The work-life quiz

David Casement, barrister, Exchange Chambers

What was your first job?

A summer placement with what is now CMS Cameron McKenna in London.

What was your worst experience as a pupil?

The second day of pupillage, when my pupil master was still cross-examining a witness at 11pm and the hearing ended around midnight. That was a tough start to pupillage, but it was a good introduction to the long hours that can be involved in fighting a case.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in chambers?

The library at lunchtime is the best place to go for information, debate and general badinage.

What time do you usually leave chambers?
6.30pm – it’s a good time to avoid the traffic.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

The Restaurant Bar and Grill in Manchester.

If you weren’t a barrister, what would you have been?

Wealthy, well rested… Oh, I see what you mean. I suppose I’d have had a career in international finance, like many of my peers from Oxford.

Who was your mentor or role model?

There are several, but the main one was the late Lord Justice Kay – my former head of chambers – who persuaded me to join my present chambers. He was a great advocate and judge with a passion for justice, as well as being a great source of encouragement.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Taking the lead in determining the tactics deployed in heavyweight litigation.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Balancing an extremely busy practice with other commitments.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?

Not going to Harvard to do a postgraduate degree. I regretted not spending a few years abroad. The lesson? Opportunities usually only come around once.

What car(s) do you drive?

Mercedes CLK 500.

What book are you currently reading?

Clive James’s May Week Was in June. James is a great writer and raconteur; and interestingly, the book has a reference in it to my present head of chambers.

What’s on your CD player at the moment?

Russell Watson’s The Voice. The irony is that I acted against Watson in a major piece of litigation involving Watson’s former manager, which involved two hearings before the Court of Appeal.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

My favourite book is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis – a fellow Irishman.