the grass is greener on the internet

Never argue with a QC
October 13, 2009, 3:13 pm
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So I was at a dinner with one of Australia’s top human rights lawyers the other night, Julian Burnside AO QC, and in a moment of temporary insanity started debating the merits of a dual legal system with him.

Julian was in town for a debate about whether Australia should have a federal bill of rights, timed well with the release of the national consultation paper on the same topic. It’s one of those issues which can affect everyone but very few know a lot about – like taxes, or syphilis.

Being the only marketer at the table led to some interesting situations (like the argumentative discussion mentioned earlier). On one level, Julian’s campaign to get Australians educated about having a bill of rights is going to go completely over the heads of a lot of people. For non-lawyers, there’s not much of a difference between a constitutional bill and a statutory bill.

On the other hand, his charisma and humourous presentation style appeals to hearts not minds, which I think is the key issue for the masses.

When you’re in politics it’s all about the marketing…apparently a Minister described the electric fence around a detention centre as an ‘energised’ ‘courtesy fence’.

As much as it will annoy members of a ‘real’ profession, it’s often how you communicate your argument that matters more than the content of that argument.

[I suppose the same thing should be said about Apple’s current trademark action against Woolworths – they might vaguely have a chance at law (uh, vaguely) but as a marketing exercise it’s only going to bring ridicule. Are you listening, Cadbury? Keep your hands off the colour purple.]

Then again, there are times when content really is what matters.

So remember kids, never try and argue with a QC…


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