There is a cartoon of a young lawyer , being interviewed by three American heavyweight partners.
“We practise law for the money, Gene, if you can think of a better reason, let us know”, says the chairman.
It may well be the purest of motives but, having heard little about access to justice from the profession these last six weeks, I wondered how citizens were coping.
Were they able to plead that the fat cats were in their second homes [Banus, Portugal, Donegal or the Port] and would be back soon?
It strikes me, as a retired Non-Human-Rights-Lawyer, that the access to justice argument only surfaces in times of Legal National Emergency. That is to say , a further reduction in fees.
Perhaps I’m unduly sceptical. Well, let me quote from an article written by Professor Kieran McEvoy in 2011.
“Internment suspects were entitled to be represented by a solicitor and counsel of choice… the remuneration was quite substantial for the time – a joint fee of £250-£300 for solicitor and counsel.Although groups of lawyers periodically threatened to withdraw their services, in practice the Northern Irish legal profession cooperated in the system of hearings…It is hard to quibble with the conclusion of Boyle et al [in 1975] that the legal profession’s decision to continue to provide legal services was in part due to the lawyers’ genuine desire to assist their clients and …also in part due to the very substantial remuneration which had been provided.”
As clients on the Shankill and Falls often observe about lawyers: ‘plus ca change’.
Way back, when the occupying power, as James Galway describes it, decided to recruit pro- agreement people and place them in law , administration, business and other key places, they must also have thought about journalists and politicians .
Our local journalists are keen to write articles about who might have been a tout, loyalist or republican but how many of them are state agents? Imagine the access they have to the inner workings of the terrorists. See Kim Philby’s career. When the SIS ‘ditched’ him , they sent him to Beirut under cover as a journalist for the Observer and the Economist. So, shall we have an article , outing journalists or is that beyond the Pale?
Politicians. Most of Sinn Fein/IRA lost the opportunity for education by being banged up. The loyalists, on the other hand availed of third level education. A favourite fishing ground for Box and SIS is Oxbridge. Who went there?…No! Surely not!
Let’s think who else would be useful. A lawyer! They have access to all sorts of information. Perhaps someone transgressed and men came at dead of night and said, “well Paddy/ William, no more will be heard of this little problem but we’d like some information from you, from time to time”. Such information, about their clients, from a barrister or solicitor, would be priceless. What would be the reward? Judicial office?
Then there is that mass of mostly dead wood who inhabit all sorts of NGOs. Check out their bios and you will find that they are re-cycled at an alarming rate. What they have in common is “sit down you’re rocking the boat”. For this view the NIO and the OFMDFM rewards them handsomely. Frank Cushnahan comes to mind for a reason that I can’t quite put my finger on. Many rose without a trace from the University of Ulster. Sport NI is just the tip of the toxic iceberg.
So, come on you journos, let’s be having you!