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Mr. Chairman

Presently, the new Chairman of the Bar Council will be known.
So what; who cares?

To be the Chairman of the Bar Council is to rise to obscurity, excepting the possibility of judicial preferment later, on the strength of its occupation.

Yes, indeed, few people care, excepting the candidates and, possibly, their partners. The Bar Council of Ireland makes no reference to the Chairman on its website, unlike the Bar of England and Wales. That website gives at least one clue to explain this; it says the Attorney General is the Leader of the Bar.

The mind boggles, or should.

The Attorney General is the lawyer to the Government and anomalously has a role, under the Constitution, representing the State.

The Chairman has no chance against the Attorney General in a straight contest, or even in a not so straight contest.

It should not be so. The bar claims it is independent. If that is not a claim to be independent of the Government, to what is it a reference? The Bar of Ireland should not be led by the Attorney General. He is, or ought to be seen as, the opponent of the members of the bar, possibly as the opponent of their personal interests.

Apparently, the choice of at least one barrister in casting his vote for the candidates for chairman, will be decided by his view of the candidates’ field of work. He is reported to have declared that the Bar Council needs a chairman with “blue chip briefsâ€?.

It’s a pity this is not a reference to underwear. It’s a euphemism for being dependent on the larger firms of solicitors for work.

Now, there is great merit in this situation, if you have just been called to the Bar. You need work; you need an income. Indeed, you need to develop some skill of use to your clients or their solicitors. Blue chip briefs deliver all this, at a price.

The price is an absence of any claim to a broad social function.

Maybe that’s the way it should be. There is little evidence that the representative bodies of the Irish legal profession perform a broad social function, but has the world collapsed as a consequence? No; but it’s not improved either.

The representative bodies of the legal profession are a part of civil society. They should not simply express the financial interests of their members, especially a clique element of their members. Even less should they express or discharge, the interests of the Government or even the State.

If you have sold the pass on these points you have no difficulty choosing your lead representative on the basis that he is a huckster with attitude.

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  1. By McGarr Solicitors » Komodo Dragons on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at 10:01 am

    […] new Chairman should immediately address two issues. I referred to one previously HERE (depose the Attorney General, for reasons of self-respect, from his “positionâ€? as “leader of […]