BOOK REVIEW: IN YOUR DEFENCE: A BARGAIN AT ANY PRICE
I have said before that it is the criminal (and family) lawyers that have the best tales. However there are always things we can learn. If you have a Kindle (or access to the Kindle app) “In Your Defence” by Sarah Langford is on offer on Kindle for £1.99. It is well worth buying – it would be a crime not to… The offer ends on the 3rd January 2019 so you have to be quick.
THE QUICK REVIEW
What it is about?
The experiences of practising as a barrister in family and criminal law on circuit.
Is it readable?
I have read the Secret Barrister’s book – need I read this as well?
Yes. It comes at matters from a different angle. It also covers aspects of family and childcare law and there are hints of civil law.
Is it value for money?
Yes. Even without the bargain price.
IF YOU WANT MORE DETAIL
The book, in part, follows transition from English student to practising barrister. The skills she was taught in law school were things she would rarely use again “What I was not taught is how to represent a child”. She describes the problems and issues in representing those accused of crime. Further she describes how she often felt like an outsider: in interviews when she encountered her fellow candidates an entered a room full of “men in tailored” suits. In court when the defence lawyer often feels “hometowned” because the prosecution and court staff interact daily.
SO YOU WANT TO BE A BARRISTER…
This book will not put off anyone who wants to become a lawyer. Exactly the opposite. However it does introduce a dose of realism.
“Very often when I tell someone what I do a wistful look settles over them, and they declare that they ‘always wanted to become a barrister’. I watch them imagining stone steps to ancient buildings, leather-backed chairs, wigs and gowns and gilded crests. I try to tell them of the 5 a.m. starts, the trains to towns they would never otherwise have cause to visit, the utilitarian courthouses of red brick and grey concrete; of the vending-machine lunches in windowless brick rooms, the interminable waiting, the clients who leave without an utterance of thanks, and the ever-decreasing rates of publicly funded pay.”
BUT THINGS ARE GETTING WORSE
The closing passages of the book are important.
“We pride ourselves on our legal system. We know we should be proud because foreigners choose to come here to use it. They do so knowing that the judge before whom they appear cannot be bribed or threatened or bullied into doing anything other than applying the law. That sense of integrity extends throughout the system, not just for those who use it but among those who work within it and try to preserve its dignity and efficacy. As a result, our courts dispense justice with a degree of equity that means they are still considered among the fairest in the world.
We are in danger of taking this inheritance for granted. Great damage has already been done. Our legal system is regularly threatened and often wholly unsupported by those whose duty it is to protect it. Changes in its function and its funding have gouged chunks out of the high legal principles that we presumed were inviolable”
ALL FOR LESS THAN £2.00
This only gives a taster of the book. If you want to experience what it feels like to be an advocate, dealing with awkward clients, doing a new case, appearing before a “difficult” judge, then this is a book you should read.
This price is time limited, so take advantage of it while you can.