By Harms SC, Ed
Television series, such as LA Law, created the impression that the legal profession comprises:
- Extremely attractive people;
- Exciting drama in court; and
- Earning lots of money.
That is simply devoid of the truth but for the few elite. But you fell for it, or will. Your average lawyer is in fact Rumpole:1
COMPLETING HIGH SCHOOL AND DECIDING TO GO FOR LAW
You fall in one of the following categories:
- Your parents wanted you to become a doctor but your marks were too bad.
- You are LA law inspired.
- You are too stupid to study anything else and a basic law degree is a dawdle and the entry requirements are low.
- You are really interested in the law because you want to go and prove something – proving something to whom?
- Demand outstrips supply. There are too many lawyers, and the imbalance is ever increasing.
- So what happens?
- The clever and the bright specialise:
- by, for example, studying engineering or chemistry degrees over and above the law qualifications and become patent solicitors and make good money – 12 years later.
- Or, doing the same and write the Bar exams and do their pupillage2 and forge a good career at the Bar and at a good set of chambers.
- Then, for the rest, the rat race is on: Becoming an attorney or solicitor
- You will try and get articles3 at a solicitor firm. If your marks were krap you won’t get it.
- In any event, you are in a long queue and the chances are that the others have better marks or more specialist degrees (over and above the basic LLB, e.g. an LLM in labour law).
- This is the called the pub penalty for you thinking in the bar about LA Law instead of studying.
- If you get articles you will probably fail the solicitors society exams at least once.
- The chance that you will become a partner in the near future and share in the spoils are zero.
- You are doomed to consult with assholes and writing letters because you will always be behind with your work. And the files keep on piling up on your desk like a skewed pyramid and a travesty of justice on your office floor.
- You are paper toast.
- Tip: get a blow-up matrass and sleep in your office. That is if you can blow it up; because by now you are probably a chain smoker. If there is no shower at the office go to a gym – which you won’t cause you are stuffed; so bucket/hospital wash in the toilets. The one for disabled people is usually the cleanest. Trust me.
- Consolation: you normally get medical aid and some ridiculous benefits as part of your small salary package. At least you get a salary.
Becoming counsel (barrister)
- This is a walk into the wilderness, unless you are very well connected or of financial means.
- And since Latin has been dropped as a “weeding-out” requirement every one passes the 4-year LLB – which is no longer recognized anywhere abroad = krap. Becoming something else
- Become a tradesperson. Plumber etc and you are NOT only wanted everywhere BUT will make $$$.