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A Tale of Two Lawyers – the debateMinimize

“That the law is an Ass"

Recently, at the final Young Lawyers function that Pontifex Jones and Erasmus Smith were entitled to attend, as they had reached the age at which members must retire from this illustrious organisation, these two luminaries of the legal professional debated the subject: "That the law is an ass”.

Set out below is an expurgated version of the speeches given by these two protagonists, who, as followers of this series will be aware, hate one another with an intense passion, to the delight of their respective clerks, who had gone to some trouble behind the scenes, to organise this debate.

Pontifex Jones, having won the toss of the coin, took the affirmative and argued that the law is in fact an ass:

“The law is an ass because it has been developed by men for men; the law has never treated women well – I mean, how often do you hear about a ‘reasonable woman ‘. You hear Judges blathering on about the concept of a ‘reasonable man’, but you never hear reference to a reasonable woman.
Is that sexist, paternalistic claptrap or what?

"Last week, there was that miserable excuse for a human being, Erasmus Smith, rabbiting on about the “reasonable man “ test, as part of his defence of a female client; why could he not have described his client as a reasonable woman?

"The law will remain an ass until women run the legal profession and we can welcome back common sense, logic and jettison all those ludicrous male legal doctrines, like the fertile octogenarian.

Thank you.”

After sustained applause, Pontifex resumed her seat and waited for Erasmus to take his place at the lectern:

“I thank Pontifex for her thoughts, if that is what they were; I think she is so successful because it never occurs to her that she could be wrong.
My task is to argue that the law is not an ass; I think it is more like a camel designed by a Committee. On the evidence of Pontifex, being a woman and therefore a superior being, I am a miserable excuse for a human being; I must accept her judgement on that, being a mere male and belonging to a group that have made the law in their own image, then bowed down and paid homage to their own creation.

"I wish to defence the ass; it has been much maligned and does not deserve the ignominy heaped on it by Pontifex, who has likened the law to it.
I would maintain that an ass is a very useful and productive animal, however my research has indicated that it can be very stubborn and hard to get its attention, if it has made its mind up about something.

"I quite understand that Pontifex would not like the comparison of the law with an ass, because we do not like being confronted with our own faults. Further, I will freely concede that Pontifex is very reasonable, for a woman.

"Let me close by confirming my opinion that the law is not an ass, but a camel designed by a committee, all presumably male and I look forward to the day when women control the legal profession, to see what sort of camel Pontifex and her female colleagues come up with.”

Erasmus then resumed his seat, with very muted applause and the debate proper began; as people of a tender disposition, who may already be very disturbed by what they have read, would be further distressed by any mention of the proceedings, following the expurgated opening comments of both speakers, nothing further will be included.


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