Ode to students

Welcome back, it's good you're here,
The year's about to start.
But listen up and heed this well,
Take this advice to heart.

20,000 students,
The good old days are gone.
The sheer amount of numbers mean
That leniency's a con.

A bit of fun is quite OK
But don't take things too far.
The criminal law is not for you
It's your life that you scar.

Name and Shame should worry all
But don't get too ecstatic.
The Court of Appeal's made it clear,
Suppression's not automatic.

And legal aid is difficult
You'll probably have to pay
For someone else to snivel for you,
At $800 a day.

Diversion, too, is hard to claim
It comes not as of right.
Nicked and drunk at half past eight
Stuck in a cell all night.

"Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker"
Wrote poet Ogden Nash.
But it's the cause of all the crime
And the loss of all your cash.

Then this wordsmith also added
When you're drunk enough to throw up,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it.
Whenever you're right, shut up!

Dope, and P and party pills
All seem the trendy thing
But the law, you see, does not agree
And you'll be the one to swing.

A tiny puff, a laugh or two
You think it never matters
But you'll have all your life to laugh,
Your conviction-free list in tatters.

A rowdy night of fun and games,
Some disorderly dereliction.
You plead before a heartless Judge,
But no discharge without conviction.

With degree in hand, you'll want some fun,
With international travel.
Canada's closed, that's just the start
Your plans will soon unravel.

That humble little couch fire?
Lit without forethought?
It's not a misdemeanour
But known as arson by the Court

You're all scrubbed up with suit and tie
You think your lawyer's plucky
But discharges and suppression
Are only for the lucky.

You're bullet proof? You're fancy free?
It'll be OK on the night?
The Judge will smile down on you?
And let you off? Yeah, Right!

Michael Guest is a former lawyer and district and family court judge

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