SO, GEORGE CLOONEY is no longer footloose and fianceé-free. The world’s most famous bachelor is about to be wed to the beautiful and brainy humanrights lawyer, Amal Alamuddin.
Of course, marrying into a life in the law sounds so glamorous, but as I’ve been hitched to a human-rights lawyer for 25 years, I feel I really should offer George a few top tips.
First off, the spouse of a human rights lawyer must get used to the fact that you will always come second. Yes, your legal eagle spouse adores you, but they’re very busy saving the world which means they work 24/7.
Even more annoying, they also work for free. (In my view, the words Pro and Bono should only be used when referring to a penchant for the lead singer of an Irish rock band.)
Maybe even before the honeymoon is over, you’ll be suffering from a chronic case of Subpoena-envy. And it’s very hard not to go into Martyr Mode, when your other half is called away to write an urgent submission so has to miss yet another dinner party/parent teacher night/school concert – it’s imperative that both parents attend the nativity play, whether you need to sleep or not!
The spouse of a human rights lawyer must not expect any help around the house either. Yes, your lawyer partner may be adept at catching despots laundering money – but that means there is no time left for them to put the washing on.
But the main downside to marrying a lawyer is that you can never, ever win an argument. Barristers have been at university for so long they’ve got ivy growing up backs of their legs. And what they’ve graduated in, is Advanced Debating Skills. You must be sure to answer carefully in all disagreements, too, as a lawyer only needs another two signatures to put you away.
And it’s not just your Legal Eagle’s superior conversational ducking and diving that will have you flummoxed. They suffer from First Degree Knowledge. In other words, erudite human rights lawyers have a habit of telling you what you already know – except they tells it to you in Latin – I-am-a-smarty-pants-icularis maximus. Plus, they’re Conan the Grammarians.
A brainiac barrister just can’t help correcting your grammar, even when you’re talking dirty in bed.
Which segues nicely into the topic of sex. Are lawyers also fluent in body language? A girlfriend of mine who is married to a barrister, puts all her sexual requirements on a lined legal notepad to be taken under advisement.
He makes her plea-bargain for foreplay. So, if you’re going to marry a lawyer I suggest you practise some legalistic pillow talk, e.g. “Go ahead and hold me in contempt – or just hold me.” “Is that a gavel in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?” Or “I yield to the authority of the bench.”
Another downside to marrying into the legal life, is being spied on.
Surveillance makes the paparazzi intrusion look playful. The hours I’ve wasted being witty and pithy on the phone, in case the CIA were eavesdropping. I mean these transcripts could one day be read out in court and you want to look intellectual, yes, but also interesting – which is why it’s also important to slip in a few references to whipped-cream orgies.
So, how to tell if you really are under surveillance?
Your first clue will be when your neighbour gets tipsy one night and tells you how much better you look in real life than through binoculars.
Or if your postman seems to know a lot about your shower routine.
Or the fact that an odd looking woman called Georgina Neegus keeps applying for a job as your ironing lady.
But without doubt, the hardest thing about being married to a human rights lawyer is that they value their privacy above all else.
If my lawyer husband ever finds out that I’ve even written this list of top tips, I’ll be divorced. All though, of course, he won’t call it divorce, but case closed.
But George, take heart! When our human rights lawyer spouses, who are in the same chambers and often work together, are away slaving over a hot case file in some malaria-riddled fungal jungle, let me just remind you that I will be there, to comfort and console you... That’s the kind of self sacrificing woman I am.