Archive for February 14th, 2007

This US lawyer has the right idea…

Dan Hull [What about clients?] is a man after my own heart…. have a look at his description of what he plans to do in Paris for three days: I give you but a taste from his post!

“It’s perfectly okay in the City of Light to look admiringly at a woman’s form, her legs, gait (that’s “git-along”, if you’re from southern Missouri or Tennessee), sway and the subtle changes in the curve of her back as she moves along the avenues or over the ancient bridges. You can even stalk her a bit. You can do this whether or not she’s with her boyfriend (amused and flattered, she will always smile anyway…”

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Young lawyer dies….

The Times had an extraordinary story about the death of a talented associate at Freshfields: I quote simply from the opening – because the full story is important and I provide you with the link above (It is also below in Talkback from Legal Week)

Quoted from The Times: “Stressed out lawyer, 27, dies in late night fall at Tate Modern

“As a lawyer at one of the “magic circle” of leading corporate legal firms, Matthew Courtney was expected to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

He hoped that his efforts would eventually be rewarded with a partnership – and a £1 million salary.

But weeks after Mr Courtney, 27, and other associate lawyers at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer spoke to senior partners about their long hours and stress, he was found dead at Tate Modern, The Times has learnt.”

The full report is worth reading.

Interestingly – Legal Week asks the question in their Talkback section:

Talkback: Is the national press being too quick to judge Freshfields? Click here to have your say.



An interesting comment on this by Liadnan – well worth reading

The inference that Matthew Courtney may have committed suicide is supported by the vagueness of the article and the link to stress the stress of what is, undoubtedly, a demanding work environment. This quote from The Times article does not really help either: “Police studied security camera footage from Tate Modern but told Mr Courtney’s family that it is inconclusive. A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said that the death was being treated as “unexplained but not suspicious.”

I find it strange that the story is not more clear. The Police, certainly, do not seem to have a firm view – save that they are not treating the death as suspicious.

Legal Week has an interesting follow up: here

It is certainly possible to construe, from the Times article, a suggestion of suicide – but it seems to me, that if one is making such a point, then one should do so clearly. A number of other bloggers, seasoned and experienced lawyers, have drawn this inference from press reports.

Lawyers work long hours. It goes with the territory – but it seems, to me, that press reports may not be giving an entirely fair view of the workloads or the circumstances surrounding the tragedy of this young lawyer’s death.

The posts on Legal Week’s Talkback are fairly robust:  One commentator expressing the view that no lawyer should have to work after 6.00 pm for free and that it is time the public ‘ finds out what working as a lawyer is like’. Another comment takes a more measured view (and I have no hesitation in quoting in full) :

“There is no question some grossly irresponsible pieces have been written about the possible cause and tragedy of this young man’s death. It is much too soon to point an accusing finger, the sort of thing we almost (but still reluctantly) come to expect from the gutter tabloids…but not respected newspapers, surely?”
Posted by: Associate, Burges Salmon

The truth of the matter is, given the Police view that the death is ‘unexplained but not suspicious’ (as reported in The Times article of 13/2/07), that no-one knows (a) whether it was an accident or suicide or (b) and, if it was suicide, whether it could be attributed to stress from work.

Unless I am missing something – is this a fair way to report a tragic death?

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St Valentine’s Day massacre…

No… I’m not going to be writing about gangsters…just wanted a suitable title to mark this awful day in the calendar. I woke to discover that £38 million pounds worth of flowers had ben sold and discovered later in the morning that a friend had been quoted £80 for 8 roses… (He had let the day slip his mind)

Not interested…never have been. Nor am I interested in the activities of prominent lawyers who may or may not be having affairs. Private matter – The Bar seems to have rallied around Sir Ken Macdonald who is being hounded by The Mirror. Times has the story

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A fascinating blog…

You might like to look at a new blog by Martin. He has two – a serious academic one ( an excellent resource for those interested in Conflict of Laws) and a new personal blog – Legal Scribbles and Quibbles. Both are in my blogroll

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