Saturday, July 30, 2016

45 Years On

Tempus Fugit certainly applies to human life.

Previous blog posts about professional life at Witham Weld, now PWW, illustrate the speed of the passage of time there; see Leaving PWW

Now the two years at Farrer & Co have likewise flown.

The warmth and comradeship shown by all in the Schools and Employment team at that firm are truly rewarding.

Possibly 30 or so men and women working together in an office will  generally get on  well with each other though  experience elsewhere causes me to believe that such is not always the case.

 Particularly striking at Farrer & Co is the spontaneous warmth and friendship between colleagues of all ages and backgrounds. Thus although  a couple of work colleagues attending for a farewell lunchtime sandwich with me  at the Fields Bar & Kitchen  Lincoln's Inn Fields last week, might have been expected, the turnout by the whole department other than those  away with clients or on holiday was almost overwhelming as was a spontaneously  arranged 11am coffee break there  with a few younger colleagues  the following day.

There is no doubt that certainly as regards law as a career,  most of a solicitor's  work is perforce far more specialised now than was the case when I set out  45 years ago. The Leaving PWW post illustrates some of the much more diverse work which was required in the earlier days in C20

In C21 however most good solicitors really need to specialise. For example the need to burn the midnight oil to learn about North Sea oil and financing following an  oil field discovery in 1970 would certainly not if the same situation occurred today apply, as such matters would be handled by a specialist oil field section of lawyers.  As  posted previously about that C20 work: the early 1970s there was an appeal during Mass for some £25,000 for the repairs needed for a central London church roof.  As it happens, among the congregation was an American oil prospector.  After mass he told the parish priest that there was a problem for his company which might be resolved by the church which would then also have its roof repaired.  The problem was that oil had been discovered in the ... North Sea oil field but American law did not then permit loans to be made based on oil under the sea.  The oil had to be extracted before money could be lent but oil extraction was and is very expensive.  In England the loan was regarded simply as a commercial transaction so it was agreed that if the church supported the loan (at no liability to itself) it would receive 0.00001 per cent of the oil revenues up to £25,000.  This would then enable the American company to benefit and secure loans directly. 

The charity commission had no objection so the matter was agreed in principle which meant that as an almost newly qualified solicitor, it was necessary to gen up on oil prospecting and North Sea oil finance documents.  

 I doubt that a new qualified solicitor would today be required to take on such a task. Similarly as regards the requests by clients for legal assistance for people involved in petty crime, these days most would be dealt with either by over stressed and underpaid criminal legal aid lawyers or by solicitors and barristers specialising in criminal work. This contrasts with work of a young solicitor in mid C20 which would not infrequently entail appearing in a magistrates court at the request of an important (fees-wise) client for an hapless individual  or very frustrated young hooligan.

Reverting to Farrer & Co; the two years there were hugely rewarding for me at least and hard work right up until the end but with colleagues who were exceptionally warm and welcoming despite the pressures of work,  for which my sincere gratitude to all concerned.

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