#barristerpoetry – a blossoming of talent in the timeline

Posted on 28th May 2016 in Uncategorised

Over the last couple of weeks a Twitter hashtag started by an employment law barrister has taken flight and prompted a stream of witty contributions. As the gardens of the Inns of Court bloomed in the glorious sunshine outside, barristers chafing indoors at their desks in chambers or waiting for their case to come on at court idled away the time by giving a legal twist to their favourite lines of verse. In this post we collect some of our favourite examples of #barristerpoetry and add a couple of our own.


Image via Edutopia

Sean Jones QC started it all with a bit of Shakespeare:

Sean Jones@seanjonesqc  May 17

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
I must insist on a response. It is susceptible to a yes or no answer.


To which Emma Jackson and Richard VB responded with Edgar Allen Poe:

Emma L Jackson@EmmaJackson78  May 17

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak & weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten ‘law’


Richard V B@southcoastbloke  May 17

Quoth the Raven, never more.



Soon others piled in as well, with Andrew Marvell, Dylan Thomas, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Geoffrey Chaucer, Lewis Carroll, William Blake, John Betjeman, TS Eliot and others, plus of course more Shakespeare. And some original verse.


Tim O’Connor@timoconnorbl  May 17

Had we but world enough and where necessary an Order extending time for the service of these proceedings


Simon Myerson QC@SCynic1  May 17

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day,
Thou must note this is not intended to be a trades description


Chris Dale@chrisdaleoxford  May 17

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo
Persons stepping onto this balcony do so at their own risk


Sean Jones@seanjonesqc  May 17

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage rage that your luggage didn’t make the flight.


Catherine Rowlands@cjr1968  May 17

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

that are not covered by that restraining order


DefenceSylph@carnybull  May 17

I vow to thee on bended knee
Criminals shall not go free!
Hope doth fade – it’s nearly noon,
Trapped inside a witness room


Nigel Poole@NigelPooleQC  May 17

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree

With the defects set out in the Scott Schedule appended hereto


jason cox@jcoxbar  May 17

April is the cruellest month.
All Schedules have to be recalculated for pay increases, tax and NI


Barton Bank@BartonBank  May 17

What would you have, you curs
That like not peace nor war.
The division of shared assets
Without using a chain saw?


Stephen Spence@StephenSpence6  May 17

One, two! One, two! And through and through
     The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
That is the case for the Crown


Chris Dale@chrisdaleoxford  May 17

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green?

If so you may have a claim for adverse possession


Thomas Horton@_tomhorton  May 17

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by opposing counsel to make a trap for fools


David Northfield@DANorthfield  May 17

Injunct the clocks, Anton Piller the telephone, Mareva the dog with a juicy bone


Elizabeth Wheeler@ESCWheeler  May 17

Dr Foster went 2 Glos’ter, in a shower of rain.

His clerks made a muddle,

hs brief was a fuddle

+ his fee was less than his train


Paul Skinner@PaulSkinner84  May 17

Come friendly bombs and fall on the County Court at Slough.

It isn’t fit for humans now!


David Christie@davochristie  May 17

“I am Ozymandias, King of Kings
Look on my wor…”

If I could just stop you there, Mr Ozymandias and turn you to tab 21…


James M. Turner QC@ShipBrief  May 17

who cares who bears
the loss that cost
one more weekend
of study door
closed on those I
love? only me? sigh


Dr Jez Phillips@drjezphillips  May 17

Mens Rea
Actus Reus
We’ll prove them both
And then you’ll pay us.


David Allen Green@DavidAllenGreen  May 17

I must go to that QC again,
To that lonely silk, and say Hi.
And all they’ll ask is for a sip
And my shoulder on which to cry.


Stephen Spence@StephenSpence6  May 17

The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.

Moving on then to Count 2


Barbara Rich@BarbaraRich_law  May 18

They set up trusts your mum & dad
They may not mean to but they do
Resulting & constructive bad
Estoppel pretty useless too


Daniel Sternberg@BarristerDan  May 18

The Moving Finger writes; &, having writ, Moves on:

subject to the slip rule s.155 Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act


Rachel Law@crimcounsel  May 18

When I am on old woman I shall wear purple
And serve just enough time on the Bench to qualify for a Judicial pension


Eoin O’Dell@cearta  May 18

1/2 Had I Butterworths embroidered precedents,
Enwrought with golden and silver terms of art,
I would spread my pleadings


2/2 under your feet. But I, being poor, have no legal aid,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


Deirdre Kilroy@DeirdreKilroy  May 18

Had we but money enough, and time, This delay, counterparty, were no crime


Sean Jones@seanjonesqc  May 18

Half a league, half a league, half a league onward

into the valley of death rode the Legal 500


Catherine Rowlands@cjr1968  May 18

Canon law to the right of them, Canon law to the left of them


David@boughtod  May 18

How much do I love thee?
As much as is reasonable and foreseeable and not contrary to public policy


Thomas de la Mare@thebrieftweet  May 19

“I met a traveller from an Antique Land who said I “have a well founded fear of persecution””

sad but true


Daniel Hoadley@DanHLawReporter  May 26

Do I dare
Disturb the judge?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a higher court will reverse.


Paul Magrath@Maggotlaw  May 26

Fear no more the heat o’ The Sun,
Nor furious Daily Mail rages;
For PJS has his day in court won,


… and his legal team got their wages.


Timothy Brennan QC@BrennanQC  May 26

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold, and many goodly sights and kingdoms seen.

Though not on criminal legal aid.


And then, perhaps more suited to Twitter’s word-limit, we have the #barristerhaiku or plain #haiku thread, of which these two examples are the best:


Sam Roake@samroake  May 9

List office forgot
Sigh – my case won’t be called on
Today; home I go

Lucy Reed@Familoo  May 26

We don’t say M’Lud,
Nor do we say “objection!”,
Also – no gavels.


Finally, a tribute to the law from a poet (Percy Bysshe Shelley)


Image via Longreads


That’s it. Many thanks to all who contributed to the theme and thanks (in expectation) for allowing us to reproduce it here. Apologies to the many others we didn’t include.

Enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend.

Comments welcome on Twitter @TheICLR.