Archive for April 16th, 2007

Bank on it?….

Sign at a Bank: “We can loan you enough money to get you completely out of debt”

Tom Brennan, a barrister, is taking on the banks. If he wins the case against NatWest the banks will have to reduce their penalty fees for unauthorised overdrafts and returned items. Thousands of bank customers will benefit. If he loses, he risks bankruptcy and his career. Full Story: The Independent

Tom Brennan gets my vote. The banks are tending to settle individual cases and have closed customer accounts when sued. If you want to know more – see Marc Gander’s Consumer Action Group website / blog

Comment from Martin: have a look at this report where “a  businessman from Norfolk has recovered a record £35,987.94 from NatWest after accusing it of charging him unlawful overdraft fees. ”  BBC story

And…since we are talking money…

Alex Novarese, writing on the Legal Week Editor’s Blog, has an interesting analysis on City law firm pay rates and argues that City firms get the associates they deserve – but are the associates grateful or loyal? RollonFriday weighs in with a short report on the Clifford Chance associate pay rises.

By contrast – the position of potential pupils at the Bar is fairly stark and while Lord Neuberger’s interim report indicates that action is being planned – the present position is that there are only 550 pupillages available for the 1800 who pass the BVC each year. One idea being mooted is that The Bar Council should regulate the number of BVC places available at BVC provider institutions. This will not go down well with providers. The irony, of course, is that by reducing the number of BVC places, diversity will be reduced! It seems to me that if a BVC student is aware of the maths, has been properly advised by tutors at the academic stage and by the BVC provider at the application stage, and wishes to take a chance – competition will ensure the continuing high quality of entrants to the bar irrespective of background. Perhaps it is time to stipulate a minimum 2.1 – the reality is, I suspect, that those with a 2.2 do not really have much of a chance of getting a pupillage.

Is it really a Bar problem – or is it an acccess to legal education problem? The key is to ensure that those from less privileged backgrounds get the opportunity to study law at the first, academic, stage (and afford to see it through to LPC or BVC stage) – after that, they, like everyone else, properly informed, should make their decisions accordingly. I have read Lord Neuberger’s interim report carefully. It is a start and the consultation process is open until 31st May. I am not entirely convinced that a proposal requiring Chambers to make pupillage offers to students before they commit to a BVC is a great idea.

Other proposals – which I am more familiar with, having discussed these ideas some years ago with senior members of the Bar – to allow part of the BVC to be done by open or distance learning are interesting. This would reduce the course fee element, allow the students to work while they study (reducing overall debt) and provide access to those who do have to borrow the £20,000 needed to do the BVC year at present. But, again, we have the course provider attitude to consider. Would they just not raise the fees to mitigate loss of income – or pull out altogether?

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Review… Monday 16th April…

The blog world has been fairly quiet over the Easter Break so the review will be fairly brief:

The Bar Council launches a new website and the Chairman of the Bar, Geoffrey Vos QC, has become a blogger

BabyBarista migrates to Times and reaches a global audience. Pupilblogger considers a change of tack in blogging. Binary Law continues to focus on practice issues: 13th April – Lawyers are a necessary shock.

Barrister Blog may have a minor gremlin: When I clicked the link to the Bar Council blog on Tim Kevan’s blog – this message came up:


403 Forbidden

Please stop referer spam.

We have identified that you have been refered here by a known or supposed spammer.

If you feel this is an error, please bypass this message and leave us a comment about the error. We are sorry for the inconvenience.


Mildly ironic, given that Tim Kevan is one of the contributors to the Bar Council Blog. The link worked fine on my own blog – possibly because I am not, yet, a ‘known or supposed spammer’. Gremlins!

Nearly Legal has some useful RSS advice. Family Lore reflects, thoughtfully, on the death of young soliders in Iraq and Afghanistan – as he says: powerful stuff.

My friend, Kate Monro, who did a podcast with me recently on The Loss of Virginity – was interviewed yesterday in The Sunday Times by Cosmo Landesman. Her Virginity Project, pleasingly, is going from strength to strength.

Dan Hull, What About Clients?, asks : What about “Ease of Use” awards for lawyers?

Geeklawyer has been busy and is now searching for a new tenancy. Ruthie gets out her motorbike and, of course, her pink leathers.

A Law Student finds out that lawyers are not held in the highest esteem

And what is Charon thinking of doing?

I plan to continue writing about whatever comes into my mind – but I am planning to develop the podcasts to a regular weekly slot and have plans for a weekly webradio review… possibly!

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