In the second in this series I popped into chambers at Hardwicke and spoke to property and probate law litigator Brie Stevens-Hoare QC. A QC since 2013 Brie is also Deputy Adjudicator to HM Land Registry and sits as a fee-paid judge of the First-tier Tribunal, Property Chamber (Land Registration Division). Brie was chair of the London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association (LCLCBA) and is currently Vice Chair of the Property Bar Association. She has also previously served on Bar Council and Bar Standards Board committees. Brie was a founder member of FreeBar the Bar Community LGBT+ group and is a Bencher at Lincoln’s Inn. Brie’s preferred form of transport is a motor cycle. I asked Brie about being a litigator, litigation and the rules and the advice she would give to her younger self.
“Take the time at the beginning, when there is time, to properly study the procedural rules, every single one. Maybe a rule a day. Then you can make sure you know exactly what is there. Think of them individually and collectively, thinking about how they fit together as a whole functioning system. Then for the rest of your career you will know what you might deploy but always go back and look at the actual wording before you do.”
Tell us about how you became a litigator in your specialist area rather than working in any other area of law
I came to the law with no connections or experience of the reality but captivated by the likes of Crown Court and Rumpole on the telly. I had lots of romantic ideas about fighting for truth and justice. My commitment to a criminal practice lasted until a 3rd 6 pupillage in a purely criminal set. I realised within weeks the life was not for me. I realised in my mixed 12 month pupillage I had enjoyed the civil most and particularly loved property work. It wasn’t just about money, it was people’s homes and history. Even better sometimes I needed my wellington boots. So that was it – I was hooked.
What is the one thing about the technical aspects/rules of litigation that you know now that you wish you’d known when you started out in your career?
I wish I had appreciated the degree to which an early procedural failing or error could infect the way the Court see’s your client’s case at every step of the way thereafter. It took a couple of cases being endlessly hit over the head with a mistake painted as evasion for me to really appreciate it.
What is the major aspect of the job and lifestyle of being involved in litigation that you wish that you’d known when you started
The joy of the intensity of being in trial and the simple fact that only other litigators will really understand it. I quickly came to realise that I should only arrange to see lawyer friends in the week and non-legal friends at weekends.
My crunch question: if you had a time machine and could go back speak to yourself at the beginning of your career – what advice would you give to yourself?
Take the time at the beginning, when there is time, to properly study the procedural rules, every single one. Maybe a rule a day. Then you can make sure you know exactly what is there. Think of them individually and collectively, thinking about how they fit together as a whole functioning system. Then for the rest of your career you will know what you might deploy but always go back and look at the actual wording before you do.