Lawyers and fountain pens

fountain pen While I’m certainly not a pen connoisseur, I have owned a few nice pens in my time. For whatever reason, I’ve tended to go through alternating spells when I might write with a fountain pen continually for a few weeks, followed by months of reverting to the ubiquitous biro – and usually a cheap and tacky one at that.

Fountain pens are often considered to be the reserve of the traditional professions as well as the more pretentious members of society. Lawyers, on the whole, tend to fall into both of those categories. Throughout my ‘vocational placements’ I’ve witnessed several lawyers using a traditional fountain pen, though, I admit, they are very much the exceptions to the norm.

That said, there are some very funky and modern looking pens out there which won’t break the bank either. Michael’s tip of the day: The Writing Desk stocks an excellent range of pens, paper and inks and I’ve dealt with them on and off over the past few years with excellent service every time.

During my LL.M I’ve witnessed a few students writing with fountain pens – more so than during my LL.B. I even saw a female student answer her competition law paper writing with one. I can’t say I’ve ever answered an exam with a fountain pen – save perhaps for my SATs in way back in year 6 – and I certainly wouldn’t fancy doing it at this level.

I have two fountain pens at present – neither of which has seen much use over the past year: a Faber Castell cheapy and a relatively expensive Sheaffer Legacy.


my fountain pens

I don’t find fountain pens lend themselves to use for scrawling down lecture notes – though I’ve seen a few students this past year try to disprove that theory. It all depends on your writing style, I guess.

People write with a fountain pen for differing reasons. For me, it’s usually because I get fed up with biros. There is also something quite satisfying about writing with a good pen – particularly if you find a quirky coloured ink you like.

My favourite inks to date are a vibrantly rich turquoise/blue and deep green though I’ve experimented with quite a range.   I also found that a bright orange makes for great, striking annotations.

I’d be very interested to hear from members of the blawgosphere who might use fountain pens and for those that don’t, why not?  To those that do, have you ever dared answer an undergrad or postgrad exam with one?!


  1. I never used a fountain pain at university. I think I probbaly used it more during the year 6 and 7 time but not since. I do own a few but they seemed to have dried up lol. My favourite thing was putting new cartridges in and watching the ball pop in the cartridge at the top lol!

    But they do look more professional and I have seen so many more Solicitors use them. I still prefer the good old biro, at least it won't run on your hand!

  2. I like that - 'fountain pain'! :p

    It's true, if you get a 'leaker' you can end up in a right mess, though haven't suffered one of those in years, thankfully.

    Good to know that the cartridge ball popping kept you entertained! :p

    Does anybody in the firm you are volunteering with use one?

  3. I love writing with fountain pens... my handwriting always seems much more elegant.

  4. Yeah, I've heard lots of people claim that. For me, I think it's also true, but only when I'm in the right mood or maybe holding the pen a little looser. Perhaps the phase of the moon also has something to do with it. :-$

    Otherwise my writing is pretty much the same with a fountain pen or cheap ol' biro!

  5. I can only do fountain pens with very fine nibs, otherwise my crap handwriting is a blur!

    There is something very elegant about it though, and something old fashioned! I hate biros myself I use the ball point pens, with the hard metal point.

  6. Never used one. No particular reason why not though.

  7. My Dear Michael,

    EEEEEEE!!!!Do NOT get me started on the subject of fountain pens!!!!!!

    I refer you to my blog, and my encounter with a writing impliment of this ilk that cost its owner a truly JAW DROPPING £15k!!!!

  8. Well I write in italics and my handwriting is quite "flowery" for lack of a better word - my cousin says its looks quite old-fashioned... and so it does look a whole lot better when I write using a fountain pen than when I write in biro. BUT I gave in to the convenience of biros at Uni (I regret it now because, once upon a time, I could write very quickly with a fountain pen)!

  9. as a leftie i struggle with a 'real' fountain pen, however i have to say i am a proponent and addicted to disposable fountain pens, i think they rock.

  10. Interesting re. the disposable fountain pens, Ginge. I've never actually used one myself... Maybe I'll give it a whirl.

    BTW, I'm a leftie too, though seem to manage with a fountain pen ok.

  11. Ah yes, the £15k fountain pen.

  12. Holy Cow! That's one expensive pen. Somehow missed that post of yours, Minxy.

    And re. the leakiness of certain fountain pens, a memory came back to me earlier. Pretending your pen had a leak which necessitated a long and thoroughgoing clean-up process at the sink (as well as subsequent servicing to 'prevent' similar incidents) was a great way to slack a bit at school. I knew all the tricks on that front! ;-)

  13. Darn that was an actual typo lol. I meant fountain pen..ooops!! Only one Solicitor here uses it but quite a few in different bigger firms like to use them too, they definitely have a thing about them in this profession.

  14. Oh okay, I thought you were showcasing your sparkling wit, Pooni! :p

  15. I Like Fountain Pens, Really. I wold love to be able to write properly with them - but as a leftie, I think I am more in sync with Ginge on this one Michael; However do you manage to write without a/ getting ink all over the place and b/ avoding ripping the paper with the nib?!?

  16. Not too sure how I manage it Minxy but I seem to smudge more with biros than with a fountain pen.

  17. I was addicted to fountain pens in school - but never used one during university and certainly not in an exam - mainly because of the potential mess. Anything messy not good in my book. But fountain pens and calligraphy are nice from an artistic point of view.

    That said a fountain pen is prob one of the few pens I've purchased as up until this year (which seemed to just eat away at my pens) I got away with only using free pens.

  18. I did my undergrad exams this year with a fountain pen, I did that because the year previously I did them with a standard 9p disposable Bic and ended up with a hideous claw instead of a hand.

    My school enforced a fountain pen policy since about P4 so I think my hand has adapted to just gently guiding a pen and pushing down at this point makes me cramp.

    I've taken to loading mine with Noodler's Bulletproof ink which is a ludicrous expense compared to a biro but makes your notes water and even bleach proof.

    Also, if you are using expensive pens loaded with speciality ink it might be worth keeping a multipack of biros in your bag just in case someone needs to borrow one. Some pens are a bit too valuable to loan out but we've all been saved by someone with a spare pen at some point in our lives.

  19. Show offs!

    My view is that unless you have calligraphic handwriting, a fountain pen is useless.

    I have a couple of very nice fountain pens, which I never use, because it's too much hassle, and I'm just not that bothered about writing equipment.

    I used to like gel pens at school...

  20. Wow... I'm impressed with you completing your undergrad exams with a fountain pen, Stephen. You're absolutely right about the muscle demands of writing with a fountain pen are fewer and very different to with a biro. I think that's why I like to swap about a bit.

    Travis: Like the thrifty approach to pens for your degree - I've made use of a lot of free pens during my LL.M :-)

    Andro: That's certainly an interesting view... I wouldn't say I necessarily agree though as think many people's handwriting can be improved by using a fountain pen - and they don't need to have calligraphic style for that to be the case. IMO anyway! :p

  21. I only use a biro for things that require a scrawl - telephone notes as a make them, and the like.

    For "formal" scribblings I have a Cross ballpoint which gets taken to client meetings and court etc.

    Then, for signing letters, and back in my days of studying writing exams, and anything that wants decorum - fountain pen all the way. The don't leak if you sort 'em right, and that's what blotting paper's for ;)
    My undergrad exams were done mainly with a Parker Pen, but my Godparents bought me a Mont Blanc for my 21st that now gets used the rest of time, and now sits permanently in my jacket pocket.

    I definitely would never use a tacky bic biro in an exam, because I know my handwriting does change to something more legible when writing with a fountain pen.

    Does it make me old fashioned signing with a fountain pen? Probably, but I still think it's the "professional thing".


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