Our President

Our President

Written By: Jason Waghorne
Edition: November 2019

It was a pleasure to attend the Society’s recent Trainee and Pupil Barrister Reception which was held at The Galleries of Justice. The event was an opportunity for the Society to formally welcome the most junior of our profession into the wider legal community and take part in some general networking. It was therefore heartening to see so many there.

The attendees had opportunity to hear from a handful of Council members who extolled the virtues of being actively involved in the Society. For my part, I talked about the experiences of all qualified solicitors and barristers and that no matter how many years qualified they are, they can all recall their time as a trainee or pupil.

I mused on the point that most will remember the desire to get on, to prove themselves, but some will also remember that, at times, starting out on their career path can also be daunting. Ultimately, I hope that the audience remember my final point: all made it through and their careers have flourished because of the experience.

Following the template established by similar events held in Newark and Mansfield, the networking lunch held at The Crafty Crow proved a success. For those of you who follow the themes I raise in my bulletin messages, to my mind fostering a sense of community is paramount to the success of the Society. In this light, the networking events run by the Society are a wonderful opportunity for members to put faces to names, share experiences and forge relationships with lawyers whose paths they may not ordinarily cross. I, for one, am especially keen to see that these events continue, grow and become invaluable events in people’s calendars. 

Having last month attended the Opening of the Legal Year in London, this month I attended the Ghent Legal Opening. As many of you know, the Society is twinned with the Bars of Ghent and Karlsruhe and so there are a number of events (organised on this side of the water by our hard-working International Committee) which the Society is invited to.

Eschewing the usual mad dash across the Channel of the day of the event I, together with Daniel Harley of our International Committee and Joanna Davis of Boots made good time and made Ghent in time for lunch. Suitably fed and watered, it was a short walk through the beautiful city to the ceremony.

Understandably, the ceremony was conducted in Flemish but, as none of us understood a word of what was being said, 2 hours of dense philosophical lecturing on free will after a few glasses of champagne did prove both challenging and bewildering. Collaring one of the co-authors of the lecture Daniel did manage to elicit a brief explanation in English; the bewilderment remained. Still, with a roving photographer in attendance, I think we all did a good job of feigning understanding when the lens was upon us!

That evening’s black tie event was a far more familiar experience: chat, food, wine and dancing, all of which were excellent and abundant. On the point of dancing, it would appear that the Belgians are ardent supporters of the maxim: “dance like no-one is watching”. From the moment the music started the dancefloor was packed.

Having had an early start we called time at about 2:30 in the morning as we had invitations to the President’s lunch the following day. It was therefore with some surprise to learn that a good number of the lunchtime attendees had not only danced till 4:00 am (when the DJ refused to stay any longer), but had gone on to a late (early?) bar to continue the partying!

With ever more elaborate canapes being served, and with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of wine, the lunch event was a great opportunity to catch up with those from the night before whom we had left dancing into the wee small hours.

With all the formal events over, we had some time to explore the city before our trip home the following day. Of course, a few more drinks were had. I suspect that some of these were a medical necessity following Daniel’s drinking of a double chilli Jenever. He made it back to the UK in one piece so it is unlikely that he will suffer any long-term ill effect.

As with the trip to Karlsruhe earlier in the year, the visit was very enjoyable indeed. Like the earlier trip the friendship and hospitality was exceptional. Thank you, Ghent. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Best wishes,

      Jason Waghorne