For those hoping to represent their clients in the civil or criminal courts, a Higher Rights of Audience qualification is essential. We often talk to our delegates and training managers about ‘going higher’ with HRA, but what does that mean, and what does a typical HRA course with us look like?
So, we thought we’d bring you the information you need straight from the source. This week we want to introduce you to Roy Morgan, the lead advocacy trainer for BARBRI Altior.
Please share your name and job title.
Hello, I’m Roy Morgan, lead advocacy trainer for BARBRI Altior.
Can you tell us something about yourself and your role at BARBRI Altior?
Well, how long do you have? I started my career in a law firm in Cardiff when I first qualified as a solicitor, working my way up to partner status in a corporate practice. However, I realised that this was not my passion – advocacy was where I envisioned my future lay.
I decided to set up my own firm to deal with advocacy, predominantly criminal and civil, although the firm developed a focus on the social welfare aspect. We became, arguably, the largest social welfare firm in the UK, even though at that time, you couldn’t find many solicitors practising in this area of law. So, we quickly understood that developing our own talent would be pivotal to our success. We worked with paralegals, helping them qualify as practising solicitors. Over time, our personal development strategy was recognised by those in the profession. There will be more on that in a moment.
However, currently, I’m focused on advocacy training with the BARBRI Altior team across HRA and PSC courses. More recently I’ve also been concentrating more heavily on SQE2, to assist those wishing to qualify as solicitors and on developing our Prep for Practice course to support candidates in their mission to become practice-ready.
When did you decide to become a trainer and what inspired you?
Alongside running my practice (which I did for more than 30 years), I was invited to support advocacy training as part of the PSC and to develop CPD courses to enhance ongoing professional development for those in the industry.
I’ve worked with the company for over 25 years, much of that in a freelance capacity. But when I had my daughter eight years ago, my priorities changed, as I’m sure many working parents can appreciate. So, I decided to take a more permanent role with the team and moved to become London-based. During this time, I’ve seen so many young advocates find their feet in their firm. There’s a demand for new advocates, especially as resource in this area continues to be limited.
When it comes to inspiration, passionate people inspire me. Our advocacy candidates have such enthusiasm and they do it for the ‘feel good’ factor and the knowledge that they have done something to give back. It’s a calling and despite the decades that I’ve been in this area, I still get a buzz from it. Our delegates tell us that advocacy is the best part of the PSC. I get many wonderful WhatsApp messages, emails, or LinkedIn DMs months or even years later from candidates who have put their HRA training into action.
Do you think the needs of the legal industry have evolved? And if so, how?
Yes, there have been many changes from when I started in this profession compared to where we are now, as you can imagine. From advances in IT, to the point where we can no longer imagine our lives without it, to increased financial pressures for those across the profession and changing working practices. We still need to figure out what some of these changes mean in reality – for example, will we use AI, or will it use us?
However, some changes are here to stay, including hybrid working. Yet this has now created new conversations around client contact and relationship building. Can we build the same level of trust when dealing with clients exclusively online? In that situation, we don’t have access to tools that are essential to clear communication, like body language, tone or simply being fully present in the moment. I appreciate that some professionals will have strong opinions on this, and it’s a topic that BARBRI’s SQE Prep for Practice programme will explore.
What do you think is the key benefit of the HRA qualification for today’s lawyers?
I wholeheartedly believe that almost any solicitor doing any type of advocacy work would benefit from HRA training, regardless of whether they choose to sit the assessment or not.
Even though the rules have recently changed for trainees meaning they can no longer take the assessment until they become qualified, the methodology taught around case and trial preparation can be taken forward into almost any area of litigation. This is incredibly beneficial, and I receive regular feedback from many delegates telling me how they’ve put these skills into practice.
There has, of course, been a big shift in recent years with advocacy delivered online – both in terms of training and real-world trials – and lawyers have had to adapt to meet changing industry needs. But those that do are reaping the rewards.
Can you give us an example of a memorable student you’ve had so far? Or maybe a session that you have particularly enjoyed teaching?
I enjoy teaching all the sessions because it’s where my passion lies, and I see first-hand the benefit it brings to my delegates. I’ll give you a recent example. A trainee solicitor signed up for a one-day course on cross-examination, and I could see she had a talent for this. So, I encouraged her to think about taking the HRA course, which she did just as the regulation changes came into force, which meant that she couldn’t take the assessment until qualified, which she later did. Sometime later, she sent me a photograph in a WhatsApp message showing her in wig and gown from the Crown Court where she was preparing to conduct her first case. It was a proud moment because I was able to help set a young advocate on the road to what is now her chosen career.
Finally, can you give us three reasons why delegates should choose BARBRI Altior for their HRA training needs?
Sure, so the number one reason is that we don’t just train solicitors to achieve their HRA qualification, we believe it’s about helping them to develop the skills needed to use the qualification in practice, to best serve their clients when it comes to advocacy.
Secondly, we use experienced practitioners who already have their HRA qualification and are well-versed in the Higher Courts. They fully understand the needs and requirements of practising advocacy in this environment. So, they can answer questions and share insider knowledge which makes candidates more aware of recent developments.
Finally, for the criminal HRA course, I run short sessions on the last day called ‘the little things that trouble you’. This covers the courtesies in Higher Courts that delegates think they should know or may be too embarrassed to ask about including how to dress, when you should leave, when you should stand, and so on. It’s easy to acquire a poor reputation by doing simple things wrong – even when a solicitor may not realise it. It’s a whole new environment with its own nuances. These tend to be good, fun sessions that usually create a few smiles. It’s an enjoyable way to end the training.