Twitter row rumbles over of meaning of ‘lawyer’

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By Judge John Hack on

A leading media rent-a-quote merchant reckons as long as you can say the word, you can adopt the title


Defining “lawyer” can be a tricky business — especially with the advent of alternative business structures, where one day even the law firm tea boy could be in the partnership — so it’s no wonder a social media row has broken out over the meaning of the word.

In the opposing corners of this cyberspace boxing ring are Mohammed Ansar — a self-styled social commentator focussing on Islamic issues — and Bev Williamson, a wife and mother based in France, where she is doing a PhD in criminal cartels and has an interest in sport law.

Ansar — who is renowned across Fleet Street and London broadcasting studios as a rent-a-quote merchant on anything to do with Muslim issues — and Williamson have been jousting for some time on The Twitter, with the latter particularly annoyed by the former’s recent suggestion that he is a “lawyer”.

Show us your practising certificate, she challenges the man The Spectator magazine has described as a former bank employee from Hampshire.

Ansar’s response speaks for itself.

Clearly, he adopts the liberal view that as long as one can spell the word, one is entitled to adopt the title. It is an attitude that opens a whole seam of possibilities, as the Legal Cheek art team has helpfully illustrated here.


While the main criteria for qualification in Ansar’s legal world seems simple enough, sadly both commentators fall down on a simple rule of English grammar. The Americans may well make no distinction between noun and verb in relation to “practice” and “to practise”, but we here in Blightly still do.

The judge’s old English master at school would have forcefully chucked the rubber at both Ansar and Williamson for their negligence.