End of Term Report to the Membership – December 2018

Dear IBC member,

Report to the Membership – December 2018

Once again it is my pleasure to give you an update on the work done by the members of the management committee on your behalves over the last term.

When putting these updates together I am always reminded just how much the IBC is doing, the involvement in its many committee roles as well as everything that we do as an organisation to provide for our members.

These last few months have seen further initiatives coming to fruition and delivering further member benefits. Details are below, but there are two in particular that I would like to draw to your attention.

The first is the IBC Mentoring Scheme. I have often thought that there is an untapped resource in clerks being able to help other clerks with issues or advice but which they would prefer to discuss with those not in their own chambers. The mentoring scheme offers trained clerk mentors to provide guidance and direction on careers in chambers, present and future. I think it is a great scheme and commend it to you.

The second is the introduction of the Employee Assistance Programme which sees all IBC members covered and provides access to the confidential telephone service to discuss emotional and practical problems. We are members of the scheme with thanks to the Bar Council who invited the IBC to be involved, and through the generosity of those who made charitable donations at last year’s IBC Summer Ball, which had Wellbeing at the Bar as one of its chosen recipients.

By the time you receive this newsletter I will have fewer than 100 days left in my term as Chair and this will be my final end of term update. I am always grateful when I receive positive feedback about the IBC. I say now what I always say in those conversations: that I could not undertake the role, or enjoy it as much as do, without all the support and friendship that I receive from all the management committee members who work so hard and give so much time to the IBC. As always, a very well-earned and public thank you to them for all that they do.

Best wishes,


Access to Clerking – Lucy Barbet

We have made two schools career visits this term through our association with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust– Sian Huckett went to Deptford Green School and Sian Wilkins to the Harris Academy Greenwich. Both visits were absolutely worthwhile and we discovered that the SLT has real difficulty in getting work experience placements, so thanks to the Management Committee we now have at least 6 chambers prepared to offer work experience placements to students within the SLT area and will be discussing how to get this off the ground at our next meeting on 10th December. We will also be discussing other possible initiatives to add to our work with the SLT. We haven’t yet had dates from SLT for next term, but will be in touch with them again, probably early in the New Year.

ABC Chambers attended the Skills London Fair at the Excel on 23 and 24 November and took our new E&D banner with them. They said that they were overwhelmed by the amount of interest from students who attended the event and have suggested that it would be a good idea for the IBC to attend and get involved with the event next year (in conjunction with ABC) and I have agreed that this would be a good venture. I may be looking for volunteers…

The Committee is delighted to welcome two new members to the committee, Katie Myles (Essex Court) and Hayley Eustace (Wilberforce), both of whom approached us to declare an interest in getting involved, which is fab.

Finally, I would like to register my thanks, and those of the IBC, to Sian Huckett and Sian Wilkins for attending the two school career days this term.

Career Development Committee – Tristan Wigham

The Career Development Committee has continued in its aim of providing IBC members with relevant and interesting development opportunities by organising training seminars as well as events dedicated to socialising and networking.

At the IBC November seminar in Brighton the CDC assisted with one of the workshops “ A step by step guide to Civil and Criminal Litigation” which was given by David Lewis – Hall and Charlotte Morrish of 1 Crown Office Row Brighton, and was very well received.

We aim to run further talks in the New Year and will continue to liaise with the Education committee in that respect.

On the social side, we hosted an event at Flight Club, which was one of our biggest successes to date. We are also currently planning a joint event with the COCo committee in January 2019.

Tristan Whigham, who has chaired the committee since Jan 2016, has now stepped down, with Jessica Barnes and Billy Brian taking over as joint chairs.

There will be more events to follow in the New Year. Check the IBC website for further details.

We look forward to continuing our work with the Management Committee and the membership.

COCo – Clerks in Open Conversation – Lucy Barbet

COCo hosted its first “In open conversation” talk on 11th October, which addressed the rather difficult and sensitive topic of Sexual Harassment. We were very lucky to secure the speaking services of Jane Wheeler, a partner at city law firm Hine Legal, who outlined what constitutes sexual harassment; explained the legal definition of sexual harassment; discussed Chambers’ obligations in the area; and provided tips on how to raise issues in the workplace. We had around 30 attendees, which was a comfortable number for such an uncomfortable subject. We were also joined by some of our regional colleagues who attended via Skype. COCo would like to take this opportunity to register its thanks to Geoff Carr and No5 Chambers for allowing us to host the event at their London chambers.

We also held our first “drop in drinks” at the Pregnant Man on the evening of 29th November, where members of the committee gathered for a drink and invited anyone that wanted to join them. It was a very casual affair – the idea was really for people just to come along and have a chat – and although there wasn’t a huge group of us, we nevertheless had a number of very interesting and fun conversations. It was felt, however, that it might be a bit daunting for people to come and have a drink with a bunch of senior people, so we are working on the best way to remedy that, including inviting three junior clerks to join the committee (Jess Barnes, Chloe Gibbs and Aimee Hallett) and I am delighted to say that they have accepted.

Our first event in the New Year will be a joint social event with the Career Development Committee on 31st January and we are also planning a make-up demonstration evening in Feb/March – watch this space for info on both events. COCo is very grateful to all those who have supported this new initiative. The general feedback is that it is a good idea, so we very much hope that members will come along with us as we grow; and do remember that the idea of COCo is to provide a safe space for open conversation; the committee members are always available for any help or guidance. Should you wish to get in touch with any of the committee members, or would like to make suggestions for future seminars/events, please email admin@ibc.org.uk and our fabulous Administrator, Rosie, will put you in touch.

Education – Geoff Carr

This has been an incredibly busy period for the Education team.

BTec – We have formed a sub group specifically tasked to update, amend and revamp the entire course. The BTec is and has proved to be the most popular course for young starter clerks and we have decided to try and make the course more intuitive with younger clerks and more IT friendly. This is very much a work in progress and will take time to finalise. However, a lot of people are spending their personal time in assisting me with this issue and I cannot thank them enough.

I should also specifically mention the helpful input we have had from the Career Development Committee who have agreed to assist with a new “starter clerk” talk which new clerks with no previous work experience would have to attend before they can be allowed to take the BTec course. This is in the process of being sorted and I will report on that more in depth in the New Year.

Level III – We are in the process of getting the next tranche of candidates. Currently we have 7 registered with another possible 4 in the pipeline.

Level V – The next intake will start in April 19 and I strongly recommend members to consider this course as it will enhance your career progression and will be able to lead you onto the post Grad certificate with the University of Kent

University Of Kent – Post Grad Certificate (Business Degree) – I am pleased to be able to report to the membership that we have just passed the next hurdle with the University of Kent Executive group and I will be able to look at the course material and overview within the next couple of weeks. One of the main drivers I have is to ensure that the costs are kept as low as possible and that the course can work given peoples work commitments.

The Education committee now has a full agenda of specific talks throughout the New Year which are going to be advertised on the IBC website.

I am hopeful that in the New Year, and certainly by May ‘19, the IBC will be offering training throughout a clerk’s entire career, this has taken a huge amount of time from the committee and I cannot thank them all enough.

Equality, Diversity & Wellbeing – Lucy Barbet and Nick Hill

This year saw the re-invention of the Equality and Diversity Committee, at the instigation of Alex Southern (Tanfield Chambers) who was keen to get become more involved with the IBC and had a particular interest in E&D. The E&D Committee consists of Alex, Sian Huckett (Fountain Court), Isabel Baylis (Matrix) and Lucy Barbet (11KBW) and we agreed that our remit included promoting the various E&D initiatives which have recently been set up (COCo, Access to Clerking, Mentoring).

It was quite a lively start for our new committee as we were keen to be able to announce its arrival at the IBC Conference in early November, so between the three of us, we managed to pull together a basic but practical leaflet with information about all our E&D initiatives and including useful helpline numbers; created a roller banner displaying logos for all the IBC’s E&D initiatives; and even designed an E&D logo to be included on the banner. All of these efforts were proudly displayed on our very own stall at the conference, which also carried information about Freebar and was bedecked in rainbow bunting. E&D was also the subject of the Vice-Chair’s short talk at the end of the morning session, in which she highlighted the importance of E&D and gave a brief run through of our current initiatives.

We are in the process of developing a page for the website, so do keep your eye out for that. The E&D committee is delighted to say that E&D will be very much at the forefront of the IBC’s work going forward and we would be very grateful to hear from anyone that might be interested in working with us to promote Equality and Diversity across the profession (please email admin@ibc.org.uk)

As mentioned above, the support of our members’ wellbeing continues to be a key priority. We were therefore delighted to be able to announce the cover for all members in the Bar Council’s Employee Assistance Programme provided by Health Assured.

The EAP is designed to help you deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting your home life or work life, health and wellbeing. Assistance is accessed by calling the confidential telephone service to discuss emotional and practical problems. The service also provides online information and assistance with common health concerns.

Members can access the service by calling 0800 169 2040 and quoting the IBC member access code which can be found in the members section of the IBC website.

More details are on the Wellbeing at the Bar website.

Ethics Committee – Tony McDaid

The Ethics committee meets bi monthly and this year we have continued to see a lot of queries in relation to what is and is not a referral fee, as well as what is permissible on direct access instructions and via ABS models.

The ‘leaving and joining chambers’ guidelines have been reviewed by the IBC and there are no changes from last year. The most recent focus, which will carry over to the New Year, is in respect of gifts, where some chambers prohibit them in preference of a Christmas bonus.

The gift issue varies from set to set but what everyone agrees, both with the acceptance and giving of gifts, is that they must be proportionate. This applies to internal and external gifts. Guidance will follow in early 2019 including IBC involvement in the production of an article on the topic.

Relationships is a very tricky and sensitive subject. The focus is on relationships between barristers and staff, including clerks, barrister and barrister, and barrister and Judge. In short, it is a wide-ranging topic presenting different issues for the committee to consider. Once again the IBC will be engaged in this process and, as with all these matters, if anyone has strong views on such things, or simply aspects we might to consider on the topics, please do drop me an email.

IBC Annual Conference 2018 – David Bingham

This year’s conference took place in Brighton on Saturday 3 November. After some very entertaining speeches, the morning session turned in to a very lively open forum! The afternoon workshops were a wide range of interesting topics. They covered: Fee Negotiation, Making Internet and Digital Marketing work, Mental Health 1st Aid and Wellbeing Strategy, A step by step guide to Civil and Criminal litigation and finally how to get the most from your Networking time. They were all well attended with some great feedback given about them all. A big thank you goes out to all of those on the committee, the speakers and to our sponsors without whom, this very valuable annual event wouldn’t happen.

Legal Services Committee – Geoff Carr

We have spent a great deal of time looking at alternative Court Usage. Full video hearings are beginning to be looked at. However, given the lack of IT and the fact that more IT support will be required by the HMRC I am doubtful that this will happen in the foreseeable future.

Block listing of cases is being addressed, and the National Digital Practitioners Working Group (DPWG) is in the throes of looking into out of hours’ court access.

A sub group has been tasked with looking at Lexis / Nexis costs for Barristers who earn between £0 and £60k. The Inn libraries are assisting us with this task as well, and is very much a work in progress.

Finally the Direct Access panel is looking at updating its guidance on GDPR as a result of the actual statute incorporating some further additions which we were not aware of prior to its implementation

Mentoring Scheme – Lucy Burrows

We were delighted to announce the launch of the IBC mentoring scheme at the IBC conference in November. The Mentoring Scheme aims to offer guidance for those who require direction surrounding their career. Mentors will offer no obligation, impartial advice to provide a platform for mentees to make the final choice on their action plan.

In recognition that the clerking demographic is drawn from a diverse background and to compliment the multitude of different skillsets, our mentors are clerks from various sets of chambers, ranging in seniority, experience and practice areas.

The interest received in the scheme has been excellent and we look forward to its growth in the coming months and years. Please do not hesitate to contact admin@ibc.org.uk for further information. All interest in the scheme will be treated with complete confidentiality.

Treasurer’s Report – Howard Rayner

Life in Finance continues happily with the accounts in a healthy condition. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to Rosie Geddes who does so much so efficiently for us.

In the coming weeks the accounts will be readied for auditing and in turn prepared for delivery at the AGM.

Young Bar Committee – George Bennett

The current chair, Richard Hoyle, has come to the end of his tenure and Athena Markides will be taking the reigns as of the new term. The YBC were asked by BarTalk to produce an edition of the e-newsletter dedicated to the Young Bar and they asked me to write an article giving a clerk’s tips/tricks for new members. The article will be released before Christmas. I will also be attending the YBC annual dinner, the YBC are very grateful for our continued support.

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