I am reassured by the news that our Prime Minister works in his pyjamas….
And here is PROOF for those still interested in Evidence based reporting….
(Although the spelling is a bit dodgy in the link)
I am not a fan of the *Honours* system – but be that as it may ….as my learned friends might say…as they do.
I do, however, wonder if the judges should accept honours from the State in an independent judiciary.
I’ll get my coat…..
The #Reinventlaw conference is underway asking about the future of law… is this it?
I do hope not… still.. the delegates seem to be having fun…. and this is fine by me.
I am told that the hashtag #Reinventlaw is trending in Little Wallop..and this is also good.
Have a good weekend. And do keep an eye out for those G4S vans in your area…
I am grateful to The Criminal Bar Association for drawing attention to this from Hansard
I have taken the liberty of extracting the relevant passage to save you the trouble of scrolling down to find it. It would appear that Mr Grayling – who some say is not an expert in knowing arse from elbow – is not fully aware of the distinction between the Bar Council and The Criminal Bar Association
Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab):Will the Leader of the House ask the Lord Chancellor to come to the House to explain his flawed policy on legal aid? He refuses to meet the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, the Law Society is threatening legal action, the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls are against it, and it undermines the English legal system. We need a statement or a debate in Government time.
Mr Lansley:I sat here with my right hon. and hon. Friends during Justice questions a few days ago when almost exactly the same point was made to them, and I heard them reply and say how often they meet the Criminal Bar Association and others and that they had done so recently. I will, of course, draw their attention to what the hon. Lady has said, but I heard them say that it is not true that they are not discussing this issue with those affected.
I marvel – The CBA say that Grayling refuses to meet with them and Michael Turner QC. - Astonishing…
It would be good if Mr Grayling could meet Mr Michael Turner QC , Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association, for a chat….. he will be better informed on his legal aid reform schtik..
Perhaps Mr Grayling, Lord High Chancellor….may like to listen to my podcast with Michael Turner QC to get a bit of arse from elbow briefing action before talking to Mr Turner?
The piece below is re-blogged with the permission of the Criminal Bar Association. It is important that the government listens and upholds the Rule of Law….
We received this yesterday, 11th June, before the Justice Select Committee hearing, and before Lord McNally’s “hysterical” outburst on Law in Action, in an admirable interview by @joshuarozenberg.
Then this morning, Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail attacks the “ashtray” voice of Michael Turner QC, and the “Biker” Lucy Scott Moncrieff whilst railing about legal aid lawyers in sharp suits on £200 per hour.
Who knows how far into the public arena this blog reaches? This post is certainly not one likely to feature in the Mail, as they do not have the wit or the guts to publish anything that offends against their slavish toadying to the likes of Grayling and his ilk.
If you sense anger in this introduction you are right. Far too much of what appears below strikes personal chords with your editor, as indeed it will with the vast majority of those practitioners who remain.
You will not find it easy reading. it is a courageous and heartfelt account of someone of whom the Bar, AND THE PUBLIC WE SERVE should be proud. I certainly am.
It’s not about the money, it’s about the loss of the finest, (and NOT the most expensive) Justice System in the world. lose the dedicated practitioners and you lose everything upon which it depends.
It brings nothing but shame on the heads of the likes of Grayling, McNally, Bob Neill and others.
Please read it to the end. It is entirely unedited. Some of the words I might not have chosen but it is not my business to do so in this case.
Then sign the petition in the unlikely event that you have not done so already.
And spread it around!
“When I was 14, I was an overweight, short loser who spent his weekends performing amateur dramatics.
I hated my time at school because I was unpopular and because I had a complete mental block when it came to any mathematical or scientific.
One week, my school organised a mock court case and a number of us were assigned various roles. I was asked to be a barrister and to argue a particular case.
A relative of mine was a barrister. On the night before the “case”, he helped me put together my argument – we spent the evening in his study looking at practitioner text books and case law – and the next morning I stood up and delivered my first set of submissions. I won.
In fact, I didn’t just win – I wiped the floor with my opponents. One by one, they stood up and said that they had nothing to say in response to me. I had found something that I enjoyed and that I appeared to be good at (albeit with a lot of help from a secret source). I knew that I wanted to be a barrister.
Throughout the following years of A-levels and a university degree, I set about taking various mini-pupillages in different areas of law and in different cities. I saw every type of work from large scale enquiries to a slip and trip case involving a supermarket floor but it was very quickly apparent that there was only one subject for me – crime.
It was so exciting. On my first day of my first criminal mini-pupillage, I went down into the cells of a Crown Court to meet a notorious gangster charged with an attempted murder in a nightclub with a shotgun. The barrister told me that I should sit closest to the door in case “it kicked off”. This was – perhaps – the single most exciting thing that I had ever heard. I loved everything else that I saw in the Crown Court and I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. I could not think of anything better in the world than to stand up and address a jury on behalf of a defendant charged with a criminal offence.
I took my degree at a very good red brick university. The vast majority of my fellow law students had their hearts set on a training contract with a magic circle firm of solicitors in the City. They thought that anything else was a failure but I couldn’t think of anything worse. I knew that I would not earn a fortune but I knew what I wanted and I was proud to say that I wanted to practise criminal law in “the provinces”. I remember, in my first year at university, one girl sitting on my bed in my halls of residence and telling me that I was “mad” to throw away the chance to try and get a training contract with a big firm (in fact she was so unimpressed that this remained the full extent of anything that happened with her on my bed).
That conversation took place 14 years ago.
If, during that conversation in 1999, I had been able to see my diary of professional bookings for 2013 I would have been confident that I had made the right choice. This is an anonymous post so I have no need to exaggerate the work that I do. My diary for the fortnight in which I write will give you a decent idea. I am doing the following cases:
- A complicated proceeds of crime case;
- A large scale fraud involving international businesses;
- Two large multi-handed Class A drug conspiracies involving thousands of pages of evidence;
- Two cases involving allegations of historic sexual abuse and rape
One of the above is for trial and the others are being heard for sentence or legal argument. Scattered around them are various other conferences and court hearings for everything from burglary to Section 18 assault.
This is not the greatest criminal practice in the world but it isn’t bad for somebody of my call and it compares favourably to most people around town.
This sort of work goes has consequences. I work all the time. A typical day for me starts at 6:00am when I get up to fit in an hour’s worth of work before my little toddler wakes up and demands a thousand different things at once. I am often too busy working to be able to see him.
I will then spend the day at court – an incredibly draining experience if you are involved in a serious trial in the Crown Court – before coming home. If I make it home to see my wife and child, I am usually so tired that I am grumpy and of little assistance to either of them. Once the little man is in bed, I rarely make it past 8:30pm before falling asleep on the sofa. At about 9:30pm, I then go back upstairs to my study and work until the small hours – I usually have 4 – 5 hours sleep but I often have less.
I used to wear all of the hard work as a badge of pride. I did a job which was respected and – I don’t mind admitting it – was well paid. I wasn’t paid mega-bucks and I didn’t have an extravagant lifestyle but I was paid enough that I felt that it was worth putting in the hours that I did.
I was so happy in my work that I couldn’t wait to tell people about it – I would bore people to death with stories of cases that I had been involved in. I would relish the chance to go out with the rest of the criminal team for a meal to swap anecdotes and tell war stories. In my first few years at the bar, I really did feel that I was living my dream.
That all seems very far away now.
Governments of all colours have shown an utter contempt for the criminal justice system. With one hand they have significantly increased the workload going through the system whilst on the other hand they have slashed the resources available. The sad fact is that both crown and magistrates courts are now badly run shambles where undervalued people (barristers; court staff; solicitors; judges; interpreters) grope their way through a bewildering series of reforms whilst not being given the resources to deal with things properly.
For my own part (and this is why this is an anonymous post) I am broke.
I cannot afford to pay my mortgage; I cannot afford to put petrol in my car; I cannot afford to pay my tax bills.
In the past 6 weeks I have received such a pathetic sum into my personal bank account that we are only able to cover (some of) the bills because my wife has a regular income. I have only been able to buy food for my family in the past month by spending the paltry sum that I had put aside to meet my tax bill. It is all gone now.
When I hear newspapers and politicians discuss “fat cat lawyers” who “feather their nests with legal aid” I can only laugh – I genuinely do not know how I am going to get to Court tomorrow morning and I do not know when I will next be paid.
The stress of the job; the sleepless nights and my financial situation have taken their toll. I now suffer from depression.
Some days I can’t get out of bed and go to my son if he is crying. Some days I lie on the kitchen floor and sob for no reason. Some days I shout at my wife because I feel as though my chest is going to explode and I have to find some sort of release. Some days I think about killing myself.
A few months ago I left Court, got changed out of my robes and – before I made it to my car – had a panic attack in the middle of the street. I got home and just fell asleep in the middle of the bedroom floor before waking up shaking and crying.
I know that I am not alone. The sad fact is that financial hardship and anxiety are a common experience for many members of the criminal legal profession. I have never known the mood of the bar and solicitors to be so low and this is all before Chris Grayling introduces his cuts and his devastating, evil reforms.
I’ve had enough.
I am quitting the criminal bar and finding something else to do – something which will pay the bills and give me some peace. I am not going to wait for another 20% cut in my fees. I am not going to wait to see just how bad it gets in court when Eddie Stobart is representing defendants. I am off.
I should imagine that I am precisely the sort of person that the government would quite like to remain at the bar. I am trusted by the CPS to prosecute serious crime – I have helped to convict murderers; rapists and drug dealers. There is a decent chance that I might have made it on to the bench one day to help run the courts. Perhaps I wouldn’t but I imagine that I am a better prospect than whoever G4S will find to conduct their cases for them.
I am not entirely sure what the purpose of this post is. I suppose that I just wanted to get this off my chest and know that somebody would hear it. Others have written persuasively and powerfully in the debate over Grayling’s reforms and I make no attempt at careful, considered argument – I just wanted to know that somebody had said how things really are.
Sign the petition:
P.S. The girl on my bed is now filthy rich and splits her time between Dubai and a very large house in the home counties. I imagine that she does not write blogs about me
UK Legal system takes a turn for the worse
The justice system was in need of reform but the changes now enforced are a massive disappointment, to say the least. In early May, I spoke at the Westminster Legal Policy Forum regarding LASPO and today, my views remain the same.
Not only did April see the UK legal system unimproved by dramatic legislative reforms, it saw the public’s access to justice further suppressed.
During the planning phase, LASPO was promised to guarantee access to justice. Now, it is becoming apparent that such promises were just noise and that injured people will actually find it even more challenging to get independent legal guidance – simply because solicitors cannot afford to take on certain cases.
The proposal to extend the small claims limit to £5,000 for personal injury claims will see more whiplash cases flushed into an arena where victims will have little chance of getting justice. During my speech in Westminster, I mentioned that the typical whiplash claimant will be faced with three options:
Comprehensive input from legal and medical professionals is often a strict requisite for successful PI claims. Without this, a huge chunk of power shifts to the defending insurer in the small claims court and this alone is a direct negative consequence of LASPO.
On top of that, the injured person is forced to cope with the stress of court proceedings. In an attempt to get justice for their injuries, they could be exposed to intimidation and, sometimes, made to feel like a fraudster.
A Dreadful Possibility
The small claims court floodgates could open even wider, as reports suggest Chris Grayling might just extend the limit by a further £10,000. If such an extension is implemented it can only be bad news for injured people, as severe case types (including those involving certain levels of brain damage) could also be steered into the ‘small’ claims court.
Again, to recycle an example from my talk in early May; £14k was paid out in compensation to a toddler who sustained multiple bite wounds all over her body and face. The little girl was left permanently scarred and needed a substantial amount of reconstructive surgery.
If the small claims limit was pushed to £15k at the time of this case, the girl’s family would have been faced with the dreadful three options listed above. So, truthfully, has LASPO improved the innocent’s access to justice or edged it far out of affordable reach?
About The Author
John Spencer is Director of Spencers Solicitors in Derbyshire whose practice deals with all types of accident claims and personal injury cases. John is a former Chairman of MASS and an Executive Committee member and fellow of APIL.
Mutually beneficial relationships between law firms and charities
Irwin Mitchell, Solicitors
Law firms provide a valuable resource to any community through legal counsel, but companies like Irwin Mitchell also strive to go beyond that. This multi-location firm has demonstrated through several charitable initiatives how other legal teams can integrate community causes into their overall mission. By taking into account the scope, potential benefits and diverse strategies for supporting communities in which they establish their offices, Irwin Mitchell and other firms are rewriting the rulebook for giving back.
Why create charities?
The first answer that may come to mind is publicity, but this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the benefits of integrating business with charitable causes. Law firms that make a sincere investment in the community often find that integrating and collaborating with community charities means that they get to reap the benefits along with the rest of the community. They often start by identifying a need that has gone relatively unaddressed in a community — such as challenges in urban development, insufficient educational funding or populations at risk — and then work to find a way to integrate the cause into their brands. And since their patrons make up the community that they serve — and are often affected by issues like these — many businesses that take the time to give to charities find that they perform better overall.
How can law firms integrate and collaborate with charities?
There are several ways to work with not-for-profit organisations. The most recognisable team effort may be sponsorship of an event to raise money, awareness or both. Especially if your law firm has a strong community presence, this method can effectively boost recognition for the charity of your choice. You could also donate directly; because many charities lack the financial resources that they need to cover overhead costs, cash is always appreciated.
Irwin Mitchell has also shown recently how meaningful it can be for a law firm to donate something even more precious than money — time. In April of this year, a group of lawyers from the firm decided to make waves by participating in a shark dive that raised more than £2,200 for KIDS, an organisation that aids children and young adults with disabilities. By facing sand tiger sharks that measured ten feet in length, the group was able to bring attention to the cause of KIDS while putting faces on both their law office reputation and the charitable organisation. The event was an example of a creative and completely unique way to bring funds to a good cause.
Whether employees volunteer their time independently or join together to think of a way to integrate their brand with a charity, law firms that invest in the communities where they set up office find that their actions are not only morally commendable but also pragmatic. A strong community gives back to the businesses that support it, making a mutual relationship better for both in the long run.
A haulage firm boss described as ‘slapdash’ and ‘incompetent’ by a High Court judge intends to become the new face of legal criminal defence work in the UK.
AND… this editorial from The Observer…
My Vapidity Beyond The Call Of Duty award for last week must go to the Westminster, Oxford and Bullingdon Club educated Mr Harry Mount – who even has a whole Wikipedia entry to himself.
I marvelled as I read the nonsense he wrote about the legal aid reforms in his seminal article in The Spectator: Take it from a former barrister: Chris Grayling is right to reform legal aid – “There’s only one problem with Chris Grayling’s legal reforms – they don’t go far enough”
It is fair to say that Mr Mount’s absurd article drew the attention of the lawyers on twitter and elsewhere – derision and ridicule in the main. There is, after all, absolutely no point in getting angry with buffoonery. I particularly enjoyed Simon Myerson QC’s elegant evisceration of the article in the comments section – a must read.
Mr Mount did a pupillage but did not proceed to tenancy. He also writes for The Daily Mail, I understand. Research did not appear to be Mr Mount’s strongpoint in the article according to experienced practitioners who commented on the article.
I did enjoy this: Justice ‘Overrated’, claims Justice Secretary
And on a more serious note, before I go on to lose the plot completely… a bit of serious law content on the Legal Aid Reforms
theintrigant: Fourth Letter to the Lord Chancellor
That is probably enough serious stuff for the present…onwards and upwards…or downwards, depending on your viewpoint of such matters…
Most UK and US lawyers are fairly measured in their approach to putting themselves forward by way of advertising or using social media as a platform for their views and writings.
NOT so this US lawyer: ADAM REPOSA: Lawyer, Patriot, Champion – You really don’t want to get in his way. A truly astonishing advertisement – available on YouTube. Do have a look if you haven’t seen it already. You will laugh, I am sure. You may bang your head on the table afterwards, though.
It isn’t just the experienced lawyers who want in on the ‘unusual way to practice’. Legal Cheek covered the case of a Freshfields trainee:
A spokesperson for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer told Legal Cheek: “We are taking the matter very seriously and have started an investigation.”
Some weeks ago I did a podcast with ex-Tory MP and barrister Jerry Hayes - who was most eloquent and amusing about Grayling’s legal aid reforms. I am pleased to draw your attention to a post he wrote in Legal Cheek: ‘I HEARD A VOICE WHISPER: “WHAT A GHASTLY PORTRAIT OF INSUFFERABLE ARROGANCE” – AND I REALISED HE MEANT ME’
The law just keeps on giving…
RollonFriday reports: “The University (née College) of Law has banned students from using electronic cigarettes in exam rooms after several were spotted puffing away during assessments. Authorities sent the following strongly-worded email to the GDL intake after University spies reported that several nicotine addicts were smoking e-cigs under exam conditions” Read….
I can’t really see what the fuss is about. Criminal lawyers have to deal with some very unpleasant issues – the exam question is fairly mild in terms of examples of criminal behaviour? But…hey… it gave RoF a chance to do some ‘Breaking News’ and mock the tabloids – rightly.
Apropos of absolutely nothing… I used to set Contract and Sale of Goods law examinations – marking some, it has to be said, imagining myself with a square of black silk (A Black Cap) on top of my head. I may have had a different life had I been an academic in the field of criminal law or, for that matter, chosen to be a criminal mastermind like Professor Moriarty.
It isn’t all bad news for the legal profession. At least one Tory MP is concerned about assisting the legal profession…
This tweet prompted Mark Lewis, a very experienced media lawyer, to suggest…
I had a heavy (and strange) week last week… but I did manage to comment acerbically on the Grayling legal aid reforms…
Right… orf for a walk. No doubt, while I am away, Nicholas Witchell will be standing around outside a London hospital – pointlessly – waiting for some Duke of Edinburgh action so that BBC News can cover it ad nauseam. No doubt, also – my emails will be read by GCHQ…aided and abetted by the United States drone hovering over the River Medway as I write..
I shall return on the morrow with more ‘tales’…
Have a good evening..
Best, as always
3 Things To Remember When Preparing For Divorce
Thomas Chaytor Solicitors
A divorce is never an easy process to go through. With emotions high, finances at stake and, if children are involved, their custody up in the air, it is understandable that finding agreeable ground is not always an easy process.
If you have or are contemplating filing for a divorce from you partner, it is always good to know what to expect throughout the procedure and what things you may be able to prepare for. Whilst there is no guarantee of a smooth and problem-free process, it is important to understand the consequences and consider every possibility before acquiring a divorce.
Whilst there is no such thing as a ‘simple divorce’, acquiring the services of a qualified and reputable solicitors will ensure that your divorce is carried out fairly and in consensus with all parties involved. Ensure you acquire the services of an established divorce specialist solicitor, as their experience and expertise will help to guide and advise you throughout the process.
What many people are unsure of is what a divorce will actually involve. Amid tales of costly, argumentative and outrageous disagreements, the process itself is far less intimidating and constructive results can be achieved responsively.
What many people want is a quick and resolved resolution, which is why; here is a basic guide on what you can do to help prepare for the divorce process.
#1 – Gather Financial Info
If you are able to organise your finances before the divorce is underway, you can begin to gain control over the financial expectancy of the divorce. Obtaining a divorce is not cheap and the longer the procedure goes on, the more solicitor costs can begin to add up.
Outline any debts you owe and make sure you have invoices and receipts of purchases and bills as well any account information. It may be worth closing or freezing any joint accounts, in order to prevent your spouse from using the account as well as running up charges that you may be held responsible for. This will protect both parties involved.
#2 – Don’t Move Out
This may go through your thoughts and unless there is a form of abuse, by moving out you could inadvertently affect the outcome of your divorce.
By moving out, you could affect the interest that you have in property. It is important to remain strong and should you have no alternative but to move out, continue to pay a portion of your mortgage payment and document your contributions. This can affect a decision on property distribution as well as child custody.
#3 – Children Are Always The First Priority
It is important to remember this at every stage of your divorce. Remain on your best behaviour as a divorce can often mean being put under a microscope. Ensure you do nothing to affect the outcome and don’t provide your spouse with ammunition.
A divorce can be a stressful process for all involved, and none so more so than for the children involved. Consider their needs at all times and ensure that their requirements are met. Don’t stop being a parent!
Preparation is key
Whilst there are no shortcuts when it comes to a divorce, remembering the above will only help you prepare for your divorce and always acquire the experience and expertise of a reputable divorce solicitor firm.
Phil Warrington writes on what to expect from the divorce procedure as well as things to remember when preparing for a divorce; with thanks to Thomas Chaytor Solicitors, reputable and established solicitors who specialise in family law, child law and divorce proceedings.
The #SAVEUKJUSTICE demonstration outside the Ministry of Justice yesterday was well attended. Coverage of the event has been extensive and well dealt with in the law blogs
A few observations….
The unified stance taken by the Bar and Law Society has been a remarkable feature of the campaign. Leading lights from the legal profession have given time and thought to putting the message across through blogs and on twitter. Many bloggers have written on the subject. Patrick Torsney has a comprehensive listing of blogs written by lawyers and others from the legal blogging community.
Unfortunately, the extensive use of the #SAVEUKJUSTICE hashtag on Twitter served to irritate some, including lawyers, and the PR was almost certainly not sufficiently directed to the issue of fairness – at times, the message seemed to focus on how little the lawyers were being paid which is not a message likely to receive sympathy from some members of the public.
The petition, as of today, stands at a remarkable 79,000. But there are many thousands more lawyers – so it should have been relatively straightforward to get the 100,000 signatures needed to persuade Parliament to debate The Lord Chancellor’s plans? On the assumption that many thousands of signatories to the petition would have come from non-lawyer members of the public through publicity being generated by lawyers on Twitter – and, importantly, Stephen Fry, Bianca Jagger and other ‘celebrities’ who punted the petition actively, pleasingly – it must follow that a good 40,000+ lawyers did not sign the petition.
I have spoken to quite a few commercial and City lawyers recently. Some said, predictably, that they were not really aware of the issues and did not use twitter. A couple took a more hostile line and felt that the message of the criminal lawyers was wrong and too oriented to their own jobs and not the interests of the public. Others have said – and I agree with this latter stance – the message could have been addressed more to the needs of the people and the importance of preserving the Rule of Law rather than ‘profession oriented’. The message was not clear enough, they argued: There was a ‘whiff of’ loss of law jobs with the reduction from 1600 to 400 firms which may have given the impression that this reduction was more important than justice itself.
Certainly, I saw quite a few tweets along the lines of ‘Lawyers have been keeping access to justice exclusive with high fees for years’
I am not a practitioner. I am a mildy reclusive observer. But I do believe that the criminal barristers and solicitors are right. The Rule of Law will be compromised by Grayling’s reforms and I do believe that these criminal lawyers, the majority of whom do not get that well paid – less than £50k a year I have seen quoted – are regarding the profession as vocational rather than commercial.
The City and large commercial law firms turn over billions. Their lawyers are well paid – very well paid. A newly qualified lawyer at a ‘Magic Circle’ firm starts at £63,000+. So what? They run commercial businesses. Their clients are men and women of commerce, large corporations, banks, in a global legal market. A cynic might observe – and I am a cynic at times – that commercial and City lawyers are more interested in the ‘Certainty of Law’ rather than the Rule of Law. I once heard a senior commercial lawyer say that “Contract law is not about ‘Justice’. We want certainty so that we can advise clients to avoid well established legal pitfalls and operate at the lawful edge of the legal envelope.”
I also heard words to the effect “Any bloody idiot can tell a client what they cannot do . We don’t want bloody idiots. We want good lawyers who can tell the client what they can do within the law as it is set down by Parliament. ”
The City / Commercial firm practice is a different world – but it is not a world paid for by taxpayers. Of course, the City and commercial firms benefit from the reputation of our legal system and ‘Rule of Law’. As a friend of mine @taxbod observed bluntly on twitter only t’other night - “But yet, any of those civil/commercial flog the British justice system when whoring to Russian chavs etc.” Sometimes… blunt… is good.
Legal Aid is paid for by tax payers, most legal aid lawyers are not well paid. A legal system where people are not given a fair hearing – because they cannot afford lawyers, civil and criminal – is not a fair legal system
That being said – congratulations to all – lawyers and non-lawyers alike – for a good campaign. The Ministry of Justice seems to have won the mainstream media PR war with their coverage in The Daily Mail yesterday:
£15m for just one firm on legal aid gravy train Scale of taxpayers’ bill revealed as Coalition vows to save £200m
Ministry of Justice released a breakdown of payments to lawyers
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling says system is ‘not sustainable’
Demonstrators waved placards reading ‘justice is not for sale’
But the campaign is not over. Surely it is not beyond the realms of possibility to get over 100,000 signatures? Even if lawyers have to get on the phone to non-criminal law lawyers?
And lawyer or non-lawyer, if you would like to sign the petition – you may do so here
And… you can keep up to date with developments by following @TheCriminalBar on twitter
A selection of links:
The Criminal Bar Association: Do read the Monday Message 03.06.13 – some real gems in there.
Legal Cheek: LAWYERS PROVE THEY CAN PULL OFF A DEMO – AS BRITAIN DISCUSSES #PUBLICW*NKINGONYOUTUBE
The Legal Cheek post includes some marvellous pictures and recordings of speeches by Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal Blog.
Head of Legal: Geoffrey Robertson QC: there is a hidden agenda
Head of Legal: Michael Fordham QC: the avocado of justice
Michael Fordham QC was I think the star of today’s “Saving Justice” demo outside the Ministry of Justice. His speech was both angry and funny – he called the Ministry of Justice “wankers”. And his avocado of justice, odd as it sounds, went down a storm with his audience.
The Bar Council: Bar Council responds to Legal Aid consultation
Circuit Judges: Critique of the proposals from the Judiciary
The Law Society: Law Society responds to legal aid consultation
And…as Legal Cheek noted: AS MOJ CONSULTATION ON LEGAL AID CLOSES, THE UK CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IS PLACED ON EBAY
Tour Report #26: Direct Access to barristers and the changing face of legal practice
”myBARRISTER is a new online service that gives people and businesses direct access to the specialised skills of barristers, helping them resolve legal issues, defend against prosecution, take legal action or simply providing specialist legal advice on a particular situation.”
The podcast covers:
The start up and challenge
Overview of myBARRISTER
Aim of the Business
Direct access , the potential and online offering for client choice
What our business does
Views on the prospects for the profession moving forward
Quote du Jour
“I’ll deny having said this, but it’s a bribe … the sort of thing I can say to these guys … you put that question down now, I thought you were interested in Fiji, would you like to come down to it, you know, I believe it’s quite nice … I can whisper that.”
Lord Laird as reported in The Telegraph story: Lord suggests best way to ‘bribe’ colleagues
In the wake of the astonishing ‘Cash for Questions’ saga – more to come on that, inevitably – let me draw your attention to an excellent blog post done last year by A dragon’s best friend: Cash for applications?
For my part – I would be quite happy to see the abolition of the House of Lords, a unicameral system (or at the least an elected second chamber) and the abolition of all honours. It won’t happen of course – but holding these views allows me to keep vaguely sane in the current dystopian landscape.
But there we go… now to the law blogs…
I know nothing about crofting but I know a man who does. Brian Inkster of Inksters is the man to go to for crofting law action. And there is a lot of it about with the recent Crofting Law Bill.
Crofting Law Blog: 6 out of 10 to the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee
Brian Inkster manages to give a Strictly Come Dancing / Eurovision feel to an otherwise serious analysis. That is classy blogging!
For those who are not operating in the Crofting Law field, Brian also blogs at The Time Blawg - the latest post, a very comprehensive review: LawTech Futures 2013 Reviewed: The one with the neocortex
“Now let me point a finger, not at the Lord Chancellor, but at the legal profession. How the hell did we let this happen?”
Legal 2.0 is the man pointing the finger and I agree with him on the premise that the campaign should not be focused on preaching to the converted. I raised this with Michael Turner QC , Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association, when I did my podcast with him. In fact, the CBA and others were successful in raising public interest – in the mainstream media, on twitter and also managed to get Stephen Fry , with his millions of followers, interested – and over 70,000 people signed the petition. The campaign should have been directed more to the general public? Some, rightly, have voiced the opinion that the campaign leaders may have benefited from hiring in experienced PR campaign specialists. John Busby’s addition to a blog post written by Paul Wise of WiseCounsel is well worth a read.
The Magistrates’ Blog considers the speculation about Ministry of Justice plans to ‘privatise the courts’: A Straw In The Wind - “Until last Autumn my court had a nice little snack bar, looked after by a lady who supplied reasonably priced refreshments to court users, staff and magistrates. It was a meeting point for lawyers and others, and was run at no cost to HMCTS. Last Autumn the lady decided to move on, and the bar closed. We were assured that a replacement was being sought, but had to go through the full ponderous civil service procurement process. Then silence……”
While the Government continues to ‘wrestle’ with compliance policy in relation to European Court of Human Rights judgments – the Scots are having issues of their own in relation to prisoner voting rights in the forthcoming independence referendum. Lalland’s Peat Worrier is on the case: Fulsome prison blues…
Ipso Jure by Dr Peter Groves, Solicitor, continues to provide analysis and commentary on intellectual property law and has a free textbook for law students.
I found this blog post by Paul Bernal most interesting: Google Glass: just because you can…
Paul writes…”As a bit of a geek, and a some-time game player, it’s hard not to like the look of Google Glass. Sure, it makes you look a little dorky in its current incarnation (even if you’re Sergey Brin, as in the picture below) but people like me are used to looking dorky, and don’t really care that much about it. What it does, however, is cool, and cool in a big way. We get heads-up displays that would have been unimaginable even a few years ago, a chance to feel like Arnie in the Terminator, with the information about everything we can see immediately available. It’s cool – in a dorky, sci-fi kind of way, and for those of us brought up on a diet of SF it’s close to irresistible.”
Time to go for a long walk while the late afternoon Sunday sun continues to shine. I am sorry if I have not managed to cover all the familiar blogs in this series of four reviews of and from the law blogs. I plan to look at some more, including US, Canadian and Australian blogs, soon and will, of course, cover interesting blog posts in my normal review of the ‘wonders of law’ in my regular postings.
I leave you with an old letter from Lord Shagger – who sends his best wishes from Monaco. He is much amused by the greed and stupidity of parliamentarians caught up in the recent ‘lobby’ scandal.
Franz Liebkind: Not many people know it, but the Fuhrer was a terrific dancer.
The Producers (1968)
Apologies to The Pythons for hijacking the ‘Lumberjack’ song for pic above
As the EDL and BNP marched in Britain today to a faster pace, dreaming of being the master race, and a #UKIP activist calls Lee Rigby’s family “idiots” for denouncing the #EDL - I could not help but recall the Mel Brooks Classic, The Producers (1968) and, in particular the ‘Springtime for Hitler’ song.
While laughing at fascists is good for the soul – and is probably quite a good way or dealing with them – they do spread hatred and the threat of and use of violence to express themselves. This purple prose nonsense from a BNP supporter on the BNP website is fairly typical of the nonsense and hatred they spout:
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
The people of this great nation must remember the attitudes and beliefs that made us the Greatest Empire on Earth: intolerance of injustice; absolute belief in our duties; and resolutions to make the world a better place.
Islamist extremism is a cancer that must be purged. The ethnic communities of this country that nurture and cultivate extremism must at all costs be removed. We must remember what it means to be British.
Lee Rigby represents the warrior alive in each of us. One by one Islamist extremism is covertly ambushing our goodwill and butchering our culture.
Immigrants to this country must assimilate or expect to be extradited. We, the British people, must not sacrifice our beliefs, our children’s safety, our way of life and willingly surrender it to the cancerous invaders, savages and murderers, being accepted into our society.
Perhaps Mr Farage will check the background of candidates and supporters more closely to ensure that UKIP doesn’t turn into the ‘nasty party’ and become BNP / EDL Lite?
AND…on to the law blogs…
“It’s official! Kysen is now working for the man “with the best profile pic of any QC” according to the legal twitterati. Hardwicke‘s PJ Kirby is shown here in full silk regalia, and clearly in a state of high excitement, on his way to the silks’ inauguration.”
I tend not to ‘gush’ or ‘exude’ – but I like Clare Rodway, and her blog, The Conversation, is fascinating, providing insights into the world of lawyers through sharply observed cameos. Well worth a bookmark!
And another excellent blog – on the ‘Art of Food’ – with some beautifully crafted observations on restaurants is The Food Judge written by Brecher managing partner, Nicky Richmond.
I’d been up till two am the night before, discussing the merits of good lighting with Hugh, my new BFF and the man who is going to help make my house look mid-Century-modern-fabulous, so I really hadn’t planned on being sociable, especially not with clients….
I dipped into the world of restaurant reviewing (and was actually commissioned to review a few restaurants – an amusing ‘wheeze’) a couple of years ago with this nonsense: Charon goes to a restaurant run by East European border guards?
And John Bolch – provider of a very comprehensive review of analysis and comment on his Family Lore blog – has also created Edgar Venal, a man who lives up to his name and who is the senior partner of Venal & Grabbit, Solicitors
The Campaign for Freedom of Information (“CFOI”), one of the most important public interest campaigning bodies in Britain in recent decades, is in financial difficulties and needs help urgently.
AND… I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post from Giles Peaker who started the Nearly Legal blog some years ago… most amusing: A lesson in professionalism
Do have a look to see what lawyers who blog have to put up with sometimes from people with a ‘sense of entitlement’ – even though we blog ‘free to view’.
PINK TAPE covers the legal aid reforms in relation to Family Law: YOU HAVE BEEN CONSULTED
It is important for Lawyers to be LinkedIn, Fleecebooked (HT @afneil) and on Twitter…is it? Really?
Quick round ups…
Obiter J covers the whole life term imposed on Mark Bridger. Those unfamiliar with judicial sentencing practice will, I am sure, find this analysis useful: Whole life term imposed for murderer of April Jones
Carl Gardner on his Head of Legal blog covers a webinar from the Law Society: The future of press regulation: Law Society webinar
The Justice of The Peace considers: BAD DRIVING AND COMPUTERS
The Justice Gap: SAVE UK JUSTICE DEMO: TUESDAY, JUNE 4 – There will be a rally outside the Ministry of Justice next week, on Tuesday 4th June 2013 – the day the consultation on the government’s proposals to ‘transform legal aid’ closes – from 4.30 to 7.30 pm – see (here) for details.
Conflict of Laws.net: ECJ Refuses to Extend the Scope of Article 5 (3) Brussels I to Coperpetrator
David Allen Green on Jack of Kent: Public interest and the Computer Misuse Act
The Bizzle: When is an alteration not an alteration? - “ Exciting news about public sector outsourcing (well, it’s relative) draws me back to the blog . This time it’s Serco, fingered by the Guardian (EXCLUSIVELY!) for alleged misconduct in the performance of a contract to supply out of hours GP services in Cornwall. The allegations include understaffing and excessive wait times for the patient helpline. There’s also this….”
The Panopticon blog from 11KBW: Surveillance: RIPA and the Communications Data Bill
Litigation Futures: LSB calls for regulator focus on DBA ‘mis-selling’ risk
The Justice Gap: UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL, SAVE UK JUSTICE
And with that…I am orf to watch a bit of Nordic Noir…. I shall return with Review 4 soon…
One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.
Communication has been occupying my mind for a few days. This morning on BBC Breakfast they were taxing their minds with ‘spelling’ and one of the presenters was asked to spell *Supersede*. Like many before him, he had a crack at it and came up with *Supercede*.
With way too much time on my hands early this morning , I made myself a cuppa and, as I did so, came up with the thought “One precedes, but one supersedes.” This was enough to set me up for a sardonic day and knowing that bananas can walk has set me up nicely for a weekend of Sybaritic pleasure drinking tea (not Earl Grey) and… in Britain we spell it ‘grey’ not ‘gray’ when referring to the colour or our skies.
But does spelling matter? Can you read this?
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it
Well…there we are…
ON to the law blogs…with a bit of dead tree press action to kick off….
In the wake of the tragic murder of April Jones we had the predictable call for ‘something’ to be done in relation to internet pornography. A view that the state should not intervene in sexual activities between consenting adults which cause no harm to others – an old fashioned Benthamite utilitarian stance to be sure – seems a not unreasonable starting point for debate.
Given that our government has developed the skills of the whirling dervish and a predilection for U-turns, one hopes that there is not a pandemic of Kneejerkitis acutis toriensis on the part of the shield munching beserkers (pictured right) on the Tory benches, forcing yet more ill thought out snap reaction legislation, when Parliament eventually gets back to work again.
On the subject of the so-called ‘Snoopers Charter’ being revived in the wake of the murder of Lee Rigby, and the decision by the BBC to shunt Anjem Choudary onto Newsnight, David Anderson QC provides wise advice to government in this article from The Guardian: Anjem Choudary controversy sparks debate over TV censorship - “anti-terror law reviewer David Anderson QC says broadcasters should decide whether to show radicals on their channels.”
It seems that the Police are also getting in, rightly, on the sensible, cool headed, side of the debate. The Telegraph reported: MI5 failures over Woolwich probably ‘misjudgement’ not lack of snoopers’ charter, says Sir Chris Fox
And now for the law bloggers….
For some reason people in America and the UK people have come to regard Law School as some sort of panacea. The pinnacle of academic learning and the route to meteoric career earning: the ultimate career backstop that offers glamour, big respect and guarantees a bulging bank balance.
Let’s call this ‘Law School Think’: the reason why everybody wants to go to law school.
However it’s all a myth.
The idea of Law School being a panacea is a perception ingrained so deeply that young men and women enrol in the face of hard facts that scream out: “Don’t go to Law School!” Slate writer Eric Posner provides a great prefatory note here.
A MESSAGE FROM DR ERASMUS STRANGELOVE
Senior Partner and Director of Education, Muttley Dastardly LLP
Dr Strangelove wrote this some time ago. It still seems to reflect the current state of affairs?
Dear Prospective Applicants,
It is that time of year again. You are back at university. The long summer holidays are over. Binge drinking in Cornwall is a long distant memory. Your *Gap Yah* is finished and your parents are now able to get on with what is left of the rest of their lives knowing that you are safely on the treadmill called life. Now you are back at your cash poor universities or are attending one of the shiny new reassuringly expensive law schools doing your LPC. If you haven’t already been snapped up by one of the big law firms, sponsoring you, you are probably sick with worry about your future prospects – and, frankly, you have every reason to be. We are not out of the bears shitting all over the credit crunch woods yet… Lord Browne is about to release his entirely predictable report to allow the Vice Chancellors to increase their fees, law firms are still reeling from the credit crunch… well…some law firms are…we at Muttley Dastardly LLP are not..in fact, to be honest, we are rather enjoying it.
Over the next few weeks, on The Lawyer, Legal Week and LawCareers.net websites you will be able to find lots of shiny brochures to download from BIG law firms and BIG law schools – implausibly showing pictures of glossy potential lawyers smiling away….possibly even sitting on the grass…although why they should be sitting on the grass when they should be inside working is a matter of some surprise to *US* at Muttley Dastardly LLP.
There will be lots of pictures of young people in suits, carrying briefcases, looking busy and important. Our Psyops team has replicated the genre below…. we’ve gone for the lawyers happy on a beach look… (right).
OK… we talk straight… expensive… but straight at Muttley Dastardly LLP. Listen up…. and, I cannot resist using that dreadful phrase so beloved of cliche ridden writers…and smell the coffee.
1. The economy will improve
2. Law firms will recover
3. Universities will raise their fees – and so will the BIG law schools for you (although not for us!)
4. The Legal profession is changing – read the journals and keep up to date.
5. You have to get a 2.1 to even stand a chance of selection for a decent law school at LPC level and, being honest, a decent university if you are going to get into a City law firm or any major commercial firm.
6. Being really honest… you haven’t a chance of getting into Muttley Dastardly LLP unless you went to Oxbridge or a top Russell Group university – why would *WE* take second best?
7. Be realistic… City practice is not for everyone – there is a wonderful world of law out there for lawyers who don’t want to be rich beyond the dreams of avarice, who don’t want to be movers and shakers in the City and business world, who don’t want to rub shoulders with the likes of Duncan Genocide from The Dragon’s Den. [Good one, Harry & Paul] We don’t have a clue what these lawyers do… but hey.. there must be a Facebook group.. or Twitter hashtag… and you could always Google?! FTW!…as, I believe, some say….. LMFAO, ROFL etc etc etc…..
8. We will always be honest with you…. if we take you on as a trainee, you will be worked beyond the limits of The Human Rights Act, you will learn a great deal about *OUR* type of practice and if you don’t cut it… we will give you a black plastic bag to take your belongings away in and that’s it.
Good luck with your studies this year. I look forward to hearing from you… if you think you are hard enough.
Dr Erasmus Strangelove
Strength & Profits
Having been involved in legal education for thirty odd years – and continue with a Churchillian stance of ‘buggering on’ through blogging – I do get the feeling that the law schools, particularly those providing vocational courses for the BPTC and LPC, are more concerned with their own profits and survival and this may outweigh their ‘corporate social responsibility’ to those they eagerly seek to enrol – and who may, despite all the third party advice on offer, be eager to enrol.
Law students have reacted with anger and disappointment to the news that the National College of Legal Training (NCLT) has discontinued its legal practice course (LPC) and graduate diploma in law (GDL).
The NCLT announced last week that it is to stop teaching the LPC and GDL, blaming market conditions and a drop in the number of students for its decision (24 May 2013).
Legal Cheek had a good piece by David Banks this morning: ‘JOURNALISTS PROBABLY DEAL WITH MORE LAW THAN ANYONE ELSE – INCLUDING LAWYERS’
Professor Richard Moorhead has an interesting post: Does legal education impact on how small businesses see the world?
“There are some interesting findings on attitudes risk and the incidence of legal problems in small businesses in the new study done by my colleagues Pascoe Pleasence and Nigel Balmer for the Legal Services Board. That study has drawn attention principally because it suggests a large latent market for legal problems. Small businesses have a large volume of legal problems which are not tackled with the assistance of legal advice. The median value of such problems was of the order of £1,2000 (though the mean value was much higher). Interestingly, also, whilst solicitors dominate service to this sector, accountants appear close behind…..”
Practitioners may be interested in Professor John Flood’s article: Institutional Bridging: How Large Law Firms Engage in Globalization
“I’ve just posted a new paper to SSRN titled “Institutional Bridging: How Large Law Firms Engage in Globalization“. It’s for a symposium put together by the Boston College Law Review and the Boston College International & Comparative Law Review on Filling Power Vacuums in the New Global Legal Order.”
And that is probably enough for a Friday evening…back with Part 3 of my review of and from the law blogs at the weekend.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
George Bernard Shaw
Law blogging, despite the predictions of the gurus and prognosticators, continues to thrive. Whether law blogs influence opinion is not of particular concern to me (nor, I suspect for many law bloggers), for I blog for pleasure – but I would hope that the opinions and thoughts of my fellow bloggers at least provide food for thought.
The UK Human Rights Blog even considers the right to blog in: Right to Blog, Lord Chancellor’s Legacy and Accountability for War Crimes – The Human Rights Roundup
Many law bloggers have been pre-occupied recently with the Legal Aid reforms. Patrick Torsney has a comprehensive listing of some very good writing on the subject.
theintrigant continues to provide a dash of black humour to the proceedings with this Third Letter to The Lord Chancellor
One very angry #LegalAidWarrior comes out fighting
One of GCN’s responses to the worst Ld Chancellor in history
A fundamental shift in the relationship between the government and the governed is taking place: by restricting access to the law, the state is handing itself an alarming immunity from legal scrutiny.
But what of other matters?…..
Although the Ministry of Justice has apparently denied any intent to ‘privatise the courts’ – they merely want the courts to have more ‘commercial freedom’ – Obiter J considers the matter : Privatisation of the courts?
Obiter J also considers: Citizen’s Arrest – a limited power
The most high profile media case of the week was Lord McAlpine’s claim against Sally Bercow.
Informm Blog considered this in their excellent weekly round up: Law and Media Round Up – 27 May 2013
And – Antonin Pribetic, writing from Canada, wrote a thought provoking piece on the matter as a guest on my own blog: McAlpine v. Bercow and a New Era of ‘Twitter Chill’
David Allen Green, writing at his Jack of Kent blog, considers: The law and culture of phone hacking
The UK Human Rights blog analysed the decision in R (on the application of Sandiford) v Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs  168 (Admin) – read judgment : DEATH PENALTY LEGAL FUNDING REFUSAL: APPEAL COURT CONFIRMS LIMITS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
But it isn’t all serious on the law blogs….and I end this first (of several) reviews of and from the law blogs which I shall try and put together over the next few days…
Legal Cheek, as ever, continues to comment, provoke and amuse…
Last month, retiring Court of Appeal judge Sir Alan Ward (pictured) used his penultimate judgment to deliver a wistful nautical-themed allegory about departing the Royal Courts of Justice.
It wasn’t the first time that he’d made lawyers smile. Here are ten of his best lines…
And..mea culpa… it would be remiss of me to miss out a ‘tribute to our revered Lord Chancellor’ wot I did t’other day…
Back soon with more from the law blogs…
Tour Report #25: The role of Information technology in modern legal practice
Yesterday I talked with Charles Christian, Editor in Chief of Legal IT Insider (both available online and in print), about the role of technology in the practice of law and the information tools used by lawyers in the modern era.
We looked at:
1. The consumerisation of legal software – why Facebook is so easy yet MS Word so difficult when it comes to training
2. Asked why don’t legal publishers adopt the iTunes approach to content – you buy the chapter you want, boot the 19 chapters you’ll never need
3. The use of social media
4. The gamification in continuing education and training, making it more fun to learn
(We had bad signal issues on Skype yesterday so in parts the sound broke up briefly. Beyond my control unfortunately)