MS is not a four letter word by Lucy Reed (neé Reed)

I despair sometimes at ever being properly addressed by my given and chosen name. It’s only short but it causes oh so much trouble.


Every time I attend an unfamiliar court I go through the motions when I sign in: I enunciate ‘Ms…Lucy…Reed…no it’s double E D…I’m counsel for the Respondent / Applicant…’ (it’s only four letters but 99% of people want to spell it Reid – my husband’s utterly unspellable name fortifies me against abandonment of both my principles and my surname for the sake of an easy life) and then I sigh as they write down ‘Miss Reed’. Even when the court staff don’t ignore what I say the judge inevitably does. As do most colleagues at the bar. I don’t even bother in my local court any more. Diversity training in the court service evidently covers the range of religious books upon which one might swear an oath, but not the respect for gender neutral nomenclature that one might wish to see from the machinery of justice.


And I am steeling myself for the inevitable day when I realise I look too old to be a Miss anymore, and will be forcibly promoted to a Mrs. Depressing, but at least then it will accurately reflect my marital status, even though it’s nobody’s business but mine (and my other half’s).

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NSPCC Backs Family Bar

Family Law Newswatch reports:

The NSPCC is supporting the Bar Council and the Family Law Bar Association’s campaign to stop the Ministry of Justice’s proposals to cut family legal aid.

NSPCC lawyer Barbara Esam said: “The proposed, repeated cuts in legal support in family law cases comes at the worse possible time, as the pressure to improve child protection work is rightly higher than ever.

“These are precisely the specialists society needs if the courts are to be able to make the right decisions about when a child needs protection.

“The NSPCC’s work to protect vulnerable children and families relies on the ability to access a pool of specialist advocates at the family Bar.

“The NSPCC urges the Ministry of Justice to reconsider its plans to cut funding in these cases.”

In December the government unexpectedly revealed proposals to cut family legal aid in some cases by as much as 55%, having previously indicated that the cuts would be 13% to 14%.

As a result, in the event of the proposed legal aid cuts going ahead, over 80% of family barristers said they intend to change practices.

Key Transferable Skills

I’ve been thinking a lot lately (something I hate to do when it’s not billable, but – sigh – needs must) about what I would do with my life if I was forced to abandon the bar as a result of the legal aid cuts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not there yet – it cost me £30k, three years and a nearly nervous breakdown to get here after all – and I love it to bits – but I think many of us are wondering if we will still be doing this in 5 years time – so what else can we poor misfits turn our hands to?


They tell you at bar school not to worry if you don’t make it to practise at the bar, that being a qualified barrister will equip you with numerous ‘key transferable skills’ useful in some ‘other’ life. Leaving aside for one moment the obvious self-serving nature of such a remark coming from an industry which charges outrageously over-inflated fees to far more students than can ever hope to succeed, what are my key skills and to where do they transfer on civvy street?


For one thing I’m a terrible people manager. I tried it once and oscillated from nice-but-ignored-by-cheerful-subordinates to shouty-and-ignored-by-sullen-subordinates. Far better to manage oneself, to be a self sufficient unit of one. Delegate nothing: control everything. So team work and staff management is out then.

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