Revealed: how to chat up a senior clerk

The bar is often criticised for being elitist, Oxbridge dominated and simply outdated, but a glossary of clerking speak shows that the bar can be ‘down with the kids’.

Dionne Warwick, Gareth Gates, even Elton John and Kiki Dee feature as slang phrases in the dictionary that is being compiled by the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC).

If someone has had “a Dionne Warwick”, the listener should definitely try to be sympathetic as they have had a heart-breaking event. Warwick was famed for having written and sung Heartbreaker.

A Dionne Warwick, however, is not as bad as an Elton John and Kiki Dee, which means there has been repeated heart breaking events. John and Dee, of course, are known for their duet of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.

That Elton John and Kiki Dee could have come about as a result of a Gareth Gates (an innocent mistake) or a blurter (a bad judgment call).

But perhaps somebody had one too many frighteners (alcoholic drinks) or there was a drilldown.

The glossary states a drilldown is a “conversation with a verbose barrister requiring seven action points with no writing implement available resulting in communication breakdown, information loss and night sweats”.

One of the more bizarre terms has to be Eric B and Rakim, which means a “zero balance fee note”. The phrase ironically comes from the rappers’ hip-hop classic Paid in Full.

Declan Redmond, the chairman of the IBC and senior clerk at Wilberforce, that he has been known to use a few of the phrases.

Redmond jested: “I’ve known to have had a few bombs and Dionne Warwicks in the past and have been known to have a couple of frighteners on the way home.”

More from the Glossary of Obscure Clerking Terms:

Base Clerking: the most rudimentary form of clerking, often occurring when there are nine staff ill

Bomb: a diary entry causing alarm but not ticking

Bring Back: a sandwich purchased on the return leg of legitimate business

Cabin Fever: condition brought on by excessive overwork, air conditioning and denial of lunch breaks

Driller: loud ringing phone

Dump & Run: inefficient tax delivery technique

Fast and Loose: relaxed approach to diary organisational methods

Fox Hole: area beneath desk where telephone calls can take place peacefully

Glory Clerking: personal delivery of large cheques or lucrative briefs dispensing with pigeon-hole system in expectation of adulation and popular vote at pay rise negotiations.