Talk about one-track minds. Of the 178 entries to our competition to name next summer’s legal bestseller, no fewer than 41 were variations on Fifty Shades of Grey. ‘Sorry, you will get that a lot,’ Sarah Taylor observed correctly on her submission Fifty Shades of Gray’s Inn. Bob Sage suggested the same title with a plot involving ‘the physical severity meted out by lenders to sole practitioners’.
Ruth Barber’s take on the plot involves a pupil barrister who rises to stardom by predictable means. ‘One barrister resists her advances and turns the tables with a novel use of Archbold (not suitable for anyone of a nervous or sensitive disposition, or members of the judiciary). Another variation was Legally Bound in More than Fifty Shades of Grey Area, which as a title strikes Obiter as bit on the long side. However, aspiring author Matthew Redding insists that ‘sales could be significantly improved through clever use of font size and careful circumnavigation of the tort of passing off’.
We also had a number of Fifty Shades of Grey Area, at least two Fifty Shades of SRA and one Fifty Shades of Affray (Robert Sparks). Andrew Charles stuck to the original, explaining that his trilogy, a study of the architecture of Plymouth combined court centre and the surrounding area, was inspired by spending many hours in the waiting area adjacent to court 1.
Spurning the grey theme as ‘too easy’, Jenna Kisala came up with Harry Potter and the Law Degree. ‘Can the boy who lived become the boy with a training contract without a 2:1? Do wizards count towards diversity targets for law firms?’ Katherine Rayden suggests Tied Up with Pink Ribbon.
It Shouldn’t Happen to a COLP (Jenny Russell) will have a certain ring to it among the cognoscenti, but Obiter isn’t sure the title alone will carry it in to the bestselling lists. For personal reasons, Obiter would buy any novel titled The Curse of Carey Street (Paul Southby). Even more intriguing was Jon Djanogly and the Claims Management Company of Secrets. ‘A guaranteed legal bestseller,’ says Toby Pochron. And as for Itchy Temple, from Darren Woodside, the least said the better.
Ian Johnston was sailing a little close to the wind with Don’t Tell Mum I’m a Lawyer, She Thinks I’m a Piano Player in a Brothel. Very good, but don’t give up the day job (whether in brothel or law firm). Finally we get to some variations on tried and tested successes. There were two proposals for the old favourite Pride and Without Prejudice. ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a lawyer not in possession of a good case, must be in want of a settlement,’ suggested Julia Rose.
Karen Wolton proposes a short, gritty novel about a group of troubled law graduates in a desperate search for firms who are still recruiting. Yes, Trainee Spotting. Ian Pearson draws on Trollope’s The Fixed Period and suggests the Fixed Fee Period: ‘As it slowly dawns on solicitors that the open-ended hourly rate is unsustainable, the profession talks itself into a self-defeating pattern of charging – driving down fee income to a lowest common denominator mentality.
This novel, full of Swiftian irony, could only be conceived in a far-fetched dystopian future – or could it?’ Lord Woolf Hall (Bob Miller) also gave us a chuckle. However the prize, of a night for two in the Apex Temple Court Hotel, Fleet Street, goes to Luke Dixon for The Da Vinci Code of Conduct. ‘It’s a thriller, although not very exciting once you get stuck in,’ he admits disarmingly. Never mind: when did that stop a bestseller?
Well done all – and a quaffable consolation prize to Bob Sage for being first off the mark with Fifty Shades of Gray’s Inn.