Politics has always been an interest for me that I have had little time to look into, so Chapter 4 of ‘The New Lawyer’ was certainly of much interest to me (to the point that I found myself reading about past double dissolutions, various prior Prime Ministers and the such for a few hours).
I did particularly find the diagrams showing the flow of cases from the Original court to the Appelate courts to be particularly helpful. Understanding which court do what and why has already provided some handy points in discussion with colleagues at my current workplace involving legal matters. I can see clearly how legal knowledge becomes important in maintaining working relationships with other law students and lawyers etc. as is mentioned in ‘The New Lawyer’ in a prior module.
With a bit more background on the history of law, namely Trial by ordeal and trial by combat, I am reminded that the next season of Game of Thrones is on soon. More importantly though, ‘The New Lawyer’ asks us what benefits there could be of ‘Trial by Combat’ as a legal construct. Certainly I would imagine the costs would be much lower than a normal trial. The chance of appeal is considerably reduced too! (although not completely as you might think, it appears that you can ‘tap out’ in Trial by Combat historically).
As a quick aside on legal research, apparently ‘My Cousin Vinny’ is one of the more accurate courtroom movies around (see entry #4 on this list) and has been moved to the top of my ‘to watch’ list. If you’re interested in these comical numbered list style articles, for the sake of relevance here’s another 5 movies, this time with the most illegal court rulings in legal history.
Wikipedia is becoming a more prevalent source of information for the masses, and commonly many searches lead here (and then ultimately to Philosophy. No, really). ‘The New Lawyer’ asks us to consider the validity of information from Wikipedia and it’s sources. Ultimately whilst Wikipedia is vetted by other contributors to the site, all contributions are provided by any multitude of keyboard warriors, or potentially accredited experts, without the use being any the wiser. Wikipedia is not, however, any less useful as a tool, it just needs to be used differently. Wikipedia requires citations and references to be provided by all contributors, and this is what we can use as pathways to more potentially viable sources of information. It can also be used as a place to mine for better search terms to be used at more reliable sites.
The important lesson here is to be aware of where information comes from originally, how it is referenced, and whether it has been correctly repeated or interpreted by the site in question. Let’s suspend our belief for a moment for the following example; while this linked article explains that Bilbo Baggins’ contract is legally valid and correct, referencing Cracked.com is probably not going to curry much favour (despite it being far more amusing to read than the atypical legal reference), I could however directly reference James Daily, a licensed attorney in Missouri who originally made the observation on his law blog ‘law and the multiverse’ linked here (the first of a few length posts on the topic). Why I’d be arguing such a matter is yet to be determined, however whilst it’s a secondary source, and a foreign one at that, it’d certainly be a good place to start. If I wanted to really argue it, I could use Daily’s blog as background reading to mine for relevant search terms and determine the validity of the contract under Australian law. Such an activity done correctly could potentially net me some primary sources to reference, or at the very least some more local secondary sources.
In short, yes I am definitely purchasing a copy of the contract from The Hobbit (already the research skills I am working on have come to fruition!)
As always, feel free to discuss and comment at your leisure 🙂