At 8.30 this morning I happened to be writing at my desk on the lower deck of the boat. I looked out of the window and saw that The Thames was still where it should have been. The scientists at CERN had switched the Large Hadron Collider on and, it would seem, the planet had not been eaten and estate agents still run around in those irritating Minis decorated in horse racing colours.
I speak, as ever, from Chancery Lane in London to ask and answer the question “Has it been a good week for lawyers?” Pleasingly, for otherwise I would have little to report on after an unbroken spell of “Yes” answers… the answer is “NO”.
First we had an announcement, reported in Legal Week, that lawyers have not been invited to give advice to Mayor Boris, and then… the information that England has quite enough lawyers and that lawyers have missed out on a place on the recommended list of shortage occupations presented to the Home Office yesterday by a Migration Advisory Committee.
Apparently there is, however, a chronic shortage of sheep shearers in Britain and they are on this list – so if there are any sheep shearers out there who want to be lawyers ultimately, or lawyers thinking of re-qualifying as a sheep shearer – there may be opportunities for you. Get on with your application if you want to come to Britain. Come over, shear a few sheep for a while and wait for the upturn when you’ll be well placed to take advantage of the short term thinking of law firms who work on the principle of sack everyone apart from ‘core partners’ during bad times and then scrabble like buggery to hire suitably qualified people when the good times roll again.
Obviously, this migration issue only applies to overseas non EU lawyers. For those of you who are EU or UK lawyers – there are, at least, opportunities in sheep shearing. I don’t think that BPP Law School or The College of Law have any plans to start running sheep shearing courses – but keep Googling just in case.
So… back to Boris. Boris doesn’t seem to want lawyers to advise him. Legal Week covered this story and I quote from their report: “Vincent Keavney, a securitisation partner at Baker & McKenzie, commented: “It is disappointing given the importance of the legal industry to the City not to have an active solicitor on the board. The profession is a huge exporter in national terms and for London in particular and I do not think that can be ignored.”
Unfortunately, Mr Kearney… I’ve got bad news…. Boris has ignored it. In the same vein, with a hint of waspishness to my ear, we have Nayeem Syed, general counsel of entertainment company Eros International, claiming that the traditional advisory role of a lawyer made them ideal candidates for such groups.
“It is very important in these kind of ventures to have a diverse range of opinions,” he said. “Lawyers are known advisers and can bring the ability to be concise and to be able to understand, analyse and give real advice.”
The trouble is, I suspect, and not wishing to be a bearer of bad tidings, but there aren’t that many lawyers who know their arse from their elbow when it comes to wider issues in London…. largely because lawyers seem to spend a disproportionate part of their lives working rather than living life in London so are probably singularly well qualified to be the least qualified people in London to actually give advice of a cultural, literary or imaginative nature on London. Maybe Boris is saying what should have been said years ago by politicians…. life isn’t all about regulation and drafting rules, regulations, contracts and getting people out of difficulty. People don’t want lawyers hanging around at non-law meetings, their monstrous egos waiting for a moment to drain half an hour from the lives of those present. Live with it… or get out more.
So there we are… just a quick report today from Chancery lane. I’m off to sort out my work – life balance with a glass of wine.
This is Charon, reporting from a non too vibrant Chancery Lane.