LOTS OF READING. Tell that to your teenagers thinking they ‘might’ like to ‘have a go’ at ‘doing’ law. Lots of reading. And not just at university either. Or law school – which is kind of like ‘finishing school’ for solicitors only not in Switzerland, there is no ski-ing and the hot chocolate is from a Klix machine that clumps the stuff in the bottom of the nasty plastic cup.
I digress. So, back to the topic. Reading. Lots of it. For the rest of your natural born days as a solicitor. Or a barrister. (‘Lawyers’ are Americans, see?). Oh and there is more. Both solicitors and barristers are regulated. By law and by regulatory bodies. We have rules to comply with. We have to have insurance in case mistakes are made.
Why am I writing about this, you might ask. My point is that when you take the advice of a solicitor or a barrister, be reassured that the professional you consult will be continually learning and honing their skills to keep themselves up to date in an ever changing legal landscape and societal ethos. They are regulated. They are insured. And what’s more, this legal stuff and procedure is tricky.
I also get pretty tired of the lawyer/fat cat jokes. I am not ashamed to say I studied hard to get through the exams every summer from the age of 16 until the end of law school, 7 years later. Then there are the further qualifications, within the specialism you choose, and the continual courses/seminars/books/articles to be read to keep you up to date to do the best for the people you want to help. I have also had a job since I was 13 years old, starting with the good old paper round and then everything in between. I saw the man on Question Time saying that every solicitor earned more than £80,000 a year and I laughed at that being so far off the mark as to be ridiculous. When I started as an articled clerk (now called trainee solicitors) in 1993, I was paid £10,450 per year. That is worth £17,882.49 in today’s money. Its really not changed that much. Sure, you see headlines of big City salaries – but that is the exception rather than the rule.
I suppose the point I am getting at that each person has a talent or a passion for a thing they are good at. Mine is my legal work. On the other hand, I am not too talented in the repairing the washing machine sphere. (I know this, through trial and error). So, if I need the washing machine repaired, I get someone who knows what they are doing to sort it out for me. And I pay them because they read the books and do the courses and have the skills I do not.
If you find yourself not knowing what your options are in a family law matter, it seems to me you have two realistic options. Go and see someone with the skills to be able to help you or get down to some serious reading and study. Perhaps there is a third option – a bit of both?
Library cards at the ready, everyone.