Guild of Lawyers

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Money Talks.

A Thief who once accidentally robbed an unfamiliar client of several hundred dollars in a dark alley remarked that such a robbery was suitable only for a member of the Guild of Lawyers (see Wyrd Sisters). A Lawyer's typical way of dealing with a case is to keep digging for precedents and loopholes, taking a very long time and charging his client by the hour. There's always a precedent or a loophole for any case, and they are referred to in the old Latatian language, but most lawyers do not make up Latatian phrases, there being already a plentiful store of precedents to suit every occasion.

The three most powerful lawyers are also partners in the same firm: Mr. Slant, who happens to be a zombie and the head of the Guild; Mr. Honeyplace, a vampire; and Mr. Morecombe, a vampire and long-time family solicitor for the Ramkins. Through marriage, they are also lawyers to the Duke of Ankh, something both sides are prepared to accept, for now. The practice of Slant, Morecombe and Honeyplace also employs a fully human clerk, Henry Lawsy, who has long ago ceased to be ambitious, as he has realised that dead men's shoes are occupied by.... well, dead men.

The Guildhouse is located on the Morpork side of the river: in fact it is actually on the riverbank, at Pleaders' Row. It fronts onto the Street of Alchemists at the corner of Purse Street and is directly opposite the Haberdashers' Guild. The fact it is so near the river possibly means lawyers have something more pleasant to smell as they go about their work? Interestingly enough, the Thieves' Guild are near-neighbours on a street entirely populated by Guildhouses. Ironically, the Thieves Guild occupies what used to be the city's main Law courts, arguably bringing more ethical sense and a kind of purity of intent to the place.

In The Compleat Ankh-Morpork, further information is revealed concerning the formal legal system in Ankh-Morpork. The Patrician only hears the most serious cases, or those judged to be City-threatening, or else those which are deemed politically sensitive and require careful handling (such as Gravid Rust after the events of Snuff). Often, (but not always,) a senior lawyer is on hand to advise. However, for the first time, the existence of an intermediate class of legal arbiters, the magistrates, is revealed. Magistrates' Courts are convened at venues within the boroughs of the City and adjudicate on what might be called routine crime. It is not clear where these courts are convened, nor how the Magistrates are selected and trained. Magistrates have a statutory duty to assemble a jury of peers to the accused, of no less than ten people (although far larger juries have apparently been sworn in.)

Practice in Great Britain is for magistrates to be selected from people of good standing who can display common sense and make level-headed judgments. These are usually lay people with little or no formal legal experience, but comprehensive training is given and the panel of magistrates usually has a fully qualified lawyer - the Clerk of the Court - to offer professional advice. Just perhaps the same applies in Ankh-Morpork and a lay magistrate has a Lawyer on hand to offer impartial advice. The Magistrates of The Shires in Snuff were certainly pushing it and operating on the grey area on the very margins of the letter of the law, advised by a corrupt lawyer. This appears to be a common feature in all the small towns and rural areas which are either on the fringes of the Ankh-Morporkian hegemony, or else outside its reach: Mr Waynesbury in Ham-on-Koom appears typical of the sort of magistrate to be found in those small towns, operating outside the close guidance and supervison to be found in the city and pretty much on their own. If you're lucky you get somebody who is halfway interested in dispensing justice, and fairly honest and impartial. As Sam Vimes reflected in a foreshadowing of the events of Snuff, the potential for abuse in a place like that is massive.

Other named Guild members:

(Men at Arms, Maskerade).

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