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Why Did The Criminal Bar Association Choose Judge John Deed To Deliver Its Annual Lecture?

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Surreal scenes yesterday evening at the Criminal Bar Association’s (CBA) annual ‘Kalisher lecture’, which was delivered by Judge John Deed actor Martin Shaw. The gist of Shaw’s weird speech was: I don’t know much about law, but I love the glamour of the Inns of Court and I’m worried deregulation might spoil it.

Shaw’s big theme was that the Bar might go the way of the TV business, where a decline in independent production companies has apparently led to “more soap operas and X-Factor” and “less Shakespeare”.

The legal equivalent of this situation, Shaw went on to clumsily imply, was more solicitors and less barristers.

The Bar “cannot be fobbed off with in-house advocates. It will not be cheaper,” stated the actor solemnly, before adding with a knowing look at his audience of criminal barristers: “The Court of Appeal is an expensive place”.

Their reaction to the speech – which I actually attended, unlike the legal correspondents of the Evening Standard and The Guardian who churned out pre-event copy on the back of an advance press release – was polite bemusement.

But behind the smiles, surely they were wondering, like me, why the hell the CBA had chosen Shaw to deliver it.

I guess it was because having a celeb do it increases the likelihood of press coverage – and in that sense the plan worked.

But is it really a good idea for the CBA to foster an association with a lightweight TV judge at a time when it desperately needs to convince the world that its members do more than simply add a bit of glamour to the court process?

6 Comments

Secret Lawyer (@secretlawyer)

Surely this is just a bit of fun; Martin Shaw is there to entice criminal barristers to come along to a high profile event. A lecture on the meaning of ‘reckless’ might be slightly more heavyweight, from a legal perspective, but it won’t attract as big an audience. Good for the CBA.

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Joshua Rozenberg

It was actually the Kalisher Lecture, promoted by the Kalisher Trust (of which I’m a trustee). Maybe I’m biased but I thought it was a valuable perspective on the bar by an honorary bencher of Gray’s whose stepdaughter is training as a barrister. It was very well received by all who heard it: the barristers among the audience did not feel patronised by this carefully prepared lecture.

The Kalisher Trust, incidentally, provides scholarships for students seeking to join the criminal bar. Shaw presented the awards last night.

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Doubting Thomas

I think Alex should leave the meme creation to more learned/humorous minds.

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Didymus

Get out – I thought that was one of the few genuinely funny instances of a meme. Christ, it references two shows, what more do you want?

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DC

“Fewer barristers”. You’re supposed to be a lawyer for crying out loud.

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caseb

Wow, they’re really getting desperate, ha ha

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