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Backlash: Lawyers react to appointment of new Lord Chancellor

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And some ask whether Liz Truss is just a career politician

liz

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.

22 Comments

Anonymous

typical, the only things she has going for her as far as this role is concerned is the fact she’s a female?

lol Britain is truly dead

(30)(5)

Anonymous

“I don’t care that she’s not a lawyer, provided she’s ready to come and talk…”

Way to go, smashing down women stereotypes.

(8)(8)

Anonymous

Lol. “I don’t care that she’s not a lawyer, providing she’s prepared to come and… listen”… and then laughs at our jokes… and tell us how strong and brave we all are.

Seem like those sales skills can be put to some good use.

(1)(0)

Not Amused

I don’t like the fact that we all seem to have given up on the separation of powers …

I think the heads of the judiciary should do more to ensure we are independent.

(13)(0)

Anonymous

Must be really getting to her, she seems to be hugging her invisible friend in the picture on this article

(1)(1)

Thumbs up if you get the gag

I think we should be very supportive of Ms Truss.

(14)(5)

Anonymous

Fiona Woolf is *former Lord Mayor of London—left office almost two years ago

(1)(1)

Anonymous

I am incredulous that LC has put a “sic” in the quote from Lord Falconer: not sure semi-literate people in glass houses should throw stones of that kind…

(17)(3)

Anonymous

But you can be sure as sh*t that if they’d not put the ‘sic’ there, you would have been the first to comment as to how they’d got Lord Falconer’s quote wrong…

(3)(8)

Anonymous

I don’t understand what you mean. The quote would not have been wrong without the “sic”. It would simply have been reporting what he said. All that would have been missing would have been the babyish smart-alecky attempt to imply that Falconer had used language incorrectly.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Bullsh*t. You would have instantly written some snarky comment assuming that the error was on LC’s part, not CF’s. That’s why publications – and, indeed, lawyers – use ‘sic’ when quoting ; to ensure that the error is attributed to its maker, not the publisher.

(1)(8)

Anonymous

Sorry Katie.

Anonymous

I think that you’ve misunderstood the point. (BTW, I’m a new ‘Anonymous’ commenting, not any of the previous ones.) The point is that to write ‘Truss has not experience or gravitas’ is not actually an error, and therefore ‘sic’ is inappropriate. ‘Truss has not experience or gravitas’ is simply an alternative (albeit somewhat archaic, but not wrong) way of saying ‘Truss does not have experience or gravitas’.

Anonymous

I am the original anonymous and the inmediately preceding comment contains what I hoped would be taken obviously to be my point. Thank you, new anonymous, for explaining it to the rest of the class.

Lord Lyle

I am pleased young students understand the concept of the separation of powers.

The Quote from the Secret Barrister is enough.

Erdogan has sacked the entire judiciary.

P’stan rebelled at the sacking of its lord chief justice by Musharraf.

Here we do nothing and tyranny looms.

There is something rotten in the state of England.

The last Lord Chancellor I got on with was Lord Hailsham.

Jurisprudentially the concept of a “minister of justice” is an oxymoron.

(8)(2)

Corbyn. Sympathiser.

These are interesting attempts at haiku.

(7)(3)

James Vine

Gender is not the issue. Dearth of experience and surfeit of ambition might be though

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Ministers are public spokespeople anyway, they don’t need to be in the professions.

This is the same cheap and lazy populism that has people demanding that only soldiers can make defence decisions.

(1)(0)

Ciaran Goggins

Far more worrying is that Norfolk Police are amongst the most corrupt in England (quite a feat). Liz ignores any attempts to root out the Fenland version of “Deliverance”. Those of you who have passed through Downham Market will now what I mean, boy.

(0)(0)

Arthur Ian Legend

Hopefully she has a sister – she can be LCJ.
Happy days.

(0)(0)

Queen Eleanor

All Lord Chancellors are politicians and have been since the post was created (imagine telling Henry VIII that he was wrong to appoint Cardinal Wolsey). It’s very dispiriting to see the ignorance of the constitution deployed in these criticisms of Liz Truss. She’s hardly the first one to be a lawyer, the last Grayling and Gove aren’t t either. I don’t think it’s enough that she’s a woman, but it’s difficult to see what else is behind a criticism people might have made of the last two men, but didn’t. Or of Hailsham, indeed, who might have been a lawyer, but who was a politician first and last.

(0)(0)

Not Amused

I find your argument deeply unattractive. It is quite clear that you are simply trying to dismiss all concerns about Truss as misogyny. That’s just not on.

Firstly you ignore the genuine concerns – she is deeply inexperienced and she is likely to a) have a long-term career in front of her and b) be more interested in that career than in the role.

Secondly, and I speak as a Tory who is proud to have produced two women PMs – dismissing the people who you disagree with as ‘sexist’ or ‘racist’ is just not cricket. It’s not us. It’s what the left do to stifle debate. I was ambivalent about Truss when she was appointed. Seeing her reach immediately for the sexism button in the face of pretty mild criticism changed my view of her for the worse.

Less of this identity politics nonsense please. It’s the province of students. I prefer detail and proper arguments. She has yet to produce any of those …

(1)(0)

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