Monday, 7 November 2011

How lucky I am to be a child abuse lawyer

I am roused to write this blog after spending a very tiring day being "shown a concept" (they can't call it selling) by a delightfully charming time-share sales girl. I have been further influenced by seeing the indefatigable energy of hopelessly optimistic promotions boys and girls who decorate, with their vigour, enthusiasm and glee, the streets of Los Christianos, Tenerife. I am completely bowled over by the arguably delusional spirit of these young and middle aged, but not old (at least in spirit) people.

I remember a motivational speaker once saying to me "If you want to succeed, then surround yourself by like minded individuals and you will feel inspired to do likewise". How right he was, even at the age of 75.

Lawyers are, as a profession, traditional, backwards looking, and cautious. Careful, prudent, analytical, and diligent also, but not cut out for the world of commission only selling. I remember a marketing man employed by some well respected local solicitors telling me how disgusted he was, that he had been referred to as "our salesman" The term had been used in a patronising manner by a partner, in the same tone as "tradesman" or "something that the dog brought in on its shoe".

The point is that, as a child abuse lawyer, I am surrounded by pessimistic, poor, ruined individuals, whose life has been taken away by abuse in childhood. Most of them are on the edge of suicide or despair. Sometimes they die before the case is over. Arguably we are partly to blame. If we hadn't opened Pandora's box then our client would not have fallen out of it, and been laid bear spread crudely all over the floor. Far from trying to sell them an eternal holiday, we are giving them some hope for the future, that one day they will reach some sort of emotional hope and peace. The compensation is just a token; a few scraps thrown out as a gesture of pretend sorrow by the insurers of the employers of the abuser to blame. How indirect and distant is that sort of apology.

So why am I so lucky? Well because my job is about pushing back the frontiers of legal and medical science. It is multi layered like the skins of an onion. Never ending layers of intellectual gymnastics. A tour de force of fighting the good fight for the poor and oppressed, in spirit at least. What a job. So is it better than being a time share salesman on a commission only basis? Well Yes and No. Yes because it is morally more satisfying, but no because it takes 14 years, sometimes, to win your case, not 4 hours with instant commission when the grateful buyer signs on the dotted line.

I tell you what. I wish I had half as much energy, enthusiasm, and determination as Gary, Sean, and Talisa have. If all lawyers had the same, we would not be the pilloried victims of government that we are...think on, but don't weep, for we are the chosen ones (as if?)

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