Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d & thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred
[Blawg Review 141 was published slightly early after email exchange between myself and Ed of Blawg Review]
Welcome Bienvenu Wilkommen Benvenuto Bienvenido to Blawg Review 141. I was passed over yet again for a Knighthood this year, but as “Cash for Honours” is ‘so last year’ and as I would not wish to be the cause for yet another serving British Prime Minister to be interviewed by the police, I can live with it.
I am delighted to be hosting the first Blawg Review of 2008 from my Staterooms in West London, Britain. Human Law, Corporate Blawg and Nearly Legal, of course, paved the way for a UK Blawger to host… Ruthie follows in May and, with delicious irony, Geeklawyer in the week before the US 4th July Independence Day celebrations. We do have some very serious, law rich, blawgs in the United Kingdom… and, indeed….one, Conflict of Laws, is sponsored by the Death Star. I will refer to other UK law rich blawgs seriatim and infra.
I have noticed the literary bent of many of the hosts of Blawg Review…. the elegance of Dante, the earthiness of Shakespeare…. but this is hardly surprising; lawyers use language, words, psychology, pathos, emotion…. as arrows of desire and bows of burning gold… our stock in trade.
I use the word ‘trade’ with some degree of care. There are barristers in England & Wales for whom the word ‘trade’ conjures up the image of solicitors, feasting on the many provisions and opportunities in The Legal Services Act 2007, destroying The Bar’s green and pleasant land.
For those of you not familiar with my blawg… I’m afraid I fall into the Charge of The Light Brigade category of blawging… not entirely sure why I am doing it, not entirely sure if it needs to be done, not entirely sure what I am doing or where I am going… but… it keeps me at the bar…. the one with the red bottles breathing nicely before the gentlemen topers arrive.
Such is my disclaimer, for as in life, even Second Life, one must disclaim as best one can… and on that basis, should you wish to proceed, you do so on that basis.
And so… for a short time… we move away from the blawgs of the United States of America…. to those from the British Isles; a land of turbulent history, a land shaped by time, glaciers, the wind…and the rapacious colonial greed of Romans, Vikings, Normans, Victorians… and Chavs [ASBO peasant underclass] … a land now governed by New Labour and an un-elected Prime Minister [a **** from Fife according to leading Scots blawger and Edinburgh advocate, Reactionary Snob] who wishes to curtail our freedom and ensure that everyone in Britain has an equal opportunity to be a victim of identity theft by introducing ID cards, the data on which can then be lost by a government department.
British blawging is at an early stage of evolution. There are, in Britain, blawgs living in the canopy: discursive, analytical, erudite and contributing to legal practice and scholarship. Opening batsman for UK Law Blawging, Nick Holmes of Binary Law, has catalogued them in detail with the precision of a test match scorer. For those who want to know about UK Law resources on the net – just go to Delia Venables. Delia is not a blawger but she has been in from the beginning and sees all. She is also, clearly, interested in tradition, so don’t be put off by the Netscape 1.0 graphics. Believe me, her website has everything known about UK law sites on it.
I. CASTING AN EYE OVER THE LAW RICH BLAWGS OF BRITAIN
John Bolch of Family Lore keeps an eye on the development of Family Law on almost a daily basis, but occasionally goes off piste; particularly if a judge of the Family Division is able to provide some light entertainment. Earlier in the year, Mr Justice Singer told a sheik in a family case that he could depart on his flying carpet to escape paying costs and that his evidence was “a bit gelatinous … a bit like Turkish Delight”.
Another serious blawger, Nearly Legal, a specialist in housing matters, was able to take time away from such matters to report in his own Blawg Review 115 on the extraordinary episode of the flashing Court of Appeal judge and the evidence given about his choice of underwear. It was the Lord Justice Richards flashing case which led David Fisher, QC, in defending Sir Stephen Richards, acquitted of flashing at a woman on a crowded commuter train, to ask “the question of 2007″: “In order to remove your penis when you are wearing your Calvin Klein briefs, is it necessary to use one or two hands?”
Bystander JP, author of The Magistrate’s Blog is one of the most prolific blawgers in the UK with a strong following. He provides analysis and insight into the workings of the criminal justice system but, he too, is able to enjoy a moment away from serious criminality. On 20th December 2007 Bystander JP noted: “A Minister has floated the idea of banning payment for sex.” He asked Harriet Harman QC MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party: “Firstly, Ms Harman, have you ever read about King Canute?
Secondly, As a lawyer you will be aware that you belong to the world’s second-oldest profession. What chance have you got of outlawing the oldest?”
Simon Myerson QC of Pupillage and How to get it provides useful free advice to prospective barristers about their chances of success. An excellent resource – but he too cannot resist a swipe. In a recent post he considers the position of those who want to go into Media Law – an amusing piece and sums up ‘Advantages’ as follows: “Advantages. Daaahhhhling. This is where it’s at sweetiepie. Whichever way you look, you’re defending freedom so there’s a real feelgood factor here.”
And then, of course, we had a barrister being accused of exposing himself at a wedding and then punching the person who complained. The barrister was acquitted. Not to be outdone, former TV media mogul turned barrister, Bruce Hyman, became the first barrister in 800 years to be sent to jail for perverting the course of justice. Pink Tape, another serious blawger on Family Law, reported the story – with some justification. It was a family law matter.
Overseas readers may be wondering, at this point, if The Bar and the Judiciary of England & Wales are stressed, haven’t got their work life balance quite right and are working too hard. So… to calm things down, I am able to state that there are no known ‘unusual antics’ being reported by Martin George and colleagues at Conflict of Laws.net, by Jeremy Philips and colleagues at IPKat (Intellectual property) or Alex and his colleagues over at IMPACT; an excellent law rich blog by leading Midlands firm, Freeth Cartwright. And…. we must not, of course, forget that immediate past Chairman of The Bar Geoffrey Vos QC paved the way for future Chairs of the Bar to blog.
There are many useful UK law rich blogs. To name a few: The source of useful news and latest reports, Current Awareness, the blog from Inner Temple Library, Head of Legal on EU and Constitutional Law matters, Justin Patten of Human Law who writes extensively on ADR and Mediation, and, from just across the water in Ireland, Cearta – a mine of information on matters of law in Ireland and rights.
II. NOW IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT MADE GLORIOUS SUMMER….
It is at this stage that I place on record my plea of diminished responsibility and throw in a bit of automatism for good measure. For now I move to those UK blawgs, freed from the shackles of having to report on matters legal, the blawgs with a parental guidance rating and, sometimes, it has to be said, ‘Not office safe’…
As life on earth began… the soup of life created many living things. One of these life forms has survived to the present day and when he is not holidaying in a Bavarian castle with his mates and drinking mead, he is Geeklawyer. Geeklawyer, an IP lawyer, does manage to slip in a bit of law from time to time – but, mercifully, his blawg provides, for me, other attractions. I hang out there if I am at a loose end on a Friday evening with a glass of Rioja to my right, Silk Cut cigarettes to my left…
Geeklawyer is a man who can describe J Dan Hall of award winning What About Clients? as “…a depraved evil sociopathic neocon…beast pretending he loves his clients merely to get into their wallets.” – and get away with it. I commend, unreservedly, this blawg… but with the judicial caveat “and may god have mercy on your soul’. Res ipsa loquitur.
To another UK Blawg with a literary and surreal bent… the blawg started by Ruthie after resigning / being sacked from the Geeklawyer blawg. Ruthie intended to design a blawg to comment in detail on the development of the criminal law and jurisprudence relating to villains and those who need ASBOs. Ruthie’s Law is a curious mix of erudition, comment on the criminal laws of England, corsets, naked cowboys, heaving bosoms and an underlying sexual tension born of desire by an upper class maiden for the earthy pleasures of Tucker. A real QC has joined Ruthie to post as Victorian Maiden. The result is always enjoyable because the ‘mystery QC’ and Ruthie have the knowledge to comment amusingly on the shortcomings of our criminal justice system. Ruthie’s Law: This blawg is a good read. I quote from Victorian Maiden: “I have let go of Tucker’s enormous box and he has gone off to stroke it lovingly before getting his hand on what is inside.” Perhaps you would like to see what is inside Ruthie’s Law?
A question often mooted down at The Bollo is: “What did the Romans ever do for us?”
As it happens, I am partial to a bit of latin and in my youth taught two people a bit of Roman Law. Despite the best endeavours of Lord Woolf to remove Latin from the panoply of legal life, we have two former blawgers, unable to take the withdrawal pangs of giving up blawging, who have returned with a new blawg. Lex Scholasticus et Caput Stercoris and Advocatus Diaboli bring us Reductio ad absurdum. I remember saying quite often to one of my wives Nemo dat quod non habet and the equally useful Non haec in foedera veni.
No review of UK Blawgs would be comprehensive without mention of the Babybarista blog in The Times. This blawg, written by a barrister, reveals the underlying villainy and skullduggery of a pupil’s quest for tenancy and fame. An enjoyable romp and read, a subtle satire with much in it.
AND there are quite a few blawgs out there being put together by prospective barristers. Not many, it has to be said, by prospective solicitors. The pupil/BVC blawgs are: The Pupillage Chronicles, Legal Lass, Law Minx, Paranoid Pupil
There were more student blawgs. One can only surmise that the authors are now being worked to death by their law firm or law school and do not have time to blog?
Politics and government in this and many other countries is crawling with lawyers. I read quite a few political blogs and mention two: Guido Fawkes and Reactionary Snob; the latter penned by an Edinburgh Advocate who has a dislike for governments encroaching on his liberty and frittering his money away.
It is election season in the U.S. and the US law blogs are sharpening their knives….
I have boned up on my knowledge of the US political system by listening to Noam Chomsky’s lecture on the system – fascinating
Prawfsblog (“Where intellectual honesty has (almost always) trumped partisanship since 2005) had an interesting post on New Year’s Day about Perception and Reality in polls and worries about whether, given that ‘people like to go with a winner’, polls become self-fulfilling.
Of particular interest to Britain and Europe is whether Obama has any interest in Europe. The Atlantic Review has an answer. I quote: “Obama, however, is trying to get votes from Americans, who are increasingly less interested in (or have less faith in) transatlantic cooperation.”
Meanwhile, back in Blighty, Gordon ‘Newcastle bottled it” Brown is unlikely to call an election now until 2009. We did, however, have a completely unfascinating election for the new leader of the Liberal-Democrats, after their end of pier Autumn pantomime production Mingius Caesar.
We also have WebCameron in this country, now moved to pride of place on the official Conservative website. As Charon QC I receive regular emails. I may well exercise my democratic right to post on WebCameron if the Rioja takes me that way.
It seems that David Miliband, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, is solving all Britain’s international problems and is back blogging. He tells us that five good things happened in 2007 and he has another list of five good things to happen in 2008. Which StarTrek commander used to say “Make it so” ?
The Prime Minister of Great Britain also has a blog… of sorts. A bit one sided, I grant you…. The 10 Downing Street website.
David Maister, always a good read, deserves the last word in this section on politics with a post on ‘Ruthlessness and Charity”
“In an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal, Lawrence B. Lindsey, author of a new book “What a President should Know … but Most Learn Too Late” gives the opinion that we (the electorate) should seek (as our president) an individual who is ruthless about protecting us against others, but (who) acts with charity towards all and malice towards none at home.” Maister reflects on this.
And so…we move away from politics and the law… to the law itself… in the penultimate section of this blawg review.
IV. THE LAW….
First the good news…
I am grateful to Leon Gettler for letting me know that ‘Lawsuits are on the increase, up 43 per cent on last year. And the combination of subprime and market volatility is driving that increase.’
The news just gets better. Eric Turkewitz of the NY Personal Injury Law Blog has a great story: “After a colossal screw-up with the July 2007 New York bar exam — in which some of the essay answers were lost for hundreds of people who had typed them into laptops — the New York Board of Law Examiners (BOLE) is taking action. Now they will demand a liability waiver that protects them from future screw-ups.”
Serendipitously, or perhaps a car crash of timing, given that I am trying to present to the world of US and other World Blawgers that UK Blawgers are trying to do their bit and are not all binge-drinkers ‘orf their heads’ on Rioja, Mead et al when they blog…. WAC? notes on Saturday 5th January… “American wank-fest, eh? GeekLawyer’s podcasts are always worth hearing. Around Christmas, lamenting a lull in Brit lawyer blogging, and likely in his cups, the genius barrister noted, among other things:
“The UK blogosphere is dynamic–and it’s interesting. The Yanks’ [blogs] are full of boring old farts, wanking on all about their professional careers….academic debates about this that and the other….frankly, the UK blogosphere is comprised of characters.”
Ah well… at least I know, now, how Tony Blair felt when George W Bush said something inappropriate or at an inconvenient time during tense international negotiations. I must take a pause now in the writing. After reading this… I just need a glass of Rioja. I have taken the liberty of posting a picture of a glass of Mead – the drink of Geeklawyer. I have no idea how many glasses, if any, he had consumed when he did the podcast referred to by WAC?
Maybe I should do a Captain Titus Oates and say “‘I am just going outside and may be some time.”?
I will be back.
Restored by lunch ….
Having taught law in my other guise for nearly thirty years I was very interested in Professor Ann Althouse’s excellent post and analysis of the differing teaching styles of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Both Clintons are lawyers and both did their tour of duties as law professors at the University of Arkansas Law School. While “Hillary’s style was confident, aggressive, take-charge, and much more structured than Bill’s. “All business,” a colleague said. Her questions to students were tough and demanding. Bill almost never put his students on the spot; rather, he maintained an easy dialogue with them. His conversational approach often gave students the run of the class, and he let them filibuster.” The post is detailed, the comments amusing – and worth a detour even if you are not a law don or student.
The virtual world…
I’m a bit behind the curve when it comes to Second Life. Perhaps I am having enough difficulty with my First Life… although I did, after reading that Blawg Review was making announcements on Second Life, download the software needed. I found myself, with a very curious avatar, wondering around a shopping mall near the coast. I didn’t have any Linden dollars and did not feel that I wished to buy any or even buy my own island at that point. I did feel like throwing myself into the water and succeeded.
Benjamin Duranske of the Virtually Blind blog offers a number of predictions concerning the direction of law in virtual worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft.
Duranske makes a number of predictions. I quote one: “The IRS or a foreign tax collection entity will issue a bulletin, notice, or written determination that income made in virtual worlds is taxable”. Mon dieu… Second Life could offer untold opportunities to our own HM Revenue & Customs… not least in data management.
I am on Facebook, qua Charon QC, so Michael Rice’s post about the furore this week caused when Facebook at least temporarily cut off the account of blogging, vlogging, and podcasting notable Robert Scoble was of interest to me. Worth a read if you are a Facebook addict.
I received information by email about ‘Brain Fitness’ the other day. My first inclination was to take it personally. I know that SAGA, insurers of coffin dodgers, personal injury claims farmers, vintners, and others get valuable information by looking at websites and blogs, but I had no idea my writing style and blawg content was so bad I needed ‘brain training’ exercises to see me through the onset of senility. Actually, the information was most useful. I did a test. I’m OK… I have one.
It seems that US lawyers are also capable of behaving in a bizarre and criminal fashion
UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge has a post about a US attorney who allegedly keyed a car belonging to a US Marine reservist. (It was a pretty serious act of destruction… much of the car was scratched.) Surely, he could have chosen a better target for his ire? He must be crazy. I’ve seen those war films where US Marines do the business. It is a great story, but I particularly liked the comment by Bainbridge: “I just don’t get it. I wonder if the Illinois Bar could go after Grodner’s license under a broad catchall like Illinois Rule of Professional Responsibility 8.4(a)(3), which makes it actionable misconduct for a lawyer to “commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.” Probably not, but one can always hope. Anyway, it makes you proud to be a lawyer, doesn’t it?”
Australian jurist explains sleepy judge phenomenon…
Ashby Jones, writing in the wall Street Journal, tries to explain why judges fall asleep, citing a a senior Australian judge who “blamed the sleepy judge phenomenon on lawyers who, by asking “useless” questions that send judges into dreamland, undermine the legal system.
The judge continued to explain: “The potential boredom is exacerbated by the fact that a judge has to keep making comments to show that he or she is following the case and has to look at each document as the witness is looking at it. At the same time, the judge needs to make sufficient notes to enable him or her to recall the strong and weak points of the respective cases if the case does not finish in a day.”
Colin Samuels of Infamy or Praise, author of the elegant Dante themed Blawg Review 137 has not come across robot bailiffs, virtual reality juror goggles, floating cameras, and computerized judges. He notes in his post that The Los Angeles Times thought these might be featuring in Californian courts some twelve years ago: Worth a look!
And…finally… in this section: Howard J Bashman of How Appealing asks on Friday 4th January… “If Clinton wins, would (Supreme Court) Justice Clinton be far behind?”
V. URBI ET ORBI
While I have no papal intentions or ambitions, but not above issuing a bit of bull through my blawg, I use ‘urbi et orbi ‘ (to the City [of Rome] and to the World) in the Roman sense. It was, of course, used in roman proclamations long before the God squad got hold of it.
I am free, in this final section, to wander as lonely as a cloud… sling a few arrows of outrageous fortune around and say “Alas… poor Geeklawyer (Supra), I knew him well.”
Well… well.. well. US blawger, Instapundit, has picked up on a most interesting story: “FREE SPEECH? WHAT’S THAT? British blogger to be arrested for inciting racial hatred. What, are they channeling the Saudis in Britain? If you’re interested in supporting free speech rights, the British Embassy’s contact page is here. As with the Saudi case I don’t know much about the blogger, but I don’t need to — people shouldn’t be arrested merely for blogging things that the powers-that-be don’t like.”
I shall investigate further when I have completed this Blawg Review.
And then there is RollonFriday.com…
RollonFriday.com has been around for many years now. The discussion board, populated with some quite extraordinary people, is a source of solace and relief for busy UK lawyers during their billable working day – but the News section, almost invariably, comes up with something to please even the most caustic.
This week is no exception. RollonFriday has a story about a partner from newly merged Dewey & LeBoeuf’s Washington office. According to RoF, a German translation was required. The translation was done and Ralph C Ferrara, managing partner of the Washington office (I checked), sent an email thanking those involved for their help.
RollonFriday reports: “After two minutes’ intense thought, another partner, Stephen Best (I checked the existence of aforementioned) came up with the following gem, which he copied to all of the firms’ US lawyers:”
RoF reports: “Dewey & LeBoeuf does not condone any type of offensive language or conduct. Comments of this nature are inconsistent with the firm’s values and are taken very seriously. This has been dealt with internally and both the Chairman, on behalf of the firm, and the individual involved have apologised.“
And… there is also the famous US tabloid blawg… which I always enjoy… Above the Law
They have a story in their ‘Non-sequiturs’ section: Hot lawyers make more money. And we needed a study to tell us this?
And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
I am certain that I have not added to legal scholarship. I have read a great many blawgs over the past two weeks. I’m only sorry that I have not been able to mention many of the blawgs I visited. That may well be to their advantage. I have, however, been educated, informed and delighted by all the blawgs I was able to visit in this over-long blawg review and my blogroll will, in due course, be updated.
I end with a Churchill quote: “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.”
It only remains for my cousin, Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo, to give his blessing to you all for managing to survive. I add, of course, my own non god-deluded best wishes and regards for a good 2008 and my thanks to the mysterious Ed of Blawg Review for giving me the opportunity to keep away from bars this weekend. I was, however, able to replenish the stock of Rioja taken by burglars unknown from my Staterooms over Christmas… my explanation for rapid depletion … and I’m sticking to it.
The Blessing: Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo
May God the Son,
who turned water into wine at the Wedding Feast at Cana,
transform your lives and make glad your hearts.
Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.