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Archive for October 8th, 2006

The Watson Farley Williams trainee blog continues to delight… This week we have Daisy… here is (some of) what Daisy has to say:

“I am delighted to blog that my seat in International litigation has so far been great. I have done research into waiver of privilege and freezing injunctions which involved reading cases – a refreshing change from the ‘practical exercises’ of the LPC. Still, lessons at law school in ‘How to bundle’ and ‘Paginators: Number manipulation and ink control’ would have come in handy this week….

Thursday was long awaited payday! …. In the evening the firm laid on a trainee night out – a rather wet treasure hunt around the city followed by supper and hookah pipes. More free booze and food at the law rugby sevens tournament on Sunday – again the rain was torrential but of course didn’t dampen spirits… All in all so far so good. Would love to write for longer, but must get back to some bundles..” WFW Trainee Blog

FROM THE DESK OF MATT MUTTLEY, Managing Partner, Dastardly Muttley LLP

It has come to my attention through our ‘Black Ops unit’ that a London law firm is now allowing trainees to blog about their experiences at the firm. This is a trend which I would like to see replicated throughout The City. It will give us a degree of competitive advantage and you will benefit from the knowledge that your contemporaries at other law firms are not contributing to their firm in the way you are – because they are involved in non-productive work, when they are engaged in these extra-curricular activities. I provide my reasons below.
Having assessed the content of these trainee blogs it seems to me that trainees at this particular firm are spending the firm’s time going on treasure hunts, attending rugby tournaments and reading caselaw – all of which activities, of course, are ‘proscribed activities’ in our firm (See: Para 1247 (b)(iii) of our Terms & Conditions of Service Regulations (Trainees) October 2006). You will recall the briefing you received at your induction that if a partner or assistant at this firm requires you to read a case or other law based document, you will be directed to the relevant library or online resource and carry out research under controlled conditions and will record same on the file using our latest LawChronometer software package to record time spent.

On careful perusal of this firm’s trainee weblog, I am encouraged only by one comment in a blog entry by ‘AL’ where he says this… “My supervisor has been very keen to push me out of my “comfort zone” and turn me into a lean mean drafting machine.”

That is all. Be happy in your work. And remember…everyday at MD is ‘Bring ME Sunshine Day.” I look forward to the day when I will be able to meet you in person.

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LCJ gives himself a community service order

“We washed down the underpass. I was sweating. Dirt ran down my arms.”

Lord Phillips, Lord Chief Justice

The Observer today has a fascinating story describing how Lord Philips rolled up his sleeves and spent a day with offenders on a community service ‘payback scheme’ cleaning an underpass. It is worth reading.

According the newspaper report, Lord Phillips “wanted to prove that non-custodial sentences are the right alternative for many to prisons now so overcrowded he considers it ‘difficult or impossible’ for them to rehabilitate offenders and prevent re-offending.”

The issue of imprisonment is complex. Britain’s prisons are full to bursting point – to a point where Police may have to / are having to accommodate convicted criminals in Police station cells.

Briefly – the Observer comments: “Phillips argues it is ‘madness to spend £37,000 jailing someone when, by spending much less on services in the community, you can do as good a job’. He is highly critical of what he sees as the underfunding of community-based punishments and calls for better resources. ‘It’s no answer just to put more and more people in prison,’ he said. “

You may read the report on Mary Riddell’s interview with the LCJ in The Observer . I see no point in rehearsing the debate here.

What impressed me, however, was the fact that Lord Phillips took the trouble to arrange to spend a day doing the type of community service work which those sentenced to community service orders have to do – and went to a great deal of trouble to avoid the Press getting wind of the story, lest they deride it as a publicity stunt. (I liked the idea of his ‘cover’ story being that of a ‘shipping solicitor convicted of driving with excess alcohol and sentenced to 150 hours unpaid work and 18 months disqualification.)

Clearly, there is a serious problem with overcrowding in prisons. Clearly, prison, as a deterrent, as a remedy for crime, does not always work and clearly, there is a need for political action. Building another 8000 prison places is probably not the answer. I have little expertise in this area, but it does seem to me that it is pretty pointless to imprison people who are unlikely to be a danger and threat to society when alternative punishment or penalty may not only be cheaper but also be of greater use to society.

I find it encouraging to know that we have a Lord Chief Justice who is not only prepared to be ‘Liberal’ and think more widely about sentencing options, but who is prepared to roll up his sleeves and address the problem properly with direct action and bring the weight and experience of the Judiciary to bear on a problem which should not just be left to election motivated politicians and the Press.

No doubt some politicians will mock this ‘awayday’ experiment – but, for my part, Phillips has not only given a good demonstration of the problem we face with our overcrowded prisons, he has made a very public statement that he plans to do his part to do something about it and has laid down a very clear marker to the Home Office (in the same Observer story) that the Judiciary will continue, in matters relating to law generally and the Human Rights Act in particular, “apply the law as it is.”

Just goes to show what happens to me when I read The Observer before getting stuck into the News of The World. I shall resume normal non-legal service shortly !…

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I was recovering quite nicely – after drinking Rioja on the advice of my doctor to reduce the effects of whiplash injuries to my neck following my accident – and then made the serious mistake of logging on to Webcameron to see if I could end my evening with a laugh.

I clicked on the Rachel Elnaugh film link.

Rachel Elnaugh is no longer on the Dragon’s Den programme but I watched this woman interviewing John Redwood (aka The Vulcan) and came to the view that she was more interested in asking her questions (not particularly incisive) than actually listening to Redwood.

Elnaugh states that she is not a member of the Conservative Party – but makes it clear in her monologue to Redwood that she gets a ‘real feeling WE can win the next election’. Redwood reminds us that the Labour government was elected in 2005 and despite ‘the parlous state Labour are in’ that ‘we may have to put up with the present government for some time’. (Paraphrased) Redwood, thereby escapes a need to actually discuss any policies – hairbrained or otherwise.

I watched as Redwood waffled on – but what drew my eye was that both Elnaugh and Redwood seemed on the precipice of a hyperventilation attack with excitement at talking to each other. Certainly neither of them actually had much to say of any substance as they talked at each other. Finally… Redwood, eyes bulging with unexpected Vulcan enthusiasm, dismissed Elnaugh with a few choice phrases and then the film cuts to a close up of Elnaugh – who had turned herself into David Attenborough, whispering ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ style, while a group of Tories settled down in a function room to be addressed by Redwood.

The film then did a huge jump cut (Perhaps Redwood’s talk could not be broadcast – for fear that a clue as to Tory policy might be leaked to the British Public?) to Elnaugh, on what appeared to be a beach, telling us that it did not matter that the Tories had not yet developed final policies – because people in business – entrepreneurs like herself – looked at the vision before developing a plan… world class waffle which I doubt the current members of the Dragon’s Den panel would have been impressed by. If I had been a panel member of The Dragon’s Den – I would have kept my cash firmly on the table. In fact… I think I would have put my cash back in my swag bag and phoned for a minicab to take me back to The Swan in Chiswick/Acton.

Mind you… it would be quite good to see Rachel Elnaugh on East Enders running the Queen Vic pub. Imagine how she could turn that pub’s fortunes around? There must be a story line there?

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