THERE comes a time in one’s life when one looks back over the successes and failures of one’s career and wonders whether it has all been worth it.
No, we’re not talking about donning a hair shirt, seeking spiritual enlightenment or devoting vast amounts of time to green gardening. We’re talking about why oh why we didn’t pursue a career in the law profession!
After all most solicitors with a few years under the expanding belts are worth a few proverbial quid. But then there is a cash earner on an entirely different level - the barrister!
Maybe, just maybe, we could have thrust aside scruples, pretended to read more than necessary, and become a barrister. Think of the benefits. The government pays you money, and loads of it.
No, we’re not talking about public sector money, we’re talking about cold hard cash for ‘LEGAL AID’! Sorry, but that required capital letters. After it emerged that in the past two years one barrister coined in £2m plus, four earned £1.5m plus, six earned £1m plus and 22 earned £500k plus from working on LEGAL AID cases. And they get to wear black capes and natty wigs too! Even Batman didn’t get the cool wig!
To recap – a group of people get paid a lot of money by taxpayers. And get to wear wigs, and get to earn money ‘freelancing’ in legal waffling (sometimes called giving an opinion...hey we’ve got opinions too!).
Of course, they’ve done nothing “wrong” or illegal in getting paid these huge, wheelbarrow sized wads of money. After all, it is the Legal Services Commission that sets the money that said barristers get for LEGAL AID cases. Oh, hold on a moment, it is the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission. Which is different to the Legal Services Commission in England and Wales...
The Legal Services Commission seems, on the face of it, to pay barristers, QCs and other assorted wig wearing types a wee bit less than its Norn Iron counterpart. We could be wrong, of course, but goddammit this ain’t no court of law! Plus, after googling to try and discover who was a lawyer on the board of the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission board and who wasn’t, and been denied access when we clicked on the ‘Members’ tag because we weren’t members, we gave up presenting any opinion before the court of public opinion...
But on a serious note, who let matters get to such a state where barristers coined in £60m in two years on legal aid cases? Surely it was the Government. Yes, and it wasn’t the Assembly. They only got to have a say in it recently and Mr Ford as Minister For Justice is putting a cap on all that and much more...or so he says.
So, has the heyday of bewigged barristers (when were they making hay while the country went to hell in a hand basket) now passed? Somehow we doubt it. After all for all the learned gentlemen and gentleladies of the law there only remains one phrase that needs to be translated into Latin: “There’s no justice, there’s just us!”.
On that note we are away to convince all children we know to become highly paid doctors or better still barristers...after all barristers get to wear wigs!