Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Another barrister poem

For those not aware, New South Wales has a divided legal profession, Barristers and Solicitors.  Some of the other Australian States have a fused profession where a person can be both at the same time.   Not so in NSW where one has to be one or the other.

So what is the difference?  Solicitors also appear in courts and tribunals  but the higher the level of the court the more likely the appearances will be by barristers.  Think GP's and specialists in the medical profession.  Barristers mostly do court work (unkindly called "rent a mouth" by some) and give advice, both in conferences and by written opinions.  Solicitors do the same but also carry out general office work, filing and service of documents, preparation of cases with the barrister and practice in fields that barristers don't: conveyancing, leasing, Wills and so on.

Barristers usually specialise in certain fields so that they become knowledgeable and expert in those areas.  A solicitor engaging a barrister, whether for advice or for representation, is termed "briefing counsel".

In the higher courts barristers like to set themselves apart from the hoi polloi by wearing wigs and gowns, such that a day in the Supreme Court on mention and directions listing days (wall to wall barristers in the [pre-covid days) can often feel like one has been transported hundreds of years back in time.

I should not be too impolite since some barristers subscribe to Bytes and in that son Thomas is a member of the horsehair wig fraternity, specialising in criminal law.

Here is the tale of a less than successful barrister who ends up having to face  a final judge . . .

The Briefless Barrister

by John Godfrey Saxe
An Attorney was taking a turn,
 In shabby habiliments drest;
His coat it was shockingly worn,
 And the rust had invested his vest.

His breeches had suffered a breach,
 His linen and worsted were worse;
He had scarce a whole crown in his hat,
 And not half-a-crown in his purse.

And thus as he wandered along,
 A cheerless and comfortless elf,
He sought for relief in a song;
 Or complainingly talked to himself:

“Unfortunate man that I am!
 I've never a client but grief;
The case is, I've no case at all,
 And in brief, I've ne'er had a brief!

“I've waited and waited in vain,
 Expecting an ‘opening’ to find,
Where an honest young lawyer might gain
 Some reward for the toil of his mind.

“'Tis not that I'm wanting in law,
 Or lack an intelligent face,
That others have cases to plead,
 While I have to plead for a case.

“O, how can a modest young man
 E'er hope for the smallest progression—
The profession's already so full
 Of lawyers so full of profession!”

While thus he was strolling around,
 His eye accidentally fell
On a very deep hole in the ground,
 And he sighed to himself, “It is well!”

To curb his emotions, he sat
 On the curb-stone the space of a minute,
Then cried, “Here's an opening at last!”
 And in less than a jiffy was in it!

Next morning twelve citizens came
 ('Twas the coroner bade them attend),
To the end that it might be determined
 How the man had determined his end!

“The man was a lawyer, I hear,”
 Quoth the foreman who sat on the corse;
“A lawyer? Alas!” said another,
 “Undoubtedly he died of remorse!”

A third said, “He knew the deceased,
 An attorney well versed in the laws,
And as to the cause of his death,
 'Twas no doubt from the want of a cause.”

The jury decided at length,
 After solemnly weighing the matter,
“That the lawyer was drown d ed, because
 He could not keep his head above water!”

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