While the decision to jail Trenton Oldfield has been greeted with shock – the New Statesman went as far as to describe the case as “our Pussy Riot” – there has also been amusement at the anti-elitism protester's rather elite background.
Oldfield attended one of Australia’s most highly-regarded fee-paying schools, before obtaining a masters degree at the London School of Economics and becoming a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
It seems that this taste for establishment excellence may have influenced Oldfield's choice of lawyers...
*Update Saturday 21 January: Occupy has cancelled the mock trial of RBS scheduled for today*
Below is the spruced-up main courtroom in the disused Old Street magistrates' court - squatted by protesters since last month - where Occupy is currently holding three mock trials. Yesterday was war crimes, today the effect of the legal aid bill on squatters, and Saturday a prosecution of RBS for fraud and the misspending of public funds. My review of the war crimes inquiry, featuring another pic from Noah, is in today's Guardian.
Occupy London protesters have been granted the right to continue squatting a disused Old Street magistrates’ court (pictured below) until January 23 – giving the group the opportunity to stage a series of “trials of the 1%” over the next three weeks.
The decision to allow the protesters to stay was made yesterday in the warmer climes of Clerkenwell County Court, where Occupy came to an agreement with the Old Street building’s property developer owner Mastcraft Limited (represented by Stratford solicitors’ firm Bowling & Co.).
Gytis Turbinas, one of the members of Occupy’s legal team, told Legal Cheek that the group was “very happy” with the outcome. “It’s in our interests to not have these court cases,” he said. “Three weeks gives us enough time. And it saves Mastcraft money enforcing a possession order and incurring further court expenses. We have reached an agreement that is good for all sides.”
Unless the legal profession acts, an occupation of the Inns of Court could become inevitable, argues OccupyTheInns
During the last few days I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it is not currently a realistic objective to occupy the Inns of Court. It has become clear to me that it is simply too dangerous for most law graduates without training contracts or pupillages to attempt an occupation. I include myself in this group. As angry and disheartened as I may be, I continue to be hopeful of obtaining pupillage, and indeed have had some positive news on that front.
For that reason I can see that protest is something that all disenfranchised law graduates must approach with caution. Nevertheless, I am proud of this campaign for raising a good deal of awareness on the matter, notwithstanding some disappointing comments in response to the words I have written. Sadly, I expect more to follow these words.
I make the above statement of retreat with a caveat, however. If a year or two passes and a sizeable number of law graduates remain without pupillages and training contracts, and without the hope of securing one, then the situation could be very different. At that point, it may be more dangerous to continue sleep-walking in a basic legal support role than to publicly draw attention to the situation through an occupation of the Inns of Court.
Jobless law graduates should follow the St Paul's protesters' example, argues OccupyTheInns
As the Occupy Wall Street camp is cleared, and the City of London commences legal action against the Occupy London protesters, why am I proposing the occupation of the Inns of Court? Simple. Because I, and many law graduates like me, are angry. As we have seen in Egypt, New York and at home in London, anger can be a great energiser.
Through no fault of our own, a generation of Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) graduates find ourselves with no jobs – or no jobs as lawyers anyway. The lucky ones are paralegals. The unlucky ones work in bars (not the Bar).