Even in the midst of their fight against further cuts, legal aid lawyers allow themselves an evening to celebrate achievements. Yes, last week saw the 11th Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards – the legal aid equivalent of the Oscars, though with fewer tears.
The glittering evening at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was a chance for practitioners to let their hair down, alongside political and legal luminaries, including the outgoing president of the Law Society, who was suitably de-mob happy. Event organiser the Legal Aid Practitioners Group itself had occasion to celebrate after its director Carol Storer received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Presenting the awards, Lord Justice McFarlane made one serious remark, affirming that judges are ‘not divorced’ from the problems faced by legal aid lawyers and do see the results of the cuts. But he lightened the mood, sharing the modes of address sometimes used by lawyers and litigants in person, when presenting cases to him in court.
One advocate he recalled, whose case was going ‘particularly badly’ referred to him as ‘Your Majesty’.
He went on to win his case, recalled McFarlane, though Obiter would not recommend it as a tactic for good advocacy.