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The Conference of Lawyers of the Paris Bar, a prestigious club

At the end of September, when the Paris courthouse began to empty, the Huot-Fortin room was packed. We squeeze on the benches but we wouldn’t give up our “buttocks” for anything in the world. The public remains at the door hoping that a place becomes free; others resign themselves and go to the room opposite where the speeches will be broadcast.

This is the Internship Conference, the eloquence competition for lawyers from the Paris Bar. One of the most prestigious in France with more than two centuries of existence: it was created in 1818. Tonight is the second round. The test has three. During the first round, in September, 240 candidates had come to rub shoulders with public speaking. All young lawyers. To apply, you must have been registered with the Paris Bar for less than five years and be under 35 years old. At the end, in November, there will be only twelve winners called secretaries.

Terrorist files

All brilliant speakers, of course. But not only. The twelve secretaries, for a year, will systematically assist people brought before an examining magistrate for criminal offences. They will then assist these individuals if they call on a court-appointed lawyer. This is an opportunity to recover good files. That’s a pretty terrible career boosteragrees Me Nicolas Brillatz, current third secretary.

An exhilarating year where these young lawyers are building a network. But also exhaustinghe admits. We are in court almost every day. Over the course of a year, we process approximately thirty criminal cases. And for each of them, it’s a huge job​, confirms Me Jennifer Cambla, second secretary.

Ten minutes to convince

In recent years, previous promotions have thus inherited terrorist files. A number of lawyers who defended the defendants at the trial of the November 13 attacks came from the Conference: Me Olivia Ronen for Salah Abdeslam, Me Xavier Nogueras and Negar Haeri for Mohammed Amri… In short, among these secretaries are the future tenors of the bar who are pointing…

In the meantime, this Monday evening is the second round. Candidates were introduced to the topics five hours prior. Half-schoolboy, half-philosophical questions: can chess champions succeed? Should traitors be forgiven?…. For each of them, a candidate was designated to answer in the affirmative, another in the negative. Everyone has ten minutes to plead their case. Stressful. What had stressed me the most was hearing the level of the candidates before me​, recalls Me Cambla. Humor, emotion or reflection: as the oenologists would say, these young lawyers already have a dazzling robe. The third round will take place from November 14 to 16, 2022.

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