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Archive for December 22nd, 2010

As Christmas draws ever closer so too does the end of  my Christmas Advent calendar. Today I have a few interesting law snippets of general interest – and, an Assange free day.

I shall start with an irritant… the ‘Class’ system which I despise – a plague in our country which still appears to wreak havoc in terms of benefit being given to the undeserving from the middle classes at the expense of a young man or woman from a less privileged background.  It still goes on and today an interesting article in The Law Society Gazette warns that we should not ‘judge a book by its cover’…

Firms reject candidates on the basis of their accents, research suggests

James Dean, in The Law Society Gazette, writes:

Top London law firms are hiring graduates with ‘smart’ accents and public school backgrounds because they think they are better for their image than working-class candidates, new research has suggested.

Suitable white working-class applicants are being passed over for jobs in favour of middle-class graduates of all ethnicities from elite universities, according to a study of 130 staff at five prominent London firms by City University’s Centre for Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School.

The five firms all had diversity policies, and had successfully recruited ethnic minority candidates, but rejected able working-class students because their appearance or accent was not thought ‘smart’ enough, the research found.

Dr Louise Ashley, leading the study, said that the firms want to preserve their ‘upmarket brand’.

She said: ‘Focusing on ethnicity enables law firms to boast excellence, or at the very least improve diversity outcomes, despite the fact that they have continued to recruit using precisely the same types of class privilege that have always been in operation.’

Ashley said that one partner told her: ‘There was one guy who came to interviews who was a real Essex barrow boy, and he had a very good CV, he was a clever chap, but we just felt that there’s no way we could employ him. I just thought: putting him in front of a client – you just couldn’t do it. I do know though that if you’re really pursuing a diversity policy you shouldn’t see him as rough round the edges, I should just see him as different.’

The rest of the article is worth a read

Was the Telegraph sting illegal?

The Telegraph journalists who posed as constituents to entrap MPs may have committed a criminal offence

While I think Vince Cable (and other MPs recorded) may have some difficulty with civil breach of confidence actions and using copyright law, David Howarth, a former shadow solicitor general and Lib Dem MP for Cambridge between 2005 and 2010, has made a useful point under criminal law…

Section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to dishonestly make a false representation with the intention of putting someone at risk of pecuniary loss or with the intention of making a pecuniary gain for another.Unlike in the civil law, what counts is the defendants’ intention to cause harm, rather than the actual result. Did the journalists and their editors intend through dishonest false statements to put ministers at risk of losing their jobs? Did they intend to make money for their paper? If either is true, a criminal offence has taken place. There is no free-standing public interest defence. Perhaps the journalists involved should now be preparing their answers to those questions.

Journalists often misreport on legal matters.  As a reminder of this, you may like to read this post from the UK Human Rights blog:

Failure to deport Philip Lawrence killer was not about human rights

And, since I am interested in human rights, here is a useful round up of recent judgments as the courts wind up the calendar year….

Bite-size human rights case law

And, as I am on a roll with misreporting, this analysis of the Cable / BSB Sky issue by Carl Gardner is worth a read to get it right: Taking Vince Cable off the BSkyB case

Bye… until tomorrow….

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I like innovative ideas. I like ideas that approach practical problems in a different way and, I have to admit, I like Just Go Direct.  I received an email from Catherine Naylor, the brains behind Just Go Direct yesterday,  asking if she could advertise on my online magazine to promote her new business.  I telephoned Catherine and had a fairly long chat.

The legal newspapers and periodicals advertise jobs regularly.  More often than not the jobs are advertised not by the law firms or organisations themselves but by recruitment agencies. I did not use recruitment agencies when I recruited for lecturers and administrators at BPP Law School when I was the CEO back in the 90s.  There were two reasons.  First, it was an expensive way of going about things and, secondly, I wanted to have control of ‘the process’, as Lord Sugar now calls it on The Apprentice.  I did not want a recruitment consultant filtering or shaping my recruitment strategy.  In today’s internet age, there really is no need to go through an agency – so long as there is an online medium to go through with good traffic.  Just Go Direct, which opens in early 2011,  has the potential to provide just such a vehicle;  allowing law firms to advertise their vacancies and candidates to apply direct.

Just Go Direct is different. They advertise the jobs available, clearly identifying the employer and candidates apply direct.  Firms may tailor their package with Just Go Direct (Download the brochure here for details).

Catherine Naylor explained the rationale to me…

“The light bulb moment came randomly one day whilst interviewing a lawyer for a potential opportunity.  I asked as all recruiters do whether she had put herself forward to any firms via other agencies.  She replied that she hadn’t but had gone direct to a number of firms.  That’s when I realised there was an opportunity.  To post jobs directly from the employer online in one place, giving candidates transparency and choice.  I knew most legal job boards were filled with agency jobs and that it was frustrating for job seekers when looking at these jobs because you couldn’t see who the employer was, you had to go through the agency. I spent the next few months researching the concept, spoke to lawyers finding out whether they would use such a site……”

Due to launch early in 2011, the website is taking email details from those who wish to receive information when it opens.  I have no doubt at all that this concept will work.  It seems to me that law firms will find the process easier and it must be a benefit, surely, for candidates to be able to contact a law firm direct without having to go through some ‘target billables hungry’ recruitment consultant?

As Catherine Naylor says… “This is an online tool for candidates who are actively looking for a new role and those that want to take control of their own career moves Just Go Direct is certainly for them.  For a start law firms want you to apply direct, many say it makes for a better relationships and a truer fit between employer and candidate.  It’s a smoother ride for all involved…Power to the Candidate, I say.”

Register your interest?

PS:  I am, obviously, delighted that Catherine Naylor is sponsoring my FREE online materials for law students

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