One day they’ll give awards for giving the most awards …

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Oct 30, 2017
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Legal profession backslapping hit great heights last week when Chambers and Partners, purveyors of directories to vain lawyers since 1990, doled out its annual Bar Awards.

Awards inflation has been an issue for the last five or so years, as various publications and organisations vie to outdo each other. But last Thursday, Chambers set a ludicrously high bar by throwing out 69 awards at a ceremony at Hilton on Park Lane in London.

Many observers suggested the biggest medal should have gone to Stephen Mangan, the Cambridge law student turned comedian. Recently The Brief reported on the unruly audience at the Law Society’s “excellence awards”, but apparently that mob were pussycats compared to the barrister crowd at the Chambers gig.

During what must have seemed to Mangan to be an interminable evening, the self-confessed “failed lawyer” struggled to be heard as he repeatedly – and with increasing frustration – beseeched the audience to be quiet. “You’re a noisy lot,” repeated the poor man, effectively to himself as the noise levels were unabated.

A blasting soundtrack – similar to the curse at modern Twenty20 cricket and rugby union international test matches – presumably did not help. Bizarrely, Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me accompanied the winners in the professional negligence category, while Queen’s Under Pressure was the track for the “professional discipline” awards. For the traditionalists, The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night accompanied the winners of the employment awards to the stage.

But who actually won?

Organisers should have given achievement awards to all who survived the event, but in the end they stuck with the tradition of recognising a professional lifetime’s work.

Two lawyers and a chambers administrator picked up lifetime achievement awards: Frank Burton, QC, a personal injury specialist at 12 King’s Bench Walk chambers in the Temple; John Hendy, QC, an employment law doyen at Old Square Chambers in London; and Carolyn McCombe, the chief executive of 4 Pump Court in the Temple.

The main set of the year prize went to Brick Court Chambers in London, while the organiser dodged the London-centric bullet by also handing out a regional set of the year prize, which went to Guildhall Chambers in Bristol.

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