Tuesday, 28 May 2013

My (irrational but understandable) reason for not liking lawyers


There are many reasons why England's legal profession needs reform and just maybe the changes to legal aid - whether warranted or not - perhaps might begin to open up this debate. For me though there's a more fundamental problem, one that perhaps makes me unsuited to making proposals for reforming the operation of the law.

You see I really don't like lawyers. Not individually, I've met plenty of lawyers who I've got on with well (I nearly said fine there but that's something you get off with rather than on with). No it's the collectivity of lawyers, the legal profession, that I dislike. There's the occult secret language riddled with pointless Latin. There's the arrogance of believing that no-one who isn't a lawyer can make a judgement. And there's the endless mummery, pomp and pontification, the moots and the semantics.

But these are the faults of other professions - perhaps without the overbearing arrogance of the law but faults nonetheless. And that's not where my loathing of lawyers comes from. That started on the day of my graduation from Hull University back in 1982.

It was an exciting day. My parents (who didn't own a car) had come up from London for the ceremony. We were all besuited, gowned and sporting (if that's the right word) our mortar boards. Lots of slightly nervy chatter, adjusting of clothing (we didn't wear suits often after all) as we awaited the little moment of glory when in front of friends and family we troop up to the stage to get our degree.

And amongst all this the University Chancellor, Lord Wilberforce would address the assembled graduates sending them out into the world with the ringing cheer, support and endorsement of the university community. Except he didn't do this. The Noble Lord spent the entirety of his speech telling 1500 graduates in subjects like English Literature, Geography, Economics, French History and South East Asian Studies what an incredible boon and benefit is was to have a degree in law. We were told how important lawyers were, how lawyers should run business, control the civil service and generally be in charge of everything.

As the speech unfolded, we awaited the moment when Milord might deign to address the 98% of graduates who didn't study law and weren't about to study law. But no, it got worse. No praise for the value of economics, history or English just a sullen, booming conclusion that law stood above all other subjects, more valuable and more important.

And we clapped. Because that's what you do on these occasions.

Since that day I've disliked lawyers.


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