I was joking the other day with another lawyer on Twitter (@fauxcornishgirl) about how anal lawyers can be, given that attention to detail is drummed into us from the first moment we open a law text book or law report. Now this is where I have to make a confession. As a trainee solicitor at what was then Taylor Joynson Garrett (now Taylor Wessing), I took part in a training day where we were all subjected to a series of psychometric tests. Some were pretty standard, such as Myers-Briggs (for those interested, I’ve done the full test 3 times at different stages during my working life – each time coming out ENFP). One test purported to evaluate our aptitude for characteristics thought essential for lawyers. I scored zero for attention to detail, not surprisingly the lowest score the tester had ever seen.
Today I think I may have rehabilitated myself. On finding me chuckling stupidly at my computer screen, my trainee asked me what was so funny. I showed her a consolidated version of the Data Protection Act 1998, section 7. It’s the section that describes subject access requests. It’s been amended over the years, including by two statutory instruments made in 2000. You might hope that as a data protection lawyer I’d know the section by now (as an aside, I never rely on my memory of a statute – it’s always safer to spend the extra few seconds to get the most up to date, consolidated text on screen.) Today, however, was the first time I’d noticed that Parliament in its infinite wisdom has created not one but two sub-section (12). Maybe the parliamentary draughtsman was superstitious. Maybe lawyers cannot count. Or maybe this lawyer has finally got enough attention to detail to spot a mistake that’s only been on the statute book for 10½ years (since 1 March 2000).
The sad bit, of course, was that I found that funny.