Yesterday a little ‘debate’ was rolling out on @lawyer2b after they posted an article highlighting the work of Kennedys who have recently introduced a legal apprenticeship scheme. It is, after National Apprenticeship Week, so the timing of the article is perfect. Almost immediately after posting came 2 comments (anonymous) so I threw my hat into the ring with another viewpoint happily identifying myself. You can read the original article here and feel free to scroll down to the comments section!
Whilst the anonymous comments made were clearly personal I’m not going to claim that my life is ruined or that I intend to resign having been ‘outed’ for the second rate paralegal that ‘anonymous’ would like to think I am. After all, hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, they could just be a sad and lonely second-rate troll who deserves my pity rather than outrage. What does however offend me is the idea that this idiot, claiming identity as a lawer-2-b has created his or her own prejudiced hierarchy about how the law operates before they are even in practice and, sadly, they are not alone. Short comments really can demonstrate a lot about an individual’s beliefs – this one clearly believes themselves to be a superior being by virtue of their degree pathway and for them, if it doesn’t say ‘magic circle’ on the box then it doesn’t do ‘proper law’. It would be easy for me to dismiss them and say “they’re young and they’ll learn” but the nature/nurture debate might suggest otherwise!
The timing of this little discussion has been interesting as a lot of what I have been working on recently has focused on equality and diversity within the law. An application form has asked me to provide evidence of a “demonstrable commitment to diversity” and I must admit, I wondered how I would do this without sounding crass or condescending. After much pondering I reconstructed the question to myself and framed it: “what have I done to encourage diversity in access to the law and legal services?” From that point I was off and running with my evidence.
If you work within the law you will already know that the regulators pay a lot of attention to equality and diversity (SRA Code of Conduct devotes a whole chapter (2) to the subject) because ‘the law’ has a genuine problem with it and it’s not just about the people who make up the group called ‘lawyers’; it’s about the bigger picture of obtaining access to the law.
So to return to my anonymous troll, Chapter 2 of the SRA Code of Conduct has been created for people like you who need to be told how to behave because you can’t see the way for yourself. Elitism and prejudice are destructive and it’s a hard enough world for new (and older) lawyers without individuals sporting massive (and very unfashionable) shoulder chips; customers of legal services deserve better.