The fourth of February, 2011: there was scarcely any telling where his voice had finished and where silence had begun

I quite like lawyers. I’ve read a lot of legal documentation (weirdly), and what I particularly admire is the dogged determination on the part of lawyers and legislators to pin down precise definiti0ns and distinctions, however apparently picayune the point or tedious the process (and even though the intent is occasionally – if not fundamentally – misguided).

There’s also, y’know, the whole ‘justice’ thing, too, I suppose.

So I don’t have the kneejerk all-lawyers-are-essentially-Lionel-Hutz attitude. Which is why I love this series of pieces from the Guardian. There aren’t many lawyers, give or take the odd Clarence Darrow or Gareth Peirce, who attain hero status, and I think these articles fulfil an overdue obligation.

Incidentally, I mentioned Darrow and Peirce mainly because both were lionised on film. Peirce was played by Emma Thompson in In The Name Of The Father (though her character was in fact a composite of several lawyers who worked on the Guildford Four’s case); I knew Darrow had been played by Spencer Tracy in Inherit The Wind, but I hadn’t come across Orson Welles’ portrayal in Compulsion (a dramatisation of the 1924 Leopold and Loeb murder trial) until I followed the link in Marcel Berlins’ piece. Here it is: the godfather of all courtroom summation scenes.

Let’s finish with this one. It’s fictional, of course, but it’s still great.


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