(Or a few things you didn't know about the legal profession)

I’ve always wondered what the little flap of cloth dangling from the back of my court gown was for. It seems that in the days of yore, this little flap was used either (a) to carry ‘breviates’ (briefs…the legal, reading sort…not Jockey Y-fronts) or (b) as a ‘wallet’, in which clients could slip in fees. Upon a quick search of the Internet, I came across this hugely interesting booklet titled “Legal Habits – A Sartorial History of Wig, Robe”. According to this little write-up:

“This fold of material at the back of the gown has also been likened to a ‘cloven tongue’ and to ‘the wattles of a cock or turkey’ (the word ‘wallet’ is said to derive from the word ‘wattle’, meaning bag). The shape, however, as Baker comments, ‘is not easy to describe in words’ nor easy to draw clearly…..Historically barristers did not technically receive explicit payment for their work. Since their fees were honoraria (so the theory goes), their clients might surreptitiously slip money into the purse carried on their gowns, literally behind their back, ‘without ruffling the susceptibilities or offending the dignity of the learned counsellor’, in the words of J. S. Udal, writing in the periodical Notes and Queries in 1887. Another version holds that, since the barrister could not see the exact amount being paid him, whether large or small, he would not allow the verve with which he pleaded his case to be influenced. A more prosaic theory holds that the barrister’s performance in court would once have relied upon a client’s constant topping-up of the wallet behind him, worn at the back so as not to disturb his rhetorical flow.”

Novel explanations for a six-inch long swatch of padded cloth, though nobody seems to be entirely sure what it was for. Nevertheless, the next time I’m up in Court, it would be nice to find some cash stuck inside that little flap. :)

Speaking of lawyers’ fees, Counsel in Bombay still bill in ‘guineas’ or gold mohurs (or Gms), at the rate of Rs. 15 per Gms. So much for fancy billing tables and time-keeping software, eh? Of course, since carrying little bits of gold on your person while waltzing down a street in Bombay (or any city, for that matter) is highly unadvisable, the Bombay lot will happily settle for hard cash.

I’m currently involved in this matter before the Supreme Court, where a bunch of lawyers has demanded that lawyers be permitted to advertise (for the non-lawyers reading this; us poor souls can’t advertise, or have our own cool-type websites like all these Magic Circle and White Shoe firms have). Researching for the damn hearing, though I didn’t come up with a lot of stuff vis-à-vis advertising and soliciting, I DID come across Rule 1.8(j) of the “Model Rules of Professional Conduct” of the American Bar Association, which states thus:

“(j) A lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced.”

(Bugger! This means that if they were to implement this in India, my only chance to get laid is taken away! NOOOO!!!!!)

Of course, American attorneys need not fret…well, certainly not if they’re in a law firm. Said Rule 1.8 has an itsy-bitsy loophole….sub-rule (k):

“(k) While lawyers are associated in a firm, a prohibition in the foregoing paragraphs (a) through (i) that applies to any one of them shall apply to all of them.”

The ABA conveniently left out sub-rule (j) from this blanket clause! Soooo, this means that Partner ‘A’ or Associate ‘B’ in a firm can have a bit of a romp with Partner ‘C’ or Associate ‘D’’s clients.

Even better if there’s a Chinese Wall in the firm, no? Heh heh.

In other news – I attended the shortest (and possibly the most anti-climatic) AOR registration today. It lasted exactly 1 second. There’s nobody better than a Supreme Court judge make 45 young/middle-aged lawyers simper like sophomores, and then make them gape in utter surprise :D

Also, it’s apparently illegal in Florida to have sexual relations with a porcupine. Any comments on that one, s’il vous plait?

3 Scallywags have walked the Plank |:

Perakath said...

On what grounds are these chaps claiming the right to advertise? You're appearing for the bar council, no doubt?

mistercrowley said...

@ perakath: Oh...lawyers in other countries can advertise; right of the client to choose decent counsel, yadda yadda...

nope...we're amicus curiae :)

by the way, the BCI has passed a resolution a few months ago to permit lawyers to have limited websites.

Anonymous said...

CA has much to say about Mary Jane but the porcs and alligators they leave to Florida.

I need to start believing in a god. some god.