The Hot 100 career quiz: Monckton's William Hooper – The Lawyer

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Judges are, ultimately, just people. It’s important not to forget that.
 
Name: William Hooper
Organisation: Monckton Chambers
Role: Barrister
Based: London
Trained at: Stone Chambers
Year qualified: 2015 (2014 Call)
Read his Hot 100 profile
What’s your most vivid memory from being a pupil?
I joined Monckton four years ago, but originally practised at Stone Chambers, a small commercial set where I took my pupillage, then helmed by Steven Gee QC. My pupil supervisor was a brilliant barrister called Tom Whitehead, who is without doubt the subject of most of my memories as a pupil.
Often I was tasked to stand behind him for what could be hours on end and just watch him type. He would dictate to himself as he wrote, and in so doing revisit and amend his syntax, or rejig an important point. Tired legs aside, this was an incredibly informative process and has had a lasting impact on the way I draft now: testing both the substance and form of each point as I go.
Tom very sadly died in 2018, but I have fond and lasting memories of the ‘stand and watch Tom type’ game. I currently have custody of his old desk, serving as a treasured memento of my time under his supervision.
What is the thing in your professional career that has terrified you or taken you out of your comfort zone the most?
I think this would probably be the first time I cross-examined someone for a sustained and lengthy period of time. The longest you have on the BPTC is about 15 minutes; and the small claims trials at the baby-junior end tend only to last a few hours in total. Prolonged cross-examination felt like a different feat, albeit its foundations are the same.
The preparation required is extensive, as you try to unpick the various routes the evidence might go. You need to know the relevance to your case theory of every document and keep control of a witness for hours (or days) on end. I had had plenty of opportunity to study Leading Counsel cross-examining at length with (apparent) ease but that didn’t make my first crack at it any less daunting.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
I can’t recall who said it, nor am I sure it is particularly ‘wise’ as distinct from a routinely forgotten truth, but I was told once to remember that judges are, ultimately, just people. It’s important not to forget that.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
It sounds obvious but think about whether you really want to do it. The Commercial Bar is challenging. It can be solitary work. You can spend a day working on a problem without talking to anyone else. I have always found the work incredibly stimulating and intellectually rewarding, but it is not for everyone.
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
I read History and English at university before taking the GDL at City Law School, which (at least then) was more geared towards those intending to enter the barrister side of the profession. Most of my friends from law school are now practising in chambers, although not all in London.
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