British Lawyers 101 – the Inns and Outs of the British legal profession
Hi, I’m JL Merrow. Thanks for having me here as part of the Relief Valve blog tour.
Today, I’d like to talk about the British legal profession.
Giveaway: I’m offering a free signed paperback copy of 2013 Rainbow Award winning romantic comedy Slam! (I’m happy to ship internationally) to a randomly chosen commenter on the tour, plus a $10 Amazon gift certificate!
I’ll be making the draw around teatime on Monday 7th April, GMT. Good luck! 😀
As I understand it, and feel free to correct me, in the US, all lawyers are created equal; a one-stop shop for all your justice needs. Not so in Britain: here the breed is divided into two distinct sub-species with very different roles:
Wait, no, that’s not right.
Solicitors are usually the first point of contact for your average Brit in need of legal advice. They are found in firms, which are located in ordinary office buildings.
They tend to provide all the services required by the average law-abiding person: wills, house conveyances, that sort of thing. They wear the sort of outfits that would be perfectly unremarkable on the man or woman on the (city) street.
If, however, you’ve been a naughty boy/girl and got on the wrong side of the law, or alternatively something’s got your goat and you have a yen to sue someone, you’ll probably find yourself in need of a barrister to argue your case in court. The chances are it’ll be your solicitor who finds one for you. Barristers congregate in Chambers, which are usually located in rather posher than average office buildings. They wear the sort of outfits which would be perfectly unremarkable on the man—and only the man—on the 17th Century street. Yep, even the women wear ’em. That means wigs and all in the criminal courts, although the wearing of these has been abolished in civil and family courts.
Tom’s sister Cherry in Relief Valve is a barrister, and to be honest Tom doesn’t have much of a clue what she does, making the somewhat sexist assumption (bad Tom!) that she handles divorces and “family stuff”. Interestingly, a 2011 survey by the Bar Standards Board found that female barristers were still outnumbered almost 2 to 1 by male barristers, whereas the gender split is close to 50:50 when it comes to solicitors.
Are the outfits to blame? Let’s face it, horsehair wigs aren’t a good look on anyone, but it could be argued that women get the worst of it, wearing a hairpiece designed for a man.
Then again, some of us have always suspected that men are (a) the more argumentative sex and (b) fonder of the sound of their own voices! 😉
Question: do you see the outdated outfits worn by British lawyers in court as part of a proud old tradition that should be maintained? Or do you think the Bar should embrace the 21st century, sartorially speaking? Or, well, at least the 20th?
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy.
She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Find JL Merrow online at: http://www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jl.merrow
If you dig up the past, be prepared to get dirty
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing since plumber Tom Paretski and P.I. Phil Morrison became connected at the heart, if not always at Tom’s dodgy hip. Neither of their families has been shy about voicing their disapproval, which hasn’t helped Tom’s uneasy relationship with his prickly older sister, Cherry.
But when Cherry is poisoned at her own engagement party, the horror of her near death has Tom’s head spinning with possible culprits. Is it her fiancé Gregory, a cathedral canon with an unfortunate manner and an alarming taste for taxidermy? Someone from her old writers’ circle, which she left after a row? Or could the attack be connected to her work as a barrister?
Phil is just as desperate to solve the case before someone ends up dead—and he fears it could be Tom. At least one of their suspects has a dark secret to hide, which makes Tom’s sixth sense for finding things like a target painted on his back…
Warning: Contains a strong, silent, macho PI; a cheeky, chirpy, cat-owning plumber; and a gag gift from beyond the grave that’ll put the cat firmly among the pigeons.
Now available in ebook: Samhain Publishing | Amazon.com |Amazon.co.uk