Much of the work of the Hall Committee is well known, our Annual Dinner for example and the virtual events we held during lockdown, which were well publicised on the Inn’s website and in e-mail newsletters. However, the Hall Committee does far more than organise events and I wanted to use this year’s article to highlight that and introduce you to some of the members of the committee.
The Hall Committee has representatives on each of the Inn’s standing committees and on the Bench Selection Advisory Committee (BSAC). As Chair of Hall Committee, I also represent Hall members on the Inn’s Executive Committee which is responsible for overseeing the management of the Inn and developing its strategy.
Hall Committee is made up of members who are elected each year for a term of three years; the chairs of both Middle Temple Students’ Association (MTSA) and Middle Temple Young Barristers’ Association (MTYBA); and members who are co-opted where we feel we need expertise and experience. In preparation for this article, I asked other members of the committee about why they stood for election to the committee, and what they have enjoyed about their time on it.
Rebecca Hawkes-Reynolds joined Hall Committee in January 2019 because she ’wanted to learn more about how the Inn supports its members once they have been called as well as the other workings of this great machine‘. Rebecca is yet to be successful in the search for pupillage so is particularly keen to learn how the Inn continues to engage with those members who have chosen a different career and to play a part in that. Rebecca is the Hall Committee representative on the Inn’s Estates Committee and the Church Committee, which is a joint committee with Inner Temple, she says this has allowed her ‘to gain an insight in how the Inn develops its buildings (the Ashley Building project for example) and the huge responsibility this entails. As someone who works in the field of planning and historic assets, I have found this an invaluable learning opportunity’.
Michael Harwood, a barrister at the Government Legal Department is now on his fourth year on the committee, the first two served as chair of MTYBA. Given this, he maintains a strong focus on making sure the activities and initiatives of Hall cater to the profession’s most junior. Michael also represents the Hall Committee on the Finance and Resources Committee. When asked why he decided to stand for election to the committee Michael said ‘Hall adopts the unique position of having its committee members involved with much of the other activity of the Inn, whether that be operational, estate or finance matters, or representative bodies such as MTSA, MTYBA, the LBGTQ+ Forum or the Employed Bar Steering Group. This broad oversight is critically important to ensuring the activities of Hall remain relevant and innovative. Even in these challenging times, I think that Hall has continued to lead rather than follow when it comes to testing new ideas for members. Long may that continue.’
Andrew Dakoutros, who is also employed by the Government Legal Department, said he ran for election to the committee in 2019 because he wanted to give people the legal home that he had found at Middle Temple saying that Middle Temple ’is perhaps the only place I’ve ever felt completely accepted for who I am, where my opinion is sought and acted upon, and where other members genuinely care for my wellbeing’. Since being elected, Andrew has joined the Inclusivity ubcommittee where he can increase inclusion for all our members and has been a delegate at neuro-diversity groups where he has had the opportunity to encourage neuro-diverse lawyers to join the bar. Andrew’s commitment to diversity and widening participation made him the natural choice for the Hall Committee representative on the Inn’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee which was established this year.
Ruth Kirby QC, a family law barrister at 4 Paper Buildings, is now in her second term on the committee. Ruth ran for election because she ’was aware that there had been a move towards modernising the Inn in terms of communicating more effectively with its membership and being more attractive and more inclusive.’ Ruth is part of the subcommittee which runs the Hall Committee mentoring scheme and has this year organised training for those who are interested in mentoring. She also represents Hall on BSAC along with Francis McGrath, a criminal practitioner at 23 Essex Street. Of her time on the committee Ruth says ‘It’s been great to be part of that ongoing movement (towards modernisation) over the last few years as the Inn has run innovative events and attracted young, dynamic and diverse participation. It’s been an interesting experience to learn about the great efforts that go in behind the scenes to make us such an attractive Inn.’
For my own part I have particularly enjoyed being involved in a review of member events which was conducted by a working group established by the Membership Standing Committee. I hope that the contributions made by myself, and other members of Hall, will mean that the events the Inn offers going forward are attractive to all members of the Inn and that more people are encouraged to engage.
If you are interested in standing for Hall Committee keep an eye on the Middle Temple website where further information about our elections, which take place annually in November/December, will be announced shortly.
We are always keen to hear from members of the Inn who have ideas of ways in which Hall Committee can support members. You can contact Hall Committee by email on [email protected] or by sending us a direct message on twitter – @MTHallCommittee where you will also find news and information about our upcoming events.
Karen Reid was called to the Bar in 2010 and practices as a member of 36 Public and Human Rights at The 36 Group, specialising in immigration and social housing. This is Karen’s second year as Chair of the Hall Committee having previously served as Co-Vice Chair in 2019.