|Graham Davies - More Information|
High Flyer - Life After Law
LIFE AFTER LAW BY IAN CAIRNS
From the Bar to the dinner table Lawyers have a habit of turning up in many walks of life, but ex-barrister Graham Davies has put his talents as and advocate to a very entertaining use.
Though Graham Davies is not Britain's most familiar comedian, he may well be one of the funniest and is certainly one of the most successful. He is also a Cambridge-educated barrister. Unlike Clive Anderson, however, this Oxbridge lawyer has decided not to take his talents to the small screen and instead makes his living (and at £4000) an evening a very lucrative living) from speaking at corporate black-tie dinners. As a contemporary of Steve Punt, Pete Dennis and Tony Slattery in the comedy hothouse of the early '80's Cambridge, it is perhaps not so surprising that Graham Davies left University with an ability to make people laugh as well as a law degree. Although he never joined Footlight, his timing and confidence was honed to equal sharpness in the intense environment of Student Union politics.
" I found there that it was easier to get people to vote for me if I was telling jokes, rather than spouting on about my political views", recalls Davies. His involvement in the student union as a self confessed "hack" took precedence over everything else in his time at University.
"It was very much what I concentrated on, rather than the law degree ... that was very much the secondary aspect of life at university". The public speaking involved his role as hack, and later as President of Cambridge Union, would stand him in good stead for his future careers.
"You sometimes got the chance to be speaking in debates with internationally known political figures, high profile comedians and television stars. It was a unique experience that gave me quite a lot of exposure to high intensity and high pressure speaking situations". While studying at law school, he found that his talents for public speaking allied with his Cambridge connections provided him with a useful source of income. From a slow start in 1988 performing for free meals at Rotary Club and Round Table dinners, he soon impressed the agencies, which led to the more lucrative corporate booking. He remembers his surprise at discovering the corporate speech scene.
"At that time I assumed that in order to be paid to be an after dinners speaker you had to be famous, you had to be a retired test-cricketer, a TV comedian, a politician. There are a lot of people whose names you would never have heard of that make a great deal of money out of it". Remarkably, until only three years ago Davies was speaking while practising full-time in his chambers. At one stage he recalls he was speaking over 120 times a year while holding down his tenancy.
"It was a phenomenal year, I made a lot of money, but November in particular was ludicrous in that I did 20 speeches so that worked out as virtually a speech every night of the week, and at lunchtime too". His law career has been almost as varied as his speaking career. He got tenancy in two chambers during the late 1980's and early 1990s that underwent acrimonious splits, experiences he says that have tempered his view of the bar.
"I thought student union politics were petty and malicious, but it still didn't prepare me for the ins and outs of the inner and middle temple. It was all terribly childish and very unpleasant, an awful lot of egos clashing around". Despite this, he still recalls with fondness his time in court and perhaps surprisingly for a man used to public speaking, he recalls his anxiety before a court appearance, no matter how small. "I couldn't just waltz in and not take it seriously at all and not worry about what was happening". Along with the tension, Davies also adds a word of warning about the perceived glamour of the barrister's life. "There was a lot of dross to have to cope with, a lot of travelling and criminal law cases don't pay very well at the moment". This is perhaps why Davies emphasises the importance of gaining experience in several different chambers to sample the varying styles and working environments on offer. While his public speaking was certainly helped by his court room training, have his comedy talents ever come across in court? Only once apparently, while defending an accused man of questionable intelligence, did he use humour to win over a jury. Davies opened with "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: intelligent, sophisticated, eloquent - these are just three of the words my client can't even spell". Budding barristers eager to use the line will be pleased to know the accused was let off. In addition to successful law and comedy careers, Graham also runs a company which runs courses which train executives to improve their public speaking. For just ï¿½3,500 a day, two professionals will be taught the tricks of the trade - and may even learn a couple of the five thousand jokes Graham has stashed in his filing cabinet at his South Kensington residence. As Graham has demonstrated, Oxbridge law graduates do not necessarily have to practice law to carve out a lucrative lifestyle and if you can still make as many thousands each year as a top silk, then you, along with Graham Davies could have the last laugh.For more information on Graham Davies's profile, Please view http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/graham-davies/10/b35/947 To view other blog articles by Graham Davies, please visit these two other websites, dedicated to his blogs: http://www.grahamdaviesblog.com/ http://www.grahamdaviesonline.com/