Lawyers should stop telling us how terrible the new year can be.
Certain traditions always come with the new year: annoyingly worthy friends will bore you about them giving up booze for January, the council will forget to take the tree away and we’ll be eating cheese piled up over Christmas for weeks to come.
In the legal profession, one old chestnut always does the rounds: that of the surge in January divorces.
You can be certain that once Big Ben strikes midnight the media will be filled with lawyers reminding us all that more families end implode at this time than any other. Happy new bloody year.
This year (well, last year strictly speaking) it started even earlier.
The turkey leftovers were barely touched when I received my first press release of the season – 27 December it appeared, with the law firm explaining that divorce enquiries leap by 25% against an average month.
Now we all know the media will be desperate for a story at this time of year, so when a human interest item (especially a miserable one) appears, they’ll jump at the chance.
And I’m not suggesting the information pumped out about January divorces is incorrect.
Getting your name out into the public domain is an expensive business, so a little free advertising dressed up as a press release is good marketing.
But you know what most viewers are thinking when they see lawyers on the sofa with Lorraine Kelly pulling a serious face and tilting their head to emphasise how sad they find it all?
They’re thinking of lawyers as blood-sucking leeches, revelling in human misery and plumbing the depths of family breakdown to make a quick buck.
No matter the good work so many family lawyers do, they always come across at this time of year like a sandbag salesman telling you how much he feels for flood victims.
The legal profession is not exactly revered by the general public at the best of times, but this new year tradition of lawyers filling the media with doomsday divorce tales is hardly likely to boost its reputation. Yes, people get divorced more at this time of year, but you don’t need to seem so gleeful about the fact.
John Hyde is a Gazette reporter