Some people think that the life of a lawyer is a glamorous one. I’m sure for those from law school who took the better path of commercial law, it’s true: champagne on a boat party on the Thames, sipping cocktails in Manhattan, cocaine in a wine bar and what not. For those of us reliant on legal aid however, think more cheap Australian lager in a dingy dive.
Whatever it may look like from North Square or (occasionally) Silk, the lot of a lowly criminal barrister (or solicitor for that matter) is a far from happy one – schlepping from one god-forsaken court to another, with a prison visit or police station thrown in here and there for good measure. The MoJ also have a habit of building their courts in what could be best described as ‘up and coming’ areas.
For example, this was the sight that greeted my arrival at Court recently :
A charming slice of North London life I’m sure you’ll agree. I imagine that even Rupert Penry-Jones would have struggled to look suave and sophisticated if he was dodging the vomit before wiping the remnants of super-strength lager off his finely tailored shoes.
Inside, of course, it’s a different story? Well, sort of. By which, of course, I mean ‘no’. Forget what you see on the tele (unless you’re at the Bailey), the Court buildings are functional, phone reception patchy and they tend to have the worst cafes in christendom.
The MoJ got quite excited recently at the Rolls Building, the new commercial court building in central London that will make England the go-to venue for commercial litigation.
Sadly, they don’t tend to spend as much on the criminal courts. Popping in for a brief mention to an unnamed South London court the above was the sight that greeted me.
The close up of the floor and ceiling show the state of disrepair of what was once, allegedly, one of many state of the art buildings designed to give the Crown Courts, and the English justice system, the dignity and respect it deserves.
A once great institution in a state of disrepair and crumbling around you due to budget cuts. I’m sure that that could be a metaphor for something, but just can’t quite put my fingers on it…