'He's Fucking Marvellous!': The Fall and Rise of Barristers' Clerks
6 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2007
Date Written: 2007
Barristers typically rely on a type of consigliere called the barrister's clerk who carries out a number of tasks for them. Clerks manage their time through diary management (eg. when they have to be in court); clerks negotiate their fees; and clerks counsel them on how their careers should be structured (eg. what kind of law to specialize in, when to become a Queen's Counsel). At one time clerks would receive a percentage of the barrister's fees for this work.
Nowadays they are mostly salaried. Moreover, the growth of technology has simplified some tasks, such as listing cases in court which can by done through the internet. However, marketing, fixing fees, and counseling careers still endures.
Using Mary Douglas' idea of taboo, I argue that the clerk defines the dividing line between the sacred area of the law and the profane world of money and clients. The class divisions further emphasize this. Clerks are generally working class compared to the middle-class barrister.
Both sides are uneasy about the relationship, but as long as the current structure of the Bar exists, the need for this moral division of labor will persist.
Keywords: barristers, clerks, bar, lawyers, legal profession
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