In a rare interview with Edgar Venal, Senior Partner at Venal & Grabbit, we discuss LASPO, mediation and the latest divorce statistics.
We meet him relaxing in the red leather armchair in his office, with his feet up on the back of a trainee who is acting as his footstool. Another trainee scurries in with a silver tray carrying a bottle of one of those boutique style gins for discerning high net-worth individuals who are driven by luxury and quality, together with two crystal glasses. Wishing to keep a clear head, I decline the offer to partake.
Family Lore: Thank you once again for the kind offer to give an interview to Family Lore.
Edgar Venal: The pleasure is all yours, but do do keep it brief - I have fees to earn. You do know my hourly rate, don't you?
FL: Err, well, no. How much is it?
EV: (Chuckling) As I always say, if you need to ask, you can't afford me!
FL: Quite. Moving on, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill is of course being debated in the House of Lords this week. What are your thoughts on that?
EV: The best thing since sliced bread. Make people pay for going to law, that's what I say. In fact, I have been lobbying their Lordships in favour of the Bill. Amazing what a few backhanders in the right places can do. (He takes a sip of gin.)
FL: But what of those who can't afford to go to law?
EV: (Choking on his gin) Don't be absurd - the law is for those who can afford it, not for the great unwashed.
FL: OK, but what about all the hard-working legal aid lawyers who will be out of a job if legal aid is abolished for their area of work?
EV: Of course I always have sympathy for fellow lawyers (provided they're not in competition with me), even if they are foolish enough to do legal aid work, but they can always down-grade and become mediators. (He takes another sip of gin.)
FL: Have you ever considered training as a mediator yourself?
EV: (Choking on his gin again) Now if you're going to be offensive, you can leave my office immediately.
FL: I'm terribly sorry, I meant no offence - I hear many lawyers are doing it.
EV: (Calming down) My boy, I could not possibly be a mediator - how could one earn a decent living out of work that doesn't involve expensive court proceedings?
FL: Well, quite. Moving on, there was of course another piece of good news for divorce lawyers prior to Christmas, when it was revealed that there had been an unexpected rise in the divorce rate. What do you think of that?
EV: Yes, excellent news. Not entirely unexpected though. I don't like to take the credit, but much of the increase was due to Venal & Grabbit's advertising campaign promoting divorce. Money well spent - and tax-deductable, too.
FL: Really? So advertising does work?
EV: Of course it does. Tell the punters that life will be better if they get a divorce, and the new instructions come flooding in. (He pointedly looks at his watch.)
FL: (Taking the hint) Well, I can see you're busy. Thank you for speaking to Family Lore.