Tuesday, March 24, 2009
There was a do tonight at the Law Society for a couple of friends of mine, Kim Economides and Justine Rogers, who were presenting report "Preparatory Ethics Training for Future Solicitors". It's a well-reasoned plea for proper intensive and extensive ethics training and consciousness raising.
In the US it took the Watergate affair to bring ethics classes into the law school curriculum. We've had plenty of crooked lawyers but still we don't teach legal ethics except in a raggedy way to vocational students. By which time it's too late.
The report is timely and necessary but let's see how the profession takes to it. But don't hold....
There were a number of the legal great and good there including judges. I had an interesting chat with one high court judge who told me the following story.
Apparently, a Muslim barrister came out of court after a case and complained vociferously about the jury being anti-Islam, etc. My judge thought this was deplorable and a dreadful lapse in professional standards by the barrister. He argued he should be chastised for his behaviour.
I was astonished at his bias and wanting to suppress free speech. The barrister ought to be celebrated for speaking out. He was stimulating debate.
My judge believed the jury system was being impugned and how would public perception suffer?
Two errors there, judge. One the public perception is effectively zero. Forget that. It's the public that would bring back hanging. The public hasn't got a clue about law and the legal system except for when they get a parking ticket.
Second, is the legal system so weak it can't argue it's place with a wacky barrister. Is it really prepared to quash free speech just because it considers some dubious ethical imperative to have been traduced?
And this by the way from a judge who is described as liberal or even occasionally left wing. It's all context really.