A day in the life of a commercial barrister – Siddharth Dar, Essex Court Chambers
I am a member of Essex Court Chambers, a large set which specialises in commercial and international law.
I was born in India and emigrated with my family to the UK as a small child in 1984. I joined Chambers after having studied Law at university and attended Bar School (funded in part by a Queen Mother scholarship from Middle Temple), and was fortunate enough to obtain tenancy in 2007, following the completion of my pupillage.
I like to try and get into work relatively early (by around 7 or 7.30am). This is partly because I tend to be more efficient in the mornings, partly because the Northern line from South London is a nightmare after 8am, and partly so that I can get back to see my two young kids before they go to bed. I should emphasise that this is the aim, but not always the result. Many of my friends at the Commercial Bar like to work from home, and the flexibility to do so can be a real perk of the job. Speaking for myself, I like to make the trip in, not least because I am lucky enough to be surrounded by smart, dedicated and friendly people. That makes a massive difference when you don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning.
Unless I am in Court or attending meetings, a typical day often involves trying to juggle between two very different types of work: large-scale documents that I have to prepare for a court hearing or arbitration, and for which I know the deadline in advance but which can take days (or sometimes weeks) to produce; and unanticipated (often urgent) calls and emails from clients, looking to discuss some particular development or thought they’ve had on their case.
Once I’ve downed some coffee, my day will therefore often begin by either going back to the document that I had been working on the day before, or by dealing with something that has cropped up overnight and which I want to clear so I can get back to that task. Separating the urgent from the important is a key skill, but one I cannot pretend that I have yet come close to mastering.
It is a fact of life at the Commercial Bar that you will spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, tapping away. Whilst this is good news for my optician, it also means that you need to step away from your desk from time to time. Luckily, Chambers is a highly sociable place, so I will often grab lunch and eat it with colleagues. It’s then either back to my desk or off to a meeting or to take a conference call. I will typically try to leave by around 6.30 or 7pm. If preparing for a hearing, or there is something that really needs to be done, I will stay later or work on it from home (or, if necessary, over the weekend).