Tulkinghorn: Running on empty

You may have seen the Yes, Minister episode in which Jim Hacker of the ­Department of Administrative Affairs is told of a hospital that is fully staffed with administrative and support staff but devoid of doctors.

Well, here’s the closest thing Tulkinghorn can find to such a circumstance in the legal world.

When the proprietor of this fine column heard of plans for a full London launch for US firm Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, he felt compelled to telephone its extant City office to check things out.

“Can I speak to a lawyer please?” he asked.

“I’m sorry, we don’t have any,” came the disconcerting reply.

Is this in fact a law firm? Indeed it is. But, like any self-respecting firm, its London branch has an office manager, presumably to manage all the paperwork and phone calls that arise as a consequence of the firm not having any lawyers.

As Hacker says: “I think I’d better go and have a look at this before the opposition does.”

Too late for the US firm, sadly.

Partner in grime

Tulkinghorn has addressed the issue of the aptronym – a name that encapsulates its holder’s nature – on ­several occasions. Enough individuals, legal and ­otherwise, have been dragged through the muddy slime of fun-poking for the sake of humour.

So here’s a slightly ­different take on the theme. This week’s name encapsulates neither the personality nor the career path of the person in question (Sullivan & Cromwell associate Sue Yoo is such an old joke now), but rather the field of law they have opted to specialise in.

That’s right, Michael Grimes is not just a lawyer – oh no, Grimes had to decide he wanted to be a waste lawyer. How ­mischievous the Eversheds projects and infrastructure partner must have felt when choosing which practice group to cling to.

Grimes, Eversheds’ head of waste, has made a ­business of recycling and rubbish collection, which is presumably what one legal directory has in mind when it praises his ­”dextrous handling of complex matters”.

It can’t be fun waking up every morning knowing your name is mud, but Tulkinghorn nevertheless tips his hat to Mr Grimes – or, as the ­directories call him, “a great name in waste”.

Ignominious rock

One of Tulkinghorn’s scribes, being ­somewhat averse to heat, escaped for a few days to ­Iceland recently.

The hack’s mini road trip through the volcanic wilderness was planned so as to take her to Thingvellir, site of Iceland’s first ­parliament, where in times long gone the so-called
Law Speaker presided

over meetings of Iceland’s ­fledgling governing body.

Meetings were ­apparently held at the ­Lögberg, or ’law rock’, where the Law Speaker had the task of reciting all of Iceland’s laws, which he had previously committed to memory. (Just be glad that’s not part of qualifying as a lawyer these days.)

Naturally, Tulkinghorn’s scribe was rather excited about the prospect of ­visiting such a key legal site – it’s not often you get to witness the literal ­foundation of an entire legal system, after all. So picture her disappointment to discover, on ­arriving at the town, that nobody actually knows for sure where the rock stood.

Apparently it’s either a flat bit of land now featuring a flagpole or a random rock in the massive cliff face that marks the edge of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that runs through the site. Somewhere adjacent to a hard place, possibly?