Last Saturday morning at 8.45 saw my arrival at the Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel in Russell Square. Today was the day of our annual IBC Conference. Slightly laden down with my E&D paraphernalia, I struggled up the front steps, marvelling at how alert I was so early on a Saturday morning. Needless to say, I was far from being the first one there. The brilliant Conference Committee members were already in situ, buzzing around and making sure that all was ready for registration to start at 9.15am.
This was the beginning of the most brilliant day. It was to be my first conference as Chair, so I was a little nervous, but soon overcame any butterflies as delegates starting pouring through the door, many I knew, many whom I would meet during the day. Coffee and croissants were in plentiful supply and then at 10.00am, we were off.
We were, I am very pleased to say, in the safest of hands with our Conference Chair, Nick Hill of 3 New Square, the former Chair of the IBC. Nick gave a rousing welcome speech, and then it was over to me, my first ever Conference Address as the Chair. It wasn’t so much that it was hard to write, as I was able to report on all the fabulous things that the IBC had been doing over the last 8 months, but it was quite tricky trying to get everything into a 10 minute slot and to include my own message. Anyway, if you are interested to read the speech, you can do so here.
We were delighted to hear from Amanda Pinto QC, Vice-Chair of the Bar Council who gave the Keynote Speech and who spoke with passion about her intentions for her year in charge at the Bar Council (which begins on 2nd January 2020); and our guest speaker was Andrew Hochhauser QC of Essex Court Chambers, who has been a practising barrister for over 40 years. Andrew gave a powerful speech about his experiences at the Bar and he allowed us an insight into the advice that he gives to students when he presides at Middle Temple Call Night; advice which he felt was perfectly applicable to clerks. We also heard from Advocate’s Mary Dobson as well as Amanda Pinto QC and the President of the IBC, David Goddard of 4 Stone Buildings, about the benefits of undertaking pro bono work; and from Simon Maydon of Saunderson House about how to support our members’ financial wellbeing.
An excellent buffet lunch was served in the Palm Court, and those who wanted to stretch their legs had time to seek refreshment outside the hotel! The afternoon saw us break off into a choice of excellent workshops. Our newly formed Crime Committee had organised their own afternoon breakout session at which the question “Is the Criminal Justice System broken?” was debated by Mrs Justice McGowan and representatives from the Met Police, the CPS, a defence lawyer and a criminal barrister. The session was well attended and the discussion was very lively. Other workshops throughout the afternoon covered matters of career development from ABC Chambers Solutions/PME and Gill Rees Legal, a useful session on getting the best from LinkedIn by Evoke Media; an understanding of how Litigation Funders work and a first-hand view on life outside the clerks’ room by Augusta; and top tips from the Legal Aid Agency on how to avoid bill rejects. There really was something for everyone.
Nick closed the day with a short speech from the steps in Palm Court, and then, thanks to the generosity of Chambers People, we were all able to enjoy a well-earned glass of wine and a bit of networking.
All in all, I thought that it was a really good day. No doubt there will be things that we can learn from it and improve on but, as I said in my speech, we are a chorus of clerks, and I need to hear your voices. LB 19/11/19