Below The Line with Comment is Free contributors: ‘a choir of angels or a fanfare would be nice’

Imbongi, Southbank, London, Aug 2005

Imbongi, Southbank, London, Aug 2005

CalamityJane123, the Guardian’s new legal expert on Comment is Free, about whom I wrote a short while back, presented herself on the new Comment is Free feature, “BTL with Cif contributors: ‘a choir of angels or a fanfare would be nice‘. She commented, quoting thaumaturge:

@MarcusMoore – I use a pseudonym because my clients – and probably potential clients – would not agree with my politics. The weird-internet-stalker is also in play.

So let me quote something that the many world legal blogs would agree with:

“I think CalamityJanes’s clients are foisted on her by the UK Border Agency, that’s prepared to pay good money to a qualified barrister to make sure the defendant gets proper representation.”

This is a very perceptive comment that reveals something that previously I’d missed.

CalamityJane123 continues:

“It’s difficult for some to understand the that the personal and the professional are two completely separate things. I have some really good friends who work for the police and the CPS – if anyone saw us on a night out, drinking, dancing and having fun, they would never know that the three of us have very, very different lives during “office hours” as it were.”

Wow such condescension to us plebs who aren’t barristers / solicitors / legal executives, and don’t understand personal / professional / friendship relationships. How grateful we should be for such instruction. Today we have been presented with a new sociological paradigm. Or maybe not as it’s something most children learn in infants school, viz – If you see your teacher in the street with his shopping bag, just pretend you haven’t noticed him.

But if your teacher effs and blinds in public and encourages violent insurrection? Is that professional or personal?

To continue with CalamityJane’s lecture:

“The same goes for websites such as this (The Untrusted for those not paying attention) – in principle we ought to be able to have the kinds of conversations we would be having if we were just chewing the fat with people down the pub, but the reality is that for some people as soon as they cotton on to what job or profession you have, they project upon you their own image of how you should behave, what you should think or say based entirely on their own subjective view of what people in that job or profession should be like.

“It really is quite bizarre. It would never occur to me to say to someone “you are a nurse – you should be tending to the sick in your spare time, not posting inanities / those opinions / that political view on a website” – but that seems to be the standard to which people are held by complete strangers.”

No CalamityJane123 it’s quite normal.

When you spend some of your time on CiF offering legal advice, people come to expect a certain kind of behaviour from you. So when you go about effing and blinding, people start to wonder, is this trained, qualified barrister / solicitor / legal executive  really doing the legal profession any good?

Or as you so rightly say:

“Which is why anonymous nicks are a damned good thing, imo. If I wanted to post in a professional capacity, I would use my real name. I am not entirely sure that there would be a great deal of difference in the essence of my posts, (although I might be inclined to avoid effing and blinding so much!!)”

Except unlike your hero George Carmen or his replacement Michael Mansfield, you might find in real life that it’s rather more difficult to portray legal excellence, without the case studies to prove your point.

After all freeing an illegal immigrant from immediate deportation, however worthy that might be,  is hardly the same as freeing the Guardian from Geoffrey Archer’s “sword of truth and trusty shield of fair play”.

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