BOOK REVIEW An Unusual Brief: the life and times of a High Street Lawyer
Reviewed by: Eduardo Reyes
Author: Roger Terrell
Publisher: Roger Terrell/FastPrint Publishing
An Unusual Brief: the life and times of a High Street Lawyer, is the self-published memoir of solicitor Roger Terrell. The book is a chronological narrative, and Terrell’s account of a hugely varied career is clear and straightforward. In addition to the sort of high street practice many solicitors will relate to, he has been a corporate counsel, a FIFA registered agent, and acted for terrorism suspects.
In the ordinary personable tone of his account, one risks missing the fact that he inspires the confidence of a huge range of clients and contacts - a knack that seems to allow him to move between different worlds, land jobs with what appears to be relative ease. As Terrell notes towards the end of An Unusual Brief, ‘To be a successful high street lawyer dealing with mainly private clients on their family matters, you have to like people generally and be interested in their problems’.
That engaged, competent affability clearly pays off as his career unfolds.
One moment, it seems, Terrell is in Nigeria looking to enforce his company’s contract through a Lagos court; the next he is picking up the phone to a client whose wedding day descended into a Liverpudlian-on-Cockney brawl. As vice chairman of Peterborough United, his face and name are plastered across the pages of the tabloid press. Then it is on to deal with the sensitive issue of forced marriage.
At the close of An Unusual Brief, Terrell declares that he is ‘optimistic’ about the future of legal practice (a chapter titled ‘More of the same?’). Despite a nod to ‘Tesco Law’ and the big brands that could do real ‘damage’ to the firms he has known in his 25-year career, he says: ‘A well-run, well-organised high street practice is hard to compete against as they are much more nimble and do still have client loyalty.’
Nevertheless, it is striking in this account that for someone with Terrell’s appeal and ability, jobs and chances for unusual and challenging instructions came easier and earlier than they now would. And in an age of increasing specialisation, one cannot help but wonder whether the more general practitioner did not also provide a better service for their many and varied clients.
Eduardo Reyes is Gazette features editor