I started blogging in 2012. I have now cleared 100 posts and a total of 100,000 words. (Yes, I probably could have completed a thesis instead, but there we go.)
Before having my own WordPress forum, I had to find other platforms for pontification. Somewhat by chance, I rediscovered a letter I sent to the (English) Law Society Gazette way back in 2011. Happily, it is still hosted by the Gazette’s website. Also happily, it still seems to contain some relevant content on the link between practice and academia. Rather than let the letter get lost in the mists of time and the internet, it is extracted below.
I read Jonathan Goldsmith’s recent column with more than a passing interest.
The perspective with which I read it was the exact opposite of the German lawyer to whom he alludes, in that I have just moved from private practice into academia.
This I have done with no more academic clout than a law degree and the Scottish equivalent of the LPC.
I suspect this is another thing which would surprise the inquisitive German, who will be au fait with the rigid standards of the German academy.
My career choice also surprised a number of people in the UK, but they were surprised for pragmatic reasons which chime with Mr Goldsmith’s piece.
The standard reaction was a mixture of bemusement and polite encouragement, garnished with a barely suppressed urge to tell me how much damage I was doing to my earnings potential – many did not suppress the urge at all.
Having made the switch, I hope to play my part in a vibrant law school that in turn plays a part in producing the graduates that will be the lifeblood of the profession in years to come.
Like many other law schools, my own draws from a variety of experiences and cultures.
I hope my experiences of practising Scots and English law and an eight-month spell on secondment to industry will add a little bit of business acumen and pragmatism to that mix.
With that in mind, it strikes me as churlish to think that there may be no place for the German post-doc holder at a City firm.
Sure, they might not have had the ‘at the coalface’, ‘character-building’ experience of preparing 74 intimations for a composite debenture at three in the morning to meet an unrealistic deadline, but they will have other experiences and skills that can be used.
One English client once paid the great compliment that having a Scots lawyer involved in a deal somehow brought solidity. Why that would be I have no idea; a certain je ne sais quoi?
We already have a broad church of ideas in the island chain that runs from St Helier to Lerwick. Broadening the ideas the church draws from may not be a bad thing.
There are many other important issues raised by Mr Goldsmith’s column, but I will restrict myself to one further observation.
In a recession, the holder of a simple law degree may feel a few extra letters post-surname is a benefit to career prospects, but is this really the case?
If it is not, it is as much a concern for universities as it is for the profession. Practice without theory is dangerous; theory without practice is dead.