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.
I have had a great Christmas. I stayed with family friends and they live in the middle of nowhere – literally. There we were, toasty warm in their gorgeous country cottage, only going out for walk if there was a doggy companion jining in. In the village where everyone knows absolutely everyone, it is interesting to see the curtains twitch if a visitor goes out walking without any of the host family. This can be quite a good thing in many ways though because if the twitchers are as observant regarding the ‘foreigners’ clothing and gear, as they are about his prescence, then if a crime is committed, at least someone should be able to describe the stranger to the police. Any evidence is needed for all crimes, but in the country, it takes so long for soco to attend, memories start to fade or drift into one another.
There is such a wonderful wide range of disciplines in the world of legal work, it amazes me when young folk used to come to work near me and they had just studied Law. Such a small word and yet it covers such a huge area. There cannot be anyone in this country who has at some time or another needed to consult a solicitor or legal team about something that has caused them massive headache and sleepless nights. Be it an employment issue that needs ironing out, or perhaps a car accident that wasn’t your fault. All these things need the expert knowledge of a solicitor and if anything is pursued to court, then a barrister will be needed also. This is where their very best initial training and then follow up career focused courses ensure that we, Joe and Jo Public, get the very best legal advice that can be obtained – at least within our price bracket!
I have a young family next to me – the children are delightful. Inquisitive, confident, able to hold a proper conversation and a willingness to answer a question without hesitating or stuttering. It is plain to see that both children have had lots of quality time lavished on them for reading, talking, and arguing for a cause! I don’t think either of these children will be bullied at school by other children and certainly not by any teacher ! When I asked the elder child what she thought she might like to do after school, she said immediately QC. The only QC I know is Queen’s Counsel, so I asked how she came to think this was her calling. It turns out she has an aunt on her mum’s side who is just such a person and they are all understandably proud of this. An unusual role model for her young niece and nephew but such a change from being a popster wannabee!
With the world of litigation getting every more complex, and busy, there are many more careers out there to be considered by anyone taking up ‘law’ when they leave school. In fact, the word law does seem a particulary small word to cover a massive industry. Most people think of solicitors and court room scenes from powerful programmes on the tv. Thinking back to Rumpole Of The Bailey – this character is played supberly be an australian actor called Leo McKern, a cummudgenly old barrister from a very good chambers, and who’s wife is the daughter of a very very emminent law Judge from a generation before. They covered many different story lines in the one hour a week series that lasted many years. Each case was neatly portrayed, acted out, fought across the lines by Counsel for the Prosecution making their attack and old Rumpole – always Counsel for the Defence. I wonder how many law degrees were started off by hopes of being the next Rumpole?!
One of my cohort of pals from school has recently taken up a new career – having studied law at uni, she then didn’t get herself a training contract and so couldn’t go to practice, as she had always planned all the way through school. She did various other things which were very interesting it is true, but not as rewarding in her mind as she thought being a barrister would have been.
After a few years of juggling family and part time work for the council legal department as an adviser and administrator, she decided to become a legal executive. This has been the making of her – my word we have seen such a change in her confidence and general satisfaction with her life and herself. No longer is she always apologetic about not being able to do this or that, she has now achieved something amazing, when it was less easy to do. Congrats to that lady!