Backlash: Lawyers react to appointment of new Lord Chancellor

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By Katie King on

And some ask whether Liz Truss is just a career politician


Lawyers have raised concerns about the appointment of yet another non-lawyer Lord Chancellor.

The dust has barely settled on Liz Truss’s appointment to the prestigious position, and the profession is already beginning to speak out against her.

The main concern flitting around legal London is Truss’s apparent lack of legal experience. At only 40-years-old, she’s considerably younger than previous lord chancellors and — more worryingly — her background is in sales and economics, i.e. not in law.

Lord Faulks — who was justice minister under former justice secretaries (and non-lawyers) Michael Gove and Chris Grayling — has gone as far as to resign from the post over reported fears about newbie Truss.

Speaking to The Times, Faulks questioned whether the ex-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs turned head of the Ministry of Justice would have “the clout” to defend the profession. He continued:

Is she going to be able to stand up, come the moment, to the prime minister, for the rule of law and for the judiciary… without fear of damaging her career?

Lord Falconer, former Lord Chancellor, shared these sentiments. He said:

Truss has not [sic] experience or gravitas and gives every impression of only wanting to climb the greasy pole.

As did anonymous legal blogger The Secret Barrister:

I would have preferred the role to go to someone… who has been in the trenches, who has sat in urine-stained cells with an addict smashing his face against a chair as you try to take instructions while a Crown Court judge loftily bellows for your attendance upstairs. Who knows what it is to be a partner in a legal aid firm one delayed Legal Aid Agency payment away from going under. Who has a lifetime’s worth of legal and constitutional wisdom to infuse into their political decisions.

Though the concern from the legal profession is no doubt genuine, it’s not all bad news for Truss. Others have come out in support of the Oxford-educated politician, who is the first ever female Lord Chancellor.

One such supporter is Fiona Woolf, CMS Cameron McKenna lawyer and Lord Mayor of the City of London. She said:

The shattering of the glass ceiling by the appointment of the first woman Lord Chancellor… is much to be celebrated. It sends a strong message about women in senior positions in the legal profession and the judiciary, which now recognise the need to make progress with the diversity and inclusion agenda.

Also “excited and hopeful” about the first even woman Justice Secretary is 11KBW barrister Harini Iyengar, who is also an active member of the Women’s Equality Party. She commented:

Just as I want to see equal representation of women judges in the courts, I want to see half the Cabinet female, because women have different life experiences and senior government needs to listen to women’s perspectives. I don’t care that she’s not a lawyer, provided she’s ready to come and talk, listen, and understand us in the legal profession.

And a final word from The Secret Barrister:

[I]f Gove has taught us anything, it is that it is only right and fair to pause and see what Truss has to offer.

Fingers crossed she’s half as passionate about the justice system as she is about cheese.