Postcard from The Staterooms: #Aldridgegate edition….Have you been *Aldridged*? and some other b*ll*cks

Dear Reader,

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

Charon

14 thoughts on “Postcard from The Staterooms: #Aldridgegate edition….Have you been *Aldridged*? and some other b*ll*cks

  1. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Aldridge had tried to become a bazzer but couldn’t get tenancy – so there’s the motivation for him being consistently snide about the profession and its successful members. Anyone remember that ludicrous article he wrote about the Inns dinners? No? Didn’t think so. Here’s the link. The comments are most enjoyable.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/may/12/barristers-dinners-fun-indulgence

    Bitter little man.

  2. Yes… I did read that.

    I’m all for a bit of light satire and parody about the legal profession. I spent my career in legal education and setting up law schools et al. Difficult to combine practice, business and teaching etc. I would have enjoyed being a practitioner…. sadly, one only gets one life, they say.

    I am working on the concept of many lives.

  3. Thank gawd we have your blog and Tweets that’s all I’ll say. Having stopped practising, I increasingly find myself frustrated by how little collaboration exists in the profession. It sound be christened the one up society. That said there are some wonderfully gifted people who get no recognition for the work they do. As to Mr A’s article, like you say he should have known better.

    Julian

  4. I agree with everything you have said regarding blogs and tweets.
    Personally I think twitter and blogging are great ways for individuals to communicate who would not otherwise do so. I am not a lawyer, though hope one day to make my way into the profession, and I am relatively new to tweeting and to blogging. I don’t presume to think that I am good at either, but I don’t really care that much because I enjoy doing it, and not because I see it as a career boosting exercise. To me blogging and tweeting are more about getting things off my chest, trying to encourage debate (if anyone is reading and cares to do so), having an internal debate in my head on issues to try and make better understanding of them, enjoying writing when I get the time, and meeting new people.

    I am also very glad that there are legal practitioners out there blogging, because I feel that many of the fine blogs that I do read as well as being interesting, informative (and sometimes amusing) are more often than not told from a more truthful and objective standpoint than most of the journalism printed in newspapers, which I often find to be mis-informative, lacking accuracy, and sometimes simply provocative for entirely the wrong reasons (i.e. selling papers!).

    Many blawgs also perform an important (and entirely altruistic) public service in helping to sort the truth from the spin, particularly regarding Human Rights Act issues just now which our protective and loving g’ment are desperately trying to paint as some wicked criminals charter (which is quite simply a load of old big hairy skin covered fleshy spheres).

    Far too often the legal profession comes in for stick (or schtik in the case of the journalistic piece in question here), from the public, government and as here, journalists. Many people outwith the profession thanks to such issues consider lawyers in general to be greedy, over paid and untrustworthy, I work with such people!
    However other than a very small minority out there, this viewpoint is simply not true. I have to ask though, how many bus drivers do you find taking to the streets in their cars after work to ferry people around free of charge. How many top chefs do you have coming round your house for nothing to whip your dinner together for you? How many mechanics would take up your bald faced request to come round and tune up your car for free after work? Of course the answer is probably none. However today you can go online and learn pretty much everything you need to know on Human Rights law, cases and current issues from the extensive and very good UK Human Rights Blog to name one example, written by lawyers in their own time, at their own expense and published free of charge to the general public.

    Anyway, enough said, there is a really really bad laughable movie on TV just now, but for some reason I cant stop watching it, so must go.

  5. Agree and would only add that from the discussions I saw on Friday I thought Ashley dealt with the article & repercussions with dignity & great character. Only one person came out of this looking increasingly less interesting and it was not Ashley Connick.

  6. I imagine the Aldridge article set out to show that twitter could be useful to lawyers and was most interesting when it was being useful. In your delightfully incisive way you have shown how it managed to cause offence. The Oscar Wilde quote is a particularly priceless way of cutting off the *unintentional* defence. Nevertheless it is to be hoped that reconciliation can be achieved when @AlexAldridgeUk returns to the fray after the weekend as it is extremely useful to have professional journalist participate in legal twitter

  7. Barbara… I’ve known Alex for some years… he is a nice guy…he over egged it in the article.. not a big deal in the great scheme of things… and I am sure he will do what he thinks is best…

  8. Pingback: “Have you been Aldridged?” “Yes, I have, and proud of it!” | Legal Aware

  9. Pingback: Getting a Training Contract by Blogging: Mission Impossible « Ashley Connick's blog

  10. Pingback: Accuracy is not an aspiration for journalists and law bloggers. It is a requirement when reporting or commenting on serious issues. « Charon QC

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