 24 09:02

It probably is more difficult to qualify as a barrister, but so what? It might be said that qualifying as a brain surgeon is harder than qualifying as a tree surgeon, but that doesn't mean the former should sign off on the work of the latter. 

Anonymous 28 June 24 09:06

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the "outrage" in her post is more a vehicle for self-aggrandisement than it is for regulatory change.

Anon 28 June 24 09:39

It's a different skill set, but a barrister's skill set really does rely massively on intellectual ability and knowledge a d application of the law.  That's what a pupil is tested on, plus communication and advocacy.  A trainee solicitor isn't judged on that, and the standard is higher for a pupil than a trainee solicitor is most firms.  There is probably a cross over at the top of the pile in terms of trainees who go to top firms but who could have become barristers.  

Sumoking 28 June 24 09:43

mildly concerning that a Barrister doesn't understand how guilds work despite being a member of the wig jockies guild

I'm also not sure that someone who has the primary life skill of cosplaying as a hairy vampire should be shaming anyone trained in the ancient ninja arts of photocopying something stapled together seeminly at random 

Anon 28 June 24 09:44

Its probably beside the point which is easier or harder.

In order to maintain the integrity of the SQE qualification process the SRA by definition has to be able to take enforcement action against those who are signing off on that qualification. It can't do that against a barrister and therefore has no ability to discipline barristers who don't comply (accidentally or otherwise) with the proper requirements.

I can entirely see that in order to qualify for a particular qualification, the person approving that must be subject to that regulators authority.  Perhaps the SRA could facilitate that by having some sought of process whereby qualified barristers can consent to being subject to the SRA's disciplinary processes in return for signing off trainees, but it really isn't about whether the barrister in question is skilled, its simply that you can't give the keys to the castle to someone who isn't subject to your jurisdiction.

Anon 28 June 24 09:54

Does anyone know how a barrister is more heavily regulated than a solicitor is? In what aspects?

Anonymous 28 June 24 09:58

Individual with big ego and talent for seeking attention says self-promoting attention seeking thing that flatters their own ego on social media. Crowds gather and King has been petitioned for his views.

Sport on page six.

Spotty Lizard 28 June 24 10:01

What a self-important blow-hard who has demonstrated a rather telling lack of judgement. It's even more competitive to get on Love Island than it is to become a barrister. Does that mean that she thinks Joey Essex should be supervising her work?

Anon barrister 28 June 24 10:12

Having worked in-house at a firm and also at the self employed Bar, I can confirm that the former is a much easier life. Training as a barrister is undoubtedly harder than qualifying as a solicitor, as 1) there are significantly less places for pupillage; and 2) you are essentially on your own without  supervision from 6 months in. Does this make solicitors inferior in any way? Absolutely not. Some of the most talented lawyers I have worked with are solicitors. Perhaps they just opted for the smarter route? 

The Paginator 28 June 24 10:17

The point is though that she isn't regulated by the SRA. 

So she isn't in a position to sign off on QWE work (to qualify as a solicitor).

Does she think that solicitors who are on the roll should be able to sign off on work amounting to barrister's pupillages?

She could get herself admitted to the roll if she wanted. and then sign the damn papers.

 

Absolute tosh.

 

 

Oh Hush 28 June 24 10:24

I am a qualified astronaut, which is harder to qualify as than a construction worker. I should therefore the ability to sign off on all works of a construction worker.

Anon 28 June 24 10:28

Not sure I'm a huge fan of this ROF trend of scraping LinkedIn for slightly controversial opinions. Blows trivial posts (most of which are marketing or stream of consciousness, or both) out of proportion.

Lord Lester 28 June 24 10:42

"Does anyone know how a barrister is more heavily regulated than a solicitor is? In what aspects?"

Everyone knows that the BSB is the gold standard for regulators.

Which is why its decisions to clear people of all wrongdoing are held in such high regard.

Name 28 June 24 10:55

I have worked alongside employed barristers in-house and in private practice solicitor firms. They can do exactly the same job we do, but we can't necessarily do exactly the same job they do. Qualifying for their role is harder than qualifying for ours. They are likely, on average, more intelligent than we are. I am happy to admit all of this because I am not insecure about my own abilities or career path.

Nick 28 June 24 11:20

Actually - it is much easier to become a barrister than a solicitor - you are "called" before your pupilage even starts - whereas someone who wants to become a solicitor has to complete their training contract (or equivalent) before they are admitted.  One of the issues that is well recognised is that there are lawyers out in the wild who are qualified barristers but who have not completed a pupilage - and can legitimately hold themselves out as a barrister.

N C 28 June 24 12:51

Wow I’m famous 😂. I’d never heard of Roll On Friday before today - is this the Daily Mail for solicitors? Fascinating. Thanks for the occasional sensible comment in my defence here. For everyone else - why don’t you read my posts in full and come and join the discussion on LinkedIn? Healthy, constructive debate is still alive and well there rather than mindless trolling with no context (and can’t all lawyers agree, however they’re regulated, that context is everything 😉)

Spotty Lizard 28 June 24 13:01

Hmmm. Not sure that misplaced condescension will serve you well here, Natalie.

Anonymous 28 June 24 14:51

Interesting to see that her LinkedIn profile says "I practised as a litigator for many years before moving in-house" when she actually did 4 years at the Bar following pupillage. 

 

Woke Brigade 28 June 24 19:49

My solicitor firm hires the odd barrister now and then who is VERY insistent on ensuring that everyone is aware that they are a barrister rather than a lowlife solicitor. These people are invariably idiots who are rubbish at their jobs (jobs which, ironically, they consider to be beneath them). Here is a rule of thumb for these sorts (including Ms Connor): if you feel as though you need to constantly tell others how superior you are it is probably because you are not. Also, if the highlight of your career is a 12 month training course you performed several years ago then you probably don't have a very successful career. 

Of course many barristers are incredibly intelligent, but those ones tend to have "KC" after their names (and even then some of the Silks are a bit thick). 

Lord Lester 29 June 24 07:57

Lord Lester 28 June 24 10:42: although I should clarify that I was not cleared by the BSB, which had no jurisdiction to interfere with the findings of the House of Lords that I had sexually harassed a woman (who was a victim of forced marriage) and offered to procure her a peerage in exchange for sex. 

Lord Lester 29 June 24 07:59

If any women out there are struggling to get a place at the Bar, let me know. I offer decent terms: sex, in exchange for pupillage.

Anonymous 01 July 24 11:57

She seems to be complaining she is not allowed to manage people and should be allowed to.

I'd argue that I don't want to be managed by anyone posting this sort of drivel.

Imagine what they must be like in real life - 'oh you are just a solicitor so you can't advise on this, let me a barrister do so'

Anon 01 July 24 23:58

More time working less time moaning (amusing as that was) would be my advice - if I were her line manager !

Sick-of-ROF 03 July 24 05:52

Is it me or is ROF on a mission to tear down any woman on LinkedIn who has a bigger following than them? 🤔

Anonymous 03 July 24 09:34

Yet another attempt by ROF to tear down any woman with a bigger following than them on LinkedIn. Pathetic. 

Related News