Justice Kirby writes in praise of Judge’s Little Helpers. I was one such, and what a wonderful year it was for me.
I’m intrigued, somewhat, by the diminutive word little before the word helper.
The judge I worked for had, prior to me, two very tall associates (the more official name, in Australia, for judge’s helpers). We had joked about my height and how the judge would have to find someone else to get things off high shelves because I’d be no use in that department.
One day, the judge called me into chambers and asked if I could reach something that had fallen down behind a large sort-of hall table / sideboard piece of furniture. The something was a photograph in a frame, and there were heaps of other photographs in frames sitting on top of the sideboard, together with pot plants, vases, trinkets, mementoes and a glass head that was home to the judge’s wig. I looked behind the sideboard: the frame was too far in to reach from the side, and the sideboard too tall for me to reach down from the top. I cleared a few things from the sideboard, clambered on top and then hung my arm down between the back of the sideboard and the wall. I did not even come close.
The judge said (something along the lines of): “Never mind. I’ll retrieve it eventually.”
When you’re short, you have lots of little ways to get things that are too high or too far away or just somehow beyond your reach. I’m always happy to jump for things if they’re not too heavy or fragile. I like to have a little step in my kitchen so I can get at the things stored on the top shelf. Coathangers are fantastically useful for hooking and pulling towards you things that have fallen behind other things and cannot be reached from the side. “Give me a moment,” I said and disappeared.
I came back from the kitchen sporting chopsticks, short tongs, long tongs, and a long handled spoon. With the spoon, I held the frame steady and captured it with the long tongs. (The chopsticks were just a back up.) I flourished the retrieved frame and the judge commented that neither of the last two associates would probably have gone about that quite the way I did. I took the compliment, replaced the judge’s sideboard set-up and returned my miscellaneous items to the kitchen.
So, you know, little, well yes I was (still am).
As a caveat, I did heaps of incredibly intellectually challenging and interesting work. Working for my judge was excellent. I’m just not going to write about the substantive stuff here.
If you come a-reading here law students: apply to be a Judge’s Associate. It is very much worth it.