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Archive for June, 2011

Dear Reader,

I bowled a couple of bouncers on twitter last night when I asked if law blogging was becoming less gentleman/womanly with law bloggers broadcasting rather than ‘engaging’ and not linking to other blogs as much as they used to do.  Certainly, there are more law blogs than some years ago – a positive development – but are these blogs ‘out for themselves for business purposes’ or are they part of a wider collective of information sharing?

Brian Inkster considers the ‘elephant in the room’ in a very good blog post which has attracted many comments – all interesting. I’m not interested in the ‘Flawgs’ – blogs which merely highlight the brilliance of the law firm along the lines of *I was sorry to hear that Mount Etna killed thousands in Pompeii in AD 79 (substitute the latest disaster to taste)  – meanwhile, if you need advice on conveyancing, personal injury or will drafting etc etc …contact us at…*

The law tweeters I follow on twitter,  who also blog,  are good at assisting other law bloggers with links in their blog posts to other law bloggers and the occasional RT on twitter.  I don’t blog or do podcasts for business purposes. I do it for pleasure. I am delighted to have the support of advertisers on Insite Law for my free student materials project and I am more than happy to assist lawyers and others who assist students by sponsoring the odd podcast or blog post, and I am always receptive to assisting where I can by promoting interesting legal developments, pro bono projects and the profession and academe generally.  I have no difficulty whatsoever with law bloggers enhancing  their professional and business reputations by blogging – provided they engage, share their expertise and provide good analysis for all.  The bloggers in my blogroll and the lawyers I follow on twitter do this. I don’t bother to read the broadcast law blogs or tweets.

A quick look at BlawgReview – an excellent resource for US and other law bloggers – and the recent   UK Blawg Roundup #7 will give you an idea of how law bloggers can assist each other by promoting good blogging. I’ve done six BlawgReviews – and enjoy doing them.  My most recent was UK centric.

I shall return later in the day….

Best, as always… I raise my glass to law bloggers this week…. Sláinte

Keep batting!

Charon

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It has been quite a week, so I thought a casual romp through some of the legal stories of the week, without too much analysis, would be a fine way to spend a rainy Friday night at my desk…

Barrister, Felicity Gerry took Joshua Rozenberg to task for his comment on the Facebook Contempt trial.

The night before the sentence, the issue of the right to trial by jury was hotly debated on twitter after Joshua Rosenberg’s article in The Guardian asked the question “Whom would you prefer to be judged by – a highly trained, publicly accountable circuit judge? Or 12 people like Joanne Fraill?” It was a dangerous and unsubtle attack on the jury system which will fuel those in civil service policy units with their eyes on their pay cheque rather than justice.

I have to say that I was a bit baffled by Rozenberg’s comment and analysis in The Guardian.  While the celebrated graffiti comment on the (urban mythical?) custody suite wall “I am about to be tried by 12 people too stupid to avoid jury service” is amusing;  most of the criminal practitioners I have spoken to are supporters of the jury system, as I am, despite its occasional flaws.  I rather like the idea also that a jury has the right to declare a verdict which lawyers and judges may deem perverse.   I commented briefly on the Facebook trial yesterday and provided a link to an interesting speech on the Jury by Lord Judge   yesterday.  Also – rather insulting to the many jurors who take their responsibilities seriously?

RollonFriday continues to find the good stuff and bring it to the table: Exclusive – West End firm offers law school grads just £6.10 per hour

There was more evidence of the woes in the legal graduate recruitment market this week, with news that a London law firm is offering a job to law school graduates at just £6.10 an hour.

Kyriakides & Braier has exacting standards, mind you. Applicants for the “legal administrative position” should have at least a 2:1 in their degree and a minimum of a commendation in their LPC. Even Slaughter and May doesn’t insist on that when taking on trainees at £38,000 a year. The rewards for such endeavour are just two pence an hour above than the new minimum wage that will come into force later this year, and £2.20 an hour below what the Mayor of London describes as the London Living Wage. The firm would have to pay an extra £3.40 an hour for someone to clean its offices. Bah, humbug.

The UKSC blog, an excellent analysis resource for all matters relating to the United Kingdom Supreme Court – a blog unlikely to be read by Scotland’s First Minister? –  has a fascinating post on Lady Hale’s views on the ECHR: Lady Hale: Beanstalk or living instrument, how tall can the ECHR grow?

Last night Lady Hale gave the 2011 Barnard’s Inn Reading, entitled ‘Beanstalk or living instrument,  how tall can the ECHR grow?’During the lecture she explored the theme of legal evolution and the manner in which Convention rights have been reinterpreted in order to reflect changing social mores. In particular she examined four areas in which the changing interpretation of Convention rights is more problematic:

(a) the interpretation of the ‘autonomous concepts’ in the Convention; (b) the implication of further rights into those expressed; (c) the development of positive obligations; and (d) the narrowing of the margin of appreciation permitted to member states’……

Neil Rose of Legal Futures, always on the money when it comes to looking at legal practice, writes: Sell, sell, sell – what In-Deed tells us about law firm flotation

I don’t know much about the financial markets – that’s one of the many reasons I became a solicitor donkey’s years ago. So I don’t quite get how a company like online conveyancing business In-Deed, which with the best will in the world is currently little more than an idea, can float on AIM, have a market capitalisation of £8.6m and within a couple of days see its share price rise a third, from 42p to 56p. The service only actually launched last month.

To my uneducated eye, it looks like a considerable gamble to invest in an untested business model, however pukka the people behind it may be.

Well worth a read…..

Meanwhile John Hyde, writing in the Law Society Gazette writes:  DLA Piper boss’s warning for legal sector

The head of global legal giant DLA Piper warned this week that a ‘paradigm shift’ is about to hit the sector.

Sir Nigel Knowles (pictured), joint chief executive of the firm, predicted many firms will flounder in the next 10 years after alternative business structures (ABSs) arrive in October.

‘They (ABSs) are going to kill off the commodity firms at the bottom of the food chain. I don’t think they have any inkling of what is going to happen to them – competition will intensify and it will have a knock-on effect,’ he declared….

Read…

Well… I did say that it would be a romp..and romping they were at Royal Ascot yesterday…  The Sun… nails it

It’s all kicked toff at Ascot

Three years ago… how time flies…. I wrote about Royal Ascot…. in my slightly surreal West London Man series….  Not much has changed.

West London Man is returning very soon… if you fancy a look at the first 25 episodes of a modern day Rake’s Progress through the English social season… here it is.. with some bizarre podcasts and sound effects…

Back tomorrow…

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Today, Lord Judge, Chief Justice of England & Wales, jailed the juror who committed contempt in the ‘Facebook Contempt’ case.

Sky news reports: “Solicitor General Edward Garnier QC, who presented the case in person, added: “Jurors should take careful note and know that the law officers will prosecute those who commit contempt.

“The jury system is a cornerstone of our society and confidence in this vital part of our criminal justice system will crumble if jurors do not take their responsibilities seriously.”

There can be little doubt that Mrs Fraill broke the oath taken by all jurors, disregarded the trial judge’s instruction regarding the use of the internet and, as Lord Judge observed, went further in her dealings with a former defendant than concerned compassion.  Her activities led to a re-trial in a multi-million pound drugs case.  She pleaded guilty and received a sentence of eight months.

Lord Judge gave an interesting speech recently on the subject of the Jury, the internet, the use of twitter et al.  Some may argue, with some reason, that Lord Judge, in the light of his statements in the speech,  should not have tried this particular issue. I don’t have a particular problem with that – but it may be raised, should there be an appeal?

I may return to this topic when I have had more time to think about the issues.  Others will be writing on the matter, without doubt.

In the meantime – the First Minister of Scotland is digging a deeper and deeper hole with his ‘observations’ on the relationship between Scots Law and The United Kingdom Supreme Court and his personal attacks on senior judges.

This joint statement is of particular interest:

Responding to recent comments from the First Minister; Richard Keen, dean of the faculty of advocates and Cameron Ritchie, president of the Law Society of Scotland have today issued a joint statement.  The Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008 makes the position clear.

“The independence of our judicial system and the need to respect the rule of law are fundamental aspects of Scottish society, as they must be of any democratic society. This is affirmed by the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act, an Act of the Scottish Parliament which obliges the First Minister and the Justice Secretary to uphold the independence of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom .

“Our judges must be free to decide cases independently, according to law and upon evidence. Any attempt to influence the outcome of litigation by reference to political wishes or a politician’s perception of popular opinion is a challenge not only to the courts but to the rule of law.

“The Scottish Government talks about the unintended consequences of establishing the UK Supreme Court. The First Minister and the Justice Secretary need to carefully reflect on the consequences of what are perceived to be repeated and now highly personal attacks on respected members of the legal profession. Such comments contribute nothing to any sensible debate on how best to provide a justice system that properly and effectively meets the needs of our changing society.”

You may also wish to read this remarkable interview… for the full story on Mr Salmond’s views.

My thanks to @Loveandgarbage for keeping me up to date with these remarkable ‘goings on’ north of the border.

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Juror prosecuted for contempt in Facebook case is ‘distraught’

The Telegraph: The first juror ever to face prosecution for contempt of court involving the internet was ”distraught” today as she came before the Lord Chief Justice. The Telegraph notes that she had formally admitted contempt of court.

Adam Wagner at the UK Human Rights blog commented on the case yesterday and reminded readers of the need for bloggers and tweeters to be particularly careful to avoid prejudicing a fair trial.   Adam Wagner noted : “According to The Telegraph, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge is expected to issue “tough new” guidelines on internet use by jurors. That sounds sensible to protect the trial system, but also from the jurors’ perspective it is important that the rules are clear and unambiguous. That said, some jurors may still choose to ignore them. After all, the judge in this case gave a warning not to use the internet to research the trial.”

The trial against a juror continues.  Obiter J picked up a press report which underlines the importance of contempt proceedings:  “The Times on 13th June claimed to have found 40 examples of public postings and statements from jurors.  These included a juror (trying a case of sexual assault) who used Facebook to ask her friends for advice about the verdict.  She was removed from the jury.  Other comments could be interpreted as a bias against the defence – e.g. one juror is said to have posted – “stuck in jury duty haha … Defo Guilty.”

The UK Human Rights blog continues to develop and the latest resource is an excellent  UK Human Rights Blog case table

Obiter J continues with his interesting series on English Legal History: Explaining our Law and Legal System … No.3 … The Judges

John Bolch of Family Lore writes: @familylaw: Two thousand followers can’t be wrong… –  “Family Lore Focus is essentially a site that aggregates freely available family law content from the web, including news, cases, statutory instruments, articles, podcasts and blogs.”  A useful resource for those in the family law world.

Tim Bratton, GC of The FT and author of The Legalbratlawblog has an interesting post: The case for self-regulation of social media

The Bizzle has a most amusing post this week:  How aliens can help you write off your debts. I enjoyed reading this… but a word of warning… there are lizards who think they run the world.

Informm’s blog: News: Joshua Rozenberg Interviews Mr Justice Eady

Here’s something you won’t believe from Neil Rose at Legal Futures: “Complaints are a law firm’s best source of market intelligence. I’ve heard this said countless times in recent years, previously by the Legal Complaints Service and its many forebears, and now by the Legal Services Board (LSB). “Many lawyers are missing the chance to learn from substantial numbers of consumers who make a complaint,” said LSB chief executive Chris Kenny last week. It may well be true. But hardly any lawyer believes it…..”

David Allen Green, writing in the New Statesman has a very sharp and precise article on an extraordinary arrest.  Police buffoonery, incompetence or all three?  I asked on twitter yesterday.  Judge for yourselves. 

And the legal profession just keeps giving… or, in this case, taking.

Scandal in the City as string of top lawyers face financial investigation

Alex Aldridge in The Guardian: Does the sacking of Christopher Grierson over £1m in false expenses reflect a wider moral malaise among City lawyers?

No one knew Grierson, 59, was also busy amassing a total of £1m in false expenses, pocketing an annual £250,000 over a four year period.He did so mainly by booking flights on his credit card and claiming the value back from the firm – although they were subsequently cancelled.

Apparently, Grierson was earning £830,00 per annum.  He need an extra £250,000 pa,  it would seem. When caught, he was able to pay £1 million back.  I marvel at the sheer stupidity and greed. Apparently there are more  solicitors in The City awaiting investigation.

I enjoyed an amusing ten minutes or so this morning exchanging cliches with fellow tweeters.  The latest cliche – The direction of travel – which I am almost certain our prime minister Camcorderdirect is responsible for, started me off.  But I was not alone.  I was advised that John Rentoul of The Independent  had written an excellent piece on the topic of cliches – adding ‘evidence based’ to his list of bêtes noires – and ‘was on the case’: One man’s war on clichés (does what it says on the tin)

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Dear Reader,

Perhaps it is my Scots background;  years of running around the Perthshire countryside at school… pointlessly… in thin cotton running shorts and a tight singlet designed to reveal muscles and six-pack ; a duty which I now leave to others – but I enjoy the rain, the bleak landscape, storms.  And, as I write, Battersea-on-Thames looks not unlike the quickly cobbled together watercolour sketch above.  Not keen to stand on Battersea Bridge like some latter day James Abbott McNeill Whistler, whose statue is on the Chelsea side of Battersea Bridge near where I used to live on a houseboat, a quick pic pointing to the West up river as ‘a reference’ was the lazy painter’s way of ‘capturing the soul’ of an afternoon at The Staterooms.

And, this said, I now write from the comfort of my desk in the bay window overlooking the Thames.  The ducks, having returned from a rave, carrying mineral water in bottles and quacking quickly earlier in the day, are now reflecting and I have a glass of Italian Shiraz from Puglia to my left.

BAILII is a remarkable resource.  I use it extensively and the free books for students on Insite Law make use of many of their cases. As Nick Holmes wrote on The Free Legal Web: “BAILII is fundamental to free access to UK law. It’s future is in jeopardy. A major funder has decided not to continue funding BAILII, and there is uncertainty about the continuing provision of funding by other major funders.”

Have a look at the BAILII funding page for details. I shall certainly be asking my advertisers on Insite Law if they will be prepared to accept a modest increase on already inexpensive advertising to assist this valuable project.

A BIT OF LAW before the Shiraz kicks in and my mind wanders and wonders….

Lord Justice Stephen Sedley has written an excellent piece on …

The Goodwin and Giggs Show

For more than three hundred years the UK’s constitution has functioned remarkably well on the basis of the historic compromise reached in the course of the 17th century. The 1689 Bill of Rights forbade the impeachment or questioning of parliamentary debates and proceedings ‘in any court or place out of Parlyament’. Parliament in return has made it a rule, enforced until now by the speakers of both Houses, that it will not interfere with the decisions of the courts, whether by anticipating their judgments or by attacking them. If Parliament does not like what the courts do, it changes the law…

Well worth a read…..

I am grateful to The Solicitors Journal for alerting us all to this law intel: “Lord Justice Thomas has been promoted to president of the Queen’s Bench Division. Sir Roger John Laugharne Thomas QC, 63, is currently vice president of the QBD and will replace Sir Anthony May at the start of the new term in October.”

Lord Phillips, when Lord Chief Justice, said of Thomas: “Margaret Thatcher once famously said of William Whitelaw ‘everyone needs a Willie’. David Neuberger suggested to me that every Lord Chief Justice needs a John Thomas.”

Illness made it impossible for me to do our fortnightly Without Prejudice podcast last Thursday.  But, regular participant David Allen Green was on the airwaves in a most enjoyable episode of Law in Action.  Well worth a listen. (Available for 26 days as at the date of writing Super Injunctions 7 June 11)

Barrister and former MP, Jerry Hayes, has an excellent piece in Total Politics (pic credit): “Forget the predictable tabloid outrage about Ken Clarke’s sentencing proposals. The real problem the justice secretary needs to tackle is the effect of the cuts to the justice system, says Jerry Hayes…..”

The trouble is that the MoJ was created in its present form purely as a power base and ego massager of that old Gromyko of Labour politics, Jack Straw. For reasons beyond modern psychiatry, the hopelessly inadequate Jacqui Smith was appointed Home Secretary. Straw took all the best bits, and created a massive department with over 80,000 civil servants. And it just doesn’t work.

An excellent read…

BLOG POST OF THE WEEK… by a mile…

Unlawfully Detained!

Anna Raccoon writes: “Last year I reported extensively on the case of Steven Neary, a 20 year old autistic man. At the time, only Private Eye had taken any interest in Steven’s ‘case’ and a friend of his Father’s asked me if I would promote the case on this blog, given my interest in Court of Protection matters.  The main stream media, despite many approaches, were monumentally uninterested in Steven’s plight……

The High Court today have ruled that they UNLAWFULLY DETAINED Steven and UNLAWFULLY deprived him of his LIBERTY for a full year.”

Anna Raccoon did a remarkable job in drawing attention to this.  The mainstream media are now rushing to claim credit for breaking the story – and Anna notes… are checking her back story!

I will say this – with care and deliberation:  I posted about Anna Raccoon’s story on my blog to try and help publicise it.  I did note, as many law bloggers do, that there are often two sides to every story. [Law Review: Words fail me – a truly shocking story – please read and publicise ]  I was criticised by some law bloggers for doing so – with some guff about  ‘both sides’,  ‘evidence based analysis’ and other ‘advice’ being given to me unasked. I asked some law bloggers if they would be prepared to blog about this to publicise it.  They declined.  Their call.  Their right.
Sometimes, law and other bloggers just have to take a stand – as Anna Raccoon did – and write.  After all… any bloody idiot can write about an event and take a view when the judgment is out.  Lawyers do that all the time. Bravo Anna!

ON a lighter note…..  John Bolch wrote in his Family Lore  blog that I am to be involved in the Olympic Torch relay for 2012….  Yeah, right!

Well.. the rains have stopped… for the moment.  I think a quick glass at the caff.  I shall return…. later.

Best, as always

Charon

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Today I am talking to Professor Gary Slapper, Director of the Law School at The Open University.  We look at some topical matters relating to legal education, the reforms being considered by the profession, the influence of the big vocational law schools  on legal education syllabuses and teaching and the recent announcement by Professor A C Grayling of the New College for Humanities.

 

It is a wide ranging discussion, noting the influence of the big vocational schools, BPP University College and The College of Law, on legal education.
Listen to the podcast

My post on the New College of Humanities

***

And…thank you to Cassons For CounselJustgodirect.co.uk and  David Phillips & Partners Solicitors , Contact Law UK Solicitors

for sponsoring the podcast and the free student materials on Insite Law

 

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Frothing at the mouth from bloggers, pundits and others – whether they know what they are talking about or not –  is always amusing, because it tends to lead to polemic at best, ranting at worst.

1.  By a website in writing, dated June 2011, The New College of Humanities (“New Chums” HT to Timothy Pitt-Payne QC) announced their intention to give birth to a “new concept in university-level education. It offers education in excellence and an outstanding academic environment in the heart of London. The College was founded by 14 of the world’s top academics.”

2.  “New Chums” will be financed by a £10 million investment.

(i) “SOME of Britain’s most celebrated academics have secured almost £10m in a private placement to launch a for-profit university that will charge £18,000 a year in tuition fees.”

(ii) “Cavendish Corporate Finance ran the private placing, which attracted investments from individuals and family funds. There are around 30 investors in the venture, including Grayling and most of the academics. The biggest investor is a family trust, which has a 35 per cent stake.” (City AM: New private university in £10m placing )

3. “New Chums” offers – quoted from their website:

  • preparation for a University of London degree, plus the Diploma of New College
  • a staff-student ratio better than 1:10
  • personal attention and one-to-one tutorials
  • richer course content and increased student-staff interaction
  • academic depth combined with practical career skills

Your choice of subjects includes Economics, Law, History, Literature and Philosophy. New College offers the highest-quality education, open to all through scholarships and bursaries.”

These are the basic facts.  Here are a few more ‘facts’:

[a]  The University of London has been providing external degrees – making education accessible to a very wide constituency and demographic – since 1858.   I have been involved in legal education since 1979.  For 12 years I had the pleasure of teaching many thousands of students from all walks of life and from 15 countries worldwide; teaching towards the University of London LLB degree under the auspices of The External Programme.   Our students, in fact, took many of the top London University places and prizes during this period.  The courses were run by Holborn Law Tutors (Now Holborn College), a private company.  We did make a profit – but the fees were not extravagant by today’s standards.

[b] “New Chums” will be providing tuition for the very well regarded London University degrees.  The high fees are a different issue – but there can be no doubting the quality of the degree which the students will receive if they satisfy the demanding examiners.  I express a personal view, from my own experience, that there is only one category of London University degree.  There is, I am still advised, no such thing as an ‘External” degree at London.  The fact that students study online, remotely, or at a private college does not alter the fact that they are awarded a London University degree.  I would also add, that in my opinion, London University degrees are hard and do not appear to have been affected by the ‘degree inflation’ endemic in other parts of our legal education system. It is difficult to get a First  or Upper Second on a London University degree by study outside the traditional University of London Colleges – and, I suspect, within the London colleges, also.

THE PUNDITS ROAR….

First up… David Allen Green, blogging at his excellent Jack of Kent blog:  AC Grayling’s Folly

Professor AC Grayling, a philosopher, has founded a College to teach the humanities to “gifted” undergraduates.

The college will be situated in Bloomsbury, just by the British Museum. It has already selected a “Professoriate” who will supposedly give over 100 lectures a year, notwithstanding almost all of them are academics at foreign universities.

In my view, almost everything about this College is an affront to the critical thinking and evidence-based approach that such an establishment should promote.

It is, in short, a sham.

I don’t agree with David Allen Green  (DAG) and dissect his propositions, seriatim:

1. First, it is not even a College in any meaningful sense.

DAG suggests that by teaching to a London University degree that “New Chums” is not a college.   This proposition is easy to deflect.  “New Chums” will be run on college lines, as many other universities and colleges are, public or private. This is clear from the website.  We have several private universities/colleges  in the UK:  Buckingham University and BPP University College, to name but two in the field of law. Both are extremely successful and well regarded by many.  DAG goes on to support his proposition that the college is not a college by virtue of the students paying £18,000 at “New Chums” when they could get the same degree for much less (£1000-£2000)  I fail to see how this logic makes “New Chums” any less of a college than others.  The teaching fee is, I admit, pacy.  I will address this issue below.

2. Who will these “gifted” students be taught by?

DAG notes that students may well not get much ‘face time’ from the ‘professoriate’ and puts the boot in with a subtle, undermining, side comment..“In law, the two listed professors are not even authorities in any of the seven core LLB courses.”

Given the fairly substantial funding (I return to this later) and the reputation of the ‘founders’, I have no doubt at all that “New Chums” will be able to attract first class teachers on a part-time or full-time basis from some of our top universities.  I had no difficulty at all attracting first rate academics and practitioners in 25 years of running the academic side at Holborn and then, in the 1990s, at BPP  Law School.  In fact, 35+ current members of the Bar who are now practising Silks (QCs) taught at Holborn and/or BPP when they were younger. I also enjoyed the pleasure of working with some superb academic lawyers from leading universities who taught part-time at my colleges.  Professor Ewan Mckendrick –  a major player in the field of Contract law, now of Oxford, to name but one.   I would argue that the second proposition, therefore, may be dispensed with.  “New Chums” will be able to attract good teaching staff.

I have never taken the view that the presence of ‘stellar professors’ is essential to the success of a law (or other degree) school if the teaching staff know what they are doing and have the right skills and qualifications (and enthusiasm).  I suspect that the ‘stellar professors’ will make a good contribution but are unlikely to be right at the heart of day to day teaching and liaison with their students.

3. And what does it mean to be “gifted”?

DAG puts the proposition that being ‘gifted’ may merely involve the ability to pay the substantial fees.  I suspect that “New Chums” will exercise fairly stringent admissions criteria to ensure the quality of cohort.  I would be surprised if they take all who can simply pay. That would not make ‘business sense’ given their philosophical foundation for the ‘model’.  This latter, does not connote support for their philosophy.

DAG then puts the point:  “Almost all the contentions made on the College’s website are misconceived, or do not seem to be substantiated”

My response to this is that they may be ‘misconceived’  in his world view, a view which he is entitled to hold and put forward, but they are all capable of being substantiated. I can’t find much to quarrel with on the “New Chums” website in terms of what they promise and can deliver.  It seems to be fairly well laid out and clear. DAG is correct when he asserts that the students will have to come from a privileged background.  The fees of £18,000 per annum are high.

Let me put this proposition:  A bright student, from a privileged background, can’t get into Oxbridge or other top Russell Group University.  Given the difficulties faced by students from less highly regarded universities in getting a training contract or pupillage, they may well be attracted by getting a first class legal education from “New Chums” and getting a highly regarded London university degree – even if they have to pay through the nose to get it – at no cost to the taxpayer. If they can afford it – and that is a different moralo-ethical issue – why would they go to a less well regarded university where the degree won’t have the currency or regard with employers or Chambers as a University of London degree?

I don’t, for the reasons above, agree that this is AC Grayling’s folly.  I would prefer to see a new college giving very high quality tuition to a wider constituency at a lower price – but I have no real difficulty in saying that this is a venture which is likely to succeed – at no cost to the taxpayer –  but one which will raise many hackles from those, including myself, who prefer education to be provided by the state.  Unfortunately, the state can no longer afford to provide cheap education but that fact should not, of itself, prevent private investors coming into the market.

Professor Grayling, his ‘professoriate’ and their investors may make a complete hash of it. They may not.  I suspect that £10 million will not be enough.  The burn rate will be ‘stellar’.  Finally, I doubt, given my own experience in legal education over thirty years, that a law school can be profitable on anything under 250-300 students at £18,000. I understand that the plan is for the cohort to be rather lower in numbers.   This may not be a wise decision given the very real economics of running law schools  We shall soon see. I suspect the financial and legal press will be watching closely.

OTHER PUNDITRY…

AC Grayling’s private university accused of copying syllabuses

This was amusing to read.  The point has been missed.  “New Chums” are not plagiarising.  They are merely publishing the University of London syllabuses they are teaching to.  Other colleges which teach to University of London degrees do exactly the same.

Give AC Grayling’s new college a chance

Sarah Churchwell in The Guardian:  Critics want to tar and feather the New College for the Humanities’ academics, but this experiment may work

Sarah Churchwell’s article is worth a look.

We will be discussing this issue on #WithoutPrejudice this week.  I suspect that it will be a spirited discussion.  The moral issue of private education, the high fees, the perceived ‘elitism’ of “New Chums” is, of course, a very different matter to the raw fact of existence and execution of the project.

David Allen Green asserted:  “In my view, almost everything about this College is an affront to the critical thinking and evidence-based approach that such an establishment should promote. “

As we don’t have any ‘evidence based’ detail upon which, as yet, to assess the approach “New Chums” are going to take in terms of their teaching and encouragement of students to take responsibility for their own learning, or access to any of their teaching materials, I find it difficult to support this proposition and, therefore, for the present, dismiss it as credible criticism. I am unsure, from the text of David Allen Green’s blog post what he means by ‘evidence based’ approach in this context, so I cannot comment on the latter.

I don’t think the case has been proved that this is AC Grayling’s folly – yet.  I am open to persuasion and argument as always.  I have never developed a taste for coming down mountains with tablets of stone.  I am looking forward to developing this topic in discussion with David Allen Green on the morrow in our fortnightly Without Prejudice podcast.  It should be fun – as indeed, should all debate.

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You may also like to read Sarah Churchwell’s blog post…

Thoughts on the New College for the Humanities

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