Archive for July 5th, 2006

KnightsBPP Law School v The College of Law

Full marks to The Lawyer for a most amusing article written by John Parker (Who I had the pleasure of talking to this afternoon – thanks for permission to quote) on the war which is breaking out among the UK’s ‘Top’ (vocational) law schools. I use the term vocational with deliberation, since the epithet ‘top’ appears to be given to these LPC providers and I would not wish to confuse a vocational law school with a ‘top’ academically oriented university.

Let me set the scene with a quote from The Lawyer article:

“London’s legal education market has just got hotter than ever before. Not only will the College of Law and BPP Law School be opening second sites in London in September to house a further 1,500 students, but rival Nottingham Law School (NLS) is planning to launch in the capital in conjunction with US business training giant Kaplan next autumn”

Nottingham Law School is probably the best vocational law school in the country. I say probably, because they have maintained a perfect record of ‘Excellent’ grades on their LPC for years – something which neither BPP nor The College of Law have, yet, managed to do – although The College now has the prized ‘Commendable’ award for their LPC in London. BPP had an excellent rating but it went down to ‘Very Good’ for their London venue in a recent inspection round (April 2005). [Other BPP venues have yet to be assessed by The Law Society under the new scheme and are likely to receive a high rating. The BPP Law School in Manchester has been graded in the top classification for all categories]

Addendum: 6th July – I am grateful to Jo Green, of The Law Society,  for pointing me to the new grading schme which replaces the old Excellent to Satisfactory grades which applied before.  Here is the Explanation of the new system

Well…it seems that the Nottingham Law School / Kaplan ‘axis of commercial enterprise’ has not met with the approval of the two heavyweights in London LPC provision, Nigel Savage, CEO of The College of Law and Peter Crisp, CEO of BPP Law School. Does it sound to me like worry over additional high quality provision in London or worry about their collective domination of market share in London being swept away from under their feet?

Let us look at the evidence, in so far as it exists from the existing source of The Lawyer article.

“Kaplan will use them like we used them and then they’ll be dumped,” snorts Peter Crisp, chief executive of BPP Law School. “Why else would Kaplan be doing it?”

[As it happens Mike Semple Piggot, CEO of SPR, which publishes Consilio/Legal Practitioner online magazines, was the (founding) CEO of BPP Law School at the time. Nigel Savage was, in fact, Dean of Nottingham Law School. The co-operation between BPP and Nottingham – revolutionary at the time, did change the face of legal education because it permitted a private sector teaching institution to get a foothold in this sector of education. Mike Semple Piggot recalls a formal agreement between BPP and Nottingham which worked well for both parties.]

Nigel Savage, CEO, The College of Law, rides, lance held high with great pace, with the comment (again, extracted from The Lawyer report):

“Nottingham is giving birth to another competitor,” he declares. “It’s not about what’s in the contract, it’s about building up sustainability in another provider.”

Savage, not unreasonably, questions Kaplan’s record by owning non American Bar accredited Concord Law School and ‘little known’ Holborn College. He cannot, of course, question Nottingham’s excellent pedigree which he, Peter Jones, Phil Knott, Bob White and others established in the early 1990s and which has been sustained since.

I have some misgivings about elitism in legal education. The Big Two in London have sown up some mouth watering contracts with big firms and the price of LPC courses is rising. Nottingham, almost certainly, will bring their ‘excellence’ to London and maybe London students, who can’t get into the Big Two because they are stuffed to the gunnels with City trainees (or who do not choose to work for a big City firm – yes, that is a possibility) , will have a chance of getting a great course without having to go up to Nottingham. Charon welcomes this development and will watch with interest.

Mike Semple Piggot is contacting all the protagonists to find out more and either there will be an article under his name on Consilio / Legal Practitioner or through Charon – depending on the gravity of the matter. As this is not a ‘gravity article’ I am allowed to comment here.

My final observation again relies on John Parker’s acuity in asking the key questions. John makes the point that Kaplan are rich. He suggested that Kaplan would have no real difficulty in recruiting staff if they paid top dollar (hinting at a concomittant reduction in quality of staff available to other providers?)

Peter Crisp, somewhat amusingly for a CEO of a law school owned by a very successful education and training PLC, remarked:

“Kaplan have to return value to shareholders and they can’t just write blank cheques.”

Peter… I have bad news for you. Kaplan have the ability and resources to pay top dollar and I have a feeling they will. Certainly Mike Semple Piggot recalls that BPP Law School was generous in paying good fees to lecturers when establishing the LPC and BVC accreditations – a policy which seems to have been quite successful in giving return to BPP shareholders on the assumption that BPP Law School is doing rather well.

I may return to this. I may not. Maybe it will be dealt with in more detail by Consilio if the story develops into something with too much gravitas for Charon to trouble with.

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Need a telefoto lens for your mobile?
You see some strange sights in London, but, as yet, I have not seen anyone with a telefoto lens on their mobile. It can only be a matter of time with this nifty device. I am grateful to a German lawyer for sending me the link to the website. Unfortunately, I don’t speak German so I will have to take his word for it! If you do speak german and want a telefoto for your mobile here is the place to go.

NameHere is a man who will give you $25,000 if you give him a name. He wants to change his name from Aaron Schwarz and can’t be bothered to choose a name for himself. Many law firms and, I suspect, quite a few barristers, would be happy to act on a matter for such a fee. Unfortunately it is on a ‘No win, No fee’ basis.
Try your luck / skill?

Career Still thinking about your career path?

Here is a website which may assist you. I wanted to be a surgeon. Probably made the wrong choice, but at least I can drink Rioja every night without worrying about cutting off the wrong leg the next morning.

Quite an amusing diversion if you fancy a look

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100 Great UK University discoveries

The nature of law
“The work of Herbert Lionel Adolphus Hart, one of the most important legal philosophers of the 20th century, changed the way that lawyers understand their world and their work. Hart argued that law and morality are independent but interconnected.”

The Guardian article is interesting for a quick peruse.

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PartnerWhat do you call a lawyer who can’t get into equity?

I enjoyed Edward Fennel’s observations about “of Counsel” in relation to the dilemma faced by partners at Herbert Smith who did not wish to dilute the profits of the ‘favoured ones’ by having too many partners, yet wished to retain hard working associates who might be tempted by offers of partnerships from other firms. It also gives me an opportunity to try out the ‘Trackback” feature on my blawg. Here is the original article.

Edward Fennel observed… “My gripe, were I amongst them, is the adoption of the grating Americanism “Of Counsel”. Come on, we’re British – the English language can do better than this.”

Yes.. I agree. One could be boring and call them salaried partners but that may irritate the more senior hard working associates who missed equity some years before.. “Associate partner”?

Unfortunately, it is now 5.20 am, I have not retired to lie in state on my futon and I can only offer the title Consigliere – the Italian term for adviser or counsellor. [From Latin consiliarius, from consilium, advice.] But as Italy managed to beat Germany in the football last night – it seems appropriate. German fans had been singing “Berlin, Berlin, wir fahren nach Berlin” (Berlin, Berlin, we’re going to Berlin) for much of the tournament. I gather Italian fans sang it to the Germans, in German, at the end of the match. I am becoming quite adept at shoe horning world cup facts into conversations to demonstrate my credentials as a Camerounian… which I do to give some comfort to my Tory friends that I am not one with The Lord Protector, that I am not contemplating going into monastic life with the Ming-Dems and that I have little enthusiasm for his likely successor from Reservoir Dogs… “Mr Dour”.

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Awards, Honours and baubles

Edward Fennel writing on his Times Blog discussed the recent The Lawyer awards. I derive, I have to admit, some pleasure in quoting from his opening paragraph…

“If you can’t win a prize tonight then you might as well give up,” said Rory Bremner, the host of The Lawyer Awards held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London last night. And indeed the list of categories was so long that it had to be compressed into a couple of zip-files to enable the wilting guests to get away before the witching hour (even if it did not feature that much-vaunted but mythical award for ‘Best use of a derivative in Belarus’).

As someone from the dark side of politics, the old left, and a Scot to boot (albeit London living for 30 years, who supports Ingerland and who can’t stand haggis, whisky, deep fried mars bars or braveheart bigotry) I am a bit baffled as to why anyone would want a peerage (let alone lend money to the government or make a donation to get one). I suppose one could regard it as a bit of a revenue earner, like a Google Ad on a website, in the sense that one can pick up a bit of money for turning up – and, possibly, because of the propensity for craven behaviour (in some) when faced with the enobled or titled; doors, closed to lesser beings, open and tables in some restaurants may become free. Knighthoods, in the various gradations loved by the British, are a puzzle to me. I would not want one – nor am I likely to get one, but if I did get offered one, I would have to text the Palace to decline.. “thnx m8 not4me”.

I remember when Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones got a knighhood. Was it Keith Richards who said.. “I’m not going on stage with someone dressed in F***ing ermine”? It is ironic that popstars, rebels in their own lunchtime, gladly receive these honours in later life, often without the slightly ludicrous explanation “This knighthood is for the whole company”. No it isn’t. Ben in accounts is no better off. Helen in admin isn’t going to find her life radically improved.

Anyway…moving on, but before I do – one last passing shot. We know that LORD Archer did a bit of time (His three books on his prison experience are sufficient testimony for anyone on this) yet retains his ‘Honour’. The recent “House of Loans” scandal and the award of knighthoods to popstars, spies (Blunt), people who fall off boats in the Med (Maxwell) and a host of other people from Showbiz who some would like to see in “Room 101” lead me to the conclusion that I rather enjoy being “Citizen Charon” – although I can’t even be that while I remain described as a “Subject of the United Kingdom” in my passport. OK, OK… I awarded myself the title QC, but only because The Lord Chancellor, who did try to abolish himself, suspended the award to those who deserve it. On that note, as it is 4.50 am – I shall return to my futon to try and get another hour of sleep.

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