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Victoria Mole
11 November, 2008  
Courting glory

Promising advocate Vicki Mole has her first experience of the splendour of advocacy … the triumph of the oral tradition … the power of persuasion. Oh, the thrill of it all

image9:40am Monday morning and William St is a-flurry. As is my stomach.

I’m pacing up and down the overcrowded stretch of pavement outside the Magistrates Court, savouring the last dregs of a lukewarm soy latte, dodging the trussed-up defendants in borrowed suits and cartoon ties and the cameramen perching to nab shots of departing drink-driving footballers, and mouthing the first words I will ever utter in a courtroom.

“Your-Honour-if-it-pleases-the-court-my-name-is-Victoria-Mole. I-seek-leave-to-appear-as-an-articled-clerk … I-appear-for-the-informant-in-this-matter … The-parties-have-reached-agreement-on-the-relevant-issues-and-we-make-application-for-the-charges-to-be-withdrawn-with-no-order-as-to-costs.”

Like a religious mantra, I say it over and over. In a high voice, deep voice, slow voice, fast voice, chipmunk voice, House of Lords voice …

When I was little I used to recite Jabberwocky under my breath until the slithy toves took me somewhere dreamy.

The repetition of nonsensical words was soporific to my six year old ears.

Twenty years later, every repetition of this absurdly worded legalese spiel is making my breakfast rise closer to the back of my throat.

Enough. I’m going in.

Ten minutes early but I’ll just sit at the back of the courtroom and do my yogic breathing.

It’s not my file, it’s the smallest of small administrative procedures for someone else’s small client’s small file. As if I’d be trusted with anything of consequence.

Meditate on that. Inhale, exhale …

I push through the front door and join the queue at the metal detector behind a pony-tailed fellow who smells like petrol, praying that I’ve removed the corkscrew from my handbag after the weekend’s picnicking.

Not a conversation I need to be having right now.

Underwires cause angry bleeping but otherwise all clear.

Right. Courtroom 14. Here I go. Hair behind ears, stand up straight. Open the door and bow to the magistrate. Left foot, right foot …

“Is there ANYONE here for the Commission?” a voice thunders from the bench.


My tongue gets caught on my teeth as I start to talk.

“Ah, Your Honour, that would be me.”

“And who are you?”

“Your-Honour-if-it-pleases-the-court-my-name-is-Victoria-Mole-and-I-seek-leave …”

“Why weren’t you here at 9:30?”

“Um. Your Honour. The notice from the court and the website said 10.”


“Oh … OK.”

“Well, what is happening?”

“Um …”

All my childhood hopes and dreams of being an advocate for people’s fundamental rights and liberties are being pulverised into a quivering mess of self-doubt and futility. No, that’s not what she means …

“How do the parties wish to progress today?”

“Oh. The-parties-have-reached-agreement-on-the-relevant-issues-and-we-make-application-for-the-charges-to-be-withdrawn.”



“Well, obviously.”

“Thank you Your Honour. So sorry Your Honour.”

Cheeks blazing, I bolt to the door, do a clumsy pirouette of a bow and stagger out into the street, hugging the now withdrawn file to my chest like a beloved baby blanket.

The power, the glory. This is what it feels like to be a lawyer.


Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 12, 2008, 12:05 am

Real lawyers don't drink soy lattes.
Posted by: David Bennett QC
Date: November 12, 2008, 6:48 pm

A doctor's first operation and an actor's first appearance probably aren't that much fun either. It gets much much better as you get your confidence.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 12, 2008, 6:48 pm

Yeah - real lawyers drink short macc's
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 13, 2008, 7:40 am

real men don't take half-sugars
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 14, 2008, 9:01 am

Real, real men don't need sugar
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 17, 2008, 6:49 pm

If you can memorise Jabberwocky, you'll go far. Well done for a first go.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 18, 2008, 8:15 am

My first court appearance included burning my mouth so badly on my soy latte that it has blistered by the time I made it into court and I sounded like I was talking with a mouthful. Not my best appearance to date but I'm pleased to report they have improved significantly since then,
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 21, 2008, 7:33 pm

As an Articled Clerk? What would Rosie Heilbron have said??
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 25, 2008, 9:05 pm

My first experience invovled crutches, 10 secs of stunned silence and 20 secs of hysterical babbling..... Im not a commercial lawyer!