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Victoria Mole
16 September, 2008  
Junior lawyers at large

Managing the law on behalf of partners’ frightful families and feral friends. Vicki Mole explains how the Firm flick passes “mates cases” to the legal toddlers

imageI’ve got a file of my own!

It hasn’t got my initials on the front because I’m not a lawyer as yet.

But a partner has told me it’s mine, all mine, and I’m to prepare all documents, see it through and not f*ck it up. (Property lawyers aren’t the most eloquent of souls – the stated consideration on a spouse-to-spouse transfer as “natural love and affection” being about as verbose as they get.)

The director of a large property developer client has had proceedings issued against him under the Domestic (Feral and Nuisance) Animals Act.

Floppy, his Shih Tzu, was found “at large” wandering the ghettos of Brighton after sunset and he wants to contest it (the client that is, I’m not sure Floppy has strong views on the matter).

I’m to brief the best of the best, clear his good name and show the council he and Floppy are a force to be reckoned with.

He wants his kids to testify that Floppy was under their supervision on the fateful night.

However, he doesn’t want them giving evidence in the courtroom lest their privileged bubbles of existence burst as a result of interacting with the common people.

I’ve been on hold to the Magistrates Court for a good 18 units trying to tee up a videolink from a separate courtroom to which the kiddies can be chaperoned.

The Evidence Act says all this is possible, but this wisdom obviously hasn’t trickled down to anyone at the Magies.

On the four occasions (of 15) that anyone has answered my calls, one didn’t know such a service existed, another said it was only for child abuse cases and another said Lucy was the Child Witness Services girl and he’d get her to give me a call.

When she didn’t and I called back, switchboard said no one called Lucy worked at the court and there was no such service.


Files like mine exist in every group at the Firm.

They are of questionable merit and in no way related to the practice area of the group, save that the client is a partner’s old mate with a dubious axe to grind.

In M & A three generations of articled clerks have worked on the carpet file – litigation, now in the Supreme Court, which derived from the pain and suffering experienced by an equity partner’s sister after her beachhouse was adorned in the wrong shade of greige.

Worst are the family law files because no one senior knows or cares two hoots about the jurisdiction so articled clerks must resort to Wikipedia just to figure out what “custody” is being called this year.

Yet these files really are win-win.

Junior lawyers get a taste of autonomy and a break from precedent document drafting.

Senior lawyers get to do their mates a favour at minimal personal cost without having to educate themselves in an area of law they will never touch again.

But what of the client’s frolic being in the hands of the legal equivalent of a toddler? And what of the interests of justice in encouraging such vexation?

Well … paws crossed I don’t f*ck it up.




Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: September 17, 2008, 2:02 am

Robert Richter probably doesn't need the work - why not brief Junior Junior from Sydney? The partners will be impressed that you searched so far and wide for interstate counsel and the client will get to pay for interstate travel and claim it back on his taxes, since his dog is obviously an employee of his family trading trust.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: September 24, 2008, 4:38 am

Welcome to the mysteries of the Carrollian Federal Magistrates Court, where the answer to your question turns not any Rule or Practice Note, but the time of day, the state of the tides and the respective positions of the planets in the sky!