Lawyers dating lawyers

The loudest laugh in any Shakespeare play is often provoked by the line in Henry VI, Part II: ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.’ Indeed, over the centuries a lot of rude things have been said about representatives of the legal profession.But however much lawyers may have been ridiculed in the past, I doubt they have ever been held in such low esteem as they are now.But can anyone maintain that the sins of the most reckless phone hacker compared in seriousness with what Shiner did?And yet while an elaborate judicial inquiry was set up to look into ‘the ethics of the Press’ — under a senior judge, needless to say, in the shape of Lord Justice Leveson — no one has suggested it might be a good idea to hold an inquiry into the ethics of lawyers.When Ben Emmerson QC was accused last year of sexually assaulting a woman in a lift at the offices of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, Matrix Chambers (for which he works) asked former High Court judge Sir David Calvert-Smith to investigate.After Sir David had interviewed Emmerson, he concluded ‘without hesitation’ that the lawyer was innocent of any sexual impropriety.There could hardly be a graver charge against any lawyer since his falsehoods might have resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of British soldiers who had risked their lives for Queen and country.

Consider the extraordinary case of Phil Shiner, a high-profile solicitor who was struck off eight days ago having had 12 charges of misconduct proved against him, and was the subject of yesterday’s devastating House of Commons report on ambulance-chasing lawyers bringing thousands of ‘spurious’ cases against our troops.A recent poll in America found that people ranked them lower than any other profession — below business executives, journalists and artists.Yet lawyers are an increasingly dominant force in this country, not least because Britain now boasts more of them per head of population than almost any other nation.Their fondness for money is matched, not infrequently, by their sense of self-importance.Only yesterday the Mail reported how an official report has revealed that the majority of judges think they are under-appreciated and underpaid.

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