Day in the life – Ian Cooper

Ian Cooper

(Year of call: 2019)

Ian Cooper

Ian joined the business and property team following the successful completion of pupillage and accepts instructions across all practice areas falling under that umbrella.

Before joining Kings Chambers, Ian had a successful career in sport. In 2014 he was heavily involved in the organisation and delivery of the inaugural Invictus Games, spearheaded by HRH The Duke of Sussex. then joined the commercial team at City Football Group (“CFG”), where he was responsible for the drafting of partnership heads of term agreements. Ian was also involved in the development of partnership assets. Notable highlights include the Amazon “All or Nothing” series, and the approval of left sleeve branding on Premier League shirts.

The year before pupillage Ian was a judicial assistant in the Court of Appeal, working first with Lord Justice Simon, and latterly with Lady Justice Simler.

What does a ‘typical’ day look like for you?

No two days are ever really the same at the bar. However, normally I will either be in chambers working on papers/conducting a remote hearing or, if not, I’ll be in court. I usually have ~3-4 court hearings per week, but the nature of those hearings can be very different. Sometimes it might be a 30-minute procedural hearing, other times it may be a longer application or a trial. When appearing in court that can be a court local to the north west (I’m based in the Manchester chambers), or it can be much further afield. You do tend to rack up some rail-miles at the junior end of the bar.

As for the type of work I’ll be doing, one of the great things about Kings, and about the business and property team, is the breadth of work you are exposed to. One day I’ll be working on an insolvency case, the next day it might be a commercial dispute looking at the interpretation of a contractual provision, and the next I might be dusting off a deed to look at a property dispute.

What is the first thing you normally do on a work day?

Much like many other jobs, the first thing I do in the morning will be to check my e-mails (after the obligatory caffeine fix). Life as a barrister is fast-paced and your instructions for a case can change very quickly. As such, you’re never too far away from your e-mail inbox. Also, if you’re appearing in court that day things often need urgent attention.

After that, what I do really depends upon the day. If I’m appearing in court I’ll likely have to catch a train/jump in the car. If I’m working on papers then I’ll tend to cycle into chambers and work from there.

What are the most exciting aspects of being a Junior Barrister?

Top of my list has to be courtroom advocacy, whether that is cross-examining a witness at trial, or making submissions to a judge. Oral and written advocacy is any barrister’s stock-in-trade. However, appearing in court and having to persuade a judge of your client’s case brings with it a particular excitement that written work cannot capture.

Second, I’ve already mentioned that the job is a varied one, and a fast-paced one. To me that is very exciting. I came to the bar to be stretched and as a junior practitioner at Kings you get that on a daily basis. At an early stage the clerks give you exposure to high quality work with sophisticated clients. While that may sound intimidating, as it means that you’ve got to be on the top of your brief, it is also exciting.

What are the most challenging aspects of your day-to-day role?

It goes hand in hand with a fast-paced, varied practice that there will be times when you have to work hard. It’s not long before you’re managing a number of cases, which may be across various different areas, and may all have competing deadlines. Fortunately, there’s an excellent support network around you at Kings, so there’s always someone that you can talk to. Also, the clerks are very proactive in managing your time. At the beginning you’ll be in a near daily dialogue with them about what you’ve got coming up in the diary.

What do you enjoying doing to relax after work?

Most evenings I do try to get on my bike after work. Otherwise, there’s a lot going on in central Manchester and so there’s nearly always a new restaurant or bar I’m wanting to try or a show to get tickets for.

Which skills are most crucial to your role?

The perennial question! While by no means an exhaustive list, I think that the following skills are key to the job as a barrister: first, being adaptable and quick thinking. There are times when you will receive papers late in the day, and you have lots of information to take onboard in a short space of time. As well as getting on top of the facts, it is important that you remain calm and think practically for your client, focussing on their key objectives and how they will be best served.

Second, it goes with the territory of being a junior barrister at the regional bar that you have to be a good advocate, both in writing and on your feet. Whether drafting a skeleton argument or making submissions, you will often find yourself in front of a busy district judge who is looking to you to provide a clear, concise summary of both the factual position and the law. Having done that, your job is then to persuade the judge why what your client says is right.

Finally, you need to be able to do the job with a smile on your face and be pleasant to work with. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that we are client-servicing industry. It’s a competitive marketplace and solicitors don’t have to choose to instruct you. It doesn’t matter how good an advocate you are, solicitors won’t come back if they don’t enjoy working with you. A successful career at the bar is built on the foundations of successful relationships with your solicitors. When starting out as a junior you never know where one set of instructions might lead. A good relationship with a solicitor could pay dividends for the next 30 years!

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