Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Rent is Too Damn High

As a young man, like so many of my friends, I had an informal profit-à-prendre (in gross) over large tracts of land in Sydney, from which I took natural resources, wild game and briefs. After a time of this carefree existence I decided I needed to establish a more formal base for my burgeoning legal practice. It was this desire for a possessory interest in land that inspired me, in the late 1940s, to turn the first sod on the ground that later would become Albert Bathurst Piddington Chambers in Phillip Street. At the time, the standard rental arrangement with the James McGirr New South Wales State Government was that if you cleared any land south of Bridge Street you could rent it for 20 years for a literal peppercorn (being highly sought-after at the time for their laxative qualities).

As you can imagine, the gross margin my Practice ran at in those heady days of free rent and relentless lawsuits over Victoria’s controversial success in the 1947 Claxton Shield was the envy of legal practitioners the world over.

Unfortunately since that time, through a slow and pernicious creeping death of incremental hikes, the rent on my chambers has now reached astronomical proportions. These days I am literally living hand to mouth while my landlord grows fat off the fruits of my labour. This situation has become untenable and it is for that reason that I am pleased to announce I have engaged my dear friend and regular New York gubernatorial candidate James McMillan as the collective bargaining agent for the Barristers of Piddington Chambers to take up our noble cause against Barristers' Chambers Limited in our forthcoming rent review.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lawmen in Popular Culture

I recently constituted a Citizens' Assembly, with the aim of reaching a community consensus as to whether the Spectrum Plus approach to the characterisation of fixed charges over book debts ought to be persuasive in Australian courts.

It was, understandably and like most Citizens’ assemblies held to solve incredibly technical problems, a free-ranging and jovial affair, that touched on many areas of community concern about this pressing issue. In one of the many, many moments of levity that punctuated the discussion, Geert van der Staiij, my Dutch neighbour and a possible future 'non est factum' test case, remarked "Mr Bullstrode, why do lawyers think that people like to hear them speak?"

It was a good question and one to which I spoke at length. While my response largely centred around the growing acceptance of my controversial theory that those in our society of higher moral and intellectual capability (lawyers) are under a natural law fiduciary duty to impart their wisdom on those around them*, minutes 22-24 were dedicated to the prevalence of lawyers in pop culture. The highlights were:

(a) Few people know that David E. Kelly was inspired to write ‘The Practice’ after witnessing footage of me in chambers quietly reading a brief, sipping port and consulting the CLRs. Ultimately, studio heads had their way and the pilot episode ‘Bobby Donnell reads Perre v Apand Pty Ltd 198 CLR 180’ was replaced with something boring about criminal law, sex and a law firm in Boston. Nevertheless, many neutral observers are still struck today by the many similarities between myself and Mr Robert Donnell.

I am struck today by the many similarities between myself and Mr Robert Donnell.

(b) The runaway success of an episode of “20 to 1” that I co-chaired with my dear friend Bertrand Newton entitled “20 to 1 most outrageous uses of the rule in Foss v Harbottle”. Apparently Channel 9’s switchboard lit up when the famous incident of the Rolling Stones ratifying an alleged wrong by simple majority on their 1973 tour of North America was listed as Number 1!

(c) An account of the statistically proven fact that lawyers are deeply hilarious individuals. Consider successful comedians such as Tom Gleisner, James O’Loughlin, Sean Micalleff, Judge Joe Brown and Neville Wran who all obtained their comedic grounding via the time-honoured route of a bachelor of laws degree. The relationship between legal learning and hilarity is, of course, not a recent development. Indeed the Third Protectorate Parliament under the speakership of noted legal humourist Chaloner Chute was considered the “Packed to the Rafters” of the 1600s.

*While this may seem pure vanity, it is, in reality, an incredibly heavy burden to bear. It regularly takes me more than 4 hours to traverse the 80 odd metres from my Phillip Street Chambers to the Supreme Court, as I am obliged to lecture every single non-lawyer I come across on:

(a) my many lifetime achievements;

(b) their many failings (based on my reasonably formed initial perceptions), both remediable and irremediable; and

(c) the means by which any such remediable failings may be rectified.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Law Society of NSW - Council Elections

Lawmen of New South Wales,

Commeth the hour, commeth the man. I am writing to you by electronic transmission to ask your support as I seek election for the Large Firm position at this year’s Law Society Council elections. This email is unrelated to any I may have previously sent to your in your capacity as a potential conduit of Nigerian financing opportunities. For the avoidance of doubt, those offers remain open.

At literally any moment now you will receive your ballot papers from the NSW Law Society. Here is what I will stand for when I am elected to the Law Society Council:

a) The wholesale repeal of CLERP 7, in all of its insidious guises.
b) The appointment of Wyatt Roy and Justin Bieber to the Juvenile Justice Sub-Committee of the Law Society of NSW.
c) Using the corporations power to overcome the High Court’s lamentable Octaviar decision.
d) Convening a citizens’ assembly to resolve once and for all whether there is a fifth category in Masters v Cameron.
e) Outlawing severability clauses.
f) Stopping jurisprudential waste and turning back the boats.

For those of you that are unaware of my many, many distinguished years as a Lawman, I have set out below a brief ‘snap shot’ of career highlights:

· Career victories against Sir Garfield Barwick: 2

· Golden Gavel winner, 1945

· Internationally renowned authority on the training and discipline of hounds

· Author of Whitelocke: On Lawmanship 3rd Edition and countless other learned texts, including ‘Mary Sidney Herbert: A Winsome Spinster’ and ‘The Separation of Canon and Common Law: Eight (8) Centuries of Legal Madness’

In short, I will bring erudition, accountability, dignity and a detailed knowledge of the training of hounds to the role of large Firm Member, which for too long has been dominated by the vested interests of solicitors who work for large firms.

If you agree that these ideas are right for our time, then please vote for me in the Law Society Council elections.

A faint heart never won a fair maiden. Be brave and vote.

Kind regards,

Bullstrode Whitelocke K.C.
Knight of the Thistle, Order of the Companions of Honour, Knight of the Hutt River Province, President of the Australian Chapter of the Stone Masons, 18 times Heraclitus Society Man of the Year, The Leverhulme Medal for the application of Heraclitus to Chemistry, The Royal Guelphic Order, Knight Grand Commander of The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, Kaisar-I-Hind Medal, Officer of the Order of Australia, Australian Antarctic Medal, Champion Shots Medal.
Albert Bathurst Piddington Chambers
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