The conceits of the “Johnny Come Latelies”
BY Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d, FRSA
Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of The Rive Gauche, London Faculty, London
Author of the world class bestseller: “Legal Nihilism: A Random Theory of Law”, Maninahat Press, 2009
It is always a pleasure to be invited to ‘Guest’ by my brother Charon QC, whose interest in matters legalo-philosophical and the rigours of academe is, to be generous, probably well past its sell by date; an end hastened, ineluctably, by his taste for the grape, gin & mango juice and Marlboro cigarettes – hijacking his mind and his interests to the absurdities of the tabloids and the antics of academics and practitioners in what practitioners are still pleased to call the ‘legal profession’. I overlook, with some distaste, his use of a noun as a verb in his badly typed email of 2.45 am this morning. I am a guest. I do not ‘guest’.
But, be that as it may. I have forgiven him for sending in a review of my best-selling Legal Nihilism: A Random Theory of Law to The Law Quarterly Review - which comprised of three brief sentences: “I wept with laughter from start to well into the third page. What was the commissioning editor drinking, because I’d like to speak to his vintner? Has this book been legalled for compliance under academic terrorism legislation?
To the matter in hand: The issue of the two year law degrees being rushed to market by the providers of vocational stage courses.
It is fair to observe that purveyors of courses leading to qualification as a solicitor or barrister in England & Wales have done rather well out of their ventures; in one case, attracting the interest of venture capitalists and extremely wealthy american entrepreneurs. It would be churlish not to admit that these same providers have added to the architectural splendours of legal London with their well equipped luxurious buildings and, while some may call for a judicial inquiry into why we have so many students chasing so few jobs, they have provided some good courses. Some students may not agree with this assessment and RollonFriday, an online publication of interest to people like my brother Charon QC, enjoys reminding its readers of the bulging bank accounts of one CEO and his cabal of co-conspirators.
“A spokeswoman for the CoL told RollOnFriday that the eye-watering cost hadn’t yet been finalised, but would be “up to £9,000 per year“. She justified this on the basis that students would get 11 hours a week of “face to face teaching” (and definitely not the need to pay its Chief Exec the thick end of half a million quid a year). More….
By way of digression; my attention was caught by an article in a newspaper I happened to find on the train:
OXFORD GRADUATE EXAM-FLOP STUDENT SUING FOR £100,000
One could argue that the new universities (and, I have to say with some regret, even Russell Group universities) have only themselves to blame for admitting students who really aren’t up to the mark in some cases. I do admit to a certain frisson of morning schadenfreude when I read that a law student is suing OXILP for failing to prepare her adequately in examination technique. There will, of course, with the rise in fees coming, be a great deal more of this. I am boning up on my Education Law and I would recommend any practitioner who isn’t getting nearly enough conveyancing or personal injury work, to do the same. My advice is to focus on the Tort of Negligence and to do some serious research into terms of the contract, breach and damages; paying particular attention to ‘remoteness of damage’ in both contract and tort.
From reading the article in The Express, but without having access to the file, it would not be reasonable for me to comment further, save to observe that issues of causation and remoteness could well be a ‘problem’. We shall see. The lawyers, after all, have access to the facts. The journalists, I suspect, are observing that fine tradition of the English amateur and writing without possession of the full facts but giving it some ‘wellie’ for the ‘delectation and delight’ of their readers.
Ah… yes… where was I? I do tend to digress, a habit born of having to do most of the talking in tutorials when my students turned up with hangovers or, in the case of the more adventurous ones, still drunk and still stupid.
I was much taken with a blog post written by Professor Richard Moorhead who is head of department at a ‘real university’, a Russell Group university, and not one of these more modern creations of increasingly desperate Education ministers from governments Tory and Labour.
Two Years or Not Two years: That’s Not the Question
The article was both informative and subtle in its oblique undertones. I particularly savoured this rather fine passage:
A large part of the College’s claim to be different is built on a parody of ‘traditional’ law schools.
In just those few words, pregnant with meaning, Professor Moorhead hints at dark deeds, lack of intellectual rigour in the PR pronouncements of the new law schools and, with the skill of a master of the rapier, delivers the coup de gras, the killing insult, that their thinking is ‘built on a parody of ‘traditional’ law schools’. One can almost see the new providers eating their popcorn in the middle of a planning and strategy meeting while watching The Paper Chase and the antics of Professor Kingsfield and then ‘brainstorming’ with their wretched flip charts.
It has been a pleasure to ‘Guest’. I may do it again. Unfortunately, I do not get a fee for writing these guest posts and there is rarely a drop left to drink when I turn up in Charon QC’s office. I would add, however, that Charon is not a selfish man, far from it. He just drinks quickly when he hears me coming. This was his explanation last time I made a visit. I am, however, used to that.