A different view of legal careers – If I knew then…

Although Legal Cheek bills itself as a source of “irreverent legal news” it has been running a rather good series called If I knew then… which invites lawyers who have been successful in their fields to say how they got there.

The ones which have interested me (perhaps because the writers are people whom I know, at least in the sense that I follow them on Twitter) are Seán Jones QC with The unacknowledged truth about advocacy is that it is a sales job, and the anonymous in-house lawyer Legal Bizzle with Say no to drugs, kids and become a commercial lawyer instead, both of which display a degree of self-awareness which lawyers are thought to lack.

Many things prevent good people from contemplating a career in the law; some are hard practical things like the expense, but there is also a feeling that lawyers are all cut from the same privileged, cushy cloth. The government is making much of this perception at the moment and lawyers are not, frankly, making a very good fist of rebutting the standard assumptions. The same applies to entry into the profession, and articles like these display a different side.

You might also like the contribution from Tim Strong, a litigation partner at Taylor Wessing.  He tells of a judge whose procedural focus seemed to be on the proper way to bind pages together. Tim’s story reminded me of my favourite legal cartoon (from Steuart & Francis in the Times, years ago):

Angry Master

One hopes that case managing judges have more important things to worry about these days.


About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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4 Responses to A different view of legal careers – If I knew then…

  1. I was once before a Master who said (thankfully, not to me): “Your claim is defective, do you know why?”. The trainee looked shamefaced: “No”.

    “Then take this!” said the Master and literally threw a copy of the White Book at the trainee. “Go to the back of the room and see if you can work it out”.

    I remember thinking that this must be what the “real world” was like. Now I wonder how people got away with bullying and unhelpful behaviour like that for so long.

    • Chris Dale says:

      There was an article in the Times years ago in which a barrister told of being hit by a White Book thrown inaccurately by a Master at his opponent. I wonder if it was the same Master.

  2. Richard English says:

    In South Africa, if a candidate attorneys (trainee) started addressing a Magistrate in open Court without first donning a black gown, the Magistrate would often reply with a curt, “I can’t see you!”. Everyone in Court would have a quiet chuckle if the trainee was very new. Invariably they would stand the matter down, completely perplexed by what just happened!

  3. Jonathan Maas says:

    I recall in my “youf” having a Master, before whom I was quivering, declare that he couldn’t hear a word I was saying due to the loudness of my tie. I had to retire to Stanley Ley on Fleet Street and get a faux Old School tie in order to be heard!

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