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Archive for September 9th, 2008

1000 posts…

Having just looked at Stats… it appears that my last “Charon Reports” was my 1000th post since starting using WordPress as a blog tool on 6 July 2006. Appropriate really!  A certain irony…..

I blogged before WordPress using html for about five years …..

Milestones…. weird things.

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Audio podcast: Charon Reports – Credit-crunch bites lawyers

I report from a helicopter, returning to The Boat, after interviewing one of legal education’s eccentrics, Dr Strangelove , Director of Training at Muttley Dastardly LLP.

Earlier, I walked down Fleet Street at the head of a small band of very tired barristers (many of whom had not been paid by the law firms which had instructed them in the previous two months of conflict). The wine at lunchtime from various local watering holes had inflamed them. It was not 1381. There was no Watt Tyler… and these people were not peasants in revolt. They were Barristers who had been joined by associates at City law firms worried about their futures. Angry?… yes…and looking for answers.

I did not intend to get caught up in this melee. I just happened to find myself in Fleet Street after interviewing Dr Strangelove about the CERN plan to discover the secrets of the universe.

They were not all young men and women in Fleet Street this afternoon. Some were silks, newly elevated – the realisation that Silk did not always bring immediate financial reward, troubling them

We walked down past The RCJ – unusually quiet – just a few news crews from Channel Z who were behind the curve and who did not appreciate that the legal year had still to start in earnest.

The lawyers were battered by reports in the press that the legal profession was beginning, in some sectors, despite the astonishing revenues of top City law firms, to feel the pinch. I interviewed some of these members of the profession as we walked past Hammicks and down past the Lloyds Law Courts branch where so many legal overdrafts are kept. Their spirit had gone…they were exhausted… but..I understood. Some of them had even cancelled holidays in Tuscany, others shelving plans to buy property in France. Their dreams had been broken by the government crusade against legal aid fees and on the crucible of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the greed and incompetence of bankers who could not resists exposure in sub-prime debt.

I watched as one barrister – he cannot have been more than 45 – collapsed on the pavement. I gave him some Rioja from my water bottle. He told me that he would probably not receive any instructions until the new year..  I did my best for him, but in the end, as in life, I had to move on.

It may well be that the large firms, as Joshua Rozenburg, who appears to be doing pieces for The Evening Standard now,  suggests… will grow bigger, while other, smaller firms, will perish in the dry dust of recession.   Who knows?… time will tell.  The first Monday in October is not far away and soon… our judges will be wearing their new Star Trek inspired robes, the barristers will continue to dress as they did in the Eighteenth Century, complete with horsehair wigs… and the legal year will begin.

This is Charon, reporting from Chancery Lane.

***

Audio podcast: Charon Reports – Credit-crunch bites lawyers

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Audio version: Charon Reports – From Chancery Lane, London, 11.50 hrs

I am standing in Chancery Lane
on the eve of the greatest scientific experiment known to mankind.  Lawyers in the heart of legal London are not so much worried about whether there will be work coming in tomorrow, but if there will be tomorrow.

Reuters reports that tomorrow, scientists plan to smash particle beams together at close to the speed of light inside CERN’s tightly-sealed Large Hadron Collider to create multiple mini-versions of the primeval Big Bang.

I asked if the new President of The Law Society might be available for interview, but was told that he was in talks about the future of the profession – which is fair enough in these credit-crunch times.  A spokesman for the Bar Council suggested that I would be able to talk to someone later in the day but, the matter of correct court dress, the retention of horsehair wigs and stuff gowns and Legal Aid contracts was of more pressing concern.

I was fortunate in being able to meet the Director of Training for Muttley Dastardly LLP, Dr Strangelove,  at El Vino down the road.  Dr Strangelove, a former scientist – although, curiously,  no relation to the Dr Strangelove portrayed by Peter Sellars, painted a frightening picture of doom as we shared a bottle of excellent claret.

CUT TO THE INTERIOR OF EL VINO IN FLEET STREET…….

Charon : I talk to you from the famous El Vino in Fleet Street.  I am with Dr Strangelove, Director of Education at Muttley Dastardly LLP.  Good morning Dr Strangelove. Thank you for agreeing to do the interview… by the way, I notice that you have a lit cigarette in your mouth.  There’s been a smoking ban in force since last July.

Dr Strangelove: You a right but compared to ze smoke ve will see from CERN tomorrow afternoon, a little cigarette smoke is nothing….. tomorrow ve shall see smoke on a cosmic scale never witnessed before by man. Pooof….. ve disappear into one F*****g black hole” and ve are gone…… ha ha ha…. Ja?”

Charon: Well that may be somewhat of an exaggeration. Scientists at CERN say that the Large Hadron Collider and the experiments being conducted are safe.

Dr Strangelove (smashing his right fist down on the table, eyes bulging) : “Ah yes… Large Hardon Collider…. ha ha ha…. Safe?… vot do you mean, safe?  Have you studied particle physics?, how to make a nuclear bomb?… let me tell you that it is not safe at all.  Tomorrow…. Pooof….. big F*****g black hole…. gone… no more lawyers, no more bills, no more anything…. gone!”

Charon: Surely, the scientists at CERN know what they are doing?

Dr Strangelove: “Know vot zey are doing?  Have you been watching too much of ze daytime television, Bargain Hunt und Trash in Ze Attic?…. of course it is not safe…. they have built F*****g great hoover…. biggest Dyson in ze vorld… it will hoover everything up… everything I tell you.  Let me quote a report I read only this morning…. I quote “Fears that Cern`s £4.4bn Big Bang machine in Geneva could “eat the plant” have prompted a German professor to launch a human rights lawsuit.” Why would he do zat if he was not worried?”

Charon: Well…. I can’t really answer that.

Dr Strangelove: Well… let me assist you.  He is worried maybe, this German professor, about lawyers and their future and ability to do ze billings?……. and possible breaches of The European Convention on Human Rights… nein…. I do not think so…. this is not ze only reason. The report I read stated “Professor Otto Rössler, a German chemist at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, said: “It is quite plausible that these little black holes survive and will grow exponentially and eat the planet.” Mr Charon…. let me tell you… these CERN scientists…. zey are not building bomb to nuke part of world… zey have machine that can hoover the whole world up.  They say they  are going  replicate conditions that existed at the beginning of time, and unlock secrets of the universe. How do they know this?  The CERN boys were not around at beginning of universe… so how can they know they are going to replicate conditions?…. It will be huge F*****g hoover…. and ve will all be gone… no more need to worry about paying council tax and mortgage arrears….. Pooof… all gone.”

***

At this stage, it is only fair to report, Dr Strangelove picked up the bottle of burgundy, drained it and took out a snuff box full of white powder.  He inhaled a good draft of the powder and offered me some.  As they say, in our world, I made my excuses and left.

CUT:  CHARON IN CHANCERY LANE…..

Charon: Well… there we are… tomorrow, scientists at CERN are going to switch their machine on.  Will they discover the secrets of the universe or will, as some say, the machine eat the earth?….. time will tell.  For my part, I am not going to postpone my plans for a good glass of Rioja on the boat tomorrow night, but be sure, if I find that The Thames starts draining away completely tomorrow evening…. I shall put a report about this on Twitter. This is Charon… reporting… but not for The Law Society Gazette on this occasion… from Chancery Lane.”

***

Audio version: Charon Reports – From Chancery Lane, London, 11.50 hrs

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Daily Legal News and podcast now up on Insitelaw.

Remember:  If you would like some FREE CPD – to have a look at CPD Channel’s offer on Insitelaw. One hour free CPD hour on offer.

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