In my brief time as a libel barrister, I often thought I should have been a criminal lawyer instead. It was more romantic and exciting, with more time in court (or on your feet, as barristers put it). That was until a criminal barrister friend of mine was severely beaten up in the holding cell beneath a London court by his client, a violent drug addict on a GBH charge.
The late Sir John Mortimer, Horace Rumpole and a hundred TV dramas have given the criminal lawyer's grubby life a sheen of glamour it doesn't really deserve. It doesn't help, either, that Fleet Street cuts a line between the two halves of the Inns of Court – with