by: Hay, Gordon
Traditionally in the North East, solicitors, or lawyers as they’re kent as noo were ca’d “The Man O’ Business”. “Man” cause till a fyow ear ago “The Law” wis a male preserve wi only ane or twa weeminfolk practisin as lawyers, an’ “Man O’ Business” cause the lawyer did athin’ tae de wi yer business or legal wark. Times hiv changed an’ nooadays verra fyow lawyers can be truly ca’d a man o’ business an yer jist as likely tae hae a female lawyer as a male. Wi laws comin’ doon fae Holyrood, Westminster an Brussels it’s near impossible tae keep up wi’ a’ the developments in the law, so fit ye’ll see noo is lawyers that specialeese in ane or twa facets o the law like wills, conveyancin or divorce. ‘Iss is specially the wye in the big toons far a firm o lawyers will hae departments tae deal wi’ different kinds o wark. Hooever in the sma-er toon ye’ll still get some lawyers that dee a’ different kinds o wark, tho’ this is comin mair difficult wi sae mony developments in the law.
A day in the life o a lawyer is impossible tae describe- nae twa days are the same. My day begins at aboot half past siven tae aucht o’ clock wi’ the day’s maist borin job; openin letters. Bi’ the time they are a’ opened, stampit wi’ the date and sortit oot amo’ the lawyers in the office it can tak
onything fae half tae three quarters o’ an oor. Then I try tae answer as mony as I can afore the phone starts tae ring fan the office opens at nine.
Efter nine o’ clock ye nivver ken fit’s gyan tae happen. It could be a day in the Coort wi ane o yer criminal clients up on a drugs charge or for stealin a box o’ sweeties fae Woolies; listenin tae a wifie sobbin her een cause her man his left her (tho’ my experience is that it’s mair likely tae be the man sobbin his een oot- maist wemin are gled tae get rid o him!); pittin in an offer for a hoose; makin somebody’s will; answerin e-mail (aye even lawyers are intae modern technology) or dealin wi an accident claim.
Altho’ maist o the wark we dee is serious the job can hae a funny side like the time I had a client up on a verra serious criminal charge. He wis eventually sentences tae fower years in the jile. Jist afore the coort started his mither cam up tae me an said “Oh this is terrible, if ma man wis still alive he wid be turning in the grave!” In a situation like that ye darena lauch. In Coort ye sometimes hiv tae think on yer feet an sometimes efter ye’ve jist said something ye realise foo stupid ye’ve been. Like the time ane o my assistants hid a client up on a speedinn charge. He telt the sheriff the reason for his client speedin wis that he wis tryin tae get tae a petrol station afore he ran oot o petrol. He’ll nivver live that ane doon.
Like a’ ither jobs the wark o the lawyer is changin at a great pace. Wi the comin o computers, fax machines an e-mails ye can hae a complicated legal document at the ither end o the countra in seconds far nae sae lang ago it wad tae teen twa three days. The document can be “revised” on the computer screen an wi the press o a button sent back tae ye wi ony comments or changes. A lang wye fae the days o the quill pen or even the manual typewriter. The pace o life is still nae as frantic in a rural practice as in the big toons bit like athin else nae doot that will change tee.