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Amalarella: A legal profession Christmas pantomime

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Amal Clooney joins Lady Hale, Charlotte Proudman, Lord Harley, Ayesha Vardag, Judge Rinder and other top lawyers in Katie King’s festive marvel

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In a kingdom far, far away, overlooking the City, an overworked corporate lawyer sat at her desk, trying to put together her latest court bundle.

“Why couldn’t they just try mediation?” she muttered under her breath, as she skimmed over yet another psychiatric report.

Her name was Amal — a bigshot lawyer at a top US firm.

She thought she’d made it big time, that all that hard graft at law school had finally paid off.

But then came the dreaded legal aid cuts, and corporate firms had to start picking up the slack. Amal began to take on more and more pro bono work, because she thought it was “the right thing to do”. Before long, she found herself locked away in her bedroom for hours and hours, trying to get her head around ‘child arrangements orders’ and ‘bail conditions’.

She stared out of her bedroom window, over at Chancery Lane, and sighed. “I wish I’d done the BPTC instead”, she thought to herself, “then I might have my own TV show by now”.

At that moment, her stepmum Ayesha Vardag burst in: “Amal sweetie how’s it going? You’ve been up here for hours.”

“I hate it — I can’t bear to look at one more page of family law.”

Enraged, her stepmum stared daggers at Amal. “How dare you! Don’t you know family law is the most important part of the entire profession?” Ayesha snapped. “Where would we be in life without top divorce lawyers? Helping people when they get into trouble — that’s what being a solicitor is all about.”

“I know, I know — but I just don’t know if I want to be a solicitor anymore. I’m sick of all the paperwork. I want to get into the courtroom, I want to be a judge.”

“Amal don’t be stupid. Becoming a judge is very difficult. It takes a lifetime. Just look at Lord Neuberger and co — they’re all old and grey.”

“Not Judge Rinder.”

Ayesha sighed. “How many times do I have to tell you Amal? He’s not a real judge!”

“Exactly! That’s exactly what I want. I want my own TV show, I want to be famous. I want to be the next Judge Rinder. And to do that, I have to become a barrister first.”

Ayesha sighed, walked across the room and knelt down next to her stepdaughter.

“Amal, there are no pupillages out there anymore. You’re doing just fine as you are, you can’t let me down now — you’re the only hope I have left. Just look at your two stepsisters: Charlotte Proudman and Lord Harley. Their careers aren’t going so well, I need someone I can be proud of.”

Ayesha stroked Amal’s hand, gave her a big smile, stood up and walked towards the door.

“Wait,” Amal called, her stepmum spinning around. “I just wanted to let you know something. There’s a big barristers’ Christmas party at Lincoln’s Inn on Thursday night, and I’m going to go.”

“What?” Ayesha stuttered. “You can’t do that, you’re not a barrister. And besides, you have to file your bundle for that big pro bono family case you’ve been working on by Friday morning.”

“I know but it’s fine, I’ll have it done by…”

“No!” Ayesha bellowed. “You have to work on your family law case. Get this ridiculous barrister idea out of your head and do as you’re told. Charlotte and Lord Harley haven’t been invited and they’ll be devastated if you go without them.”

“Mum, Lord Harley isn’t even a barrister!”

“Let her believe!” Ayesha screamed. “You’re not going, and that’s final!”

She slammed the door behind her, leaving Amal crying into her bundle.

Thursday, 6pm

After hours and hours trawling through witness statements and contact notes, the bundle was finally nearly finished.

Amal opened up her desk drawer, reached her hand into it, and rummaged around. “What, where is it?” she murmured. Panicked, she pulled out her draw, her second draw, the third.

“It’s gone! My pink tape is gone!”

Stressed to the bone, Amal pushed the bundle off of her desk, sending the papers crashing to the floor. She burst into tears, and whispered to herself, “I just want to go to Lincoln’s Inn”.

She lay on her desk for a few moments, thoughts racing around her head, when, out of nowhere, she heard ‘Single Ladies’ playing faintly in the background.

“What?” Amal thought to herself. “No one plays this song in the house because Charlotte thinks it has anti-feminist undertones.”

The music got louder, and suddenly, out of nowhere, a puff of pink smoke appeared in the middle of Amal’s bedroom.

“What is going on?” she screamed, as her room filled up with pink smoke.

“Hello Amal,” a voice echoed. “I am your fairy godmother, and I’m here to take you to Lincoln’s Inn.”

“This can’t be true” Amal muttered.

But it was.

“Lady Hale?! Is it you?”

“Yes Amal, it is me. I’ve been watching you from the Supreme Court bench, and I think you’d make an amazing TV judge. We need another top female judge and I think it should be you, but you’ve got years and years until you’ll be eligible. A woman as talented as you doesn’t deserve to slave away over eight hundred page bundles while your divorce diva stepmother and two stepsisters taunt you. You should be on TV Amal, you should be the next Judge Rinder.”

With a loud ‘ping’, Lady Hale struck her wand and there was Amal in a top-notch Ede & Ravenscroft barristers’ gown.

Amal walked over to the mirror, and gasped as she saw herself.

“I look perfect,” she smiled.

“Yes, you do — now come with me, the bundle can wait, let’s get you to the party.”

Arriving at Lincoln’s Inn, Amal felt as though she was walking into a dream world. She saw famous face after famous face dancing and chatting around her. Dinah Rose, Simon Myerson, Felicity Gerry, Tunde Okewale, Adam Wagner — they were all there, and Amal couldn’t believe her luck.

Heading over to grab herself a free drink, she felt a tap on her shoulder. Spinning around, she couldn’t help but gasp when she saw who was stood in front of her.

There he was, the man of her dreams.

“Hello, I don’t believe we’ve met. My name’s Robert Rinder,” he said, grabbing her hand for a handshake.

And that was that.

They got on like a house on fire. For hours, they talked and they talked. The time seemed to fly by as the two nattered away about legal news and gossip — the EU referendum, the gender diversity debate, whether there’d be a Legally Blonde 3.

“And what do you do Amal?” Robert finally asked, finishing off another glass of free wine. “What set are you at?”

She’d been dreading this question all night. She stuttered, taking a big gulp of her drink to buy her some time. “Oh, my set? Um, I work at Doughty Avenue Chambers. Have you heard of it?”

“Ah Doughty Avenue, of course, I know it well. I know a lot of people that work there — a lot of old friends from my days at Manchester Uni. Next time I swing by, I’ll make sure to say hi.”

She strained a smile, and glanced down at her watch while she decided what to say next.

“Shit!” she exclaimed. “It’s nearly three in the morning!”

“Yes, these barristers’ dos often run on quite late and can get a bit out of hand…”

Before he had time to finish his sentence, Amal stood up in a mad panic. She could hear Ayesha’s advice chiming away in her head — “stay at home and work on the bundle, you need to file it by Friday morning”. The whole thing was still lying on her bedroom carpet — and she still hadn’t found her pink tape.

“I have to go!”

As she ran out of the party, Amal could hear Robert calling for her — but she had to get back to her work. Running down the stairwell, she bashed into a preoccupied Not Amused, too busy reading Legal Cheek on his phone to notice her. She went tumbling down the stairs, her gown ripping off of her as she fell.

“Are you okay?” Not Amused shouted from the top of the stairs, picking up Amal’s crumpled gown for her.

But she didn’t have time to answer — she ran all the way home without looking back.

Amal found her pink tape in her Burges Salmon tote bag and did manage to file her bundle on time. Her life dragged on as normal for some weeks. Drowning in paperwork and law fair pens, she just couldn’t stop thinking about the amazing night she had shared with Judge Rinder.

As she trawled through the Financial Times for something clever-sounding to bring up at work’s next grad recruitment event, Amal heard a flamboyant knock on the door.

“I’ll get it!” shouted Ayesha, hopping down the stairs.

Staring back at the paper, her ears pricked up. She heard the sound of a familiar voice, one that she had been thinking about a lot lately…

“Oh my God, Judge Rinder’s here,” she said, bolting to her bedroom door in disbelief. She pushed her ear up to the doorframe.

“Sorry to disturb you, and I know this is a strange question to ask someone at their front door, but are there any female barristers living at this address?” Amal heard her number one idol ask.

Opening up her bedroom door, Amal saw her two stepsisters bolt down the staircase, both shouting “me, me, me, me!!!”

“Lord Harley!” Ayesha screamed. “Give it up! You’re a solicitor — and one who is under investigation at that.”

Pushing a frowning Lord Harley away, Ayesha grabbed her other daughter’s arm and presented her to Robert. “This, sir, is my lovely daughter Charlotte Proudman. And yes, she is a very successful barrister.”

Robert stared at her for a few moments, before taking a deep breath.

“I met a young, female barrister at a party a few weeks ago. We talked all night about all sorts, and I’ve been desperate to find her again. She left her robes at the event, and I’ve been going door to door trying to return them. Thing is, I can’t quite remember her name or what she looked like, because I was quite drunk.”

“It was me, sir. It was definitely me. Me,” Charlotte said, placing her hand out to pick up the gown.

Snatching it away from her, Robert paused for a moment. He stared at Charlotte’s face for a few moments.

“I don’t mean to be rude,” he began, “but I don’t think that you are the girl I’m looking for.”

“I am,” Charlotte replied. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“You see, even though I was pretty smashed, I’m pretty sure the girl I spoke to at Lincoln’s Inn had brown hair. Look, don’t me wrong, you’re gorgeous, stunning in fact…”

“How dare you!” Charlotte scowled, her mother watching in horror with her hand over her mouth.

“I didn’t mean to be rude…”

“Are you objectifying me by reinforcing the placement of my gender in a socially constructed paradigm that has allowed male power to reign unchallenged for centuries?” she screamed.

“Er…” Robert replied.

But before he could decipher the meaning of Charlotte’s question, she was gone, dashing to her bedroom to make some more #SmashThePatriarchy tweets.

With Robert halfway out the door, Amal knew that this was her one and only chance. Walking out onto the hallway, she called out to him, “Wait! I’m here, it’s me you’re looking for.”

“Oh sweetie,” Ayesha began. “This man is a barrister. He’s looking for another barrister he met at…”

“Yes, I know who he is, I’m his biggest fan. It’s me you’re looking for, Robert. My name is Amal,” she interrupted. She put out her hand for Robert to shake, and it all came flooding back to him.

“Of course it’s you,” Robert smiled. “You left your cloak when you ran out, and I swung by Doughty Avenue to give it back to you, but you weren’t there. I’ve been looking everywhere to find you — I know how expensive these things are.”

Handing over the gown, Amal smiled. But she couldn’t lie to him anymore — not to her role model.

“I’m a fraud, Robert. I’m not a real barrister. I got this cloak from my fairy godmother, but I’m not fit to wear it.” She pushed the robes back into Robert’s hand, and began to bolt up the stairs.

“Wait a second Amal,” Robert said, grabbing her by the forearm.

Ayesha watched on in shock and despair as Robert insisted that Amal take the gown.

“I will never forget the night we shared together at Lincoln’s Inn,” he started. “You know so much about law, it’s obvious. You don’t deserve to be slaving away in a law firm that doesn’t realise how great you are. You deserve much better.”

“Thank you, Rob, that means…”

“I’m upset that you lied to me Amal. I don’t like people telling me porky pies. But I knew when I came here that you weren’t a barrister. When I first went to Doughty Avenue the morning after the party to give you back your cloak, no one there had even heard of you, Amal.”

She looked up at him, confused.

“I don’t understand. If you knew I wasn’t a barrister why did you bother trying to find me to give me back the gown?”

“Because, Amal,” he smiled. “I wanted to find you. I think you have something, a star quality. There’s just something about you that screams celebrity.”

She listened wide-eyed, as Robert uttered the words she never thought she’d hear.

“My usher Michelle is on holiday for the next few weeks, and it’d be great if you could step in to fill her place. Who knows, the airtime might land you with your own show?”

Amal paused for a moment, before charging at Robert for a massive hug.

Amal met her idol at ITV studios the next week, where she played the part of his trusty sidekick for three episodes. He was so impressed with her performance, that he pulled a few strings and secured her a pupillage at Doughty Avenue.

No one quite knows what exactly happened to Amal, but rumour has it she found her prince, and her celeb status, and lived happily ever after.