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Archive for September, 2007

Today I talk to Peter Crisp, Dean of BPP Law School, about the new power to award degrees. Peter explains why BPP did not talk to The Today programme the other morning and explains BPP plans for the LLB and LLM. He also addresses issues raised by others critical of the new powers awarded to BPP and expresses his vision of the future for legal education.

Listen to Podcast 26: Peter Crisp on the new degree awarding power enjoyed by BPP

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See also: What Nigel Savage, CEO, The College of Law had to say about this

See: Consilio for full coverage of the debate on legal education.

Follow up podcasts on this theme:

Consilio | Podcast 28: Richard de Friend College of Law|Podcast 27 Giles Proctor, Nottingham | Podcast 26 with Peter Crisp, BPP | Podcast 25 with Nigel Savage, College of Law

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The Goldfish bowl….

The Independent today reported that barristers who step out of line and find themselves before the Bar Standards Board on serious misconduct issues will be named and shamed.

“Under the scheme, barristers and the charges they are facing will be published along with the date and time of the tribunal hearing. All findings of guilt and resulting sentences will also be made public within seven days of the end of the hearing. Suspensions and disbarments will remain on the website indefinitely, with other findings removed after two years”

Minor misbehaviour will not be disclosed, nor will hearings involving alcohol, incapacity or health matters. Liability rises from £5000 to £15000 and there is also the possibility that a miscreant barrister will be made to apologise to the victim. Independent Story

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Well… I feel I have done my bit for serious commentary this week. I have been assiduous in pursuing the new degree awarding powers of BPP story. I have done a podcast with Nigel Savage. I do a podcast with Peter Crisp of BPP at 9.00 tomorrow. I have invited Giles Proctor of Kaplan-Nottingham to do a podcast on the matter (and he has accepted)…. it is time, now, for me to have a glass of Rioja, set up an espresso and nip outside for a cigarette.

Rather bizarrely, a friend of mine suggested that smokers may well be advantaged by sitting outside smoking. Greater absorption of Vitamin D. I just can’t look up this hypothesis on the net, but I am able to relate that the weather is turning cold. I am prepared. I am thinking of buying a Naval Duffle Coat, of the style worn on the Atlantic Convoys in WW II and in the film The Cruel Sea. That should do the trick. I may even buy some binoculars so that I can keep an eye on those inside the pub or bar. And I quite like the look of those hats.

The news that Boris is to take on “King Newt” in the mayor grab is fascinating, in a ‘car crash’ sort of way.

Although I have voted Labour/New Labour all my voting life, I feel that London deserves a bit of Boris. Boris managed to win 3/4 of the vote for the Tory candidate nomination. Good to see democracy at work. Must have been a bit of a waste of time for the other candidates – but, democracy must be seen to be done. Gordon, of course, was not opposed – or should we say ‘Re-Hash Brown’ after the allegations today that Gordon’s speech writers copied bits of Clinton and Gore speeches for Brown’s Castro style Conference speech to the ‘believers’.

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I was amused to see a friend of mine, Chris McLaughlin, Editor of Tribune, on television last night explaining why a left-wing fringe meeting hosted by Tribune had been cancelled. It was absolutely nothing to do with the fact that there are, actually, no left-wing members of the Labour party now. The real reason was that a room booking had been messed up. Excellent stuff. Meanwhile, the Labour Party machine seemed to be ruthlessly airbrushing Tony “Who” Blair out of the proceedings and crushing all resistance from potential dissenters. There are only Brownnoseites now in Labour… possibly?

And so… to the news that Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, has joined top US law firm Debevoise & Plimpton to head its European litigation practice. Times Story

Legal Week reports: “Lord Goldsmith himself dismisses allegations that his prime motivation was the lucrative pay-packet, claiming (probably accurately) that he could have made more money had he returned to the Bar”

What a start to the new academic and legal year. First Monday in October. Far more interesting this year than last October?

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My search logs for my blawg show, today, that three people reached my blog by searching the term “geeklawyer binge drinking”. I did, in fact, suggest on Geeklawyer’s blog the other night that the UK blogger social should not take place at Cafe Royal but at some other more interesting venue. I may have mentioned ‘binge-drinking’ in my post on GL’s blog. Why would anyone search Google to ask the question “Geeklawyer binge-drinking”? Geeklawyer enjoys drinking Mead. Chacun a son gout, as we like to say down at the Gulag. Mind you…why would anyone get to my blog after searching ‘airline stewardesses’? The net is a truly wondrous thing.

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The Today Programme (BBC Radio 4) has picked up on the story about BPP being given degree awarding powers, noting that BPP’s share price has risen 13% on the back of the news. Surprisingly, BPP declined an invitation to go on the programme ‘because they did not wish to be drawn into a wider debate on education’ – which left the door open to Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the Universities and Colleges Union. Sally Hunt was not enthusiastic about the news and questioned why the Privy Council made the decision in the first place. She expressed concerns about standards and the possibility that a profit motive may make education a secondary matter. A fascinating interview and you may listen to it here.  The BPP story is 11 min 34 secs in to the soundfile. The BBC does provide an excellent service by allowing one to listen again.

Peter Crisp, Dean of BPP Law School has, however, accepted an invitation to be interviewed by me at 9.00 on Friday morning to respond to Nigel Savage’s points made in the Charon podcast yesterday.

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Professor Patricia Leighton has written an interesting letter to Consilio on this issue: See Consilio Editorial blog.

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Today, in the wake of the news that BPP Law School has been given degree awarding powers, I talk to Nigel Savage, CEO, College of Law about this news and about The College of Law’s own degree awarding powers and their first crop of new graduates.

As ever, Nigel Savage has robust and thought provoking views. I asked if the fact that 86 out of 599 students in the first College of Law degree group were awarded Firsts was down to the brilliance of his students or the College marking scheme.

Listen to Podcast 25 to find out what Nigel Savage said.

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See also: What Peter Crisp, Dean, BPP Law School said in his podcast with me

And.. for the full debate go to our online magazine Consilio where Professor Patricia leighton has some interesting views on this.

Follow up podcasts on this theme:

Consilio | Podcast 28: Richard de Friend College of Law|Podcast 27 Giles Proctor, Nottingham | Podcast 26 with Peter Crisp, BPP | Podcast 25 with Nigel Savage, College of Law

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Legal Education on the move…

Well… things are heating up. The Financial Times today covers the story about BPP being given degree awarding powers.

“Using language that is likely to outrage some academics in more conventional universities, he added: “We don’t have the baggage of traditional research, so we’re more focused on customer service.”

I have invited Nigel Savage and Peter Crisp to do a podcast, and plan to do my podcast with Nigel Savage this afternoon, technology willing.

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A new era in legal education?…


I repeat here, a post on the new Consilio Editorial Blog.

The Times reports: “BPP, the professional qualifications college, has become Britain’s first profit-making body to gain the right to award degrees. It will charge undergraduates course fees of up to £10,000 per year — significantly more than the fees paid by students at all universities in the UK, which are capped at £3,000.”

The article stated… “Carl Lygo, BPP’s principal, described the untapped revenue as “staggeringly huge”

Clearly, BPP now have an opportunity to expand their operations into the academic stage of education.

If BPP designs and run traditional LLB degree courses they will be competing with leading UK universities and, inevitably, will come under the scrutiny of the university league tables in terms of reputation, value of the degree, law school ranking et al. They will also have to compete on terms where these traditional universities only charge £3000 per annum as opposed to the £10,000 figures being bandied about in the Press.

If, however, BPP decides to market their GDL and LPC / BVC as degrees – and they seem to be planning to market the GDL as an LLB (provided students take aditional subjects) and market their LPC and BVC as Masters degrees (again students will be required to take additonal subjects) – will these degrees have any currency as Masters degrees compared with, say, a BCL from Oxford or a postgraduate LLM degree from a major university? See: The Legal Week story. Time will tell.

The College of Law has degree awarding powers.

Legal Week reports: The College of Law has awarded its first-ever batch of degrees, with nearly 600 students handed the honour….. The college handed degrees to 599 students who passed both the Graduate Diploma in Law and either a Bar Vocational Course or Legal Practice Course with 86 of those achieving first-class honours.”

It is, in fact, quite difficult to get a First Class degree at any university, whether old or new on a traditional law degree. With the combining of a GDL, which is a demanding and academic course, with the practical assessment of skills and, to a lesser extent, knowledge on the BVC and LPC it is not really possible to compare a First Class on a tradiutional degree witha First Class on a combined GDL/BVC/LPC.

It will be interesting to see how the academic establishment react to the fact that BPP and The College of Law now have degree awarding powers and degree status for their courses.

Charon QC, resident blawger on Consilio, has done podcast interviews with some of the CEOs of the leading LPC/BVC providers:

1. Peter Crisp, CEO, BPP Law School

2. Nigel Savage, CEO, The College of Law

3. Phil Knott, Managing Director, Nottingham Law School

Have a listen to the pioneers of the new era.

Interested in your views on this.  What do you think?

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What we have come to?…

I took a short break for lunch and found a copy of The Sun at a nearby table. Police in Manchester have been told to stop riding bicycles – in case they fall off and get hurt. (The Sun)

And we have another misbehaving judge story: Judge Roger Keen QC wouldn’t let an accused change his underwear, withdrew bail because he felt the defence were timewasting and ended up being criticised as “rude, discourteous and brutal” during a hearing at London’s Court of Appeal. The news report gives the full story – but Victorian Maiden’s comment is a better read.

Lord Justice Laws said Judge Roger Keen QC should be “ashamed” of his conduct during the trial of Andrew Brian Cordingley at Sheffield Crown Court and said his behaviour had rendered a conviction “unsafe”.

Amazing… truly amazing. Apparently Judge Keen is known in Sheffield as ‘Clever C**t Keen”. (VM is a useful source of information on many matters) This latest episode is not a great example of judicial behaviour. If the CA judgment appears (I have looked for it on the net) I’ll post the link.

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