Interview with a Barrister: Harry Snook
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Harry Snook is a practising barrister with over ten years’ experience, he has been working as an In-House Barrister in the Aviation Department at Oracle Solicitors.
Why did you become a barrister?
I wish I could say that it was a lifelong ambition pursued as part of a careful career plan, but that would be less than truthful! All I can say is that I was tremendously lucky to benefit from the advice and encouragement of so many kind and thoughtful people who took a much keener interest in my future than my teenage/student self did.
It’s unusual for a law firm to employ barristers, why Oracle Solicitors?
I loved being in chambers, but life moves on and sometimes one has to embrace change. When I came back to work after a short career break, my family circumstances meant that it made much more sense to go in-house. It’s been a good challenge for me to learn a different way of working, and also a refreshing eye-opener to see things from the other side of the mysterious veil that usually separates us from solicitors. Oracle offered me a fantastic opportunity to get into in an area of law that I’d otherwise never have dreamed of being involved with, so choosing to say “yes” was the easy part.
Do you remember your first time in court?
Vividly – it was a plea before venue and bail application at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court. I can still remember getting the backsheet the night before, and staring with a mixture of excitement and terror at the words “Counsel: Mr H Snook” printed under the tramlines. I was a bag of nerves until I got to my feet, then things flowed well enough. We didn’t get bail, but just getting that first hearing under my belt was a huge milestone – it suddenly felt real that I was a barrister, and no longer just training to be one.
What was your most memorable win?
Probably defending in a trial in which my client was charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent (which carries a maximum life sentence) and several other offences. He had smashed a lump of concrete paving slab over the complainant’s head, fracturing his skull and leaving him in a two-day coma. The defence was self-defence, and depended largely on successful cross-examination of the complainant and of two other eyewitnesses who gave evidence for the Crown. My client was acquitted on all charges and walked free from court.
What do you do in your spare time?
There is no spare time when you have a baby! But before that, I enjoyed creative writing, horse riding, amateur dramatics, reading, exercising and “modding” PC games (don’t ask, it’s extremely nerdy).
What advice would you give a young aspiring Barrister?
Firstly, steer well clear of criminal law. You will have good stories, but you will be broke.
Secondly, and subject to the above, go for it. There is so much goodwill and support out there, especially through the Inns, and you should not be afraid to ask for it. The bar has a wonderful ethos of integrity and excellence, and although these values unite most barristers, they are otherwise a hugely diverse bunch with a wide array of different backgrounds, personalities, and styles of advocacy.
Tea or coffee?
Stairs or lift?
Stairs, at least if anyone’s watching.
Red wine or White wine?
I like both, but nothing beats a really dry, citrusy white.
Beach or City Holiday?
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