Karen Reid was Called to the Bar in 2010 and practices as a member of 36 Public and Human Rights at The 36 Group. Karen became Chair of Hall Committee in 2020, having been a member of the committee for three years, including Co-Vice Chair in 2019.
Who are we?
The Hall Committee represents ordinary members of the Inn – those who are post Call and are not Benchers. This represents the majority of the Inn’s membership and is a diverse group including those who are searching for pupillage; pupils; employed and self-employed practitioners; judges; and those who are pursuing careers outside the Bar. The committee itself has representatives across all of these stages, from different practice areas and across the country.
Adjusting to the Pandemic
When I chaired my first Hall Committee meeting in early February, I could not imagine that it would be the last time I would see my committee in person for several months. Like all quarters of the Inn, Hall Committee has had to adapt and find new ways of working. We have started holding our committee meetings online and having achieved 100% attendance by doing so this is something we are likely to continue, at least in part, once lockdown has lifted.
It has been disappointing to have to cancel or postpone many of the events which we had planned throughout the year, in particular our Annual Dinner which normally takes place in the middle of May. However, the committee has worked hard to come up with virtual events to enable members of Hall to come together and to provide information and support for our members during this time. Our series of virtual panels covering issues encountered by members of the Bar as a result of the pandemic has been hugely successful. Our first session on virtual courts saw Judges and practitioners share their experiences and advice early on in lockdown when remote hearings were becoming increasingly common in many jurisdictions. The advice matters discussed ranged from cross-examination over video to optimum microphone settings. There was clear demand for further sessions on the same topic as virtual hearings, and subsequently hybrid hearings, have become more common and practitioners are keen to share their own experiences and concerns. This is something which Hall Committee has been able to facilitate. We have also hosted a session on the financial issues which have arisen, providing practitioners with information on the support which they may be able to access during this time.
On the social side, Hall Committee has launched a virtual book club and we were delighted to have Master Peter Murphy lead the first discussion on his book One Law for the Rest of Us. Our second book was Rick Gekoski’s Outside a Dog, which we discussed in June, followed by our third, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo in July. We also organised a Pub Quiz in early July featuring multiple quiz masters from different sets of chambers across the circuits.
Our increased use of technology has not been without its problems; one of my Vice Chairs had to take over moderating one of our panel sessions at the last second when my internet connection decided it did not want to play ball, but overall it has been a success. We are particularly grateful for the support and patience of the Inn’s staff who have worked with us to continue providing services for members during lockdown.
One of the advantages of making events virtual is that attendees have been able to squeeze in an Inn event between the end of the working day and dinner. It has also been easier for our members on Circuit to come to our events where otherwise they would have missed out, and we as a committee have been able to draw on the experience of those on circuit as panellists and speakers at events without the need for lengthy commutes. Whilst I am looking forward to seeing everyone back in person again soon, I hope that we remember the opportunities that technology has presented during lockdown and continue to take advantage of these going forward.
Later in the Year
We are hopeful that we will be able to welcome members of the Inn back into Hall for our events later in the year. Our Annual Dinner has been rescheduled to Thursday 5 November 2020 and we have our annual ceilidh to celebrate St Andrews day planned for Friday 27 November 2020. If these cannot go ahead, the committee will look for other ways to bring our members together.
Staying in Touch
You can contact Hall Committee by email on firstname.lastname@example.org, we are always happy to hear feedback on our initiatives and suggestions for how we can support members of the Inn. Alternatively, you can contact me directly on email@example.com. You can also stay up to date with all the latest Hall Committee news and events by following us on Twitter – @MTHallCommittee.