‘Simply Law’ is a highly commendable and interesting work combining a human approach to the legal profession with a businesslike treatment of its many aspects. It is undoubtedly a useful reference, not only for young practising Caribbean lawyers but more so for the ordinary lay-person, who will be confronted with many of the issues treated in the text.
Ms Glasgow’s examination of various legal issues shows depth, particularly in her analysis of the ethics underlying crime and punishment, morality and individual choices. She stresses that the law is a system of rules for the smooth functioning of society and takes some of the mystery out of the legal system. Some current goals of the St Lucian law fraternity are highlighted, particularly in relation to their physical accommodations, the Bar Association’s activities, and the streamlining of administrative tasks. Throughout the text there is an emphasis on respect for the courts, courtesy towards people working in the legal system, and guidance on their roles.
Concern for the client’s expense and privacy has led the author to explain the process of mediation as an alternative to litigation. She further introduces the Caribbean Court of Justice as the new court of final appeal, which will obviate the expense of travel to the UK for Privy Council hearings. The book also gives warning of those legal procedures which may prove to be time consuming, and the typical waiting period for certain transactions due to backlogs in the St Lucian system.
Empathy for colleagues is embodied in the advice to potential clients to agree on fees beforehand and to pay debts on time. Practising lawyers will also find a handy reference in the statutes highlighted under many chapter headings and the cases quoted as key precedents. Another commendable asset of the text is the comparison between legal training and practice in the Caribbean and other jurisdictions, particularly the UK.
To further enrich the discussion, the book hints at an academic’s perception of legal practice. The comparison between the teaching profession and the practice of law in society is an interesting one, touching on issues of autonomy and the expectations of the public. There are also overtones of the link between politics and law, indicating why many lawyers become politicians. Drawing upon her experience of interviews and media exposure, the author provides valuable insight on how to approach these situations and the potential for defamation of character.
‘Simply Law’ looks at the responsibilities of lawyers to the courts and to clients, and deals with tricky issues such as truth and disclosure. There are entertaining sections such as ‘How to be a Superstar lawyer’, describing the popular image as well as the reality of what can be a stressful, high profile and rewarding profession – from the viewpoint of one with a real passion for the theory and practice of law.
The Conservation Trust was, however, unsuccessful in persuading the CCJ that there was an arguable case justifying a grant of special leave to appeal.