There are many good reasons fior deciding on the law as a career. There are so many facets to it for one thing. Not everyone needs to be a solicitor, barrister or judge. The number of other roles is lengthy and all are very absorbing and lifetime career worthy. Knowing a little about the system and how it came about will be useful for the would be trainee . . . The legal system in our country is one of the oldest, having evolved over the last 1000 years. It still continues to change and develop according the the needs of society and although it throws up some eye watering contradictions and oddities in places, is generally regarded as one of the safest and most independent in the world. Whereas for the anglo saxons, justice was a metered out in a combination of local courts presided over by the local lord or his steward. Sometimes the king presided himself, these were called the curia regis, i.e. kings court. Some of the punishments were too terrible to contemplate here. We are thankful that things definitely moved on!
For anyone who has set their mind to a legal career, kowing the various layers of the judicial system is critical. There are several layers of courts and tribunal services providing what we call ‘the law’ in UK. There are Circuits, High Court, appeal Court and eventually the very top of the tree is the Supreme Court. This was formed in 2009, creating complete separation between the senior judges and the Lords – the upper house of parliament. This makes an absolute emphasis of the independence of the ‘Law Lords’, ensuring the utter transparancy between parliament and the courts. These full time, highly qualified judges carried out judicial work of the House of Lords until July 2009 when they left parliament to become Justices of the new UK Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in UK and hears appeals on arguable points of law of the greatest public importance for the whole of the UK, including Scotland for civil cases but only England, Wales & NI for criminal cases. Scotland has their own High Court Of Judiciary to which appeals can be made from lower courts in criminal cases. A many faceted system offering thousands of good careers!
When you’ve gone through university or law school, done all that study, completed and handed in the work and sat those finals . . . . it is hoped you will already h ave had some work experience out in the field of your chosen discipline. The time to start looking for employment is well before the end of those studies. Getting in at a really good law firm is critical and can be aided by taking a post as a free internee to see what the real world of law is like. The most successful students and internees get marked out for discussion by the elders and professional colleagues. Showing a talent in any sector will stand a possible pupil in good stead and as in previous years, the two most popular specialisms remain commercial litigation and corporate law. As is often the case NQ vacancies are so often filled by a law firm’s own trainee force and openings rarely get advertised. Being in the right place, at the right time and being absolutely prepared for interiews or off the cuff ‘coffee machine’ chats.
When we go through upper or senior school, we are asked many times, ‘what do you want to do when you leave school. . . ‘ It’s a really difficult question to pose to a teenager – many have absolutely no idea what they might fancy doing in ten years time. Unless a youngster comes from a family that has long connetions with a particular career, then they may not necessarily think of taking up medicine or law for example. But taking a law degree could open up so many career options. You can break this down further by looking at jobs directly related to a law degree such as becoming an arbitrator – this is a relatively new career. Arbitration is one of several ways legal disputes can be resolved without going hrough the courts or involving international boundaries. It’s a voluntary means of all sides in a dispute agreeing to follow any final deciion made. The arbitrator is the neutral middle person who makes decisions on the evidence present by all the parties. Their decision is not always legally binding but in cases where it is, any party feeling the other/s have dfaulted on that agreement has recourse through the courts.
We are now living in a very agressively litigant world and it seems very much the norm for folks to resort to the local courts to settle disagreements rather than tackle the odd fall out themselves ‘over the garden fence’. At one time the only way to sort out a problem amongst the neighbours was literally to go round and sort it out, usually over a strong cup of tea. We don’t know our neighbours in the same way anymore. In fact, many people live in the same cul de sac or avenue and never think of going round to the neighbour to say hi, or to invite them round for a drink, or even supper. The massive selection of entertainment ideas and availability of electronic devices means that families ar not so together anymore and there’s not the friendly banter between them. We older folk think that the millennial generation are far too easily bruised verbally – in fact they are very often referred to as snow flakes – so easily hurt and can’t stand up to any kind of discussion, let alone conflict or argument even. So the sher number of cases going to court is higher these days. This needs a robust system of justice and many more solicitors out in the provinces. This job now needs to be very wide ranging with the ability to take a case and literally run with it. Good training up front is essential to become a successful family law specialist.
These last few weeks whilst it’s been a damp and miserable winter, I’ve been inclined to stay put indoors a bit more than usual. I’ve immersed myself in hours of watching old detective shows from the best of commercial television. The ludicrous story lines are only watchable because of the fantastic level of acting by the main set. There’s always the dependable chief inspector who plods around like a junior at times – perhaps all police inspectors in the ’20s were male and plodders. Then we see a court room with the male judiciary and legal eagles plus the jury of 12 good men and true . . . not many women feature here either. We do see women – in the frilly roles as secretaries and housekeepers. So different today in the world of crime solving and punishment. There are more women solicitors than men and things are beginning to even out with being called to the bar. Getting the right qualifications and training to be absolutely anything we want to be is as available to women as men but they need the burning desire to succeed!
There is much change around the corner for our legal system if we do finally break from the EU. Our lawyers and barristers, Judges and juries may need to take new directions. For many of the last forty odd years we have adhered to the Eruopean courts and everything in our domestic legal system is run along those lines. However before our entry into that system in the 1970s, we had a what was apparently as the most admired legal system in the world. With every new phase there come benefits and compromises – on the one hand we eventually gave up capital punishment as it is to many it is abhorant to put any person to death as a punishment for doing exactly that. We felt we should be seen to be above the criminal side of human life. Getting rid of this extreme punishment, has sent the message down through two generations of youngsters that they can get away with anything now. We have drug fuelled violence and complete break down in law and order in some rough neighbourhoods as a direct consequence of there being no punishment worth being scared of!
There are many stories floating about at the moment – mostly gossipy celebrity stuff. The royal family, especially the younger set, do provide a truly awe inspring record of the visits and public service they carry out. They do try to always do the right thing and turn up for public shows and openings, wearing appropriately sober attire – always suiting the occasion or venue. They never give interviews. Another feature of the royal household is the huge number of support jobs created. From being a Lady In Waiting – one of those very loyal almost royal ladies who come from very aristocratic families and usually have the title ‘The Honourable . . .” or are born Lady ….. They carry out flunky tasks like accompanying the queen to her engagements and follow just behind, smiling and taking all the surplus gifts, flowers and good will gestures. Nice job that one.
There are lots of families in my immediate area – most of the children go to the clutch of state schools within a mix of catchment areas. There are also some fine independent schools dotted around, apparently affordable so not in the same league as the Eton, Harrows, Marlborough Colleges, but still a step up. The only thing that really differentiates which school a good student went to is their uniform and a certain confident air coming from one or two in the fee paying sector. The take up of top university places from the small independent schools is still the same, they coach students to take and pass the entry papers as a matter of course and others go on to a career in the military. Very few third sons drift automatically toward the church these days!
My point is that each child can go to whichever university they want, they just need to know how to prepare as early as they can!
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!