Fictional Attorney of the Month: Abraham Haphazard

Anthony Trollope writes the story of Septimus Harding is the warden in The Warden, overseeing an almshouse in nineteenth-century England. He is a widower who lives with his youngest daughter Eleanor. The quiet Mr. Harding suddenly finds himself at the center of a public lawsuit when a reformer (and suitor of his daughter), John Bold, challenges how money is being spent at the almshouse.

Sir Abraham Haphazard--pointedly named by Trollope--is a barrister who counsels Mr. Harding in this matter. Trollop describes him with some sad commentary: "Yo would say he was a man to use, and then have done with; a man to be sought for on great emergencies, but ill adapted for ordinary services; a man whom you would ask to defend your property, but to whom you would be sorry to confide your love. He was bright as a diamond, and as cutting, and also as unimpressionable. He knew every one whom to know was an honour, but he was without a friend; he wanted none, however, and knew not the meaning of the word in other than its parliamentary sense."

Haphazard is a deeply successful and credentialed attorney, and he provides exactly the kind of advice to be expected, as he speaks at a time when the lawsuit is dropped. Move on, he explains, because Harding has won and is entitled to the money he receives as Warden. ButHarding conscience has persuaded him that even the appearance of conflict is too great. Haphazard provides poor counseling and advice, as he seems much more intent on satisfying his own expectations within the law (and, incidentally, furthering his own reputation) than in assisting his client moving forward in resolving conflicts in his affairs.