How the light gets in
In our November 2022 Foreword, Chaynee Hodgetts considers a new season…
The seasons are changing. We’ve had more Prime Ministers in the past few weeks than in the past few years. “That’ll never happen” has become “Whatever next?” The nights are drawing in, the clocks have gone back, and there’s word of outages and an uncertain future. This, not long after the criminal barristers’ action, makes for an interesting autumn/winter season… So what’s next?
This issue explores the different ways our approach to practice can bring light in tough times. On p24, I share one story of the (many different) experiences of junior counsel during the CBA action (the ‘bar strike’) – and of muddling through, with thanks for many kinds of kindness in hard times.
We also consider how you can best help your clients as the cost of living affects them. Cayless (p62) explores how trustees and employers address the impact of inflation on pension schemes. In family law, Haynes assesses the impact of inflation on family relationships (p58) – and Donald considers child maintenance support in a cost-of-living crisis (p16), while Mee and Burgess offer insight on the offence of coercive control (p13).
We also look at how we can simplify (and safeguard against) problems in practice with the use of data technology (Lawrance, Bond and Mocanu on p56 – and Cullwick on p14) – with more content on fraud (Dulieu, p18) and systems security (Dalton, p40). On the data law note, Carter considers the ICO’s new outlook (p36), and Bezant-Gehan reviews PNC data retention (p28). Again, on a data-related theme, this month’s SJ interview (p48) is with Sally Anne Hinfey, vice president and deputy general counsel, legal at Momentive (including SurveyMonkey).
There’s also our usual food for thought on careers – including a dedicated piece for paralegals (Kay, p19), reflecting on how to get paid your true worth in stormy times (Ugatti, p66) – and reviewing SRA regulation of sexual harassment risks (Awaiz-Bilal, p20) – worth remembering as the festive party season swiftly approaches…
As the nights draw in with the seasons, so too can darkness of other kinds – and it’s worth remembering, sometimes, the small steps can be the ones that keep us going (even if only just about!). On p17, Angus Lyon offers his (incredibly helpful) 20 steps to better mental health for lawyers (p17) – with at least one thing potentially helpful for everyone (even the cynical!).
Stanley Kubrick, no stranger to grittier themes, once said: “However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light” – and it’s true the harder side of our work (and life) can often give rise to the ‘safety valve’ light relief of dark humour. Going full circle in many ways, on p22, our review takes a look at Dirty Briefs – the side-splitting but subversive hit new book by anonymous barrister ‘Dave Fendem’ – as frankly insightful on lawyers’ mental health and wellbeing as it is on the circus (or high wire act?) that is a life of crime, in practice…
With many of us are now wondering what’s next professionally, perhaps personally, and most definitely publicly (with how the country is run), perhaps the peace so many seem to seek lies in the place we least expect it. Not the dark corner down the back of the settee we conveniently forget to hoover – nor in seeking solace from the Sunday night ‘back to school dread’ which perennially pervades practice in a broken criminal justice system. What if the stability we seek has been with us all along, shapeshifted into the form we least expect it to take? What if our only current certainty is uncertainty? What if, by embracing the haphazard kintsugi of life at the moment, we can actually make something of it – perhaps not how we pictured it, but something, nevertheless? Here's hoping, this month, at least some of the pieces fall into place for you too. As Ernest Hemingway once said: “We’re all broken. That’s how the light gets in.”