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.
The one thing about the legal system in this country is it’s ancient traditions. Very few folk mind the strange outfits the judiciary don, particularly when they’re attending the annual gatherings with the Queen or prime minister – they are seen in their silks and ermine atopped with a small wig. It does look rediculous but these ceremonies are all part of the deal. Tradition and the way we adjudicate over here in the UK have been recognised world wide as a very fair and just way of behaving. Our solicitors are trained to the highest level at law school within universities. They practice and get expert in particular fields. Some barristers become celebrities through winning high profile cases or highlighting civil liberties. On the whole, when you engage a legal team, you can be sure they will do their utmost to win you a very satisfactory outcome. Having worked in one sector, I know how unbiased those judges are.
I was talking to a group of ladies recently and it turns out that two of them work as radio control officers at different police headquarters. The chance of that happening seemed quite unusual – if they’d worked at the same county HQ you would understand them knowing each other but they hadn’t med until this function. Both ladies came from completely different jobs in the past. Neither had been connected with police work before but they both felt their job was one of the most important in the world of law enforcement. They take calls from members of the public and legal teams. There is a great deal more to it than appears on the tv cop shows. There is no educational preparation as such, just a good all round ‘can do’ attitude and relevant people to people skills. A calm, firm, reassuring voice helps diffuse a lot of situations that are kicking off too.
I was out recently with a chum who I’ve known for many years – we volunteered together as school governors, after our children had moved on up the system, bringing independent and unbiased common sense to an often fraught and self interested set comittees. There is a problem with governors selected from too many parents of current children – they can’t always see past their own expectations and desires to get to the bigger picture. This is something young folk must practice – learning everything they can in each post, as it will lead to bigger things later. This pal’s daughter has just taken up a post as a project manager in a government department – she had risen through from junior to senior team leader outside in the real world and never expected to join the establishment. But this new post offers much more responsibility and future prospects, with excellent pension and other benefits.
One of the things that I never expected when I took a job as a ‘pin money’ little number to fill in until retirement, was how many different avenues it would open up. I had been in normal private industry all my working life, never exposed to the ways of working of public bodies. There was never any unions involved in our firm. I didn’t know it then of course, but our boss was breaking every rule in the book. But because we were a happy band of boys and girls, no one ever felt the need for recourse in any action against the firm. Then after that disbanded, I found my little post within the legal side of a government department. This eventually led to my using my best skills – being a private secretary, with the needs of the judiciary. I loved the responsibility and the challenges. If only I’d known about it years before!
Years ago I was in a union – as were most of my colleagues. Only twice did things get strike action actually get balloted and called. The first time I did take part, armed with placard and flyers. I felt self conscious outside the court and one or two lay members with whom I’d previously been on good terms were really amazed and upset to see me join colleagues. We won the point of issue and everything eventually settled down and good working relationships resumed. The second time I did not strike as I fel the union had massaged the voting results to call the strike. In fact only 35% of the total union membership had cast votes with 52% of those voting for strike action. Out of possible 275,000 members, less than 46,000 had voted yes. The law changed after that to set a minimum number of votes being cast to be considered a valid ballot. Law working as it should.
On a day trip to Cambridge city centre recently, I was sturck by how attractive the newly opened combined court house is. It was opened as a working court only two or three years ago and it placed right slap bang in the middle of the very attractive new shopping mall. Such an ingenious idea. Although it must be pretty disracting during a high level cases, thinkig about all the fantastic shopping experiences to be had in breaktimes. We usually hated adjournments because they disruped programes but those shops and apartments would definitely offset that. There must be a queue of folk wanting to be recruited to the combined court – be it ushers, court managers, paper keepers and case officers. What a delight to be able to go to work every day in such an inspring and uplifting building. Judges and the judiciary of course cannot pick and choose – they go where they are sent!
I was in my local high street the other day, mindlessly glancing in all the shop windows. Passing a well known and obviously busy, prosperous legal firm, I was intrigued to see a touch screen had recently been planted in their front window. It invited passers-by to tap on an icon to read up what that firm could offer in terms of legal cover. I was even more astonished to see the massive range of topics that can be taken to a court of law these days. At one time your local solicitor would handle divorces (discretion assured), house conveyancing, probate and advice on other issues. Today that very same local family solitor has had to join a massive multi partner operation who can offer specialisms in Employment & Arbitration, Travel Recovery, Motoring, Domestic and Family Dispute Resolution, Corporation Dispute Resolution – all this on top of the original conveyancing, family will writing, divorce and ordinary crime!
There are times when we seem to have a really bad reputation in the way we care for immigrants, or assylum seekers. There have been so many instances when groups of desperate folks from war torn countries try to get to our shores as a recognised place of safety, only to be intercepted enroute and thrown into what seem to be harsh detention centres whilst the authorities sort out their cases. There being so many of them now, this part is taking much longer than anyone intended or would really condone. The areas I have lived in have always felt safe and comforting for me; being born many years after the end of WW2, I have not felt the prejudice that many others say have blighted their lives. I have however worked for the ministry that oversees justice and feel proud to have served what is still a pretty fair system, despite the challenges it faces.
When you have any kind of dispute, be it with your employer, a neighbour, a driver after a motoring mishap, there will more often than not come a form of court case – there are various stages of ediation offered in some heads of claim and dispute resolution for others. The world of law is very complex and without correct legal advice up front, it is possible to get into a dreadful tangle. One of the first questions for any claimant in an employment tribunal would be whether they have household content insurance, if so, that could well include an element for legal cover. This is reassuring as it means a claim can be given legal consideration once the parameters are sorted out. Getting the right advice is critical and knowing where to find it even more so. For uninsured claims, then sourcing online and speaking to a company can help you decide if you want to pursue a claim.