The things I know - John barrett, Barrister, Kings Chambers, Manchester

- How did you train in planning law?

Through a law degree at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Inns of Court School of Law in London.

- What attracted you to planning?

Inquiry advocacy is challenging and doesn't involve wearing a wig and gown. Like any junior barrister, initially I took any work that was available. My chambers' reputation was strong in planning so I got involved with inquiries early on.

- What did you learn in your first job?

The fundamental lesson for all barristers is to master the detail of their brief. It is only by having analysed the case in detail that you can expect to present your own case effectively and challenge the other side.

- What skills have you had to learn over your career?

Most barristers have few or no skills in management or organisation of their own working life. The skills we need to learn are about getting control over our diaries to ensure proper preparation.

- What or who have been the biggest influences on your career?

Andrew Gilbart QC, now the honorary recorder of Manchester, was my pupil master and one of the finest cross-examiners of expert witnesses at the planning bar. Always generous with his time, he taught me the skills needed to be a successful barrister.

- What is your career highlight?

I always look to the next case. I find preparation, shaping of a case and tactical choices in the run-up to an appeal extremely satisfying.

- What have you learnt outside work that has influenced your career?

It is too easy to allow work to crowd out family, friends or other interests.

- What further skills do you aim to obtain or develop?

Have you ever heard of a barrister who could use a computer? There are so many - learning a foreign language perhaps?

- How important is it to keep abreast of developments in allied professions?

Planning is diverse and dynamic with so many disciplines that it is crucial to keep up to date with all of them.

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