Archive for February 15th, 2012

Law Review (#1): 1 / 14th February 2012

Groucho Marx

In the seven or so years I have been blogging, since July 2006 on WordPress, I have read many law blogs from this country, the United States, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.  Some have disappeared, others have survived. Twitter has come along in the last few years, transferring comment on topical issues to some extent from the blogs to the short form 140 character medium of twitter. Some blog for pleasure, others to provide a detailed resource on specialist areas of law, some to analyse and dissect a broader range of legal issues , some to market their firm or practice and a few to rant or take the piss.  Legal blogging is a broad church with many aims.  (Scots solicitor Brian Inkster, writing on The Time Blawg, considered The Elephant in the #LawBlogs Room and generated 76 comments, some rather terse and blunt.)

Before I continue with this first of my weekly reviews, I urge you to watch a short film where US lawyers Kevin O’Keefe and Scott Greenfield discuss blogging, twitter and social media and the potential for the dark side to prevail. (On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog)

Sadly, Scott Greenfield, a criminal defense lawyer in New York and author of the excellent Simple Justice blog, has hung up his keyboard.

And with that, just one final comment: I suspect that Leveson LJ will find it difficult to formulate regulation for  bloggers should he be minded to recommend a state based regulatory system for the press and other media. As we discussed in last week’s Without Prejudice podcast – the existing law may well be sufficient to regulate bloggers?

Professional update from The Law Society

Advocacy section launch event
Why is good quality advocacy in the courts so important and what training and support is available? Hear the views of the lord chief justice, the chief operating officer of the Crown Prosecution Service and the chair of the Solicitors’ Association of Higher Court Advocates.
Listen to the launch event podcast – you’ll need to register at our CPD centre website
Advocacy Section application details

Applications invited for specialist regulatory advocates
The Health and Safety Executive, Environment Agency and Office of Rail Regulation are looking to appoint a list of advocates to conduct their higher court prosecution work and other regulatory advocacy.
Application details – deadline: 12 March

Fusion of professions
What are the implications of barristers and solicitors practising together in partnership under the new regulatory regime?
Fusion or fission – watch a video interview
Solicitor advocates and barristers should mergeGuardian article

Recent new from the Bar Council

Bar Council and FLBA Urge Care on Family Justice Reforms

Bar Council – Private Legal Advice Must be Protected


John Hyde, in The Law Society Gazette, writes: County court shake-up plans dubbed a ‘missed opportunity’ “The government has come under fire from all sides of the civil litigation spectrum over its plans to reform the county court system…..”

Friederike Heine, in Legal Week, has an interesting article on the plight of lawyers in their fifties under pressure to retire early…and what to do post-retirement.

“After 27 years in legal practice, I’m finding it difficult to find new opportunities to explore and I miss the camaraderie of the office. My social life, which used to be inextricably linked to my practice, is practically non-existent. For an energetic 54-year-old, the prospect of spending your retirement at home is difficult to imagine.”

If you don’t already read Neil Rose’s Legal Futures site, you will find it a most useful resource –  thorough analysis and comment on professional practice:  Prospect of MDPs “catching the imagination” of large law firms, survey finds

This section is sponsored by BPP Law School

“Legal education is not the handmaiden of the profession but there is a great deal to be gained from a more mature relationship with it.”
Professor Richard Moorhead

In a changing legal landscape where law firms are facing competition and opportunities from the corporate sector,  there are concerns that law schools will come under pressure to reduce the length of degree programmes and focus more on the needs of legal practice.  Professor Richard Moorhead asks: Do Lawyers Need Scholars?.

I share the concern of some in legal education that there is a danger of law degree programmes being dumbed down, perhaps even shortened from three to two years with a concomitant reduction in content and thinking time. Professor Moorhead’s article provides food for thought.

University student fee rises in the public sector an issue?  BPP launches a May start degree course in law for £3225

BPP University College has  announced that it is offering places at its centres across the UK to start a degree in May 2012 on its accountancy, business and law programmes. The fees are set at £3,225 per year – whether studying in two or three years – enabling more students to study professional, career focused degrees before the September 2012 fee increases.

Carl Lygo, Chief Executive of BPP University College, said:

“One of the reasons we are offering May start degrees is to provide a service for a neglected section of the education and training space – the adult worker. The recent UCAS application figures showed the number of mature students appears to be falling in the wake of the 2012 fee hikes. Hopefully, our May start programmes will show there are alternatives for those looking to switch careers and get a degree before they’re financially out of reach. Mature students typically prefer to live at home and commute rather than moving into halls in far flung campuses, so by offering our degrees out of city centre locations we can make it easier for them to access and fit study around any part-time work commitments.”

BPP enjoys a good reputation in the market for vocational accountancy and law courses and while it will take them time to build a reputation to compete with the Russell Group universities on law degree level programmes, this initiative will start them on the road to doing so.  As with The College of Law and Kaplan, also run on private sector lines,  BPP is very well resourced with a strong business management ethic. It will not take any of the private providers long at degree level to match the quality of provision of the established universities in law – and, it would not surprise me if they overtake many universities in terms of the quality of teaching and resources.  Research, of course, is another matter – but in time?

The very aggressive competition on fees – £3225 against a possible £9000 per annum for top public sector law courses – provides a very attractive option for students concerned about the rising costs of legal education. If BPP can sustain the fee differential at the present ratio and develop reputation in the legal market for their degrees – it will put traditional universities under considerable pressure in the future.


I think it best, given the length of the reviews,  to split my weekly law review into two sections each week for ease of reading and digestion – Part I on Wednesdays and Part II on Thursdays.

In Part II – Commentary on new cases – Law Blogs Roundup  –  Podcast with a practitioner – Finance and Taxation news for lawyers – Arts and… The Human Condition.

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