Lewis Hulatt, South East Consultant with Major Family Law, the divorce and family law specialists, comments:
Today marks my 30th anniversary of legal work: I started in September 1986, but like all the other ‘articled clerks’ of that time, I had my qualifications and these days would be called a ‘trainee solicitor’. Trainees had to be ‘articled’ (manacled?) to an experienced solicitor who had to take responsibility for them. Back then, it was a somewhat feudal relationship like being an ‘indentured servant’ but for those living in the modern world, it could be compared to being ‘vouched for’ in the Mafia, prior to becoming a ‘wise-guy’. On proving ourselves for a period of two years, instead of the button, we had Admission to the Roll. Modelled on the Rolls of Chivalry, I guess – champion knights, but without the chivalry: more often compared to White Company mercenary Sir John Hawkwood than Sir Lancelot. Instead of King Arthur, the Capo di Tutti Capi in charge of who is allowed to be called a solicitor is called ‘The Master of the Rolls’, which these days sounds like an achievement Paul Hollywood grants a handshake for in British Bake-Off.
I did indeed get a handshake – as we filed across the eponymous Law Society Hall I had my hand shaken by the President of the Law Society and a certificate which was, in keeping with my status, rolled up. I did my parents proud by managing to walk, speak and collect a piece of paper without tripping up.
I was officially a wise-guy.
Like something from Subway, I had been admitted to the Roll.
Whilst being a family lawyer can sometimes chew us up dealing with the stress of other people’s disappointments and emotional turmoil, 30 years of knowing that every case has an outcome helps.
Working remotely with a law firm 300 miles away is a far cry from learning to use the correct ribbon to sew documents together or wrapping documents in ‘brief-paper’ with instructions typed using extra-long typewriters before being correctly tied up with ‘pink string’. Back in my first firm, we had solicitors who were working into their 70s and 80s, so at least I was given realistic expectations of what might happen.
Thirty years on, a septuagenarian solicitor sitting in the office, listening to ‘The Archers’ and spending most of the day being brought cups of tea might not be expected, but if that ‘office’ is your home?