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Will having a lisp stop me from being a barrister? watch

    • Thread Starter

    Hello everyone!

    Being a barrister is my dream job, and it has been for a while now (I've made posts over a year ago about the barrister profession). I've worked really hard in my A-levels to recover from pants GCSEs to get into a good university, and now I have an offer from Cambridge for Law.

    In ordinary circumstances, this would mean I would be confident in my chances of securing pupillages/tenancy (not to underestimate its competitiveness). But there's a problem: I have a number of speech problems. I have a very noticeable lisp, and I pronounce the 'th' sound as 'f' ( so 'thought' would become 'fought' ). Aside from this though, I'm comfortable with public speaking and debating.

    Assuming my academic performance in university is satisfactory (First), can I still expect to be able to secure pupillages/tenancy at top chambers?

    Thank you!

    First of all congratulations on securing an offer from Cambridge. Although I did not apply there myself, I suspect both the entry requirements and application process were tough going.

    On the assumption (as you have stated) that you finish Cambridge with a comparable degree to everyone else in your boat, I would hope your lisp would not prevent you obtaining a pupillage (at a 'top' set or elsewhere). That said, considering the competitiveness of the Bar (particularly so London and more so with the particularly prestige of a set) I suspect there may be the possibility of it being held against you on the presumption (albeit incorrectly) that your lisp may limit (to whatever extent) your ability to be an advocate. Like I say, I hope this not to be the case, however with sets having 'the pick of the bunch', I suspect they may preference someone without a lisp.

    Have you always spoken with the lisp? Is there anything that can be done to improve it?

    (Original post by Jasy)
    I suspect there may be the possibility of it being held against you on the presumption (albeit incorrectly) that your lisp may limit (to whatever extent) your ability to be an advocate.
    Why would it be an incorrect assumption? Any interview panel will hear the OP speak prior to making any decision as to whether to offer pupillage, at which point I expect they'd be in a fairly good position to establish to what extent the lisp would limit the OP's advocacy ability.

    The answer to this question really is quite simple; if the lisp impacts on the OP's ability as an advocate to any notable degree, it will follow that it may well negatively impact their ability to secure pupillage. Just how much of an impact it has depends on a number of factors, but I would have thought that there would be a correlation with the extend to which it impacts on the OP's advocacy ability. Then again, different areas of law require different styles of advocacy, and different areas of law require different volumes of advocacy in any given practice. So if the impact is notable, it may be that the OP still manages to secure pupillage in an area of law that doesn't require as much advocacy relatively speaking (many such pupillages, incidentally, are highly sought after).

    I don't want this post to come across as harsh or insensitive, as it is not intended to be either, but advocacy is a key feature of the practices of the vast majority of barristers. Any potential applicant who is assessing their prospects of securing pupillage must realistically consider anything that may impact on their ability to be an effective advocate, whether that thing can be helped or not. I have met a number of bar course and law students, for example, whose strong accents make it somewhat difficult to understand them, and with the best will in the world you're going to struggle to secure pupillage if people have to struggle, to any degree, to understand what you are saying. Equally, there are many barristers that I come across regularly who have noticeable regional accents who are extremely effective advocates.

    I don't know which category the OP falls in to in terms of the impact of the speech impediments, but they are something that need to be taken into consideration in the same way that accents do. Simply put, if they are something that negatively impact on the OP's ability to perform one of the most fundamental skills of the profession, they are likely to negatively impact their prospects of securing pupillage as well.

    I can't imagine that a lisp would have any negative impact on your ability to get a job as a barrister.

    The bar is full of all sorts of, shall we say, "colourful" individuals with big personalities.

    As long as people can understand what you are saying during advocacy I can't see a problem.
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