First a bit of culture from Prologue to the Satires….
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.
“Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot” by Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
The technique of damning with faint praise is rooted, unappealingly, in English literature and culture – a device used to wound, to condemn obliquely; a device used to cloak envy, jealousy and an inability to be blunt and to the point..or, in the modern idiom… to “Man up”.
Oscar Wilde had the right idea when he observed that..”A true gentleman is one who is never unintentionally rude.”
Late on Friday afternoon there was a fair amount of twitter irritation about an article written on tweeting lawyers by Alex Aldridge in The good old liberalesque Grauniad. Aldridge managed to convey the idea that he was praising a number of well known legal tweeters: David Allen Green and Adam Wagner to name but two initially, and drew attention to law student Ashley Connick’s success on twitter in promoting himself as a nice guy – which he is.
Aldridge, then managed to put the first boot in…“Other lawyers to have used the medium cleverly include Ashley Connick, a Leeds University graduate who landed a plum trainee job at one of the prestigious “magic circle” law firms partly on the back of his tweets about life as a wannabe solicitor”….and then, the coup de grâce…“…Connick has found himself increasingly short of interesting things to tweet about now his hunt for a graduate job is over.”
This latter is nonsense. I read Connick’s law and cricket and life tweets – Most amusing.
Not content with being offensive about a young law student who almost certainly got his training contract in a ‘magic circle firm’ by hard work and having the right qualifications – rather than his ability to tweet – Aldridge runs ‘amok’ with the suggestion (as I interpreted it) that Felicity Gerry and John Cooper QC are propping up their careers in a difficult criminal law market by tweeting. [“Gerry and Cooper are both criminal barristers at a time when legal aid funding is about to be cut by a third.”].
I follow Felicity Gerry and John Cooper QC on twitter. Indeed, I have had the pleasure of doing podcasts with both (See links supra) – podcasts which have had many thousands of downloads and have been well received because of the incisive commentary on diversity, the riots, sentencing issues provided by experienced members of the bar – comment provided by both free. Their tweets are informative and they are both more than happy to engage and debate with lawyer and non-lawyer alike. I have not seen either of them touting for work.
And then… most absurd of all… the incisive mind of Aldridge went to work on a popular media lawyer with a twitter following of 18,000 (even if he does at times wind a few people up and get a twitter kicking for his pains!), David Allen Green, who writes an excellent blog at Jack of Kent and provides incisive analysis and commentary as legal correspondent of The New Statesman.
Aldridge ‘opines’…“Pre-Twitter, Green was an anonymous journeyman lawyer, who, after starting out at the bar, re-qualified as a solicitor, and completed a series of relatively short stints at several law firms and a government legal department.”
All these facts delivered by way of prelude to the main event – the follow up to damning by faint praise – by an omnipotent all seeing journalist may well, at first quick reading blush, be true… but I was far from alone in finding this article shoddy, lacking research and downright rude to lawyers who give of their time to debate law and assist non-lawyers on twitter and elsewhere with understandable and authoritative commentary on the law.
I am surprised that Alex Aldridge, given his own background in moving into legal journalism after qualifying as a barrister, was so offensive – in the perception of many who took his article to be so. Aldridge has just been appointed ‘UK Legal correspondent’ for Above The Law – a good USA law satire and commentary site. Perhaps Aldridge thinks he will get ‘street cred’ by being edgy in The Grauniad and come from relative obscurity by tweeting? That would be post-ironic. Who knows..and who cares..if he is going to slag off lawyers needlessly?
I am all for calling out lawyers who behave badly, who rip off clients, who don’t do their jobs properly – but the lawyers in Alex Aldridge’s article are all good lawyers and are using their own time – free of charge – to enliven debate and bring light to legal matters which deserve being highlighted and brought to the attention of a wider public. Adam Wagner’s contribution (another lawyer singled out for an ‘Aldridging’) to ‘enlightenment’ in the excellent UK Human Rights blog may well bring him and others a higher profile – but it is all free and I am more than happy to see Wagner and others gain benefit should that happen as a result of the first class law blogging.
I rather suspect that there will be fewer lawyers bothering to read Mr Aldridge’s commentaries on the legal profession in future – and even fewer prepared to take his calls when he rings for interviews. I shall certainly not be providing interviews or advice in future – unless he has the grace to apologise to Mr Connick. The other lawyers damned with faint praise have years of experience in the law and are…more than able… to look after themselves; not that Ashley Connick is not – but, in my view, Aldridge was particularly rude about Ashley Connick.
As someone must have said somewhere… it takes a big man to apologise. Being direct… and applying a mix of Oscar Wilde (above) and ‘Dirty Harry’… I end with this..“Are you feeling apologetic, Punk?…Are you?”
An apology can be done by tweet…and would be the right thing to do. Life is too short to piss off a lot of people needlessly. Go and piss off the people who really deserve it, Mr Aldridge. I’ll happily support you on that expedition.
I did promise a bit of other bollocks… and here it is… the great saga continues….
Judgment day looms for ‘Solicitors from Hell’ website
The Independent: “There is a fine line between fearless and reckless. Rick Kordowski appears to have ignored the line completely, inviting the fury of 120,000 of Britain’s lawyers, who are threatening to drag him before the courts. The 50-year-old from Essex provoked the anger of solicitors up and down the country when he set up his website Solicitors from Hell, which names and shames those members of the profession who are alleged to have provided a shoddy service. Thus far he has fought off repeated attempts by individual solicitors to shut the site down. Now, using their collective might, more than 100,000 solicitors represented by the Law Society have threatened him with legal action unless he shuts down once and for all.”
Mr Kordowski has responded to all this might by threatening, apparently, to sue CEO of The Law Society Des Hudson for defamation… for calling him a criminal! Whatever next?
Finally… another bit of bollocks coming our way… hence the captioned picture above..
Ministers ‘could get powers to overrule European Court of Human Rights’
The Guardian: A commission set up by the government to examine ECHR reforms has floated the idea of allowing ministers to strike out court rulings
As they say… you really could not make it up…
Well..there we are…peace and goodwill to all men and women… even tweeting lawyers.
Best, as always