Archive for May 17th, 2010

Nicholas Green QC – Chairman of the Bar on the future of the legal profession

Nicholas Green QC outlines his vision for the future of the Bar, his optimism that it will continue to develop and grow and his belief in the need for it to become more commercial, while holding on to the highest professional standards. He discusses the impact of the Legal Services Act, including the ability of barristers to go into partnership with solicitors, the issue of direct access to the Bar plus the increasing flexibility of career routes into the profession.

Listen to the podcast

This podcast was recorded as part of The College of Law Inside Track series.

Series 1 of Inside Track, which I did for The College of Law,  may be viewed here

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Big Society: Good afternoon, Lord Chancellor. Any “xenophobic and legal nonsense” being cooked up today in The House?

Lord Chancellor: Good afternoon, Big Society. While I had anticipated that I might be doing something with George at the Department of Business,  that has gone by the board to accommodate dear old Vince.  I am, however, delighted to be at the Ministry of Justice.  I am a Bencher of my Inn and my legal experience should, after all, give me a bit of a head start in my new department.  It is not as if I will need to read Law made Simple unlike Theresa over at the Home Office.

Big Society: Indeed.  Did your predecessor leave you a letter saying that there was no money left?

Lord Chancellor: hahaha… no… nothing like that… although there was an absurdly large report on the reform of Civil Justice in the drawer with some very amusing comments in the margins.

Big Society: So.. you’ll be getting down to business, trawling through american websites, to see where you can buy pre-fabricated prisons and prison ships to accommodate all the “have a go heroes” who  don’t quite come within the provisions of Theresa May’s new ‘Good Samaritan’ law?

Lord Chancellor: We will have to wait for  the draft legislation on this.  I suspect it will not be that different from the present law by the time she finds time to get around to it.  She has rather more pressing matters to attend to.

Big Society: Indeed.  Been boning up on the unwritten British Constitution and your Human Rights Law?   Your predecessor, Charlie Falconer was accused  of designing the new Supreme Court on the back of a fag packet over whisky with Tony Blair.  Are we going to be seeing reports of you enjoying a beer and a large cigar with David Cameron and then revealing a Bill of Rights with so many holes in it  that even a recidivistic first year law student  with a bad hangover could see the problems?

Lord Chancellor: Hahaha.  No, I think I can safely say the the future of our constitution is safe and the Human Rights laws will also be in safe hands. Government tends to bring about a re-assessment of the more ambitious manifesto claims.

Big Society: The Coalition agreement talks about repealing a raft of laws, preserving the right to jury trial and curtailing the misuse of anti-terror legislation.   You are going to be fairly busy are you not?

Lord Chancellor: Modifying a statement I made some time back… I have certainly not got re-elected to retire, and I shall certainly start trying to push my influence in government as far as I possibly can

Big Society: You said some time ago..and I quote..“The Conservative Party have got to ask themselves, ‘How do we persuade people who at the moment are voting Labour and Liberal Democrat to vote Conservative?” It seems that your party pulled a blinder and didn’t need to get the people who voted Lib-Dem to vote Conservative, they just had to persuade the people who the voters voted for to come in with you.

Lord Chancellor: Hahaha. We live in remarkable and interesting times, Big Society.

Big Society: You are a Big Beast in political terms and Cameron took a risk in putting you back on the shadow front bench, given your well known views on Europe.  Not a great deal of European dimension in the Ministry of Justice is there?

Lord Chancellor: No… I don’t think I’ll be troubling our friends in Europe on too many Justice issues… but a re-shuffle may come along soon… and…modifying something else I said some time ago… of course I’d have loved to be Chancellor or Business Secrtary. But I’m not nursing a grievance.  I’ve got to go…. The Chairman of the Bar wants to talk to me about legal aid and a few other matters.

Big Society: Good luck… he knows what he’s talking about.

Lord Chancellor: Indeed… we’ll have another chat soon, Big Society

Big Society: I’m always here.


Lawyer’s disclaimer! All, well some it,  entirely fictitious and made up… obviously.

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Today is the anniversary, all those years ago, when I landed on Earth. I’ve always been into gizmos and gadgets.  If the iPhone had been around then, I would have asked my Mother to go easy on the breast feeding and just get me some apps.  The iPhone and twitter weren’t around when I was born in what was then called the Gold Coast, now by the rather nicer name Ghana.  So my Mother gave me some paper and early telegraph facilities. 140 characters on twitter is a breeze compared to issuing requests by morse code from my cot for my Mother to try a rather nice Rioja Crianza which I spied on the drinks table on the verandah –  so that I could get a hit later when it was feeding time. To be honest… I think my parents drank industrial quantities of Gordon’s Gin (Export Strength)  in those days.  Many expatriates in Africa did.  You should see what they got up to in East Africa in Happy Valley in the 1950s.  My parents were in West Africa. I still have photographs of my Father blowing up condoms on a beach on the coast at 6.00 am, after an allnighter,  with a lot of other over refreshed people.  I believe my Mother smoked Lucky Strike in those days.  It could have been Rothmans, State Express 555 or even Peter Styvesant.  I was far too young to tell the difference, being 14 days old. I do remember that they came in cylindrical tin cans of 50, which I think would be an excellent way for cigarettes to be sold today.

I’ve never been interested in looking back – so that is your lot. I won’t be getting any juicy advances from a publisher for that. I have lots of ancestors.  Everyone has.  In fact, ineluctably, we are almost certainly related if you go back far enough.

In my teens I used to wonder at what point one grew wiser, or even, up. Some people do both as they pass through Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man… I appear not to be one of these unfortunate people. Sure, the body isn’t quite what is was.  The hair has gone a bit silvery in parts and if I decide not to shave for a week I can do a pretty convincing reprise of King Lear when I get up in the morning.  I am pleased to report that although I am older… I am definitely none the wiser.  I am an optimist.  I’ve managed to avoid the Grim Reaper (They say most people die at 4.00 am or thereabouts) by the simple expedient of getting up at 3.30 am.  It works..and it is working today.

I don’t work on my birthday if I can possibly avoid it. I work every other day of the year…sometimes even on Christmas Day, but on my birthday I make a special effort.  It was a bit earlier than planned, having gone to bed at 11.00 pm,  to wake at 1.00 am – but as the wine was to hand and  the Marlboros purchased the previous day  had not all been smoked, what better way at 02.27 am to spend part of one’s anniversary of arrival on Earth writing a blog post.

My plan for the year ahead is to divide my life between the real and surreal. I shall continue to do analytical and sensible podcasts and Law Reviews, I shall continue to engage in work projects which interest and amuse me and I shall continue to develop my online rag Insite Law.  As to the surreal – more ‘painting’ is on the way.  I am enjoying putting together the scripts (and more so the recorded versions with friends) for Big Society: In The Diary Room… and I have no doubt  that the year to come will throw up many opportunities for parody from both the legal and political world.  Politicians and lawyers just can’t help themselves.  Sooner or later they will do something to cause me to wipe red wine off my new keyboard or desk.

Well…it is 3.52 am…and a miost amusing early morning after talking to my friend Cybil in Aus…. on Skype…  BUT as it would be inelegant to arrive at my usual cafe where I now take breakfast – over refreshed after an allnighter….. I shall nip back to bed and see if I can get some sleep.

Best, as always


PS.. I may do a Law Review when I get up…  that is pleasure.. not work.  I’ve just seen the Grim Reaper… he raised a glass to me and went on his way.  I have no idea what he drinks.

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