Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Plagiarism 101 & Renting with Pets

This post is dedicated to an as-yet unnamed organisation that has given us another legal argument to help remove the 'no-pets' clause that exists for renters in NSW but not in Victoria.

I've been admitted to law school. But I'm having an ethical dilemma. The Course Information Guide states that "One of the most fundamental qualities of a lawyer is honesty." This is not a joke. It then goes on to back this up with two examples - one from 2004 and one from 2007 where lawyers were reprimanded for plagiarism. There is one solicitor for every 500 people in Australia; citing 2 reprimands does not do much to support the premise that a quality, let alone a fundamental quality of a lawyer is honesty. Or am I being too cynical? If so, I refer to the Bush Lawyer Rules, plagiarised from Dr. Greg Ogle and edited by me. The Bush Lawyer
  • is not a lawyer
  • reserves the right to abuse the next person who says "have you thought about being a lawyer"
  • used to be an idealist, but has been made cynical by the legal system
  • thinks "The Castle" is a more important legal source than the rules of the court
  • learns most tricks from the other side or by mimicking "normal" legal practice
  • works till the wee small hours because there are better things to do in daytime
  • can usually be paid with "beers-in-lieu".
Like every legal practitioner, the bush lawyer has ethical standards and rules to work by. These rules are, inter alia:
  • pleadings should be read sober (but affidavits should only be written while drinking Chardonnay)
  • pleadings can be written when drunk, but should be checked in the morning
  • bush lawyer pleadings should contain political arguments - just to annoy the other side
  • the form of pleadings can and should be plagiarised from other cases
  • bush lawyer pleadings should always be longer than those from the other side
  • only use words like "with respect" and "with the greatest respect" in parody, or in the pub afterwards
  • do not refer to the other side's lawyer as my' friend' - they're not
  • always be suspicious of lawyers on your side - they have their own constraints, and you know your case better
  • never accept that lawyers on the other side are simply following instructions - they are an active part of chilling your right to free speech
  • never send a one-page letter to the other side, it is unsporting
  • try to include at least one piece of Latin in any correspondence, it is much more credible than relying on the "vibe of the constitution" (but about as meaningless).