Judge Rinder thinks Law students are really really serious
Manchester grad and sassy TV Judge Robert Rinder says Law students nowadays are more serious and money-obsessed than they were when he was a student.
Rinder told us: “These days, more than when I was at the bar, the legal profession is so utterly competitive, to even get a place at chambers or go to the bar. There might be 500 applicants for one place. I’m not surprised that given that sort of background that law students are increasingly serious.
“The other thing is when I was at university it was all free, including my year abroad, and you got grants and stuff. So I suppose people think, if you’re going to get into that level of debt, I’m not really surprised that people are a bit more serious about their studies.”
And he says wannabe Lawyers are often clueless about the power the law does and doesn’t give them.
The telly judge explained: “Tweets are often forwarded to me from students doing a ‘does Judge Rinder count as law’ edition. I get a lot of those – and the answer is yes. The principles we apply are legit legal principles, especially for first year law students who are doing contract or tort law, the principles I apply are absolutely real and important principles that they’ll be thinking about for their studies.
“People think they can sue people and get massive awards, but under tort law you can only sue when you’ve been damaged. That’s often a topic of discussion amongst Law students.”
Rinder did his first degree in Manchester before moving to London for the bar. He describes his time Up North as “an absolute blur”, and his best friends – including Benedict Cumberbatch, who he was recently best man for – are friends he met while studying in Manchester.
He adds: “I suspect that things were very different in circumstances back then, people were less worried about money back then.”
Rinder’s new book “Rinder’s Rules: How to make the law work for you!” is all about taking legal disputes to the right people, something he admits Law students get wrong when they drunkenly accuse people like bouncers or bartenders of discriminating against them.
“Of course they’re not going to let you in. There’s no point, you’re not going to have a coherent discussion with anyone when you’re drunk, much less a power crazed oaf. There’s no point and it’s always better to walk away. You’re not going to get anywhere in a stressed out queue full of people.
“You’re not going to do well in your relationships anywhere, you can’t resolve a dispute when you’re really angry. It’s infininitely better to realise that you’re angry, get angry with yourself and walk away, and then once the anger has subsided work out how best to resolve the situation to make it work best for you.
“You can empower people, especially students, so when they have any kind of legal issue — with a mobile phone company, or holiday for instance, that knowing the law and being articulate and knowledge enough to explain your position and critically identifying the right person to go to.
“There’s no point screaming at some poor person, usually a woman in a call centre, who has no way of helping you. It’s better knowing what the law is and being confident to articulate and advance your position.”
In fact Rinder says getting life experience and actually speaking to other people, instead of focusing on piles of work in isolation.
He says: “The students I often find most effective are those with the most life experience – by that I don’t mean internships but I mean exposure to their own communities. Something like working in a pub can be enormously important to how you can speak to people from different backgrounds.
“They have to be committed, anyone who’s committed to the law can be a great lawyer. I don’t go in for the fact that it requires someone to be dispassionate, otherwise it’s absolutely exhausting.
“If you’re into law and put in that much effort and then get to the other side and realise you don’t actually like it you’re going to end up pretty bankrupt pretty quickly.”
Despite his reputation as the epitome of a mouthy Lawyer, Rinder says the TV show hasn’t made him more judgemental.
“There’s a difference between being judgemental when you’re a judge, and being judgemental in a crass way. I don’t judge people based upon their background or anything else, I only judge people on their actions, as we all should. I’m only interested in what people do.
“It hasn’t made me more judgemental, all it’s done is bring into focus that sometimes people make very odd choices, and when they do I’m there to hold the mirror up to them and show them the error of the choices that they’ve made.”
Students often feature on the show too. In one recent episode, Derby student Romeo offered to rap in the middle of a case involving lost ID on a night out.
Rinder’s Rules is published by Century and is available now.