chapter  6
14 Pages

Reclaiming the holy lawyer

WithMarett Leiboff

Australian colonial readers would have had a range of responses to the accounts of Mr Sergeant Talfourd’s death, from the muscular sentimentality of most of the panegyrics where Mr Sergeant Talfourd’s death signified something of a sacrifice for the higher purpose of law and justice in society. Through everything written about Thomas Noon Talfourd, he appears as the archetypal holy lawyer, in the sympathy he embodies and practices, the responsiveness and responsibility to law beyond the black letter, and the concerns he manifests for law in its social and individual life. Curiously again for a twenty-first-century lawyer, considerable attention was paid to Talfourd’s physical characteristics and demeanour. If Talfourd is to be stripped of his validity immediately, it will staunch sentiment for his kind of lawyering, he can become a martyr. His memorialists write him into a corner, as unique and as a one off, and who can be followed up to a point, but not too far.