From time to time I allow my brother, Professor R.D. Charon, to express his more strident views on legal academe by inviting him to do a guest post. Well to the right of Mr Genghis Khan and embittered by an almost invisible career in the back rooms of a university – the worthy professor has advice in plenty for the aspirant law student. I accept no liability whatsoever for any injury to mind or body (or at all) which may be sustained by the reader who is minded to take Professor Charon’s advice. Caveat emptor… as we say down at The Old Duck and Dog.
The Vicissitude of a career in Law
BY Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d, FRSA
Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of The Rive Gauche, London Faculty, London
Author: “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009
I can do no better than reprise my annual address to the new intake of vestal virgins who present themselves at my university each October, their burden of wealth lightened by the accounts department, eager to begin their ‘journey of discovery’ in the Law.
Gentlemen and Ladies, Good morning.
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!
Fremde, etranger, stranger.
Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante,
Happy to see you, bleibe, reste, stay.
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
Im Cabaret, au Cabaret, to Cabaret
Meine Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Messieurs,
Ladies and Gentlemen! Guden Abend, bon soir,
We geht’s? Comment ca va? Do you feel good?
I bet you do!
Ich bin euer Confrecier; je suis votre compere…
I am your host!
Well.. there we are… you few, you happy few, you band of brothers who, despite the endeavours of Mr Michael Gove, a political Colossus who strides the empire of his own vanity, have arrived at our university to begin your studies in the Laws of England & Wales with a soupçon of European law woven pervasively through the syllabus to equip you to deal with Johnny Foreigner’s issues across The Channel, should you have the misfortune to be involved in same.
A few words to encourage you. Approximately two percent of you gathered here today will defeat the examiners – and make no mistake, at this university, we are out to get you – you will secure First Class Honours. Given the reputation of our university, such an award, maxima cum laude, will provide a most satisfactory start to your career. Fifteen per cent of you will secure honours at Upper Second, giving you a sporting chance with the leading firms and chambers, and 40 per cent will have to do what you can in the legal world with a Lower Second. For the gentlemen and gentleladies among you who regard your lives as a crime in progress, as Hunter S. Thompson would say, and secure a Third – this is a Certificate of Incompetence and it may be best that you leave your alma mater and head off , post haste, to the Police Community Support Officer’s recruitment centre – the address to which is helpfully provided by us in your ‘Welcome Pack’. The Law will not be for you.
The exigencies of modern life, with universities cast into the cauldron of commerce by Two Brains Willett’s and left to fund for themselves, have forced us against the very fabric of our collective wills, to levy a fee for your education well north of the £9000 per annum charged by lesser institutions. On the upside – you will not be required to sit through a battery hen two year ‘new style’ law degree favoured by some parvenu institutions where black letter law is regarded as an inconvenience and the syllabus is brimming with the practice skills of stapling, creating PDFs, bundling et al and a fair bit of financial mumbo-jumbery cobbled together from the vaults of a US inspired MBA program (sic). Nor will you be taught by sundry gurus, prognosticators and modern day legal profession Messiahs. You will be taught by distinguished men and women who have devoted their lives to the study of law in their field and who, through benefit of reflection, are able to shape the laws of our country by sharing their opinions through learned journals. Indeed, my own magnum opus, “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2009 was, I am advised, quoted with approval by a High Court judge only yesterday in a complex matter.
As to your future. From this university a career at the commerical bar or a leading City law firm awaits those who reach the top of the mountain first. You will be able to writhe with pleasure in the cess pit of mammon for about thirty years before the inevitable decline at the age of 50 and you are de-equitised by your partners at the firm of your choosing or, in the alternative, the senior clerk of your Chambers asks if he may have a ‘quiet word’ and hands you a copy of the latest Saga holiday brochure.
Gentlemen and ladies – the future is bright… the future is in your hands. Tomorrow belongs to you. I wish you well.
Professor Charon nods to the students and plays Tomorrow Belongs To Me from Cabaret to inspire the students.