On Lawmanship

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On LawmanshipI just finished a book that I recommend very highly: On Lawmanship by Bullstrode Whitelocke, K.C.

Bullstrode, who I consider a close personal friend even though he is fictional, is the greatest practitioner of the law Australia has yet produced, or at least he thinks so. His book is a series of lessons on "lawmanship," a term he coined to refer to "a man who has mastered the art of law." As he writes, "[t]his book is a guide to the meaning of that word, and, in a way, an eloquent and forceful submission for inclusion by those cowardly, faceless men behind the Oxford English Dictionary."

Here's an example of the wisdom the book will impart:

Like fine wine, the modern lawman benefits from the depth, interest, and character that age provides. I implore you to do what you can to prematurely age your face. Ian "Molly" Meldrum used to spend long hours in front of industrial grade heaters, periodically basting his face with a tonic of ammonia and basil pesto, to obvious effect. His inexorable rise in the face of a manifest lack of talent and suspected communist sympathies should be all the proof you need. For the junior lawman, I suggest rampant whoring, a well-trimmed mustache and a nightly bottle of Harvey's Bristol cream.

Who is Ian "Molly" Meldrum? I had no idea, although I do now (and he does look fairly well basted). And the relatively frequent appearance in this book of Australian names other than "Crocodile Dundee" may throw off some American readers, but this should not be more than a speed bump. Monty Python did the same sort of thing, and that was also worth sticking with.

That same section has important advice about court attire:

During cross-examination, I prefer to wear something altogether more imposing and aggressive. I often wear one of my furs, usually from a beast I have slain myself. A particular favourite is the pelt of a Ross Leopard Seal I slaughtered in the Antarctic. That prince of a skin is a full eight (8) feet long and its impact on an unsuspecting witness is undeniable.

One of the many things I like about this book is that every time any number is mentioned, it is followed by its Hindu-Arabic equivalent, as in "eight (8)" above. This is one of those marvelous practices that makes legal writing so much more enjoyable to read than other species of English, although it should be embraced only by lawpeople of Bullstrode's caliber.

Here is something else I have actually witnessed, described by Bullstrode as one of the essential Courtroom Poses:

The first such pose I have dubbed the Electrocuted Bilby. Whilst your opponent is speaking, particularly during important points, sit immediately bolt upright, looking wild-eyed at your opponent to indicate that you are shocked that he would make such a submission.

Actually, I am pretty sure I have adopted that pose in court myself, although not intentionally.

On Lawmanship also offers extensive advice on other subjects such as legal writing, obtaining a suitable mate, and how to relate to your employees and other inferiors.  Obviously, I am a big fan of this book. You should buy a copy, which you can do here at Amazon.com. Bullstrode doesn't need the money (and I won't earn any) but $17.99 is a small price to pay for so much wisdom.

Link: On Lawmanship (the blog)