Hypnosis, Consciousness and the legal profession

Hypnosis, Consciousness and the legal profession
By Mike Parker

Legal Consciousness

So as the Psycho Active Substances Act in draft gets drubbed by the Government’s own advisers for problems so obvious one would hope a teenager could identify them, it nonetheless leads to some rather interesting questions.

What defines a change in consciousness? What is the base metric against which it is to be measured? Dopamine in the blood stream? Serotonin concentration (released by a host of activities including exercise and sex). Perhaps we are talking about sets of motor-skill tests?

We can now see that people drift in and out of trance states all the time… Listening to music appears to effect a pleasure centre in the brain which may be related to sexual activity in fish, releasing pleasure-giving chemicals into the blood stream. Then of course there’s the Thalamus busily regulating away, maintaining a cocktail of psychoactive mood altering chemicals in the brain and body that would make drug companies weep with longing.

I’m not even an expert but it is clear from the most cursory investigation of neuroscience and brain chemistry that consciousness is changing all the time.

Perhaps this legislation is well intended, let’s hope that really is the case yet it starts down what seems to me an extremely hazardous path.

It is well known that under hypnosis it is possible to effect the automatic functions of the body and brain. Part of the treatment for depression using hypnotherapy is to encourage the body to manufacture more of its own serotonin. There is absolutely no question that this can have a dramatic effect on the state of mind.

I think this legislation is an enormous concern as it opens the door for establishing legal definitions of acceptable consciousness however they may be bought about, the stuff of science fiction nightmare.

And if young people start using hypnosis to experiment with their own consciousness will we make that illegal as well? Give them a criminal record for putting each other in trance?

Well of course that isn’t being suggested yet but the legislation as framed is not so very far away from that. Once a blanket precedent is set for which there can only be exclusions (2 of the most destructive drugs in existence are, of course, among the exclusions) how hard is it to amend to include hypnosis or meditative practice? Maybe we had better limit how much exercise it is legal to take as well?

Driving home enjoying Beethoven? Maybe even whistling? Well that’s you in a trance state manufacturing pleasure chemicals for sure. Off to the Tower with you.

Mike Parker

For more information go to www.highendhypnotherapy.com

Rive Gauche: A ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ is needed?

A flattering portrait? More a case of having been in the spin dryer than the work of a ‘Spin Doctor’ operating in the shadows?

This photograph reveals a more accurate likeness of face….and ‘personality’?

Mr Duncan Smith is a politician the country could do without. He could be deported, of course – to the Lords? Plenty of fairly useless politicos in there drawing a good living but, some would say, not doing a great deal for the country?

My iMac after the front glass panel was smashed in accident

The wind blew.  A large painting leaning against the window fell down and managed to smash the entire front glass screen of the iMac computer.  I pulled the front panel off to reveal the second screen below – protected by glass.  Now the iMac looks like a post-modern 21st Century iMac.  Probably the only one in the world?  I am most impressed by Apples – had them since 1980.  They work well and are easy to use. It seems to be working even better – but that is probably my imagination.  I even watch BBC iPlayer on mine – removing the need for me to have a television set.  I don’t watch ITV – don’t like adverts.

I don’t have a flash – so the picture is a bit dark this evening.  But you can get the idea from the picture above.

I rather like my ‘new look’ iMac.

Iain Duncan Smith – Don’t be stupid be a smarty, come and join the Nasty Party

Is this Britain’s most unpleasant politician?  Wikipedia reveals some rather strange information about him.

I extract three short paragraphs from Wikipedia which interested me:

1. On 6 November 2003, Iain Duncan Smith released his novel The Devil’s Tune. The book received heavily critical reviews such as, “Really, it’s terrible … Terrible, terrible, terrible.”, by Sam Leith in the Daily Telegraph. The book was never published in paperback

2. His wealth is estimated at £1 million, much of which has been acquired by after-dinner speaking.[70] However, an “audience with Duncan Smith” held at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall attracted an audience of only 67 people.[71]

3. In the September 2012 Cabinet reshuffle, Duncan Smith was offered the job at the Ministry of Justice replacing Kenneth Clarke but declined and remained in his current post.[58]

Ian Duncan Smith dismissed allegations in Matthew d’Ancona‘s book, In It Together that his colleague George Osborne had referred to him as “not clever enough”, which were also denied by Osborne. Duncan Smith said that similar claims had been made of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.[59]

Nasty Party or Nazi Party?  

MEL BROOKS – THE HITLER RAP (To Be Or Not To Be) 1984 (Audio Enhanced)

Rive Gauche: Over half of ministers will have taken drugs, says Norman Lamb

I can’t say that I am surprised by this revelation.  It may well explain why some of our politicians say some extraordinary things in the The House of Commons and on Daily Politics and other excellent BBC politics programmes.

My thanks to a fellow Twitter () user for drawing my attention to this video of Mr Osborne

“A few people have noticed that Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, was looking a bit under the weather at Prime Minister’s Questions, 26th November 2014.
Some even suggest he was off his head on drugs! Surely not.”

Frankly, I’d be quite happy for drugs to be legalised in sport.  I’d pay good money to see an athlete jump 50 ft into the air.

I understand that Cocaine is the Class A of choice for some members of the legal profession. This may well explain why their arguments in court are quite fast? Who knows…

Here is Mr Lamb MP’s statement.  I can only assume that he was not ‘Orf his head’ on alcohol or Class A.  But definitely a case of “Go to The Top of the Class A and hand out the pencils” award to Mr Lamb for raising this matter.

We must remember, of Course, that Sir Winston Churchill was a keen drinker and was often over refreshed during World War II.  The photograph above is one of the best I have seen of the great man.  I particularly favour this version of the ‘V’ sign when facing adversity.  It had a direct meaning then – a direct meaning which continues, thankfully, to this day. I believe that our American friends favour a ‘Single finger’ salute?

A small selection of Churchill on Booze quote I found on Google…

Bessie Braddock: Sir, you are drunk.
Churchill: And you, madam, are ugly. But in the morning, I shall be sober.

I have taken more good from alcohol than alcohol has taken from me.

When I was younger I made it a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast.

The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learnt to like it.

I neither want it [brandy] nor need it, but I should think it pretty hazardous to interfere with the ineradicable habit of a lifetime.


Annual Results 2014, ARAG plc

Annual Results 2014, ARAG plc

ARAG plc, the UK arm of the worldwide legal expenses insurer ARAG SE, has announced a further successful trading year in 2014 with increased profits despite a fall in premium under management. The company has extended its presence in the UK legal expenses insurance sector and increased the volume of business transacted with key insurers, brokers and solicitors.

With premium under management of £40m in 2014 (2013: £47m), profit pre-tax rose to £3.5m: this exceeds the record profits for the previous year (2013: 3.1m), benefiting from earned income being recognised for pre-LASPOA, After the Event (ATE) business.

“We have set the precedent and rewarded the faith of our backers by paying a dividend for the first time”, says ARAG Managing Director Tony Buss. “Ensuring we maintain this exceptional performance without any detrimental effect on our underwriting discipline is paramount. We are therefore investing heavily in experienced professionals, recently adding a dedicated legal & regulatory manager and in-house counsel to our teams in Bristol”.

Before the Event (BTE) competition has increased and ATE business has become more price driven, post-LASPOA. ARAG’s relaunched ATE products have been well received and business has maintained similar volumes of risk though the equivalent level of premium has now reduced in line with the residual remaining risk, resulting in less ATE premium being written overall. Meanwhile, BTE business is growing steadily and is forecast to maintain this momentum, as is the case with ATE.

The legal protection and emergency services markets continue to be affected by government policy and reviews to general insurance selling practices. ARAG plc works closely with all relevant parties to ensure that affordable access to justice and to other forms of insured assistance services continue to be available to the highest standards. Added to this is the security of binding and delegated authorities granted by a number of UK authorised insurers, with reinsurance separately placed by these partners with ARAG SE.

“Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously” seriously – Professor R.D.Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d, FRSA

The Creation

BY Professor R.D. Charon LLB (Cantab), BCL, Ph.d,  FRSA
Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence, University of The Rive Gauche, London Faculty, London

Author: “Legal Nihilism: Taking Rights Seriously, seriously”, Maninahat Press, 2014

While I marvel at the ability of regulatory committees to achieve anything of value in my book,   I consider the value of The Bar Standards Board to The man on the Clapham Omnibus.


1. In the beginning Mammon created the law and The Bar

2. And  The Bar was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of mammon moved upon the face of the waters.

3. And Mammon said, Let there be a Bar Standards Board to regulate all the barristers: and there was  The Bar Standards Board.

4. And Mammon saw the light, that it was good: and Mammon divided the light from the darkness.

5. And Mammon called the light barristers, and the darkness he called those wishing to be barristers. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

6. And Mammon said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7. And Mammon made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament with a Bar Course Aptitude test: and it was so.



Note from Charon QC – Please don’t buy his book.  It will only encourage him to write more of them.  I also wonder if the judge who coined the phrase The Man on The Clapham Omnibus had ever been on a bus.  Perhaps he had a butler who went on these buses? 

How to ‘Ace a Skype Interview’ By Dr Strangle-Ove of Muttley Dastardly LLP

How to ace ze Skype Interviews by Dr Erasmus Strangle-Ove of Muttley Dastardly LLP

Normally I would ask the rather tedious training director, Professor R.D. Charon etc etc etc, to write zis articles for ze Charon blogs – but I am ‘overrefreshed’ after learning that our profits have gone through ze roofers of our Pallazzo in ze City of London.  I appear, though zis overrefreshments to have taken on ze comic opera German style of ze writings.  I will stop this soon, be sure. Mein Gott! Meine Großmutter war vom Blitz getroffen

I read on ze Charon QC blogs about how to Ace Ze Skype interviews…. and ..OK… I can write in ze English again… and it is most useful to know that we can do our interviews on Skype.  This has two benefits: 1. That we don’t actually have to meet the prospective employee and pay travel expenses and 2. No need to call security to ask them to leave the interview when we reject their application.

Quite often when we interview prospective trainees, we like them to wear a brown paper bag over their heads – it is mildly disorienting for them, which is better than water-boarding them, I suppose, but it also has the benefit – as we tell them – that we are only judging them on their intellectual abilities and not on their looks, good or otherwise.

My first question to prospective trainee solicitors:  I always like to begin an interview with the question “How many hours will you be prepared to work daily to ensure that the partners of this firm are well remunerated for taking you on?” If the candidate responds by eagerly telling me that he or she will work 24/7, the interview continues.  If the answer is below 18 hours daily, I have to tell the candidate that the interview is over and “With regret, my firm is not for you and you are not for us. Security will ensure that you leave the building. You may, of course, keep the paper bag”
The only downside I can about conducting interviews over Skype is the fact that the prospective candidate may not have a camera on his or her computer so we can’t be sure that he or she is actually wearing the brown paper bag we thoughtfully provided for them, after receiving £5 from them for the bag  through our Paypal account.

Well, there we are.  I do hope the advice I have given you about interviews with law firms has been of use. If we do not invite you to attend for interview, there are many law firms out there. If you have found this advice useful – do, please, not hesitate to send a ‘Thank you Paypal gift’ to our offshore Paypal account.

Dr E Strangle-Ove
Managing Partner

Muttley Dastardly LLP
Strength & Profits

How to ace a Skype Interview….

A client has asked me to write an article on How To Ace a Skype Interview.  I am happy to do so to help them and students.

How to Ace A Skype Interview

Being interviewed for any position is a fairly daunting prospect for many – particularly if the person doing the interviewing is a good, experienced, interviewer – as many in the legal field are.

A useful starting point is to ensure that the Skype connection is working efficiently. I have done many podcasts on Skype and if the connection is slow or worse, intermittent, problems can arise. It may seem an obvious point – but it is an important one.

If it is a Skype video interview – dress appropriately and professionally.

Do your research on the firm, take soundings from others on the firm and use Google to see how the firm is rated by others.  Above all, read their website and any written information the firm, particularly their prospectus, provides for you, carefully.  This is particularly important.

Be precise in your answers to questions posed by the interviewer. In other words, answer the question posed, not the answer you want to give.  More often than not, you will have an opportunity to put your other good points at the end of the interview.  Speak clearly and not too quickly.  Bear in mind that the interviewer may well be taking notes.

By all means, have some notes in front of you – but if you are fully prepared you will only have to check occasionally. Do not look down too often and read your ‘answers’ from any pre-prepared script you may have made.

If the interviewer has a conversational style – and many do – engage on that basis but remember, it is an interview and you are being judged on your ability to present yourself and the qualities the firm is seeking and will value if they take you on.

Be confident, measured and calm.  You may well be at a very early stage in your legal career but the skilled interviewer is looking for confident, intelligent and articulate future members of the firm who are able to work within their firm’s ethos. Many are nervous in interviews.  The interviewer will know this and put you at your ease.

Don’t answer the question you think the interviewer asked. Answer the question asked.  It shows care and precision. If you do not understand the question or misheard it – say so.  The interviewer will not mind and be happy to repeat it.

Be yourself – above all, be yourself.  The firm wants to employ people who will fit in.

If you are given an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview – and many good interviewers offer this – don’t ask questions which are answered in the firm’s prospectus.  And, please, don’t be over effusive and drift off point.

Above all, be yourself and be completely honest in your answers.

A skilled interviewer – and he or she may be an experienced lawyer as well as the recruitment director of the firm – will want you to present yourself well and enjoy the interview – even if they do not take you on.

Good luck – although, as I said to my students when wishing them ‘all the best in their examinations’ on my last lecture to them – it isn’t about luck, so much as good preparation and confidence. But ‘good luck’ anyway.


It is a hot day… so time for The Panama Hat and make calls with LOBSTERFONE 10.2

It is clear to me – that it is hot and the sun may have got to me as I look for Law outside while I am smoking my woodbines.  However, as always, I am fully prepared for all eventualities… I have my Panama Hat

I particularly enjoy talking to some good clients with my Lobsterphone 10.2 – it makes the call more interesting and surreal for me.  The client, of course, has no idea that I am talking to them on my phone strapped to a lobster until they have a look at my blog.

I am 62, and while I am not senile – I do find that taking a more relaxed approach to law, blogging and life generally…improves the mind and mood.

Peanuts are for eating.  I don’t work for rich clients for ‘peanuts’. Just had a ‘difficult’ exchange of emails with a ‘new client’ who wanted me to do some specific writing for them for £20.  I am always happy to help people I know and fellow tweeters – but I do object to being ‘instructed’ to write a specialist post on MY blog by a client who only wanted to pay £20.  I had to tell her, politely, that I eat  peanuts and enjoy doing so – but ‘do not work for peanuts’.  She seemed surprised.  I shall put her surprise down to ‘yoof’ rather than rudeness.   Fellow tweeters – I am always happy to assist with cheap deals because we both get amusement from doing so.  I have met some most amusing people on twitter.  Some of them are ‘over refreshed’ late at night on twitter and can, as a result, be most amusing.  My days of being ‘over refreshed’ on twitter are long gone.  I don’t drink these days.


Charon Telecommunications ‘PLC’ offers….LOBSTERPHONE 10.2

It may be that I have taken too many summer cold pills… but I reckon I have an Apple iPhone beater here for you with LOBSTERPHONE 10.2… – all you need is a plastic lobster, which I happen to be selling, and a cheap mobile…job done.

The lobster can also be placed in your shower – but best that you remove any phone you may have attached with a rubber band as your phone may not be waterproof? 

If you would like this unusual item for a Tenner +pp do please email me or DM on Twitter. 

And… you can have a free advert on my blog for a year if you buy the Lobster…. OK…I’ll get my coat….

A Charon Sale II – ‘Art’ , a ‘Butler Tray’ and a Plastic Lobster

As I prepare my trip North to The West Coast of Scotland to ‘retire’ (not that I ever will actually retire)  – I am selling a few items – paintings and unusual items of furniture.


Charon Painting with spray gun and hands
Let There Be Greed
£15 + pp




Breakfast in Bed Butler Tray
£30 + pp.

A most useful item for those who like to serve themselves breakfast in bed or, indeed, amuse themselves in other ways in bed where a butler tray would be a useful item for that amusement. The Lobster is available as a companion – doesn’t say much, which is useful for those who like to contemplate in silence without being interrupted by a lobster – for £10

Of course – the Butler Tray could be most useful for the workaholic or laptop fiend – you can now work in bed as well!

If you buy any of the items you may have a FREE advert on the blog for a year.  I can assist with artwork for the ad

Guest Post: 45% of law firms have suffered a security incident in the last 12 months and even more worrying, 5% experience them on a weekly basis

By Ellie Hurst
Advent IM

According to PwC (and I am not going to argue with them) 45% of law firms have suffered a security incident in the last 12 months and even more worrying, 5% experience them on a weekly basis1. I found this quite staggering but them remembered a presentation I had seen from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that said outside of the public sector, the legal sector is the one that keeps it busiest.  I went and had a look at some of their data just to make sure this was the case as it felt a little harsh but unfortunately the picture wasn’t pretty.  In the combined last four quarters vs previous year, breach in this sector has grown at 32% double the rate of total breach and streets ahead of the Private Sector at 7%. At one point (Q3) breach from the legal sector accounted for more than a quarter of Private Sector breach. The ICO has issued clear warnings to the legal sector (15 Aug 2014) and reminded them it can serve monetary penalties of up to £500k. This is enough to keep a Chief Information Security Officer awake at night, so what is going on and more importantly what can be done?

Looking behind the headlines, it really isn’t shocking that law firms of all sizes might find themselves targets for cyber criminals or good old fashioned spying. Very often there are highly sensitive and frequently valuable information pickings to be had; be that Intellectual Property, details of mergers or sensitive financial data.  It has been noted by a variety of security experts that attackers are moving away from direct attacks on old favourites like Technology firms and looking either for other ways in to them, such as their supply chain, or are looking further afield for new vulnerabilities and sectors to exploit. Add to that a fast-changing security landscape and a dazzling array of software and tech vendors queuing up to offer their product and it’s easy to see how a kind of inertia could creep in as a result of this ‘perfect storm’ for security vulnerability.

Even taking all of that into consideration though, the fact that 18% of respondents to PwC said they experienced loss of sensitive data on a monthly basis, is frankly terrifying and if the ICO (and the EU Data Protection Commission) gets its way and mandatory breach notification is adopted in the UK, this could spell disaster, especially for some smaller firms, if hit with the maximum current penalty of £500k for a serious breach. Not to mention the erosion of trust in the profession of course, upon which there is no price.

The good news however is that some of the issues, certainly some of the most common ones can be addressed without massive capital outlay. For instance, the PwC report reveals that infections by malware or malicious software formed a large part of some of the security incidents that respondents referred to. We know that the vast majority of these are self-installed by unwitting staff members but this is hardly surprising as a conservative estimate by researchers he Ponemon Institute suggests that 1 in four UK employees has no idea what phishing is. (For anyone scratching their head here, phishing is the primary malware delivery vehicle and posing either as an email or a legitimate webpage, delivers a toxic payload when clicked. You are one of the one in four and there aren’t any congratulations for that, sorry). One of the other biggest incident categories highlighted in the report was other behaviour staff and respondents admitted to weekly and monthly incidents of this occurring (5% and 10% respectively). The overwhelming proportion (65%) said ‘a few times’ which frankly covers a multitude of sins. So back to the reason why this is good news…it sounds like part of the issue is culture and staff training. So some of the biggest threats to security could potentially be overcome by a security-thinking paradigm shift that needn’t require vast sums of money or the need for gun turrets on the server room.

Start with your staff then, they could be your biggest threat or your most valuable tool in the frontline defence against security incidents. This would also be good advice for clients too as in our experience, people are often forgotten in the rush to technology but sadly, you can’t firewall them. You can consider a certification or compliance to something like ISO27001 and build an Information Security Management System that will cover all information assets, regardless of their format. Or there is the Cyber Essentials scheme

You can always ask us for help. We are completely product neutral and have extensive experience of working with the legal sector on a variety of security certifications, training and projects. We handle ISO27001 and Cyber Essentials in a flexible, mentoring way that means you gain greater independence and gain knowledge of how to handle re-certification when required.

1PwC Law Firms Survey 2014 Further reading: http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/ico-probes-173-law-firms-over-data-protection-breaches/5048260.fullarticle http://www.advent-im.co.uk/user/files/Advent_news_PDFs/Tomorrows_FM_Insider_Threat_Aug_2012.pdf

Barristers; getting IT right

Barristers; getting IT right
Matt Torrens, SproutIT


In short, they’re not.  Most Barristers, and their Chambers, fall woefully short of any reasonable level of IT and data security, let alone the levels that a casual observer would presume they meet, given the type of client data they deal with on a daily basis.

From an outsider’s viewpoint, many consider the UK Legal market in the same stature as financial and healthcare verticals.  It follows that all three will share a similarly high regard to data security then, doesn’t it?  No, quite the opposite actually.  Healthcare and Financial markets are more heavily regulated and policed and are now several years ahead of Legal, who have dragged their heels and paid scant attention to this critical issue.

Let’s pause, for a moment, to reflect on the topic of conversation here – this isn’t a geeky desire to impose unduly prescriptive rules but a duty to protect precious and sensitive client data.  Consider case types such as Child Abuse, Female Genital Mutilation, Terrorism, Human Rights and Organised crime – yup, I’d like to think someone was taking really good care of that data.

Let’s look, briefly, at two regulatory bodies:

Bar Council

The General Council of the Bar, known as the Bar Council, is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales.  Surely, any sensible IT requirements would be driven and regulated by them?  To help you make up your mind, let’s review two:

  • How to dispose of your hard drive securely

o    …removing the hard drive from the computer and hitting it repeatedly with a heavy hammer

  • Passwords

o    facial recognition software is an acceptable alternative

That is serious, published advice to Barristers from one of their main regulatory bodies from their ‘Guidelines on Information Security’ (which also helpfully contains several dead links to external websites).


The Information Commissioner’s Office covers various pieces of legislation including the Data Protection Act, handles complaints and concerns regarding information rights issues and has the power to serve monetary penalties of up to £500,000.  Much of the advice and guidance on the website is useful and practicable.

However, take a quick look through their published monetary penalties, decision notices and undertakings and you will quickly see that the Legal marketplace is virtually absent.  Local and central government offices along with NHS trusts form the majority of their published enforcements.  Is there an apparent selectivity or bias as to what kinds of entities the ICO pursues?

How do Chambers work?

  • 80% of barristers are self-employed and belong to a Chambers where they share central resources such as their building, the Clerks/staff, utilities and computer systems
  • Barristers have been individually purchasing and managing their PC’s, smartphones etc, long before anyone coined ‘BYOD’
  • Members of Chambers are Data Controllers within the meaning of the Data Protection Act 1998 and have statutory duties in respect of any Personal Data and Sensitive Personal Data that they hold. Pursuant to the seventh data protection principle, members of Chambers must ensure that they protect data to which the Act applies using an appropriate level of security given the nature of the data and the harm that might result from unauthorised processing or loss.

Real world examples, of self-prescribed Legal IT ‘security’:

–       Every barrister and staff member with non-expiring passwords

–       Everyone with the same password

–       Everyone being a Domain Administrator

–       Firewalls with any>any in and out

–       PPTP vpn

–       Continued use of Windows XP, Server 2000 etc

–       No backups

–       No desktop anti-virus

–       No gateway anti-virus

–       No patching or updates

–       No IPS/IDS

–       No firewall at all!

–       Regular transfer of data outside EEA

–       Inadvertent man-in-the-middle DHCP ‘attacks’

–       Sharing Dropbox data with the wrong parties

–       Personal, unsecured WiFi devices bridging to the corporate network

–       Unencrypted laptops, PC’s and USB devices

–       Shared/Home PC’s regularly used to store sensitive data

–       Single factor authentication

–       No authentication

–       Authentication sharing

–       Data synchronisation without limit to device, location or platform

–       Client data on personal email platforms

–       No PIN or encryption on mobile email devices

–       No IT training

–       Unprotected and internet facing financial and client data

–       3389 over the wire, without credential requirement


Chambers struggle to ‘enforce’ data security policies or make sensible practice a requirement of tenancy, because of the organisational hierarchy.  So, surely, effective regulatory compliance is the best way to ensure that client data is secured – at least to a reasonable level?  Immediate and minimum requirements, might include:

–       Password complexity and expiration

–       Multi-Factor Authentication

–       Full disk, centrally managed, encryption to FIPS 140-2

–       Disallowed use of non FIPS 140-2 encrypted USB devices

–       Annual training/awareness on data security

–       Enforced TLS email encryption, between counsel

–       Secure WiFi – e.g. 802.1x, perhaps with RADIUS


The list of technologies that might be used is long.  The real question is what ‘standards’ must be met and how they will be enforced and maintained.  This quick list may help the ICO and Bar Council attract the right kind of attention:

–       Publish and enforce minimum ‘requirements’, not ‘guidelines’

–       Unannounced audits and pen testing

–       Allow IT staff on to panels, to give quality and credence

–       Remove unhelpful and poor advice

–       Utilise existing standards and schemes such as ISO 27001, Cyber Essentials and Axelos

It is time that the Legal sector stopped pretending that IT security responsibilities do not apply to them – they hold, control and process some of their client’s most critical and sensitive data and are now seen as the least defended path to that information.  It’s time that the regulating authorities stood firm, stopped dithering and started fining.  Published minimum requirements, enforcing authorities and financial penalties work – we can see that in other markets; so why not in Legal?  Let’s begin to build a culture where barristers care for client data and respect the requirements set by their authorities.  In an age where chambers are suddenly realising that they do have a shared identity and that market reputation is key, how long will it be before they also realise that good, solid IT security can be a differentiator and an opportunity to win more business?

Gartner reports that 10% of legal services are in the Cloud today, but that 90% will be cloud based, by 2018.  Incoming EU General Data Protection laws will see increasing fines of up to 5% of global turnover.  ManagingPartner’s recent market research found that ‘the most successful law firms of the future will have lawyers who embrace new technologies’.  These are all reasons to start getting this right, right now.

Chambers do not function as a regular ‘business’, barristers are self-employed and often not subject to any centralised IT policy, regulatory compliance is commonly seen as optional and yet we expect barristers to use an ‘appropriate level of security’.  That’s not fair and it won’t ever work.  It doesn’t work, now.  A largely non-technical workforce cannot reasonably be expected to attain the right levels, or make the right choices, consistently and on an individual basis.  Governing bodies must help Chambers to manage this issue, with the prescription of sensible and proportionate policies and requirements.  It’s not complicated but it’s the very least that the precious data deserves.



Rive Gauche: Lord Madcow rides again…ish…

Many years ago, when I was reading Law at university, I had to break up a very nasty fight in the student house I was staying in. Six  Cambridge students – I cannot recall, now, if they were law students, were kicking one of my housemates who was on the floor and bleeding. I was with a High Court judge’s daughter at the time, a good friend. We had had an enjoyable evening out watching a film. I think it may have been “A Touch of Class”. (Ironic in the light of events which followed – my assailants showed no ‘class’ at all)  I told her to go into my room and lock herself in. I went into the communal kitchen, shouted at the Cambridge students to stop and ‘warned them’ that I was reasonably skilled in karate. I managed to ‘dissuade two students – one by kicking his upper arm and another, seeing that, backed off.  Unfortunately, a third student, very drunk, shouted.  I turned and he smashed a large empty milk bottle into my face. My nose nearly fell off, so hard was the blow and I lost most of my teeth. There was blood everywhere. I remained fully conscious, bleeding badly. At this point, the Cambridge students ran for it.  Police and Ambulance service arrived quickly and I was taken to a nearby hospital and patched up by a surgeon.  I refused to stay in hospital and, against the advice of the doctor, I went back to my room at the University.


Friends stayed with me all night.  I couldn’t sleep and they would not leave. The next morning a Detective Inspector from the Police arrived to check on me and take a statement.  He told me that my assailant had been arrested and was in court on the Monday morning.  As the Police officer was talking, one of the students from the night before barged into my room.  He didn’t even knock and warned me not to give evidence about the night before.  At which point, the Police officer, a detective officer, revealed his identity as a Police officer. The student looked shocked and ran for it.  I laughed as best I could – difficult with most of my teeth missing – although I had some semblance of a nose thanks to the skill of the surgeon the night before.

Unfortunately, the student who had assaulted me was charged with ‘common assault’ – a mistake, which the Police apologised to me for.  He got a very heavy fine.  I was told later that all six Cambridge students were ‘sacked’ from the University…”Sent down’ is, I believe, the phrase for this.

I then had a visit from a very charming man, the Vice Chancellor of The University, Sir Fraser Noble, who asked if he could help in any way.  The Head of the Law department, Professor Edward Griew (of The Theft Act books fame) and the lecturers I knew, were all very kind. I had the chance to go to Cambridge to read law myself and turned it down.  I stuck with Leicester University, then a fine law school and it continues to be a very good law school to this day.  I lost a year, but I survived that and went on to do reasonably well. I didn’t go into practice at the Bar – which I regret in some ways – but went into teaching and running law schools – BPP Law School, which I helped found with Charles Prior, then Chief Executive of and a founder of BPP Holdings PLC twenty-five years ago and had a most enjoyable career.  I enjoyed teaching very much. You win some and lose some in life.  I am lunching tomorrow with Peter Crisp, who has helped me greatly in recent years and one of my best appointments when I ran the law school, now Dean at BPP Law School.

And on that note…some smoking outside, a walk, and then I shall start on a new painting – a vaguely sensible painting. On the other hand, after smoking some menthol fags, I may do some Smokedo and run ‘amok’ with some more F*ckArt…who knows

Have a good evening.

PS.  the reference to ‘Madcow’  in the picture above – a nickname given to me by very good friends when I was very ill years ago and nearly died from swelling in the brain – partly caused by the injuries sustained that November evening at Leicester University. Never content with just a ‘nickname’ not only did I promote myself to Lord Madcow…it became Lord Madcow XIV… a Hat Tip to a French King.  (Madcow disease was a problem at the time in Britain)


The motorbike is a particular passion. So the picture from twitter is most appropriate. I have had 21 Motorbikes in my life: Many Honda FireBlades, Five Honda Blackbirds (Top speed 195 mph), one Ducati 916. I miss the bikes.  Only one accident – when a woman ran into the back of me in her car when I was stopped waiting to turn right.  Fortunately the bike was OK, landing on top if me as I slid down the road.  I had a lot of stitches, done by a friend nearby – a nurse.  I refused to go to hospital.  I hobbled back to the pub, had a couple of glasses of Rioja with the nurse and her husband and walked the motorbike back to my flat. I have some pleasing scars on the right leg!

Well…there we are.. life goes on.  there is Smokedo to be done….paintings to be painted and I shall use my ‘best endeavours’ to find some Law when I am outside smoking.  I may even have an Egg and Cress sandwich and an ice cream cone for dinner.  I live to live the ‘High Life”…and be a ‘gourmande’ etc!

Have a good Sunday evening!


Law of Contract Lesson 1: Don’t stop a cheque to a man who has taught Contract Law for forty years.

Recently, a law publishing company, publishers of law reports used by many UK lawyers, bought an advert on my blog for £50 for the year – a very modest amount.   I put the advert up and wrote up their service on my blog. Unusually – my clients are always very helpful and make very quick payment – I had to chase and chase for payment.  The publisher sent me a cheque.  I was rather ill and could not get to a bank and, as life can be difficult at times, I really needed some money for food and other basics in life. I told the managing director that I did all my banking online and offered Paypal or direct transfer to the bank as an option.  He ignored all my emails and would not take a call.  I eventually managed to bank the cheque and the firm ‘Stopped’ it.

Here is the ‘Artwork’ I created.  I am selling this ‘work’ for £10 – but you have to be vaguely interested in law (a) to want it and (b) to buy it! 

My remedy is twofold : (1) to sue in the appropriate court on the ‘friendly ‘pro bono’ advice of a friend of mine who is a QC (which I will do and as an exercise in litigation and write it up for the blog and (2) To stick the cheque one  one of my nonsense F*ckArt paintings and have a larf. I have found, in my early 60s that having a laugh is good for the soul.

You may be surprised when you find out who the ‘villainous law publisher’ is if you buy my ‘artwork’ ! 

If you would like to buy this ‘work of art’ for £10 + pp – do, please email me or send a DM on twitter. I can provide on-shore banking details and Paypal details!  I am not keen on getting a ‘bouncing cheque’ – even though that would be rather funny!

SOLD  to a very amusing man who I have tweeted with for years.  He won’t bounce anything… apart from a few laughs over lunch!


Rive Gauche: I am easily amused these days! – Cannabis emblem on a lighter

I have just been out to the High Street in Kingsbury, North London, to get essential supplies.  One of these ‘essential supplies’ was a lighter.  I am easily amused in any event – but to buy a lighter with a Cannabis emblem on it has made my day.  The newsagent, a good bloke, had no idea it was a cannabis leaf emblem!

This has inspired me to trawl the law blogs to catch up on, and post about, some LAW.

Have an amusing Sunday!