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Former Macfarlanes solicitor is the new Lord Chancellor

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Top government legal post occupied by a lawyer again

The new Lord Chancellor is a lawyer for the first time since 2012. David Gauke, who began his career as a trainee solicitor with Reed Smith and then joined Macfarlanes before moving into politics, replaces non-lawyer David Lidington.

Lidington has lasted even less time in the Lord Chancellor post than his much-disliked predecessor Liz Truss, being moved in Theresa May’s Cabinet reshuffle just six months after appointment. He replaces Damian Green as Cabinet Office minister, the latter sacked from office after making “misleading statements” about porn found on his work computer.

Like his predecessor, Gauke — the MP for South West Hertfordshire since 2005 — voted Remain in the EU referendum. It’s notable that he is a solicitor rather than a barrister, with the bar traditionally being the recruiting ground for senior legal roles in government.

Lidington has, generally speaking of course, been a well-liked Justice Secretary. His smooth October Justice Committee session was a world apart from performances given by Truss throughout her short chancellorship. (Truss was, of course, known more for her mealy-mouthed response to the ‘ENEMIES OF PEOPLE’ headline during the Article 50 High Court hearing than she ever was for commitment to justice.)

So while some will be sad to see Lidington go (albeit just to another Cabinet seat), others are more concerned by the effect the past few years have had on the Lord Chancellor title.

The role has, historically, been a well-respected one filled exclusively by lawyers. However, a recent change in law saw much-hated Chris Grayling, a non-lawyer, take the post, leading to a swathe of legal aid cuts we’re still very much feeling the effects of.

Grayling lasted about two-and-a-half years in the post, before being replaced by Michael Gove. The notable Brexiter is hardly the most liked MP in the House of Commons, but in his 14 months in the role he quelled lawyers’ Grayling-directed anger by revoking a number of his predecessor’s policies. Then came Truss in July 2016 — she spent 11 months in the role before being kicked to the curb. Lidington filled her boots in June 2017, his six-month stint making him the shortest serving Lord Chancellor since the late 1980s.

These quick changes are in stark contrast to Lord Chancellors gone by.

James Mackay QC was Lord Chancellor from 1987 to 1997, for example, while more recently Charles Falconer managed four years in the mid-noughties, while Jack Straw served from 2007 to 2010 and Kenneth Clarke from 2010 to 2012.

So, while changes in the Cabinet are exciting for politics enthusiasts, lawyers can’t help but sigh as yet another Lord Chancellor takes the stand. With prisons crumbling and legal aid cuts ravaging both criminal and civil law, we hope that Gauke — who held his previous post of Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for just over six months — will stay in the post long enough to make a considerable difference.

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17 Comments

Anonymous

Don’t you mean that he bagged the Lord Chancellor role?

Anonymous

From that stunning photo he looks to be quite the beefcake

Anonymous

He’d give a painful handjob.

Not Amused

Yet another child who owes everything to the PM.

Anonymous

First solicitor to become Lord Chancellor?

Anonymous

No.

Anonymous

Who was then?

Anonymous

This article is strange – sweeping, unevidenced statements such as ‘much hated’ and ‘hardly the most liked MP in the House of Commons’ just make no sense at all.

LC should always be a lawyer

Not really…

Chris Grayling was notably disliked as Lord Chancellor by the profession. Micheal Gove is clearly not the most liked MP, being a senior Tory and staunch Brexit supporter.

Anyone with an ounce of awareness should see these statements as pretty self evident.

Anonymous

It is unbelievable that it has taken this long for a lawyer to be appointed Lord Chancellor.

What has been the pre-req’s for the last 6 years? Be relatively incompetent but schoolmates with a good chunk of cabinet?

Who knows, maybe within the next decade they’ll finally get a Secretary of State for Defence who actually served in the military or police, and a Secretary of State for Health that is actually a doctor. Or nah, just continuously ram career political hacks into it. No wonder this country lost the empire.

Anonymous

And not before time

Nicholas Altham

Since the Act of Union in 1707 there have been 58 Lord Chancellors. 6 of them have been appointed since 2010. Quite a rapid increase in turnover.

Anonymous

PM in waiting. Return to centrist competence looming.

Anonymous

What a hunk

Anonymous

What a chunk

Anonymous

What a funk

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