Letter: Judging a Bar by its cover

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Sir: When 'called to the Bar' 11 years ago, my contemporaries and I were so proud to be allowed to wear our wigs and gowns as to be oblivious to the abolitionists' arguments. Dressed up thus, in the majesty of one of the more historic courts such as the Old Bailey, public gallery agog, we could imagine that we were any of the great advocates.

That period of punch-drunk self-importance lasted a year or two, but slowly gave way (in my case, at least) to serious doubts about the value of the fancy dress that I was required to work in. Although some of my clients might think that I am a better barrister because of the garb, I know that I am not, and loathe having to keep the wretched stuff presentable and having to cart it around with my books - which serve a real purpose.

The difficulty in getting rid of wigs and gowns is that their future will probably be decided by the older generation at the Bar and in the judiciary, many of whom, if not most, have become so accustomed to dressing up that they would feel naked without their absurd apparel. For my own part, I would happily dispatch my legal overalls to the bin tomorrow, and would urge the Lord Chancellor to give me the opportunity to do so before I, too, become too much a creature of habit.

Yours faithfully,


Lincoln's Inn

London, WC2

20 August