Archive for October 18th, 2010


To: The Partners

From: Matt Muttley, Managing Partner


Going to trial with a lawyer who considers your whole life-style a Crime in Progress is not a happy prospect.
Hunter S. Thompson

It seemed appropriate, given the extraordinary events of last week and the events to come this week in terms of Osbore’s Spending Review, to quote the great Hunter S Thompson.

1. George Osborne takes spending axe to prisons and legal aid

The Guardian reports: Leaked documents show Ministry of Justice will lose 30% of budget in comprehensive spending review.

There are two issues here of relevance to The Partners:  The first is the possibility that we could buy a prison and turn it into bijou studio flats for young professionals who can’t get onto the housing ladder.  There is a suggestion that some prisons will be sold off.  I have asked Dr Strangelove, our Director of Education and Strategy and a fellow Partner,  to review this matter most carefully.  Secondly, given that the government can’t actually seriously reduce the legal aid budget in terms of crime, but can in terms of family law, there is every prospect that our Megaladon LLP division could get in on the act and offer No Divorce No Fee offers.  As the prospect of the courts actually declining to divorce people is very remote, we will get our fee and there may well be some mileage in the ‘financial arrangements’ inter partes? We need to review this.

2. I thought The Partners might enjoy a laugh this week – so you might find this nonsense amusing

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly on pro bono and the Big Society

The Law Society Gazette: “While prime minister David Cameron’s idea of the ‘Big Society’ has left many people unclear as to what their own role or contribution to it could be, for lawyers the answer looks fairly simple: pro bono work can use lawyers’ skills, knowledge and professional standing to meet unmet need. The legal profession has much of the infrastructure in place to help lawyers play that role.”

Please note that I am all in favour of lawyers in other firms doing pro bono work.  I am also happy to applaud the work done by lawyers who do pro bono for altruistic reasons.  The government is not going to plug the legal aid *HOLE* through the kindness of lawyers.

I do find it amusing, however, gentlemen, that a government minister thinks he can fool our profession with this nonsense…

The coalition government is keen to show its support for pro bono work, and Jonathan Djanogly, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, will speak at the launch event on 19 October. He will not be a lone representative of government there, with the attorney general Dominic Grieve QC and solicitor general Edward Garnier QC likely to attend to hear speeches from Djanogly and the lord chief justice.Djanogly takes the view that pro bono work is not just good for the public interest, but good for the legal profession itself. ‘Pro bono work provides lawyers with a sense of community,’ he argues. ‘Lawyers get quite easily “silo-ed” – whether that’s as a high street conveyancer, or a commercial lawyer sitting on the eighteenth floor drafting euro bonds. Pro bono can take them out of their specialism and into other areas – some of those areas they may want to return to later in their career.’

I leave to you to make of this what you will.  Interesting to note that The Gazette describes Djanogly as …“…every inch the City lawyer – neat, smooth, friendly and to the point.”

Silo-ed?  I do wonder, sometimes, about the education system in our country. I suppose that if Djanogly had been at the Department of the Environment’ he would be banging on about people being *windfarmed* or*Severnbarraged*?

I seem to recall a Telegraph story on the matter of MP expenses.  I supply the link  for your delectation and delight…

MPs’ expenses: Tory MP Jonathan Djanogly claimed almost £5,000 for automatic gates

The Telegraph: “Jonathan Djanogly, the multi-millionaire shadow business minister, claimed almost £5,000 to have automatic gates installed at his large home in his Huntingdon constituency.”

Automatic gates at his house…?  Gentleman..I ask you…. . why would a smooth, friendly, to the point, multi-millionaire, successful EX-City lawyer needs such a device?  I can well understand why we do, but we are not friendly.

Matt Muttley

Strength & Profits


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Blawg Review #286 celebrates *Writing*. I am a fan of Blawg Review and have hosted five.  You might enjoy this one!

Do read it if you have the time!

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Curiously, the Apollo profits warning this does not seem to have been picked up on by The Lawyer or Legal Week as at this morning (as far as I could see) – but it is important because Apollo bought BPP Law School last year as part of their acquisition of BPP Holdings PLC.

The Financial times had this news snippet on Friday: Reed Elsevier, the Anglo-Dutch publisher, was marked 2 per cent lower at 551½p as bid rumours faded and investors focused on a profits warning from Apollo Group, a US higher education provider. Apollo said it expected admissions to fall significantly in 2011. That news also weighed on Pearson, parent company of the Financial Times, off 1.8 per cent to 991p.

FROM THE WIRES had this…

Investors fled for-profit college stocks on Thursday after the sector’s bellwether predicted a 40-percent drop in student enrollment next quarter and withdrew its forecast for next year. The news chilled an industry facing increased government scrutiny over concerns about soaring student loan defaults.

Enrollments at for-profit schools surged during the recession. Big advertising budgets drew students trying to bolster their resumes as a hedge against high unemployment. But critics claim the schools are not helping students find better jobs and say enrollment counselors sign up many students who are unprepared for higher education. When they drop out, they are still stuck paying back their student loans.

Apollo Group Inc., which runs the University of Phoenix, attributes its expected enrollment decline to changing practices aimed at satisfying new government regulations.

Read the full story….

This may well cause Apollo problems in the USA – a 40% predicted drop in enrolments is by no means insignificant. Apollo are the owners of the newly created BPP University College.  Will this impact on BPP?  I’m not sure.  BPP is well resourced in the UK and, in law terms at least, does not appear to have any difficulty filling places.   Subsidiaries are often affected when parent companies suffer a downturn in profits.  Will this be the case here?

I shall ask Peter Crisp, CEO, of BPP University College for his assessment.

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