Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top American Law Blog 'Above The Law' reviews 'Law and Peace'


Very many thanks to top American law blog Above the Law for reviewing my new book Law and Peace. You can read the review here or below. You can buy the book at Amazon.co.uk

Certainly, the pompous, jargon-laden speech of the Freeman in the video clip is reminiscent of the lawyers in Law & Peace: The BabyBarista Files, a recently-released satirical novel about the British legal profession by former barrister Tim Kevan. And the Freeman movement as a whole — essentially anarchy dressed up with ritual and long-winded rhetoric — bears more than a passing resemblance to Kevan’s picture of a ceremony-obsessed legal world where, behind the scenes, anything goes.

A recurrent theme in Law & Peace is the cynicism displayed by lawyers in private. At one point, the members of Kevan’s fictional chambers of barristers break off from a session of recruitment interviews to reflect on the sycophantic responses of the applicants to their questions. Later on, over a couple of pints in the local pub, they compile a set of truthful answers.

Why Law?

“Because I just love twisting the truth and taking technical points.”

Why personal injury?

“Because it’s easy and well, I like money.”

Why employment law?

“Because litigants in person are always easier to beat.”

Why landlaw and tenant [aka real estate]?

“Because I’ll enjoy doing-over impoverished tenants and hey, it’s one better even than being a bailiff. Why, it’s living the dream.”

When they’re not partaking in these chats, Kevan’s characters are padding their bills to private clients, screwing the publicly funded litigation system for all it’s worth, and generating as much confusion about the workings of law as they can. At one point, a lawyer named Slippery reflects: “It’s simple. The harder we work at complicating everything the more essential we become to being able to fix it. A wonderful, money-making virtuous circle.”

It may be fiction, but the grain of truth found in this witty distillation of Kevan’s ten years practising as a barrister in London gives an insight into why the U.K. public have become sick not just of politicians and bankers, but increasingly of lawyers, too.

In his rebuttal of the Freeman movement, Gardner argues, not a little pompously himself, that “law is the friend of political progress, not its enemy.” Given the legal profession’s failure to live up to this lofty billing during the boom years, perhaps it’s time lawyers shouldered some of the blame for the rise of the Freeman movement, rather than simply telling everyone how stupid it is.

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