Tag Archives: legal professions

Priti Patel should know that there’s no such thing as an ‘activist lawyer’

During the working day I am a lawyer. For most of the rest of my time I am an activist. But I am not an activist lawyer. Despite the dangerous arguments that have been bandied around by the Conservative-run Home Office over the past week, Priti Patel should know that this is something that just doesn’t exist. The reality is that, under our legal system, the personal views of a lawyer won’t have an impact on the outcome of a case.

I’ve always privately held liberal political views and for the past four years I’ve been an active Liberal Democrat. It’s something I often get asked about by colleagues behind the scenes but I’ve always taken care to keep my politics out of my work. It would be wrong for my personal views to influence the legal advice I give or how I argue a point in Court.

One of the most common questions I’ve been asked is why I would be willing to put my legal career on hold to become a Liberal Democrat MP. Why would I give up something that I enjoy and have worked hard to achieve, in exchange for – let’s be honest – a pretty precarious, highly pressured and intensely scrutinised job in Parliament?

My answer has always been this: there’s an important difference between the roles of barristers and politicians. It comes down to whether or not our own personal views have any influence over the cases and causes that we take up.

As activists and politicians we fight for the causes that we personally believe in. But as a barrister it is my job to fearlessly argue my client’s case in accordance with the law. What I personally think does not matter, and should not matter. And that’s why this idea of ‘activist lawyers’ is such a nonsense.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 18 Comments

The Independent View: Fair access to the professions – where the legal profession leads, others must follow

Old Bailey: the scales of justiceShortly after becoming Deputy Prime Minister in 2010, Nick Clegg made an important speech in which he said that the Government’s agenda would be to create “a more prosperous economy and a fairer… more socially mobile society”. The legal profession is making a vital contribution to this mission.

A more socially mobile society

The legal services sector is at the forefront of efforts to increase social mobility. The Law Society is adamant that the solicitors’ profession must have access to the best talent, irrespective of background. Indeed, that is why we and our members have been working on the issue for so long.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged and | 2 Comments
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