I can't believe I hadn't been there before. If I'd known I could continue an Oxbridge-esque existence, in London, as a grown-up, I'd have forgotten about messing arount in IT and become a lawyer. What wonderfully pleasant places the Inner and Middle Temples are.
I actually spent most of the afternoon in the Royal Courts of Justice. I've long said that I'd like to watch a trial one day (but never got round to doing it) so sitting through a mock assault trial in one of the real courtrooms sounded like a good idea.
Sitting at the back of court four for two hours made me realise several things
- The noise of people moving in their chairs (or on their benches) makes for an extraordinarily annoying experience. The courtroom was never quiet, with constant creaking and banging and scraping.
- You can't really hear very much from the back, anyway
- Witnesses seem to delight in being inarticulate and incoherent
- Court cases seem to be rather dull :-(
I enjoyed the experience, however, and thought the event was excellent.
One observation jumped out at me: cross-examination is actually rather difficult. Formulating a list of questions designed to draw useful details out of a potentially unwilling witness, in front of an audience, whilst never being completely sure where the conversation will lead is not an easy skill to master.
In many ways, it is rather similar to the skills required of a successful salesperson when meeting a new prospect for the first time. Questioning models designed to draw information out of clients, assimilate the learned information, use this information to influence future questioning, whilst avoiding going round in circles is really hard and I had missed the parallels until now.