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!
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.