Muttley Dastardly LLP (Episode 15): Vultures in Togas and ‘the cattle of the courtroom’


To: All Associates

From: Dr Erasmus Strangelove, Partner and Director of Education, Strategy and Psyops


Obiter, writing in  in The Law Society Gazette, refers to a speech by the Master of The Rolls, Lord Neuberger, where he considers, inter alia, the topic of why lawyers are so unpopular.

Lord Neuberger stated:

‘I don’t intend to try to discuss the correctness of that analysis or to answer that question… [but] whatever they have been getting wrong, lawyers have apparently been getting it wrong for quite some time.

‘Around the second century AD, Apulieus, having referred to lawyers as “cattle of the courtroom”, then expressed the view that they were no more than “vultures in togas”. While Ammianus Marcellinus, two centuries later, took the view that lawyers were “a greedy and debased lot, who conspired with judges to rob the people of justice”.’

1. Associates with Muttley Dastardly LLP, as you know from your own induction, are put through a series of ‘desensitisation exercises’ of my devising based on my ‘consultancy’ work for our more secretive cousins across the pond some years ago, to handle negative imaging and stereotyping. The result of this programming is that we feel no slight, angst, guilt or tension when faced with the chatter of the chatterati of Hampstead dinner parties or, in more recent times, the liberal twitterati.  We do not rise to the bait. We are trained to be impassive in the face of criticism of our profession and to respond with the principle based response  that it is not the lawyers who are bad, it is the clients. We, the lawyers, are merely the architects of the client’s desire.

2.  Recently, this firm, as with many others in The City, participated indirectly in trashing the entire global economy with our skillful drafting of new instruments of securitisation for our most favoured investment banking clients. In fact,  so skillful were we at this firm, and law firms in The City generally (it has to be said), in drafting instruments for ‘Toxic Debt’ et al,  that the bankers have taken the hit in the public mind and we have escaped free of legal liability, public opprobium and moral obloquy. We were merely ‘obeying orders’.

3.  In our highly successful new Drive-thru Divorce Lawyer division, a service delivered under our online brand  – it is not we, the lawyers, who are the villains. It is those who choose to get married where one or both of the parties fail to sort out their affairs in a civilised manner. I seem to recall a case where the Court of Appeal expressed consternation that there was no money left for further appeals work or, indeed, left for the parties themselves, because such money as the parties had enjoyed in their marriage had been consumed by the legal process.

4. I need not labour the point.  The principle holds true for many spheres of human behaviour, fortunately. We know that it is the clients who are ‘cattle of the courtroom’.  We are, however, too discreet, professional and polite, to let on;  save in the exceptional circumstance where a client should ‘wilfully, negligently, recklessly or with malice aforethought’ (Clause 1782(a)(ii) of our Standard Terms & Conditions), fail to settle their bill promptly and in timely fashion.  This latter ‘difficulty’ is rare at Muttley Dastardly LLP, of course.  Our policy of taking at least 150% of estimated costs on account gives us the flexibility to ensure we are compensated for the work that we do and award ourselves a little bonus without all the fuss that bankers are getting in the national press at the present time.

I trust that you will take comfort from my memorandum should you find recidivism and liberal tendencies creeping back into your psyche after reading the always excellent Obiter in The Law Society Gazette on this matter.

Dr Erasmus Strangelove

Strength & Profits


With thanks to Inksters Solicitors, Cellmark,, BPP University College, David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, Wildy & Sons, Camps Solicitors accident claims

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