Archive for October, 2006

Something for practitioners….

Defamation: Reynolds privilege – protection of journalists.
Jameel v Wall Street Journal [2006] UKHL 44
Dr John Birchall, Barrister

You may find this article by a friend of mine who writes for Consilio useful.

And…this article by Peter Rouse, Solicitor

Integration, not compartmentalisation, is the key to work-life balance 


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From the Desk of Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

I received a news clipping from one of our more enterprising trainees this morning covering the story that Clifford Chance are outsourcing some of their IT and administrative functions to India. This struck me as a good idea. The vultures from the law school who came to see me last week to discuss a tailored LPC, came up with a proposal which caused several of my partners to faint at our weekly meeting.

Do you have any idea how much these law schools charge for an LPC? Outrageous!. How much can it possibly cost to run a fairly straightforward law course – students crammed into a lecture theatre, seminars at a staff student ratio of 1:30 and modest library facilities? Their Course Director even told me that students only had to read their course manuals and did not have to look at law reports.

I came up with a plan. We, at MD, are going to outsource our LPC to India…in fact, we may even outsource all our routine legal work to India and, given that we can probably employ five good Indian trainees for the price of one UK trainee, we should be able to gear up our profitability most suitably. I shall let you know how this plan develops in due course.

In the meantime…here is Jonty…one of our trainees with his weekly blog.

I write to you from Mumbai, India. It was a bit of a surprise to be told last Thursday that I was being re-located to India at short notice on a ‘testing exercise’. It’s great. I am living in a small house in the garden, at the back of the main residence of the local MD resident partner. I receive instructions direct from our London office, so I still feel in touch. They come in by email and fax. I work a slightly longer day – about five hours longer, to take into account the time difference between London and Mumbai. Each evening I have a de-brief with the local resident partner. The food is quite different from London. I was a bit puzzled when the waiter at one local restaurant had no idea what I was talking about when I asked for a Chicken vindaloo. I received an email from Matt Muttley today asking if I would be interested in a little ‘sideline’ – just a couple of hours of extra evening work at night – phoning people in England about conservatories or telephony products. Sounds fun and will improve my communication skills.

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The Bar to look at diversity….

Legal Week reports that The Bar Council has set up a working party led by Lord Justice Neuberger to devise a blueprint for improving access to the profession.

I commented on the pupillage problem a few weeks ago. Just as important as the pupillage issue – and certainly very encouraging, Lord Justice Neuberger said: “It is equally essential that the legal profession, and that the Bar in particular, should have access to the best talent among aspiring barristers, regardless of background.”

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Too simple for words?…

I read Simon Hoggart’s Sketch in The Guardian (Saturday 28 October) about the dumbing down of Shakespeare by teachers so school children can understand it. I liked the point he made – (paraphrased) Shakespeare plots are pretty simple – it is the words, the language, which inspires, which delights.

A reminder?…

“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Macbeth (Act V, Scene V).

“See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!” Romeo and Juliet Quote (Act II, Sc. II).

“This above all: to thine own self be true” Hamlet quote (Act I, Sc. III).

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?”. As You Like It ( Quote Act IV, Sc. I).

Mind you, as Hoggart pointed out in his piece… some of the most famous quotes were never actually said: “Play it again, Sam.”

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It is fascinating that a very small trophy… of no ‘objective’ commercial worth in an antique sale of pottery (but beyond price to cricketers) should be transported to Australia encased in padding, a metal case and with it’s own seat on the plane…

A great game of one day cricket today. England won the match with The West Indies – Pietersen did the business with the bat and it made an otherwise quiet Saturday afternoon a pleasure.

I have taken a bet – merely a bottle of wine – with a friend of mine that England will retain the Ashes. The view at The Swan, among those interested in Cricket, is that we won’t. Vide et credere – See and believe!  The Ashes | The Ashes Tour

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The Great ‘Firewall’?…

Clifford Coonan, writing from Beijing for The Independent, (Friday 27 October) highlights the very worrying trend of large organisations like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google to bow down to the god of Chinese Government censorship.

Coonan notes that China – “the world’s leading jailer of journalists” has recruited 40,000 web watchdogs to keep an eye on the capital’s internet cafes and internet service providers. It must be very pleasing for the shareholders in these companies to know that their directors are prepared to kowtow to a repressive Chinese government and not accede to the wishes of human rights groups to stop acting as censors. I am gratified to find that Charon QC..the blawg is still available on Google China – not that this will be of any great value to the millions of Chinese who have to live under strict censorship. I may have to report myself to the Chinese Government… in fact, I may well do so…to save one of their watchers the trouble.
and so…to an entirely different topic: Responsibility of the State in high profile Family cases.

I feel a sense of liberation, knowing absolutely nothing about Family Law and, therefore, feel I can ask a fairly stupid question without any embarrassment. My question is this: in these days of ‘no-fault divorce’ would it not be a more humane way of proceeding for legislation to be brought in to stop the rather unpleasant mud-slinging which we are seeing in the Macca divorce (Who is sending the material to the Press in ‘Macca’?..that is quite an interesting question) – and prevent either party from making public statements to the press until the divorce is over? (When I suspect there will be little need for parties to mud sling to gear up their negotiating positions.) I suspect I am being naive – so I will return to write about things which I do know something about. I do, however, find the coverage in the Press about the Macca divorce rather unpleasant – what is their child going to think in later years when she is old enough to read and understand the clippings – whoever is behind the info getting to the Press?

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All work?….

Well.. here I am… enjoying a Silk Cut, a glass of Rioja and wondering what to write about…

First, I think a little bit of comment on the law. You may recall, yesterday, that I wrote about the 17074 complaints against solicitors. I was contacted by Law Society Press Officer, Bob Walker. He was most helpful. Briefly… he told me that in the past the Customer Complaints Service was fairly low profile and ‘none too pro-active’ – the members, who paid for the service, not surprisingly, being none to’ keen about ‘paying the staff of ‘their’ service to investigate themselves. Now, of course, the soon to be re-named service is / is going Independent following recent reform legislation The Complaints service is now very much more pro-active. This and the Miner’s claim accounts for a rise in complaints. The Service placed an advert asking people to write in about difficulties in connection with Miner’s compensation. Bob has agreed to follow up on my call with some detailed statistics about the type and seriousness of the complaints as these stats are readily available. I was impressed with his preparedness to assist with this. I do think it only fair and reasonable that if statistics are to be bandied about in the Press, that the authors of such pieces should provide more detail. As soon as I receive the info from Bob – I will pass it on.

“Hit the young with alco-pop tax – Minister “ The Guardian
Worries about teenage binge drinkers prompt Hewitt to write to Treasury. Hewitt is worried about the binge drinking by young people and has asked The Chancellor to ‘ratchet up’ the tax. The Treasury don’t seem to be that keen – because it would mean taxing all spirits – which may not be a popular move.

It does seem illogical to put the tax up on alco-pops, but leave other spirits unaffacted. Young people might be getting addled brains from juicing too much on Fridays, Saturdays..and possibly a few other nights… but they aren’t stupid. They will soon work out that it may be cheaper to go straight for the hard stuff if alco-pops are taxed.

For my part… I shall, hopefully, continue drinking Rioja, in measured amounts ( a glass at a time) without feeling the need to park pavement pizzas, fall over, or make a nuisance of myself in the High Street at chucking out time… Is it really a new problem?

I see some pretty bizarre things on the web…but here is a hairy email service for the friend in your life who has everything… try it?

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Friday miscellany….

From the Desk of The Vice Chancellor
I learned from the Independent (Thursday 26 October) that Professor Tony Downes, Vice Chancellor of Reading University, has written a personal letter to all the Bar and Club owners in Reading asking them not to offer cut price drinks to his students.

The professor was concerned about students not turning up to lectures because they had been out binge drinking. No doubt the landlords of Reading will oblige the Prof. Cheers.

And here is an email from another Professor… a bizarre variation on the Nigerian 419 scam…


Dear Contractor,


We apologies, for the delay of your payment and all the inconveniences and inflict that we might have indulge you through. However, we were having some minor problems with our payment system, which is inexplicable, and have held us stranded and indolent, not having the aspiration to devote our 100% assiduity in accrediting foreign contract Payments. We apologies once again.

From the records of outstanding contractors due for payment with the federal government of Nigeria, your name! and Company was discovered as next on the list of the Outstanding contractors who have not yet received their payments.

I wish to inform you now that the square peg is now in square whole and can be voguish for that your payment has been processed and ready to be deliver to your door step as soon as you respond to this letter. Also note that from my record in my file your outstanding contract payment is us $5,700,000.00 (Ten Million Seven Hundred Thousand United States dollars).

I look forward to receiving payment. Should pay for a few glasses of Rioja… may even make a donation to the Reading Student’s Union… Mind you… I think Professo Charles C. Soludo may have been drinking in every bar and club in Reading judging by his prose and his inability to read numerals…
Not entirely sure why a woman needs 200 pairs of shoes…

Another snippet from The Independent. Apparently, the average woman over 40 owns an average of 19 pairs of shoes but.. and I quote… “It is not uncommon to have more than 100.”

I went to my wardrobe last night to see how many pairs of shoes I had. I found five pairs of black brogues, one pair of brown suede brogues, three pairs of casual docksider style shoes, a pair of chelsea boots (Yes… I was a bit puzzled to find those lurking in the wardrobe) a pair of heavy duty walking boots (even more suprising) and four pairs of motorbike boots. Clearly.. I am a mere amateur in the footwear stakes when compared to the women (the Independent reports) who have over 200 pairs of shoes and boots in their wardrobes.

I also found a pair of very beaten up shoes which I recall rescuing from the dustbin when a former Mrs C decided, some years ago, that they needed to go. It must be a male thing to rescue shoes from the bin?

And finally…. which City firm woos it’s LPC students with booze… over to RollonFriday to find out. 

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Robust stuff from Family Lore…

I don’t often consider Family Law matters – my days of running up the aisles are over (But…never say never, again ?)

An excellent piece from John Bolch on his Family Lore blog. I quote to give you a flavour:

“….. Firstly, celebrity lawyer Raymond Tooth is quoted as saying: “A rich man in my view should not marry a poor woman. If he does, then he must have a pre-nuptial agreement”. Fair enough, advise a client to enter into a pre-nuptial, but did he really say a rich man should not marry a poor woman? Is he really so materialistic that he considers that wealth, or lack of it, should determine whether two parties marry? I find such a concept as abhorrent as the nonsense that someone from one religious or ethnic background should not marry anyone from a different background. “

Here is the full story – well worth a read even if you have no interest in Family Law.

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17,074 complaints against solicitors….

I read with some interest a story in the Guardian today about the staggering number of complaints against solicitors – 17,074 according to the story. The author of the piece in The Guardian, Alan Wilson, offered the statistic that this is “equivalent to one for every six solicitors practising in England and Wales.”

Alan Wilson went on to say that a Which magazine survey said that one in three people were not happy with the service from their solicitor. Complaints included rudeness, arrogance, no witten quotes, delays, bills being ‘steeper’ than anticipated and incompetence. The article goes on to explain how to make a complaint. Statistics are always interesting – but it would be far more interesting to know how serious these complaints are. I think, in fairness, I will ring the Customer Complaints Service at the Law Society and see what they say.

EDIT: Follow up

I rang The Law Society – and after wading through their automated phone system, I spoke to a very charming young woman who told me that the Press Officer would call me back. I did make it clear that I wanted to find out the nature of these complaints to see how serious the complaints were – on the premise that (surely) not all of the 17074 complaints were ‘very serious’ matters and that I wished to provide a bit more information to readers than was available in Alan Wilson’s article. I will let you know how I got on.

On an entirely different note – but one related to customer service. I went into the Notting Hill branch of Royal Bank of Scotland today to draw some cash. The bank had been refurbished – very glossy, very slick. I waited to be called by the cashier. A very smart female member of the bank staff came over to ask me how I was, to ask me what service I was seeking and to ask if I would like a coffee! This so took me by surprise that I passed on the opportunity to get a freebie from a bank. It was all a bit unexpected – not really a “British Banking” experience. It was even more surreal when I got to the cashier. I noted that a woman was seated in the background with a clip board. She was from Quality Control).

The cashier was excellent – asked me how I was today, whether I would like a coffee while I waited and asked me what service I would like. I told him that I wanted to draw cash, that I did not bank with this branch (but they did have my signature on file, because, very occasionally, I do draw cash from this branch – rather than go into The City.) I produced my passport for ID/Money Laundering purposes and within a few moments had the cash in my wallet. I was, as it happens, most impressed. It was fascinating to watch the reaction of other customers, accosted by smart woman from reception, respond to her enquiries about their health and their needs that day. Everyone seemed a bit embarrassed to be asked – in a very ‘British’ way. Maybe we are so used to indifferent service that we feel awkward when faced with an organisation which is trying to raise the game?

I am going up to RBS Notting Hill again tomorrow to have some free coffee. It will be worth it. I may even hang out there for a while, read a newspaper on their very comfortable chairs and see if they could arrange for some Rioja to be brought in for me. Maybe they have Rioja in the cupboard… just in case?

I must award a Silver Lobster to RBS for this – it made me smile on a morning otherwise bereft of smiles. Good stuff.

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Useful IP rant from Geeklawyer on trademarks

“Geeklawyer despairs that yet another case on the infringement of trademarks by importing goods from outside the EU has been won by the rights holder. While the rest of the world gets goods largely identical to those given to us, but at half the price charged in the EU, within the EU those rightholders, mostly non-EU paradoxically, get the right to partition us off from the rest of the commercial universe so that they can screw us.”

Read the rest…

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Impersonating a solicitor….

Amused by David Pannick QC’s article in The Times on 24th October where he referred to a letter sent in to the paper by Barry Pamplin.  Mr Pamplin offered the information that it is a criminal offence under s.21 of the Solicitors Act 1974 to impersonate a solicitor. I am grateful to Ian Goldie, a friend of mine – a former partner with a leading magic circle firm, for drawing my attention to this prior to our cracking open a bottle of Rioja.

You may recall that The Lord Chief Justice sentenced himself to a day of community service recently – and his cover story was that he was a ’shipping solicitor convicted of driving with excess alcohol and sentenced to 150 hours unpaid work and 18 months disqualification.’

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Well… you will have to click the link to see

It has been a good day apart from the appalling result in the Cricket

The view I take will be quite different from the view taken by many commentators in the English Press on Sunday. For my part, I believe, that today’s one day cricket match against Australia was part of a very cunning plan to give Australia a false sense of superiority and security – deceiving them ‘Trojan Horse’ style, into believing that yet another England ‘collapse’ in the cricket is indicative of how we will play when the Ashes series starts in a few weeks time.

I have, of course – for medicinal reasons, had to take of the Rioja – and it may be – that my analysis of today’s performance by England in the one day ICC Champions series is skewed thereby.

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Attorneyman?…. surely we can do better?…

RollonFriday has a story about a new comic superhero for lawyers. Here is the Attorneyman website

Apparently Attorneyman is a lawyer by day and superhero by night. According to the website “AttorneyMan and Liselaw exemplify the hero lurking in all of us. Searching for truth, career satisfaction and the best in client relationships, lawyers need a boost. A good idea can take you far. Give that idea superpowers and there’s no telling where you’ll end up. We took Cha Chingi Changa LLP one step closer to Wonderland. Where will you go?”

Clearly a Christmas present opportunity for the senior partner in your life?

Of course, this inspired me to imagine how I might look in a Batman suit. Quite good, really? I then had to think of a ‘foe’. Surprisingly easy. I thought of John Reid as “The Joker” or Charlie Falconer as “The Penguin” – but there ‘could only be one’… The greatest of them all.. “The Riddler.” Clare Short didn’t really make the cut on Catwoman – although Theresa May MP, with her predilection for leopard and other animal print high heeled shoes,  may well have fitted the bill.

Now all I have to do is think about a plot…. but it is Friday afternoon, not Friday evening and it is far too early to crack open the Rioja

So… I have come up with an idea… INVITE the readers to suggest plot lines…perhaps even invite readers to write a short paragraph or two of narrative..string them together and … we have a story! Please feel free to comment, write a bit of narrative, suggest a plot line etc etc… Have a good weekend

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And so it is Friday….

This is Dan Hull, an american lawyer who runs a pretty sharp blog. The sea in the background, the relaxed dress, the smile… all suggest that life is pretty relaxed – and, for Dan, it probably is – because if his blog is anything to go by he is on top of his game.

Surprising though it may seem, I am actually interested in law and matters relating to law – so I find myself on Dan’s blog quite often.

And there I was, having completed over ten hours of work after rising at 3.30 this morning, logging on to Dan’s Blog. I can’t get away from Geeklawyer… the man is everywhere. After listening to his excellent podcasts, I can’t get the sound of his sardonic voice out of my mind… Dan is even covering him this week… describing Geeklawyer as “wonderful and flat-out nuts”

Geeklawyer is believed to possess some knowledge of the laws of libel, having reviewed a book on the subject recently – but Dan’s observation, given his most recent podcast, is probably broadly right and may therefore fall into the category of ‘fair comment’ (I am sure the House of Lords in a recent judgment gives some comfort to men and women of the fourth estate – which, with my Press Card, I claim some allegiance to.) Ruthie, Geeklawyer’s co-blogger, who I have met, is well worth reading, particularly when she has a go at him. The podcasts are enjoyable and I am inspired by his lead and example to do some of my own. I shall just have to make sure that I fit a breathalyser to my recording software lest I feel tempted to podcast upon my return to my Staterooms after visiting The Swan.

Back to Dan’s Blog

There is much useful, serious, information on Dan’s blog – and the article (and links) “Work-life balance is a dumb-ass issue” is well worth reading.

This is a subject which I have far too little time to consider – possibly because I enjoy work.

AND… when I am not working, I enjoy a range of activities for the ‘mature’ man… art, politics, chess, reading, cricket, drinking Rioja, smoking, reading tabloids, sitting around in gastropubs talking to interesting people and getting knocked off my motorbike – and then, of course, I blog. Have I got my work / life balance right? No. Will I ever get it right? I doubt it. But as my father used to say…as he poured himself a quarter bottle of whisky.. “Don’t do as I do… do as I say.” It took me a while to get the hang of this phrase.

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The World is your lobster?….

Good to see that Nick Holmes of Binary Law is evangelising about blogging. I fully appreciate that my musings are designed to keep me off the streets and provide, hopefully, mild light relief to those who wish to read my posts – but I do spend a fair bit of time at night reading sensible blogs (and there are some excellent blogs around: Human Law, Binary Law, Geeklawyer, Family Lore to name but a few from my blogroll.) I am making some effort to comment in a vaguely sensible manner about important issues – but eventually I find the process tips the balance of my mind and I have to return to ephemera, mild ranting and parody. C’est la vie…as the French say…
Have a look at two recent posts by Nick – worth the effort.

Communicate, share, collaborate

Fertile ground for law blogs (2)

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Idiotic enforcement of law….

“Environmentalists yesterday criticised a council for prosecuting a man who put the wrong kind of rubbish into a recycling bag. Friends of the Earth said the case of Michael Reeves, who has been ordered to pay £200 for putting a single sheet of paper in a bag reserved for glass and tin, could put others off recycling.”

The Guardian 19th October

This is absurd. Friends of The Earth Cymru even think it is absurd… their spokesman Julian Rosser said: “I feel a case like this can really damage recycling.”

One can understand local authorities who have warned persistent offenders several times finally losing patience and bringing a prosecution but to mount a case against a first time offender (who denies he put a piece of paper in the wrong bag) is clearly unfair and, frankly, “un-British”. No wonder we are concerned when The Lord Protector and his enforcer, John “Witchfinder” Reid want to give a whole raft of busybodies power to issue fixed penalty tickets. I do my best to recycle – largely by not actually buying any food and eating out. I find it relatively easy to put empty Rioja bottles in the Green box provided by my Council. This action by a Council in Swansea is hardly likely to encourage local residents to recycle.

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It came to me, after reading The Lawyer, that my firm would benefit from having an LPC course tailored to our specific needs. It also occurred to me that by having such a course, I would be able to control the content, to some extent, and ensure that our future trainees could be isolated from unhelpful influences and be trained to an exceptionally high standard in our ways.

Discretion does not permit me to name the institution we approached for this tailored LPC service, nor have I identified the team from the law school who came to our Canary Wharf offices to meet with me. I arranged for the ‘Team’ from the law school to a breakfast meeting at 0645 Hrs. I wanted to see how sharp these people were.

I have a taste for pillars and long corridors – which, given that our office is of modern construction, I had specially built. The columns are actually made of polystyrene, but look very much like the real thing. My office is at the end of this corridor; with departmental heads and section heads in offices leading off this central artery.

The law school team arrived on time. Here is a picture from our high definition CCTV unit – which I have had blurred to disguise the identity of those involved. My PA, Eva Brown, is pictured leading them in through our reception. From time to time, especially with clients who seek my litigation expertise, I use a pogo stick to travel down the corridor to reception. It was useful on this occasion to do so – to view the Team’s reaction and, perhaps, place them in a state of unease. There were three of them; two men and a woman. I was reminded of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ when I saw them with their sharp suits, toned bodies and almost vulpine expressions as they greeted me. I was intrigued by their airline style wheelie bags. I have seen clients with such bags – going into our accounts department.

A light Continental breakfast had been laid out on my conference table. We sat down and I watched as their CEO took out a laptop from his wheeliebag. I could not, of course, allow him to plug his laptop into our network. He had anticipated this. His pitch was polished. His idea about dispensing with areas of the LPC of little interest to our type of firm – conveyancing, wills, probate et al – was on the button and his thoughts on bringing in MBA style business content were right up to the minute. It might help those trainees who didn’t make the cut. I turned and nodded to Eva. She walked briskly over to a display cabinet and took out a Katana – a beautifully hand crafted sword used by The Samurai. She unsheathed it and I threw a croissant into the air. It was sliced perfectly in half. Eva returned the sword to the cabinet and sat down at the table.
“That” I said “Is how we view legal practice at this firm… quick, perfectly executed and effective. Can you focus on that in your course offering?”

The CEO turned to his colleague, a slightly younger man whose mind was clearly uncluttered with academic influences or experience.

“Our course” the younger man said “Is innovative. We provide everything a student needs to know in a pack. We do not encourage students to read law books, articles or even law reports. We focus on what is essential, what is important…..

To be continued….

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I was spending far too much chargeable time re-writing the blogs done by our trainees, before posting them on our Hi-tech website, so I decided that I would turn my hand to a bit of blogging myself. I called in my PA, Eva Brown, and asked her to take dictation.

Today I announced over the new tannoy system which I have had installed throughout the firm – I was most impressed when I watched a TV programme about a cruise liner to discover that the Captain addressed the entire ship’s company and clients at one go over the tannoy – that four of the six trainees would be sent to The Far East for four months on a compulsory overseas seat. The other two, we are sending to our Eastbourne office to attend to the needs of some of our more mature clients. I was pleased to send round this photograph taken of one of last year’s trainees to give some idea of how we integrate efficiency and sport in our work ethic. We are a ‘green’ law firm and I believe we are the only City firm to use rickshaws in our Far East postings. I remember him well. He was pretty good. Managed to take me and a very special client around Central Singapore without any difficulty at all.

I am sure that the experience of an overseas posting will be of great benefit to the trainees.

Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

Editorial Note: I have added a new category ‘Muttley Dastardly LLP’ as I feel certain that MD will continue to feature in one way or another as the year unfolds.

Matt Muttley is seeing the Director of a Vocational Law School next week to discuss the possibility of his law school tailoring an LPC to the firm’s needs. Apparently he was quite impressed by the Course Director’s naked ambition, understanding of modern profitability theory and hunger.

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I tried… but an unremitting diet of commenting seriously on matters legal has tipped the balance of my mind. Here is a novel search engine. You may ask an attractive woman to find things for you on the net. Of course, I became bored with asking her to find The Law Society or a particular set of Chambers and started to ask her most unusual questions. (Ms Dewey, in reponse to my question about The Law Society told me…most usefully… “Don’t do the crime unless you can do the time” before providing me with the link) The results amused me for a while – you may also find this search engine interesting – and if you have no-one else to talk to at the time – you might enjoy Ms Dewey talking to you. Try the search engine

Of course.. I just had to ask her who she thought Charon QC is. She laughed and told me that she couldn’t understand a word I was saying and then started talking gibberish herself. I liked that. Poetic justice. I put it down to her remarkable skills of feminine intuition. She did, however, find my blawg. Not exactly Google…but curiously enjoyable. No… she doesn’t want to come out to dinner or drink Rioja with me. Remarkably, when I asked if she would like a glass of Rioja – she produced a German bier stein which, miraculously, filled with beer and laughed (The bier stein did not, of course, laugh – she did). I could find myself using this search engine in future….

Do you want to buy a painting painted by an elephant? A lot cheaper than an original work by Damien Hirst.

Well.. you can by visiting this website.

And finally… for those with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and shoehorning bizarre topics into conversations… here is a website which will give you the origin of rock band names. Quite interesting, as it happens.

And now I can begin my real day… toil and work. A piu tarde.

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