Archive for April, 2009

Budget Smudget….

If you are not familiar with Laffer curves… you may want to look here

I am at my post – drinking to save the British economy. Cry God for Harry, England and Nuits St George… Rise and do your duty

‘Spontaneous’ demonstration rigged to divert attention from budgetIan Parker-Joseph, leader, Libertarian Party UK reports.

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22nd April: News up on Insite Law

Insite Law: updates to editorial, main page, news, profession.

Management: Understanding the professional service firm

Nick Jarrett-Kerr

Watch the film: Part 1 of a series of 40 short film clips on law firm management.

Subscribers to barrister Daniel Barnett’s Employment Law Bulletin have raised more than £10,000 – in less than two weeks!

Starlight is dedicated to lighting up the lives of seriously and terminally ill children by granting them their dearest wishes.


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For some bizarre reason I thought of the old dance marathons in the USA during the depression when I read the news that BPP Law School has set up a new form of speed dating – giving students the opportunity to meet prospective employers; allowing them three minutes in which to impress the training partner or members of the recruitment team.

It is a good idea but at the same time, to my eyes,  a rather depressing metaphor for the reality of the times we live in.  No longer is the student in a seller’s market.  Law firms aren’t even in a seller’s market – not even the biggest law firms. It does not take genius to work out that there are still stormy days ahead.

This led me to start thinking again about the reality for students in terms of getting training contracts or pupillages in the next two to three years and the very real possibility that the big vocational law schools may have to trim their sails, batten down the hatches, and prepare for hard times.

The BPP Law School  speed dating concept also reminded me of the iconic Yosser Hughes from Alan Bleasdale’s extraordinarily powerful television series Boys from The Blackstuff.  Yosser’s plaintiff cry ‘Gissa job” struck a chord for many who watched that programme.

In October last year I wrote a post warning that law schools, particularly law schools offering the LPC and the BVC, may have to watch their finances as the market for their services declined in the short term.  I called the piece: Forecast for law schools  for the next three years – a clear enough title.  It didn’t attract much comment or attention.   I didn’t expect it to.  There are none so blind as those who do not wish to look ahead. Many of us (and I include myself) suffer from this myopia. Peter Crisp, CEO of BPP, when I did a podcast with him  about BPP’s plans for the future, however,  was very bullish and told me that applications were ‘higher than they had ever been’.

Having been involved in legal education for twenty-five years (and more than aware of the financial structure of law schools, having assisted in founding BPP law School some years back)  I was pleased that my predictions appeared not to be well founded. I am always delighted when negative prediction turns out to be wrong.  But I remained concerned about the reality.

The Lawyer and Legal Week have been monitoring closely the redundancy rounds of law firms. Even the very biggest magic circle firms have been hit badly and while there may be ‘green shoots’ about to spring up, many green shoots are still buried deep underground,  and the old adage that the law sector is usually the last to be affected by recession but is also the last sector to come out of recession is one, I suspect, that will prove true for this recession.


It is time for  a Revised Forecast for Law Schools and this time my conclusions are rather more grim.  Again, I hope to be proved wrong – for none of us wish to see good law schools under pressure with the concomittant result that they either raise their fees (Greed is Good? –  The College of Law, BPP and Kaplan have already raised fees for the BVC and LPC) or have to reduce their offering,  or worse – close the doors, albeit temporarily.

Let’s keep it simple.

1. In recent months The Lawyer and Legal Week have reported redundancies from all the major law firms, have written about trainees being asked to defer training contracts,  and have given a pretty clear picture of a profession in recession.

Husnara Begum of The Lawyer2B writes: “Stories about law firms asking their future trainees to defer their start dates have dominated The Lawyer’s student website Lawyer2B.com in recent weeks. Barely a week has passed without at least one firm conceding it has asked future trainees to push back their start dates.”

and again… “FFW confirmed that it is not planning to hire any new trainees for 2011 and will resume recruitment activities next year for 2012 starters. The firm has also cancelled its summer vacation scheme programme.”

It would appear that there is a strong possibility that quite a few law firms aren’t going to take any trainees for 2011 or, at best, a reduced intake.

2.  So what are the big law schools going to do for students and revenue?

The Law Society Gazette reported on 17th April: ” Two top City firms have remained tight-lipped over the future of their specialist graduate training schemes after asking prospective trainees to start work a year later than planned. Magic circle firms Clifford Chance and Linklaters, which have asked prospective trainees to volunteer to defer for a year, could not comment on whether they would reduce the number.”

Given that BPP and The College of Law between them train LPC students for many of the top law  firms – if these law firms are deferring training contracts now –  is it not likely they will recruit fewer students a year down the line and BPP and The College of Law will have to look  elsewhere to make up the numbers?  Or are the big law firms going to continue trainee  recruitment at previous levels and accommodate a trainee intake double the norm for that year, next year?

Susan Blake, director of studies at City Law School, warned that cuts could be a false economy:During the last recession there were cutbacks on traineeships, but then firms didn’t have new blood coming through for the upturn.’ This would tend to suggest that she, at least, admits of the possibility that recruitment will be down. Her remarks are also, of course, pregnant with the implication that law school revenues will be down.

BPP and The College of Law – perhaps other lead LPC providers  also – may well find that their recruitment and revenues from large law firms is down.  If the big firms are cutting back,  it is likely that there will be a need for fewer trainees outside the big firm sector  as well. Overall, surely, there will be a reduction in demand for LPC places?  If this proves to be correct,  either LPC courses generally will suffer a declining revenue or the big players will simply take those who would have gone to smaller providers, leaving the smaller law schools with a very serious shortage.  in this ‘extreme model’ it is possible that smaller providers will be looking at lecturer and staff redundancies  or worse :  closure of their courses in an extreme situation?

3. What about the students?

It is a competitive market, increasingly so. Students who have training contracts, or those asked to defer,  are covered.  Those who do not have training contracts set up now face an uneasy time until the profession comes through the recession.  What of students at university now who had planned for 2011?  If law firms aren’t recruiting, the answer is obvious.

What about a student who has to make the decision to invest in paying the substantial fees for the LPC? Those who had no prospect of joining a City or other firm who sponsor students for the LPC will continue to finance the course as before – if they take the risk of doing so in the present climate.  But what of students who planned to go to a magic circle or other large firm?

City firms sponsor their students and pay the substantial fees.  Are students who may once have expected a place on a magic circle or City firm training scheme suddenly going to dig into their own pockets and pay the LPC fees?  It is possible – but I suspect that some of these students will simpyly wait until the up turn comes, as surely it will.  Maybe the upturn will not come quickly, so they may well have to dip into their own pockets to pay to do the LPC if they wish to  be in the market when the upturn comes.

I do hope that I am wrong in what is a fairly obvious conclusion to draw,  given the evidence appearing week by week that the profession is in recession. I suspect that I am not .

I end with the perhaps rather gloomy statement that if I was running a small law school now, even though profit is not the motive because of full service provision policy, I would be looking at the figures very closely and would be watching even more closely  the advertising and marketing of the big providers.  If revenues aren’t coming in it will have a knock on effect on the finances of the university provider.  Will the universities bide their time without cost cutting, raising their fees to make up shortfall,  and be onsidering redundancy consultations?  We shall find out soon enough.

As always – I am very interested to hear what you think and have to say… over to you.

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Daily news, profession, editorial, reports updated on Insite Law: Read

Editor pick of the day
21st April 2009

Disbarred For Bank Robbery

The Twitter Revolution: The brains behind the Web’s hottest networking tool.

Hubris – this has made my day…

Gordon Ramsay restaurants found to be using pre-prepared meals
• Chef’s gastro-pub dishes come from off-site kitchen
• Diners face price mark-up of 600% in some cases
Guardian (Hat Tip to John Flood)

Mike SP

And you just HAVE to see this from The White Rabbit – a classic
The White Rabbit is on good form… with ‘Sorry to drag Law into this’.
” Miss Roxborough, I will address you if I may, as during the course of this trial you are the only one of the 4 solicitors representing these defendants that I have had no cause to criticise. What I have to say therefore does not arise from your conduct of the case. Conspiracy to Defraud is on any view a most serious allegation and on conviction, on the facts of this case, merits a substantial term of imprisonment. “… You really should take a bit of time to read this…

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News, blogs, profession, law reports update – a large one.  Now up on Insite Law

Blawg Review #208
For those of you new to Green Patent Blog, welcome.  We operate at the intersection of IP law and all things green, clean, or renewable. We’re especially pleased you could join us during Earth Week , which of course, includes Earth Day .  So as we cover the law blogs today, we’ll put a special emphasis on the green and earthy.

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As denials go… Ed Balls with his ‘completely fabricated and malevolent nonsense’ isn’t in quite the same league as Mayor Boris who, when accused of some extra-curricular activity some years ago, said… “I have not had an affair with Petronella. It is complete balderdash. It is an inverted pyramid of piffle. It is all completely untrue and ludicrous conjecture. I am amazed people can write this drivel.”

So… the email smear investigation  produced out of a hat by Guido Fawkes last week  not only earned him a rather absurd piece of smear journalism in return (which he fielded rather well)  but it would appear that Mr Balls is now revealed as the Ernst Stavro Blofeld Bond villain of the piece… skulking in the background, directing his polbots. Ed Balls denies this.

The Sunday Times reports… “ED BALLS, the schools secretary, used Damian McBride, the disgraced spin doctor, to smear ministerial rivals and advance his own ambitions, a Downing Street whistleblower has claimed. In an explosive new twist to the e-mail affair, a No 10 insider has revealed that Balls was the mastermind behind a “dark arts” operation by McBride to undermine colleagues. He claims the education secretary is running a destabilising “shadow operation” inside Downing Street to clear his path for the party leadership if Labour loses the next election. The insider said: “There is now an operation within an operation at No 10 and it answers to Ed Balls.”

The News of The World has what they call an exclusive along roughly the same lines…but with a different slant…

Damning proof that vicious dirty tricks website did involve highest levels of party

Meanwhile… as at 10.30 am Sunday morning, a nation waits for further revelations from Guido.

In the meantime… it is time for me to cook some breakfast.  I think I shall have bacon and eggs with a few beans and toss in some brown toast to give me the illusion that I am being healthy.  I may even have a glass of wine…. Rioja on Sundays, I have found, may be enjoyed at any hour of the day.. a piu tarde.

12.30: Well breakfast concluded… fortunately after seeing this Gerald Scarfe  cartoon picked up by Red Rag (A full version here)…and Guido is orf for a picnic to keep the ravening horde waiting for his latest revelations….

As Labour plummets in the polls faster than bank shareson the stock exchange did some months ago, John Prescott is using Twitter, facebook and Blackberry tecdhnology to get the message accross.  I’m not entirely sure whether even Moses himself would have any effect on the British public now in terms of their faith in Gordon Brown and Nu-Labour… but at least the old bruiser is still in the game and doing it with some style.  I enjoy listening to Prescott… and he does keep the gags coming… or should that be shags. The Times has the full story.

More later, I suspect.  I may even manage to write a bit about the law… anything is possible.

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Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister, a former government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal blog. We’re discussing the extraordinary case of the arrest of Damien Green MP in the light of the DPP’s decision yesterday not to prosecute him or the home office official who was also arrested. The newspapers state that Green was told by police at the time of his arrest that he could be facing life imprisonment if convicted.
Is Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary, on the ropes?


Links to Carl’s blog posts, the DPP statement and the Home Affairs Committee report may be found on Insite Law magazine under the ‘Listen to podcast’ link below.

Listen to the podcast


podcast version for iTunes

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Dear Reader,

I write to you this week from a rather curious building on the south bank of The Thames, home to our spooks;  the Secret Intelligence Service or MI6 as it is better known.  If you are thinking about applying, MI6 is one of the most efficient of our national institutions and is the only employer in the country which knows you are applying before you do in fact apply  – that is, after Monday 6th April,  if you have made a telephone call or sent an email to anyone and casually mention M16 in the email or call.  Ian Parker-Joseph, leader of The Libertarian Party UK, has a novel way of signing his emails to ensure that MI6 and other organs of state know what he is up to at all times.


The big story of the week (but there are so many) has been the decision of Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, not to prosecute Damian Green MP or the Home Office official who was arrested in the leaks fiasco.  The newspapers state that Green was told by police at the time of his arrest that he could be facing life imprisonment if convicted. The Home Office was most exercised at the time – Jacqui Smith is reported to have had ‘steam coming out of her ears’ – about these leaks and, it would appear now, may have over egged the pudding by exaggerating the importance of the material leaked.  At the time it was categorised as information relating to National Security. The  DPP, Keir Starmer QC,  took a rather different view.

The DPP, Keir Starmer QC, has refused to prosecute and said ‘his decision was based on the fact that the leaked documents “were not in many respects highly confidential”

I am doing a podcast with Carl Gardner, former government lawyer now turned blogger and freelance writer.  Carl  has written three execllent posts on this: Damian Green – Jacqui on the rackDamian Green – the key issueDamian Green / Chris Galley: Keith Vaz protects Jacqui Smith. You may also like to have a look at The DPP’s decision and The Home Affairs Committee report

Well the farce continues with the revelation in The Times this morning…. that the Police used the key words “Shami” and “Chakrabarti” to search Damian Green’s emails, even though she was nothing to do with the Police inquiry.

“Ms Chakrabarti said she had never been approached by the police as part of their inquiry and was alarmed to learn that her name had been used as a key search word. “I think this raises very serious questions about just how politicised, even McCarthyite, this operation was,” she said.” The Times

Jacqui Smith, in  my opinion (stated on the premise that I still have the right to voice an opinion in our ‘increasingly repressed’ country) has been a poor performer as Home Secretary.  She was ridiculed by a Police Federation speaker at a national Police Conference, she has struggled to cope with the job according to numerous press reports, she is in some difficulty in relation to her expenses, and she may well, now, be guilty of misusing her office or…as Carl Gardner puts it… “Jacqui Smith is under suspicion of having used the police as a political tool; of having allowed her own anger and frustration at the embarrassment the leaks caused her to cloud her judgment, so that she authorised the involvement of police for a wholly wrong purpose – to stop that embarrassment.”

She should resign.  It is, however, highly unlikely that she will do so. It is worth noting that The Home Secretary is also responsible for The Police who have been demonstrating to the people of our country and the world that they are capable of mindless violence against our own people (The G20 officer involved in the Ian Tomlinson death is now suspended and being investigated under caution for manslaughter) and complete idiocy.

Two particularly moronic representatives of our police force have probably misused their powers under the controversial terror legislation by ordering the deletion of pictures of a bus stop taken by two perfectly respectable Austrian tourists. Even the most stupid of police officer or PCSO should be aware of Google Street View ? .. this terror legislation and taking of photographs of buildings and police is getting out of hand.

One good thing that has come out of G20 rioting is the likelihood, following the spectacular publicity given to policing techniques and behaviour at G20, that they will be reluctant to use the controversial s.76 power to stop people taking photographs of police.

Anyway… here is a picture of the bus station photographed by the Austrian Tourists: Vauxhall… coincidentally!

Right… on that note… I’m off to take photographs of the outside of the M16 building and see if any police officer tries to stop me.  I am assuming not, because most policemen and women are not robocop baton wielding  nutters or fools.  In any event, I am taking a print of the picture of the MI6 building (left)  on the front of the MI6 website and will explain to any officer who does approach me that I  am seeing if I can take a picture as arty as the official one.

I’d better take the name of my wine merchant just in case I am taken into custody.  I understand that it is still possible to make one telephone call from a Police Station.  I shall order some wine to be delivered to the police station (for me)  if I am detained.

Best regards, as always




Lawcast 128: Damian Green MP – the decision of the DPP not to prosecute and the position of The Home Secretary

Today I am talking to Carl Gardner, barrister, a former government lawyer and author of the Head of legal blog. We’re discussing the extraordinary case of the arrest of Damien Green MP in the light of the DPP’s decision yesterday not to prosecute him or the home office official who was also arrested. The newspapers state that Green was told by police at the time of his arrest that he could be facing life imprisonment if convicted.
Is Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary, on the ropes?  Links to Carl’s blog posts, the DPP statement and the Home Affairs Committee report may be found on Insite Law magazine under the ‘Listen to podcast’ link below.

Listen to the podcast

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John Flood, academic, law prof and blogger has done the business with his new persona  – stand up comedian. In my book, anyone who can do stand-up in front of any audience, let alone pissed people in a pub – deserves praise for courage and idiocy/madness in the face of reason!

The title to this piece comes from one of many very amusing quips in John’s latest stand up routine …. It made me laugh… but I would have laughed even if I wasn’t half in the bag.

Watch the John Flood movie


( also does pretty good podcasts and knows a thing or two about law! )

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Friggin Friday…

So here I am on a rainy Friday afternoon, grey skies and cold,  with a glass of Chianti to my right.  I met up last night with Geeklawyer, Carl Gardner, Jacqui Gilliat, Information Overlord, Oedipus Lex and the two editors from LawandMore – Vanessa and Sabreena. We met at The Cittie of Yorke, a pub just outside Gray’s Inn in Holborn, a hostelry I used to frequent many years ago when I was teaching law in the area.   Geeklawyer produced a very snazzy Canon digital camera costing megabucks, took an excellent photograph of me (I talk of megapixel quality and composition) and I have reduced it to a stylised parody with a bit of Photoshoppery to give it a bit of ‘arty nonsense’ worthy of a blog and to  enhance the ludicrous tache I have been growing since Christmas. A touch of Vercingetorix, peut-être?

I have surprisingly few photographs of myself. My face is best suited to radio as the saying goes.  But here, for a limited time only, is me. Most enjoyable evening last night and Sabreena duly arrived with the promised electric cigarette which I used on the train back from London.  No-one even noticed and if they did, they weren’t bovvered.  I use the vernacular because in the seat across the aisle from me was a young woman with a strong Kentish accent practising her command of old anglo-saxon.  She was talking to her boyfriend and was clearly upset ‘wiv ‘im’ …. unless C**t and “You effing tosser” are terms of endearment wherever she was going to.  The electronic cigarette is absurd.  It glows at the tip when sucked on ( a small LED, I believe) and produces real smoke – or non toxic vapour.  I’m told these e-cigarettes cost £79 quid and nicotine cartridges work out at about the price of a pack of twenty fags.  I can’t really see them catching on – although the amusement factor of watching Geeklawyer puffing away on the thing last night inside the pub was was good.  Sadly, no-one came over to be a busybody and then get eviscerated by the Prince of Darkness.

White Rabbit bulletin

I am pleased to read of the continuing recovery of White Rabbit following a recent injury.  He is off the fags for 23 days now and is amusing himself by doing a spot of blogging with a post on Irritating Words and Phrases.  White Rabbit gives several illustrations.  Here is one:  You are? This means ‘what is your name?’ I don’t know quite why, but there’s something about ‘you are?’ that makes me want to smack the questioner in the face.”

Obnoxio The Clown had a recent post which prompted me to further investigation of a LadyBird book parody. As we have different readers you can either visit Obnoxio’s amusing and very blunt blog to see them as he reveals them or have a look here.

And finally for this friggin Friday post…Nick Holmes of Binary Law has an excellent post… I think you should read it…

“Plenty to ponder about the future not just of the established news industry but also of other old media players in this post from Jeff Jarvis and the numerous comments:

You’ve had all that time to reinvent your products, services, and organizations for this new world, to take advantage of new opportunities and efficiencies, to retrain not only your staff but your readers and advertisers, to use the power of your megaphones while you still had it to build what would come next. But you didn’t. You blew it.”

I could have left the Jeff Jarvis link in, of course… but that is the point about bloggers – they tend to link to each other, they tend to share, they tend to push news items, they tend to do *Hat Tips* when they find something on another blogger’s blog.. … go and have a look at Nick Holmes post to get the link to Jeff Jarvis’s excellent post… it is my *Read of The Week*…

Not just for UK bloggers… for all bloggers.. and it ain’t about law!

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Jacqui Smith in the firing line over security and secrecy
Times: Jacqui Smith faced renewed pressure last night after the secrets case against Damian Green was thrown out and the leaks with which he was involved were deemed not to have involved national security.

Quite apart from the furore over her expenses, the Home Secretary has demonstrated that she is not a safe pair of hands with this latest episode over the arrest of Damien Green MP,  who was told by police at the time of his arrest that he could be facing life imprisonment if convicted. Mr Green won’t be convicted, nor will the Home Office whistleblower,  because DPP, Keir Starmer, has refused to prosecute and said ‘his decision was based on the fact that the leaked documents “were not in many respects highly confidential”.’ Guardian

While Ms Smith did not press for the arrest of Damien Green MP, she did “back a Cabinet Office decision to call in the police following 20 destabilising leaks from the Home Office in the past two years.” It now appears that the leaks were not substantial state secrets, affect national security or put lives at risk as was being ‘suggested’ at the time of Green’s arrest.

Starmer, not surprisingly, covers his position by saying – as reported in The Guardian – “the unauthorised leaking of restricted and or confidential information is not beyond the reach of the criminal law and can amount to an offence of misconduct in public office”.

David Davis MP, former shadow home secretary, commented: “…the police were increasingly trying to use “misconduct in public office” to target officials who leak, undermining a key reform to the Official Secrets Act introduced to allow the disclosure of information. Green said the episode “whipped away the veil over this government and the way it exercises power”. He said: “They make serious mistakes on immigration policy and rather than correcting [them] they try to cover them up and when the cover up is exposed they lash out and, in this case … they exaggerated the security implications.”

Carl Gardner, a former senior government lawyer and author of the Head of Legal Blog has written three good posts on this issue, the most recent, this morning: Damien Green – Jacqui on the rack

Gardner writes: “The way I’d put it is this: Jacqui Smith is under suspicion of having used the police as a political tool; of having allowed her own anger and frustration at the embarrassment the leaks caused her to cloud her judgment, so that she authorised the involvement of police for a wholly wrong purpose – to stop that embarrassment. I can’t imagine a more serious charge against a Home Secretary. I don’t like suggestions we live in a “police state”: I think that kind of claim is always over the top . But vigilance must be eternal, and, if it means anything, it means making sure ministers do not use the police for their own political interests.

So Jacqui Smith is now on the rack. The onus is on her to acquit herself of these suspicions – which I don’t think it will be easy for her to do.” Carl Gardner then says that she needs to answer a number of questions and suggest the questions she needs to answer. Read Carl’s piece for further information…

For my part, if she is not able to allay suspicion that she may have misused her office – then quite apart from the expenses furore, she should resign. She may not have to worry about taking the honourable way – there are rumours that she will be part of a Brown re-shuffle fairly soon anyway.


The news and updates to profession are now up on Insite Law

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Obvious and Tangible Cheating…

Obvious and Tangible Cheating…

The Oxbridge Training Contracts saga continues with Oxbridge Training Contracts demanding that Simon Myerson QC pay attention to their demands… I quote from Mr Foster (representing OTC)
The following comments refer to the blog ‘Integrity and a Suitable Place for It’ posted on your website on March 31st, 2009.The blog is both highly deceptive and defamatory and we demand its immediate removal, the deletion of associated comments and that you print a retraction making very clear the deceptive nature of the comments printed there hitherto.” (See: Integrity – The Man speaks)

Myerson, clearly unruffled by Mr Foster’s demands,  refused to comply and responded: Integrity – the deadline passes and Moving on.

In his his latest “Moving on” blog post, Simon Myerson makes a number of particularly important points in relation to cheating – first, in relation to paying organisations like OTC to write pupillage application forms  and, secondly, in relation to the even more serious issue (in my view) of paying porganisations to provide answers to tailored essay questions.

The fiction, of course, is that OTC and similar organisations (which they make clear in their terms and conditions) are simply providing students with these answers for their private research. They go further and say that it is a breach of their terms and conditions for students to use these answers for any other purpose than private research and include submission of such answers as their own work for university or law school course work.

Given that these tailored, bespoke, answers cost £200 or even more per answer depending on whether the answer is 2.1 or First class standard, or delivered seven days or seven hours later, it does not take a genius to work out that students are (a) using these bespoke answers and passing them off as their own work or (b) may be tempted to use the material as a substitute for their own research  or (c) are using the work as research and then ‘modelling’ their own answers on the answers provided. In all three cases the student is cheating. There is really no other term for it. Many, if not most, institutions make it clear to students that they may not have any third party assistance with assessed coursework.

Myerson, rightly, makes this observation: ” I extend this to the writing of essays – whether by way of ‘model’ answer or otherwise. The test is simple: if the teaching isn’t good enough at your institution then you should be able to recover the cost of your payment to OTC by way of legal action for breach of contract. If you wouldn’t sue then you shouldn’t use what you’ve bought. Try working harder.”

Simon Myerson QC is a member of The Bar Council and is actively involved in the matter of Bar education. His blog posts on this issue are worth reading – as are the comments written by prospective barristers. Myerson’s Pupillage and How to Get It blog is a first class resource for any prospective barrister. I have no hesitation in recommending it.

[I gave Mr Foster the opportunity to talk about Oxbridge Training Contracts in a podcast. If you wish to listen to it – click here]


The news is up on Insite Law.  No new law reports – Easter vacation.  OI shall do an update of UK blogs either later today or tomorrow.

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BPP, the BVC and some thoughts….

A commenter on Simon Myerson QC’s blog Pupillage and how to get it – made an amusing comment about me riding in on my white charger to complain about BPP – noting that I am ex-BPP  – providing guidance on pupillage applications along the lines of the service provided by Oxbridge Training Contracts.

I have given Oxbridge Training Contracts a fair opportunity to justify their essay writing / pupillage application services and do not propose to rehearse the matter further.  (See my blog /podcasts etc etc)

I did, however, reply to the commenter on Simon Myerson’s blog.  I repeat my comment here….

Manage Change…

I may have founded BPP Law School  – I have no interest however, commercial or other indirect interest , in what BPP do now.

I sold my shares over 10 years years ago and while I am pleased to have founded a law school with others in my career – BPP moved in a different direction to the vision I was interested in – and that is, of course, their prerogative.

My vision was then, and is still now, to provide access to education at a very modest price. This, however, is not consistent with modern law school practice at vocational level – whether PLC, charity or university.

The BVC course is a useful source of revenue for all  law schools currently validated. I remain convinced  that when it proves to be unattractive to law schools to run the BVC – they will simply pull out.   I have a feeling, given the furore about fees, that this may not take too long.

We shall see. Then, of course, there will be an entirely different problem to solve – adequate provision for those who seek to qualify. We live in interesting times – but for so long as students are prepared to pay the fees to law schools – be sure, the law schools will charge the fees and continue to raise them.  That, unfortunately, is the law of the market.

Unless.. you do something about it and complain.

I suspect that the Bar Council and BSB will do little in terms of direct action….

But… there again… I would be happy to be proved wrong.

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15th April: News up on Insite Law

Daily legal news up on Insite Law. I am doing a detailed review of recent UK law blog posts later in the day and will be drafting some editorial comment on the news events on the day. The Law reports and news from the profession is unchanged from yesterday.

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Lawcast 127: Simon Fodden on Slaw, Canada

Slaw is a Canadian co-operative weblog about any and all things legal. During the four years they have been publishing, their audience has steadily grown to include hundreds of practicing lawyers, legal librarians, legal academics and students

I quote from their ABOUT section…. “Slaw operates with a core of regular contributors and a penumbra of occasional contributors , as well as a roster of regular columnists . It is open to anyone who is knowlegeable and interested to apply to join Slaw in any of these capacities. Because information technology dissolves boundaries, you don’t have to be a Canadian to join and talk about legal matters.”

Today, I’m talking to Simon Fodden, Professor Emeritus, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University Toronto, about Slaw, the Canadian legal system generally and his views on the internationality of the blawgosphere…

Listen to the podcast | Podcast version for itunes

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I am risen… just a day late…

EXCELLENT… this post has made my morning… there I was, wondering what to have a laugh about next.. and along comes The Fat Bigot  with this excellent tale about smoking an electronic cigarette in a restaurant and having to deal with a particularly cretinous woman who objected and knew the law better than anyone because ‘she worked in a (F****g) pub”

I always enjoy hearing tales of the cretinous – and their  unshakeable belief they are always right. This is an excellent blog post and I commend you to it – forthwith… or with great speed as I would say if I was invading France again. This is The Fat Bigot on very good form…

As it happens, the editor of LawnadMore, the law lifetsyle website (I do occasional reviews for along with half of the UK blogging world!) has an E-ciggie waiting for me to collect and I shall be collecting it this week when I go drinking with the two editors on Thursday avec Geeklawyer and JacquiG.

Exercise while you smoke

Bizarrely, this is exactly what I have been doing since Saturday last.  I sit at a desk for too many hours.  I have not been getting enough exercise.  So… a plan hatched in my mind that if I nip outside to have a cigarette instead of sitting at my desk smoking  as I have done for many years – I could do some exercise while I smoke, look at the view and get a bit of fresh air all at the same time.  The elegance of this multi-tasking and time management appealed to me.

So… I do leg exercises, abs, arms, press ups, running on the spot, lunges, starbursts..  about ten different exercises in all – in reps of 20 each time I have a cigarette.  As I am down to about 25 cigs a day – I am now unable to walk through stiffness after doing this for the last two days. BUT…  I shall, of course, continue. In a month I shall be ripped…. possibly.

I used to be extremly fit in my Kendo and Squash days – but that was some time back.  As I have enough sins and turning into a fat bastard is not on my immediate agenda – this is the way forward.  I shall call it by a Japanese name… Smokedo – the Art of Smoking while exercising.

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Daily legal news and updates to blogs, profession, law reports and editorial up on Insite Law

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The Archbishop of Canterbury is encouraging us to take advantage of the credit-crunch and consider a monastic life.  As it happens, I am living a fairly monastic, reclusive life.  As with monks, I drink wine – although I tend to buy,  rather than make , my own wine,…  not having cracked the water into wine stunt.

From the pulpit of Canterbury Cathedral, hardly a modest building and one steeped in history of Church acquisition and temporal power, Dr Williams encouurages us…“Accepting voluntary limitation to your acquisitiveness, your sexual appetite, your freedom of choice doesn’t look so absurd after all as a path to some sort of stability and mutual care. We should be challenging ourselves and our church to a new willingness to help this witness to flourish and develop.” (Guardian)

Being a devout and confirmed non-believer I did a quick Google search to find out how much priests earn.  The Chief Rabbi appears to be the highest paid,  with salary and ‘benefits’ approaching the 100k mark.  The Archbishop of Canterbury at 2002 figures (the latest I could find) is on just inder £60k but he does get a stretch limo with a driver, an apartment at Lambeth Palace, one at Canterbury Cathedral and, no doubt his kit is provided.  I suspect that his pension and retirement  arrangements  and  the one way ticket to the kingdom of heaven are also … as we say… East of London… sorted.

Anyway… nothing wrong with making a living as an illusionist… David Copperfield and many others do the same thing, albeit with different props.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the high street, the Blairs have popped up again. The Independent reports: “Mr Blair began last month with an article insisting political leaders needed to “do God”. Then, last week, he directly criticised Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican for their “entrenched attitude” towards homosexuality. But while his words were applauded by gay rights campaigners, Mr Blair sparked a withering response from leading Catholics by comparing the Church with a political party that needed its own Clause 4 moment to change with the times”

Mrs Blair, now possibly in need of a bit of press and other media attention,  is out and about publicising her autobiography.  This is unlikely to be on my reading list as my taste lies with  great figures from history, politics and science – the more villainous and venal the better – so her husband’s books will be on  my list. She did say that she doesn’t agree with the Pope’s stance on condoms and AID however…  so something selfless as opposed to self-aggrandising.

Perhaps Blair isn’t going for President of Europe after all – perhaps he is  running for Pope. The Independent notes: “Mr Blair, in his interview with the gay magazine Attitude, said: “Organised religions face the same dilemma as political parties when faced with changed circumstances”

The great story of the day is the resignation of McBride for planning a series of nasty smears against Tory politicans. There was even talk of George Osborne dressed up in stockings, suspenders and high heels when he was younger.  Frankly, I prefer to have my politicans with a sense of humour having done amusing things in their younger days than some dessicated worthy with absolutely no sins and, therefore, no experience of real life. Guido broke the story and covers it fully – as do the main newspapers.

Did Gordon Brown know what McBride, his closest political adviser, was up to? I have no idea as I haven’t got access to Brown’s emails or phonecalls – although he, or rather his government, now have access to the timing and place  of mine. The Fat Bigot has a view and his blog post on the matter is worth a read. It is ironic, in a week when ISPs have to keep records of emails sent by all citizens of the United Kingdom to allow the government to poke about that the government should be hoist by emails emanating from the very heart of power.  Have a look at Ian Parker-Joseph’s excellent blog post on this and his wonderful plan to thwart the government by putting a whole series of key words  like bomb, Al Qaeda, terrorist, grenade, pigs, troughts, North Korea etc etc in the signature of all his emails. As Ian is the leader of The Libertarian Party UK if his emails and telephone calls weren’t being monitored before they may well be rather more closely now!

On that note…. I have to get to bed early… there is a lot of rising going on tomorrow.

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Dave’s Free Press…

Dave’s Free Press

Is asking for contributing parodies based on the spoof advert below. I quote quote from Dave’s site…”The Filth currently have an incredibly stupid poster campaign going on, encouraging people to waste police time and money by phoning their “anti-terrorist hotline” about nothing at all. Of course, the real objective is to keep the sheople scared so that the state can use the excuse of TERRRRRRRRRRRR to trample even more on our civil liberties.”

Here’s my remix … Have a go yourself on Dave’s site… please follow his request for a link in the comments…

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As I have a fair number of sins – smoking, drinking, gluttony, lust, – to go for four of the seven deadlies... and it being Easter n shit, as the young say these days in the vernacular of gr8 2 c u m8, I thought a quick trip to see my cousin Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo in The Vatican would be a good idea even though I am a confirmed and devout non-believer.  Cousin Charoni likes to keep his hand in with apostolic blessings and exorcisms and says that I am a good subject to practice these arcane skills on.

For those of you so disposed.. why not visit The Pope online?

So there we were, sitting in a Bar in Rome…  he dressed in full mumbo jumbo kit including the red mitre, me dressed in a battered drizeabone and sporting an even more absurd moustache than on  the last occasion we met at Christmas.  I asked him if he was ready, rather as I do with  interviewees when I do podcasts.

“Charon … Io sono pronto a fare il lavoro di Dio. Avete la vostra carta Amex? “

I had absolutely no idea why Charoni had to speak to me in Italian and, later, in Latin.  He speaks perfectly good English. He explained later that as in the legal profession, a little bit of mumbo jumbo, a bit of ‘foreign’  and a dead language adds solemnity to the proceedings and gives the client a feeling of getting their money’s worth. He asked for my Amex card.

“Nemo dat quod non habet… I cannot give that which I do not have.” I replied, entering into the spirit of things.

Charoni looked shocked; a similar look of shock I saw on the face of a guest some years back at a dinner at my apartment in West London when a bottle thrown by one of my friends sailed past (I eased gently sideways to avoid being hit) and crashed through the closed window to the lawns three floors below.  I should explain that it was our practice at my dinners to throw empty bottles out of the window onto my lawn below.  It saved carrying 12 or so bottles downstairs the next day. There was science behind this idea. Ordinarily,  the window would be left open for this purpose.

“It is OK, Charoni” I said with a smile “I have Euros.  I assume you take cash… this being the greatest tax avoiding nation on Earth?”

“Indeed, Charon.” Charoni replied, slipping the Euros into a secret pocket in his red robe.

“Well… get on with it, man!” I said impatiently, quaffing a decent amount of Chianti to prepare myself for the mumbo jumbo. Charoni stood up, raised his right hand and intoned sonorously “Indulgentiam, absolutionem et remissionem omnium peccatorum vestrorum, spatium verae et fructuosae poenitentiæ, cor semper penitens, et emendationem vitae, gratiam et consolationem Sancti Spiritus; et finalem perseverantiam in bonis operibus tribuat vobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.”

“Will that do the business?” I asked, lighting a cigarette.  “Am I absolved of all my sins?”

“Charon… you are absolved, indulged and cleansed of impure thoughts and matters temporal… I’ve even added a bit in about your doing good works and that should do the business until Christmas at least.  You can have a top up if necessary.  I run a new service called http://www.absolutionsdirect.com and all I need are your credit card details or you can pay by Priestpal.”

This done, I went with Cardinal Charoni  to a restaurant near the Forum for pasta, some excellent wines from Northern Italy, talked of many things and I returned to London later that evening…cleansed and mildly over refreshed. With absolutely nothing to declare,  I waved at the HM Customs officers hiding behind the one way mirrors in the nothing to declare channel corridor.

So.. it is Easter already

I can’t quite believe that it is Easter already.  The time seems to fly.  Einstein was right.

It was a busy week in the run up to Good Friday or Godless Friday would, perhaps, be a better description of it in modern secular Britain.  The G20 furore covered elsewhere on my blog (here and here) continued to rage.  The Police story changed once the IPCC got involved and it now appears that a second post mortem into the death of Ian Tomlinson has been ordered by the IPCC.  The Guardian has some rather interesting observations on this today.  The Independent notes that the Metropolitan Police appear to be in ‘crisis’.

The farcical story of the week involved Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism cop, Bob Quick, who resigned this week after inadvertently leaking details of a top-secret terror investigation. He was photographed going into No 10 carrying a top secret document for all the photographers to photograph….which they did and, no doubt, blew up so they could see the contents.  As a result of this a counter-terror operation had to be brought forward in Liverpool.

The Sun… did the business with this marvellous headline….

For those of you who remember those KwikFit adds from some years back…  you’ll get it straight away.

It would seem that Number 10 has been infected by April madness as well and has issued an apology for ‘juvenile emails’.

The Independent reports: “One of Gordon Brown’s most senior aides was forced to apologise for sending “juvenile and inappropriate” emails from a Number 10 account.”

Guido Fawkes who hinted at the story a few days ago broke the story… so over to Guido Fawkes. It is worth reading (as are the comments).  I quote from the opening paragraph of Guid’s story…

“Damian McBride is desperately trying to throw a smokescreen up tonight with a planted frontpage story in the TelegraphTelegraph’s lobby correspondent, is Damian McBride’s  regular drinking companion and tame mouthpiece, so it is no surprise whatsoever to Guido that the Telegraph is being used by Downing Street for damage limitation. which downplays what he has been up to.  Andrew Porter, the

The Telegraph implies that Guido has sold the story to the Sunday newspapers – that is completely untrue – Downing Street tried that same line against the Home Office whistleblower.  They are also trying to make out that the story is just about Damian McBride sending gossipy emails to his pal Derek Draper.  Utter lies.”

And finally for my Urbi et Orbi message to readers this year… from Capitalists@Work – an amusing take on Brown going for a fourth term…

The Brownadder tries for a Fourth term

Have a good Easter and if you do believe in a god…. of whatever type… may your god go with you … as Dave Allen used to say..

And if you need it… try this one: “Sancti Apostoli Petrus et Paulus: de quorum potestate et auctoritate confidimus ipsi intercedant pro nobis ad Dominum.” It may… just may.. do the business.

Best, always


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