Losing touch with ourselves

Junior Junior goes all political … Her sought-after insights on the federal election and the bar’s tussle over incorporation … Time for change … Colleagues agree 

SEPTEMBER has been an enormous month for politics – not only the federal election, but politics at the NSW bar over the incorporation drama. 

Me? I was ambivalent about both. 

Not because I don’t care, but only because as far as the choice for running the country was concerned the options were crap. 

As for being an incorporated barrister, I don’t fancy it – but I don’t have an issue if someone else wants to do it. 

However, I do have an issue with the forest that was felled in the propaganda war from both sides. 

I got to the point where I was throwing out any prepaid envelopes with my name incorrectly spelled. 

To me, the federal election result said that Australians wanted stability – even if that stability comes at a high cost. 

As far as I can see those costs include the environment, women’s rights, gay rights, human rights and virtually all other rights that should be self-evident. 

There wasn’t much to choose between: a petulant man-child, a bumbling intransigent, a gaggle of yokels, a rich, dinosaur-loving nutter, Hanson, shooters, Christians, and so on. 

It raises the issue of compulsory voting and whether it is doing more harm than good. 

And then there are those preference deals, which allow all sorts of fringe dwellers to end-up with the balance of power. 

Craziness all round, I say. 

In three years time most people would have realised that whoever they voted for in 2013 was a mistake. 

The incorporation debate shows that the bar is working in the opposite direction to the general Australian public.  

While the average Aussie voter is calling for change at any cost, the geriatrics of the bar are demanding no change at any cost.  

I think the bar is doing itself a disservice by attempting to insulate itself from change. It will slowly become extinct if it doesn’t get modern. 

Of course, it has a perfect right to stay stuck-in-the-mud if it wants to. 

Lots of younger barristers I’ve talked to think the bar has lost touch with the outside world in terms of how it is perceived. 

It is no longer regarded as the repository of legal wisdom and an honourable profession untainted by human foibles. 

Some grizzly barristers still see themselves in the same way the clergy used to regard itself – untouchable and immune. 

Perhaps we will have to allow ourself as barristers, in order to survive, to be more of a business and less the pretence of a profession. 

Of course, it would be nice if it was a business that upheld some noble ideals and acted for the poor, etc. 

We can call ourselves a profession all we want, but there isn’t a profession that has not been found out for what it is: a bunch of flawed people just trying to do the best for themselves and the customers. 

Anyway, that’s what I think.