Just thought I’d pop in and say hi. I am still here, not-blogging away quietly.
I’m freshly arrived back from completing the annual bar survey, which prompted all sorts of deep consideration of life and the future. To respond to the questions I had to tot up how many hours a week I work (don’t ask) and rate my feelings about life at the bar and such things as where I think I might be in 2 years time (cue ambivalent and contradictory responses). Frankly who knows. It occured to me as I box ticked my way through said survey that I could have had four children adopted by then, if only I could gestate them quick enough…
According to all the despondent solicitors I’ve been grimly sipping coffee with this week (actually I’ve been slurping tea but you get my drift), we’ll all be sailing down the swannee in a gravy boat with a corpulent pussy cat and a five pound note. I paraphrase…
You see what happens when my work life balance is all wrong and I’m working too many hours? I’m getting slightly hysterical and surreal. But the problem is we are surrounded by other over worked slightly hysterical family lawyers and the only time we pause for breath is over coffee, when we compare how depressed we are, like Mel Gibson and Danny Glover with their competitive battle scars. It’s not healthy.
But seriously, I have been working too hard. It’s not often I can’t find time to blog and I haven’t lately. Every case I get is a mammoth read. And every brief arrives in the nick of time (if by “nick of time” you mean in sufficient time to allow all the papers to be read without making allowance for cooking dinner, sleep, or generally doing anything between the hours of 7.30am and bed other than work)…Oh how I long for those slender ex parte non mol briefs of my youth.
And by jiminee it is grim talking to family solicitors these days. I’ve listened to a number of utterly dedicated and highly experienced partners talk about how they are working themselves into the ground trying to keep their firms vaguely viable, about how stressed they are with responsibility for employees, clients, families – about how they feel they may no longer be doing good nor even doing “no harm”. I’ve heard an expert opine that “We didn’t come into this work to do shoddy child protection work” (a reference to the new style swift and short expert report). Yes. The froth has gone from our coffee…Even the inappropriate black humour is drying up. The bar (in pockets at least) remain a bit more blissfully distanced from reality. They’re still drinking lattes the fools.
A piece of legal advice – do not have coffee with a family lawyer. Ever. It might be catching.
On another coffee related note, several of the depressed tweeting lawyers (we are legion) have been pondering our next incarnation in a post-bar utopia. Barista was the obvious option since it requires only a small amount of tipex in order to enable us to recycle our business cards. But it lacks creativity. Personally I think my plan to launch a coffee shop replete with photocopy, print and internet facilities for disorganised litigants in person in the vacant shop next door to the Bristol Civil Justice Centre is a stroke of genius, if only because it presents an opportunity to think up mildly (very mildly) amusing names. “Copy Latte” is my fave. Or “Copyteria” or “Triplicup”… I could go on. My skill with words is a key transferable skill you know.
So anyway, in this coffee shop litigants in person (or disorganised and disguised lawyers) could access basic legal reference materials, quickly locate and print an authority from Bailli or wherever, photocopy that massive document they sent only to the judge – whilst the lawyers could use our app to order a coffee and sandwich surreptitiously under the desk whilst the judge isn’t looking (thereby dispensing with the need to take ANY lunch break at all – hurrah). Perhaps if I call my coffee shop a “Hub of Justice” (like Wheel of Fortune only with more arbitrary results) it will attract some social entrepeneurial start up tax relief or an MoJ grant…. (civil servants like HUBS).
Oh and I forgot to say – customers who could prove they had suffered domestic violence would get a free jammie dodger. I need to do some work on my business model and pricing structure but I’m pretty sure that the profit from the latte drinking lawyers could subsidise the photocopying costs of the litigants in person OR that the profits from the hordes of carrier bag wielding litigants in person might enable us to set up a project to feed impecunious lawyers or to carry out conservation work to save them from extinction. One or the other….
I think my Dragon’s Den pitch is really shaping up, don’t you?