The Resource Intensity of Society

 There was recently a series of programmes on the BBC about the work and education of barristers, and the comment below is taken from the Open University discussion forum for the programmes.

This raises an interesting and fundamental issue – the resource intensity of society in ‘resolving the problems which we all face in family life and working life.’ as stated.

Whilst a proportion of legal work is required for the smooth ordering of society, contracts etc., all the rest is the result of society’s failure to ‘to do the right thing, every time’; ‘quality of life’ failures which create a ‘loss to society’ in the form of human misery, social disintegration, financial losses and costs – vital societal resources and ingenuity squandered.

In effect, the ‘First Law of Sustainability’ could be rewritten, the numbers in the legal profession per capita in any society is in inverse proportion to the possibility of that society being sustainable.


It is clear from the programme that it is not exactly ‘easy’ to become a barrister. However, perhaps an interesting way of thinking about this issue would be to ask oneself whether, given the range of skills which barristers possess, a more extensive use of their services might make it easier for us to resolve the problems which we all face in family life and working life.

It could be argued that a civilised society depends on the ‘rule of law’, and respect for the law and  given that barristers, together with judges, enable the rule of law to become a reality, I would content that we need more of both of them rather than less.

Perhaps the real question should be – ‘How are we to we pay for the services of those who uphold the ‘rule of law’ and how could those services be made available to more people, with less expense?’


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