The Lawyer’s new China Elite report contains the most detailed research available on the PRC legal market and contains unparalleled insight into the country's leading law firms. They vary in size, practice focus and geographic coverage, but they all share one common quality – ambition... Read more
This year, The Lawyer’s annual ranking of the largest UK law firms by turnover is available as an interactive, digital benchmarking tool. For the first time this will allow you to manipulate each data set against the metrics of your choice.
It is six years since I wrote Inside The Brotherhood, yet I still receive half a dozen letters each month from people who believe their businesses and lives have been ruined by masonic conspiracy in the legal profession.
I receive thick files about shady planning decisions, disputed inheritances, unfair dismissal claims, bank malpractice and all manner of frauds.
Almost every writer complains that their adversaries have done them down in collusion with crooked freemason lawyers.
I believe all masonic lodges should be required to supply full lists of their members' names and addresses to local libraries for public scrutiny, just like electoral rolls.
Such a move would be resolutely resisted by freemasons on the grounds that there is no evidence to justify treating them this way, while sparing Rotary clubs, all golf clubs and the Garrick.
However, there is a great difference between freemasonry and almost every other private society in the UK.
It is the only one to which such strong public suspicions of skulduggery attach. And with good reason, for it unites men, often of wealth and power, in bonds of "mutual defence and support", cemented by bloodcurdling oaths threatening wayward members with having their throats cut, their tongues torn out and their bowels burnt to ashes after being severed in two. Powerful incentives, one might think for assisting any Masonic brother "in distress" to the detriment of others.
The law is an area where freemasons continue to fill many positions of influence. Among freemasons at the time of my research, there numbered 18 circuit judges, four Queen's Bench judges, three Family Division judges, two judges in Chancery, three Lord Justices of Appeal and one Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, and I am sure many others were freemasons, but I had only limited source material.
None of this proves that freemasonry has a damaging effect on the practice of law because none of these judges has been known to abuse office.
Instead, the damage is inflicted lower down the ladder in the selection of magistrates, in the interplay of solicitors and brother clients finagling deals, and most scandalous of all, the fraternal bonding between lawyers and police fixing criminal cases.
Justice, we are told, must be seen to be done.
However, to see justice done, we must know what secret loyalties may bind people in the judicial system together against the public interest, and in the case of public appointees, conflict with their duty to serve everyone "without favour or affection, malice or ill-will".
The forthcoming select committee inquiry must address this issue. In my view it should recommend that all freemasons in public office, including judges, magistrates, prosecutors and policemen are required to declare their membership in a place to which the public has ready access.