1. How did you first become interested in pursuing a career as a barrister?
My father spent his whole career in the practice of the law, albeit as a partner in a provincial but well-regarded solicitor's firm, in which he developed a specialty in commercial planning law. I remember attending a planning inquiry with him, only to discover that my father had instructed counsel to represent his client at the hearing.
Prior to this, I was unaware of the distinction in the profession between solicitor and counsel. I was fascinated about this division of labor, and by nature drawn towards the theatrical calling that is so often associated with a career at the bar. From that day, I cannot recall ever wanting to pursue a different career.
2. As a commercial barrister, what are some of the common types of cases you encounter in your practice?
The range of commercial disputes I have acted in or currently act in is unsurprisingly wide ranging, both in the legal problems and complexities each case discloses and also in terms of facts. However, as a general observation, many if not all commercial disputes contain certain underlying common themes, which in my experience are very human and flawed by nature in ways you might expect.
They include being motivated by greed, a hidden agenda which is driven by a belief in a need on some level to restore pride and exact revenge. Sadly, embarking on costly litigation is, I'm afraid to say, one of the least effective ways achieve any or all of the above.
3. What do you find most challenging about your work?
Every case presents its own unique set of challenges. Perhaps the most challenging is structuring the client's expectations of the likely outcome in a litigated dispute. Many clients only want to hear what they want to hear from their advisor, and I sometimes struggle to get through to an expectant and over-confident client the realistic strengths and weaknesses of their case.
As time goes on, I am improving my communication skills in relation to outcome prognosis, and hopefully this is increasingly helping my clients to be armed with a full and dispassionate overview of the merits of their case.
4. How do you envision your career path over the next five years?
At my age (37), I suppose it is just about realistic (albeit a trifle presumptuous) to be thinking of taking silk in five years time. It is certainly a target I would wish to set myself, and even if not achieved, it will hopefully provide a valuable motivational platform to increase the size and quality of my practice over the next five years.
If any potential clients are reading the interview, then they can find me on Google Maps by clicking on this custom map that I created: Oliver White Barrister on Google Maps.