Those of a certain age, constantly look back over life, recalling how we remember our younger days. This often rose tinted self indulgence, we see what believe to be a more honest, harder working world. It’s certainly true that younger folk were more polite to their elders – no disrespect towards teachers or authority, on the scale we see today. There were boundaries and clear parameters in most families. This must be because we had proper punishments. Capital for the most serious crime of murder and treason and life sentences for other truly horrendous offences. Being allowed to, or actually, more likely made to go out and play did not bring with it a whole host of health and safety considerations. We had the words No and Don’t … drummed into us early on for personal safety but also to teach us not to touch, disturb or otherwise interfere with anyone else’s property or goods. I would never dream of stealing or damaging anything of anyone else’s; Respect for ourselves and everyone else is probably the number one way of trying to wrestle back this world of far less crime and appalling behaviour we are engulfed in today. A legal career these days is certainly more challenging than years ago but it needs more robust characters to bring back common sense through the legal system!
In the legal profession there are many and varied careers – not all of them are obvious to start off with. When you first start off, at university, you might be on one degree course and then suddenly want to swap over and take law – it is a truly monumental subject and you won’t always know in what branch you will end up. When you watch tv programmes, you see on detective and crime thrillers, the solicitor called in to an interview with a suspect; later we may see a court case – criminal of course, with barristers for prosecution and defence. The former – prosecution barristers will have been instructed by the crown prosecution service – that in itself is a huge and greatly challenging career. There are also specialisms – such as patents lawyer – who represent clients obtaining patens and acting in matters of procedure relating to patents law. They need a sturdy knowledge of intellectual property law. Not every solicitor’s going to have that to offer.
There are programmes on all kinds of subjects these days – I don’t mean the usual soap opera or reality tv stuff. It is true that I like one or two police dramas – but mostly the lighter hearted ones without any obvious gory violence. I prefer to know they’re investigating something that happened but not have the detail on screen. My greater joy though is to watch documentaries that involve law; the court system; investigations; spy tales etc. I’m one that likes to know the perpertrator has been banged up for his crime and what we’re seeing is either a reconstruction or the actual investigation as it takes place, leading up to the day in court. There is a satisfaction to be had in seeing justice, however slow and irritatingly bound up, does actually catch up with some of the oiks in this world!
When you work in a particular sector of industry or services, it can be quite easy to start picking up the language without even noticing. I had connections with a lady who worked for several years as private personal secretary to the judiciary – she was already an excellent PA and had worked in sales and marketing too. I couldn’t help noticing though that as soon as she got back to her former career – being a legal secretary, her whole persona changed. I was impressed at how she gradually dropped the casual mannerisms and clothes – opting rapidly for the sober dark suits and sensible shoes . . . no bad language and her vocaulary definitely improved. There’s a lot to be said for listing to a very educated voice for house whilst doing the judges’ work via audio typing!
Choosing the right career is one of the most difficult things to imagine doing when you’re still at school and not really sure about what each person does in a particular field. I do know a couple of youngsters who have lawyers as both parents. Inevitably there is an expectation that the two likely lads will follow in the family way as it were. The mum is a very busy in the field of family law and is often at court within Family court, one of the most common of the subordinate courts in England and Wales. This could easily affect how the children react to family matters at home, but of course the parents don’t discuss any sensitive matters outside chambers or the court. The legal system in this country is amazingly complex but still envied and considered to be top notch the world over. Except for those who try to escape and find the tentacles of justice and fair play extend, also the world over.
We do tend to treat prisoners and felons in a much better way now than centuries ago. I was watching a documentary the other night about how we used to pack ‘criminals’ off to Australia and other far flung spots for the most most rediculous things. There were no lawyers to represent the poor man or woman. No one to actually look at the social consequences of the grinding poverty and inability of the lower classes to claw their way out of their unjustly miserable lives. Today we do it better. When someone is apprehended after enough evidence has been collected, they’re cautioned and charged, at this point legal assistance is sought for their court appearance. If it’s a really serious offence, high court with prosecution and defence teams fight the case in front of a jury of 12 unbiased men and women who effectively decide guilty or not guilty. So much fairer.
When someone starts out at university, they have ideas of what they want to achieve once they get that much desired degree. More often than not though they only have the vaguest notion of what to do next. The world of work becomes a reality and it’s not always easy to find employment that actually uses the degree at all. I can think of several under graduates who have secured even a fantastic 1:1 but not really used. One chap had done a 4 year spanish course – he spent a whole year in the country on a work placement to enhance the spoken language. He now works in a bank in our local high street. Others realise during the first year they’ve chosen the wrong degree course and change horses – one very successful solicitor did just that – swapping from history to law. Very happy she is too as a solicitor specialising in employment law. Taking law opens up many career opportunities.
There are many stories in the press and on social media about young folk who get into some kind of trouble on their first ‘wander’ around the big wide world. I have been reading up on a young woman who was in Thailand at a well known student community meeting stop over. she was fresh out of uni, on her first solo adventure. Seeing the swimming pool inviting her to cool off, she didn’t look around sufficiently – so did not see the notices advising shallow water – no diving. She dived in and broke her neck. Her insurance company – a cheap and cheerful no frills one, has refused to pay out because she took part in a risky activity . . . . it’s not clear at this stage whether it was just diving into a swimming pool, or not seeing the warning signs before diving in. Anyway she has needed legal help. The general public have donated enough to pay her medical fees so far and get her flown home.
There are a few families for whom Christmas is not the happiest time of their year. The propensity to over indulge with alcohol does have a damaging effect on family happiness and the chances of arguments and fights occuring increases by 100 percent. Very often this can include neighbours – perhaps a silly disagreement over who should be allowed to park where outside properties. Maybe someone has their music blaring out a little too loudly. Keeping the family dog out in the garden for hours, so the poor thing gets bored and barks for ever . . . . . that’s enough to start a mini war. All these irritations can boil over and before long someone is in deep trouble for violent behaviour. Knowing where to get advice and assistance in such cases is critical for the well being of the rest of the family. Comprehensive household insurance often includes legal cover – very necessary in getting help in such dire circumstances.
Many careers have a multiple routes to follow and when a youngster is asked what they want to do when they leave school, they will have only a very basic idea of what they think they’ll be doing in five or ten years time. Very often they’ll be doing nothing of the sort but there are some very dedicated families with career paths laid out. Law is one such path. However, there are many ways of achieving a profession in the law. Going to law school and becoming a jobbing solicitor is one major step – then if the correct, very formal steps are taken, it’s possible to get a training contract to become a barrister – in court being referred to as ‘my learned friend’ etc. Later on after a hopefully illustrious & unblemished career, a good barrister can be selected to be appointed as a judge. The most senior judges are Lords and Ladies of the high court.