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Barristers: How to prepare for Media Interview
October 31, 2022

As experts in media training for law firms, we’re increasingly being asked to create media interview coaching sessions for barristers’ chambers.

Journalists will often ask barristers to comment on a case or legal development. In some situations, this might be a case on which they have worked, either providing prosecution or defence counsel. It might also be that the journalist is producing a report on an issue, and they need some legal comment and analysis. Our media trainers are working journalists operating under strict nondisclosure arrangements. They will tell you that in most cases, when a journalist is commissioned to pull together a report, either for print or broadcast media, one of the first things they will do is to make a list of all the people they can speak to for quotes and research.

What questions will be asked in an interview?

As we say to the law firms and barristers’ chambers, we provide media training for, you will probably be doing one of three things if you’re invited to do an interview. First, you’ll promote something, such as a new product or service. Second, you might be defending your organisation, perhaps because you’ve made a mistake or been forced to make a difficult or controversial decision. The third reason for doing a media interview is that you’re invited to provide comment and analysis. In other words, as a journalist, I want you to explain why an event is significant and what it means in practice for my audience. This might include what our readers, listeners or viewers should think and do. It’s this last scenario in which solicitors and barristers are usually interviewed.

So, what should you do if you are a barrister, and a journalist has asked to speak to you? First, just as you would when receiving a brief or accepting an instruction, you need to do your research. This involves finding out as much as possible about the interview’s subject, the journalist covering it and the news outlet for which they are writing or producing a broadcast report.

What to research before an interview

If it is a broadcast interview, then you’ll also want to check whether your interview will be live or recorded. Will you be expected to go into the studio as part of the programme or join via Teams or Zoom? If the interview is a “pre-rec”, it will almost certainly be part of a package or news report. You will want to find out who else is being interviewed as part of this report so that you know how you fit into it.

Having carried out this research, you can decide on your key message. What is the one point that you would like to get across? As you know from your day job, there’s no point in bombarding a judge, jury or regulator with masses of facts, insights and important points, as these will be lost. Just as you have one essential argument in court, you must hone your thoughts into one headline or key message for a media interview.

Evidence based interview questions

You’ll also need to introduce some evidence to support this point. This might be references to the law, both statute and cases, but it could also be examples from your own working experience. We help law firm partners and barristers in our specialist legal media training workshops to introduce the examples, case studies and stories essential for a good media interview without compromising client confidentiality.

We know that lawyers are risk-averse and like to be in control. This means that you’ll also need to think about any risky or problematic areas that the interview might stray into or any tricky questions you might be asked. You can then identify ways to return to your key message. We have a variety of techniques which we teach law firm partners and barristers to enable them to maintain control of the interview. The aim is that having spoken to the journalist, when you see the report in the print media or on TV or radio, it will convey your key messages and reflect your points rather than being an unpleasant surprise.

Media Training for Barristers

Taking part in a media interview involves risks. However, by following the simple rules that we teach in our media training courses for barristers and other lawyers, you can ensure that you use these encounters to put across your messages, raise your profile and highlight an issue which you think is particularly important. Come and talk to us about our specialist media training for barristers. Call 07958 239892, email gareth@communicatemedia.com or fill in this contact form.

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