Muttley Dastardly LLP – ‘Outsource’…

From the Desk of Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

I received a news clipping from one of our more enterprising trainees this morning covering the story that Clifford Chance are outsourcing some of their IT and administrative functions to India. This struck me as a good idea. The vultures from the law school who came to see me last week to discuss a tailored LPC, came up with a proposal which caused several of my partners to faint at our weekly meeting.

Do you have any idea how much these law schools charge for an LPC? Outrageous!. How much can it possibly cost to run a fairly straightforward law course – students crammed into a lecture theatre, seminars at a staff student ratio of 1:30 and modest library facilities? Their Course Director even told me that students only had to read their course manuals and did not have to look at law reports.

I came up with a plan. We, at MD, are going to outsource our LPC to India…in fact, we may even outsource all our routine legal work to India and, given that we can probably employ five good Indian trainees for the price of one UK trainee, we should be able to gear up our profitability most suitably. I shall let you know how this plan develops in due course.

In the meantime…here is Jonty…one of our trainees with his weekly blog.

I write to you from Mumbai, India. It was a bit of a surprise to be told last Thursday that I was being re-located to India at short notice on a ‘testing exercise’. It’s great. I am living in a small house in the garden, at the back of the main residence of the local MD resident partner. I receive instructions direct from our London office, so I still feel in touch. They come in by email and fax. I work a slightly longer day – about five hours longer, to take into account the time difference between London and Mumbai. Each evening I have a de-brief with the local resident partner. The food is quite different from London. I was a bit puzzled when the waiter at one local restaurant had no idea what I was talking about when I asked for a Chicken vindaloo. I received an email from Matt Muttley today asking if I would be interested in a little ‘sideline’ – just a couple of hours of extra evening work at night – phoning people in England about conservatories or telephony products. Sounds fun and will improve my communication skills.

The Bar to look at diversity….

Legal Week reports that The Bar Council has set up a working party led by Lord Justice Neuberger to devise a blueprint for improving access to the profession.

I commented on the pupillage problem a few weeks ago. Just as important as the pupillage issue – and certainly very encouraging, Lord Justice Neuberger said: “It is equally essential that the legal profession, and that the Bar in particular, should have access to the best talent among aspiring barristers, regardless of background.”

Too simple for words?…

I read Simon Hoggart’s Sketch in The Guardian (Saturday 28 October) about the dumbing down of Shakespeare by teachers so school children can understand it. I liked the point he made – (paraphrased) Shakespeare plots are pretty simple – it is the words, the language, which inspires, which delights.

A reminder?…

“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Macbeth (Act V, Scene V).

“See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!” Romeo and Juliet Quote (Act II, Sc. II).

“This above all: to thine own self be true” Hamlet quote (Act I, Sc. III).

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?”. As You Like It ( Quote Act IV, Sc. I).

Mind you, as Hoggart pointed out in his piece… some of the most famous quotes were never actually said: “Play it again, Sam.”


Cricket…

It is fascinating that a very small trophy… of no ‘objective’ commercial worth in an antique sale of pottery (but beyond price to cricketers) should be transported to Australia encased in padding, a metal case and with it’s own seat on the plane…

A great game of one day cricket today. England won the match with The West Indies – Pietersen did the business with the bat and it made an otherwise quiet Saturday afternoon a pleasure.

I have taken a bet – merely a bottle of wine – with a friend of mine that England will retain the Ashes. The view at The Swan, among those interested in Cricket, is that we won’t. Vide et credere – See and believe!  The Ashes | The Ashes Tour

The Great ‘Firewall’?…

Clifford Coonan, writing from Beijing for The Independent, (Friday 27 October) highlights the very worrying trend of large organisations like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google to bow down to the god of Chinese Government censorship.

Coonan notes that China – “the world’s leading jailer of journalists” has recruited 40,000 web watchdogs to keep an eye on the capital’s internet cafes and internet service providers. It must be very pleasing for the shareholders in these companies to know that their directors are prepared to kowtow to a repressive Chinese government and not accede to the wishes of human rights groups to stop acting as censors. I am gratified to find that Charon QC..the blawg is still available on Google China – not that this will be of any great value to the millions of Chinese who have to live under strict censorship. I may have to report myself to the Chinese Government… in fact, I may well do so…to save one of their watchers the trouble.
and so…to an entirely different topic: Responsibility of the State in high profile Family cases.

I feel a sense of liberation, knowing absolutely nothing about Family Law and, therefore, feel I can ask a fairly stupid question without any embarrassment. My question is this: in these days of ‘no-fault divorce’ would it not be a more humane way of proceeding for legislation to be brought in to stop the rather unpleasant mud-slinging which we are seeing in the Macca divorce (Who is sending the material to the Press in ‘Macca’?..that is quite an interesting question) – and prevent either party from making public statements to the press until the divorce is over? (When I suspect there will be little need for parties to mud sling to gear up their negotiating positions.) I suspect I am being naive – so I will return to write about things which I do know something about. I do, however, find the coverage in the Press about the Macca divorce rather unpleasant – what is their child going to think in later years when she is old enough to read and understand the clippings – whoever is behind the info getting to the Press?

All work?….

Well.. here I am… enjoying a Silk Cut, a glass of Rioja and wondering what to write about…

First, I think a little bit of comment on the law. You may recall, yesterday, that I wrote about the 17074 complaints against solicitors. I was contacted by Law Society Press Officer, Bob Walker. He was most helpful. Briefly… he told me that in the past the Customer Complaints Service was fairly low profile and ‘none too pro-active’ – the members, who paid for the service, not surprisingly, being none to’ keen about ‘paying the staff of ‘their’ service to investigate themselves. Now, of course, the soon to be re-named service is / is going Independent following recent reform legislation The Complaints service is now very much more pro-active. This and the Miner’s claim accounts for a rise in complaints. The Service placed an advert asking people to write in about difficulties in connection with Miner’s compensation. Bob has agreed to follow up on my call with some detailed statistics about the type and seriousness of the complaints as these stats are readily available. I was impressed with his preparedness to assist with this. I do think it only fair and reasonable that if statistics are to be bandied about in the Press, that the authors of such pieces should provide more detail. As soon as I receive the info from Bob – I will pass it on.

“Hit the young with alco-pop tax – Minister “ The Guardian
Worries about teenage binge drinkers prompt Hewitt to write to Treasury. Hewitt is worried about the binge drinking by young people and has asked The Chancellor to ‘ratchet up’ the tax. The Treasury don’t seem to be that keen – because it would mean taxing all spirits – which may not be a popular move.

It does seem illogical to put the tax up on alco-pops, but leave other spirits unaffacted. Young people might be getting addled brains from juicing too much on Fridays, Saturdays..and possibly a few other nights… but they aren’t stupid. They will soon work out that it may be cheaper to go straight for the hard stuff if alco-pops are taxed.

For my part… I shall, hopefully, continue drinking Rioja, in measured amounts ( a glass at a time) without feeling the need to park pavement pizzas, fall over, or make a nuisance of myself in the High Street at chucking out time… Is it really a new problem?

I see some pretty bizarre things on the web…but here is a hairy email service for the friend in your life who has everything… try it?

Friday miscellany….

From the Desk of The Vice Chancellor
I learned from the Independent (Thursday 26 October) that Professor Tony Downes, Vice Chancellor of Reading University, has written a personal letter to all the Bar and Club owners in Reading asking them not to offer cut price drinks to his students.

The professor was concerned about students not turning up to lectures because they had been out binge drinking. No doubt the landlords of Reading will oblige the Prof. Cheers.

And here is an email from another Professor… a bizarre variation on the Nigerian 419 scam…

FROM THE DESK OF PROFESSOR. CHARLES. C. SOLUDO
THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF CENTRAL BANK (CBN)
HEAD OFFICE ABUJA NIGERIA!

Dear Contractor,

IMMEDIATE CONTRACT PAYMENT. CONTRACT:
MAV/NNPC/FGN/MIN/009

We apologies, for the delay of your payment and all the inconveniences and inflict that we might have indulge you through. However, we were having some minor problems with our payment system, which is inexplicable, and have held us stranded and indolent, not having the aspiration to devote our 100% assiduity in accrediting foreign contract Payments. We apologies once again.

From the records of outstanding contractors due for payment with the federal government of Nigeria, your name! and Company was discovered as next on the list of the Outstanding contractors who have not yet received their payments.

I wish to inform you now that the square peg is now in square whole and can be voguish for that your payment has been processed and ready to be deliver to your door step as soon as you respond to this letter. Also note that from my record in my file your outstanding contract payment is us $5,700,000.00 (Ten Million Seven Hundred Thousand United States dollars).

I look forward to receiving payment. Should pay for a few glasses of Rioja… may even make a donation to the Reading Student’s Union… Mind you… I think Professo Charles C. Soludo may have been drinking in every bar and club in Reading judging by his prose and his inability to read numerals…
Not entirely sure why a woman needs 200 pairs of shoes…

Another snippet from The Independent. Apparently, the average woman over 40 owns an average of 19 pairs of shoes but.. and I quote… “It is not uncommon to have more than 100.”

I went to my wardrobe last night to see how many pairs of shoes I had. I found five pairs of black brogues, one pair of brown suede brogues, three pairs of casual docksider style shoes, a pair of chelsea boots (Yes… I was a bit puzzled to find those lurking in the wardrobe) a pair of heavy duty walking boots (even more suprising) and four pairs of motorbike boots. Clearly.. I am a mere amateur in the footwear stakes when compared to the women (the Independent reports) who have over 200 pairs of shoes and boots in their wardrobes.

I also found a pair of very beaten up shoes which I recall rescuing from the dustbin when a former Mrs C decided, some years ago, that they needed to go. It must be a male thing to rescue shoes from the bin?

And finally…. which City firm woos it’s LPC students with booze… over to RollonFriday to find out. 

Robust stuff from Family Lore…

I don’t often consider Family Law matters – my days of running up the aisles are over (But…never say never, again ?)

An excellent piece from John Bolch on his Family Lore blog. I quote to give you a flavour:

“….. Firstly, celebrity lawyer Raymond Tooth is quoted as saying: “A rich man in my view should not marry a poor woman. If he does, then he must have a pre-nuptial agreement”. Fair enough, advise a client to enter into a pre-nuptial, but did he really say a rich man should not marry a poor woman? Is he really so materialistic that he considers that wealth, or lack of it, should determine whether two parties marry? I find such a concept as abhorrent as the nonsense that someone from one religious or ethnic background should not marry anyone from a different background. “

Here is the full story – well worth a read even if you have no interest in Family Law.

17,074 complaints against solicitors….

I read with some interest a story in the Guardian today about the staggering number of complaints against solicitors – 17,074 according to the story. The author of the piece in The Guardian, Alan Wilson, offered the statistic that this is “equivalent to one for every six solicitors practising in England and Wales.”

Alan Wilson went on to say that a Which magazine survey said that one in three people were not happy with the service from their solicitor. Complaints included rudeness, arrogance, no witten quotes, delays, bills being ‘steeper’ than anticipated and incompetence. The article goes on to explain how to make a complaint. Statistics are always interesting – but it would be far more interesting to know how serious these complaints are. I think, in fairness, I will ring the Customer Complaints Service at the Law Society and see what they say.

EDIT: Follow up

I rang The Law Society – and after wading through their automated phone system, I spoke to a very charming young woman who told me that the Press Officer would call me back. I did make it clear that I wanted to find out the nature of these complaints to see how serious the complaints were – on the premise that (surely) not all of the 17074 complaints were ‘very serious’ matters and that I wished to provide a bit more information to readers than was available in Alan Wilson’s article. I will let you know how I got on.

On an entirely different note – but one related to customer service. I went into the Notting Hill branch of Royal Bank of Scotland today to draw some cash. The bank had been refurbished – very glossy, very slick. I waited to be called by the cashier. A very smart female member of the bank staff came over to ask me how I was, to ask me what service I was seeking and to ask if I would like a coffee! This so took me by surprise that I passed on the opportunity to get a freebie from a bank. It was all a bit unexpected – not really a “British Banking” experience. It was even more surreal when I got to the cashier. I noted that a woman was seated in the background with a clip board. She was from Quality Control).

The cashier was excellent – asked me how I was today, whether I would like a coffee while I waited and asked me what service I would like. I told him that I wanted to draw cash, that I did not bank with this branch (but they did have my signature on file, because, very occasionally, I do draw cash from this branch – rather than go into The City.) I produced my passport for ID/Money Laundering purposes and within a few moments had the cash in my wallet. I was, as it happens, most impressed. It was fascinating to watch the reaction of other customers, accosted by smart woman from reception, respond to her enquiries about their health and their needs that day. Everyone seemed a bit embarrassed to be asked – in a very ‘British’ way. Maybe we are so used to indifferent service that we feel awkward when faced with an organisation which is trying to raise the game?

I am going up to RBS Notting Hill again tomorrow to have some free coffee. It will be worth it. I may even hang out there for a while, read a newspaper on their very comfortable chairs and see if they could arrange for some Rioja to be brought in for me. Maybe they have Rioja in the cupboard… just in case?

I must award a Silver Lobster to RBS for this – it made me smile on a morning otherwise bereft of smiles. Good stuff.

Useful IP rant from Geeklawyer on trademarks

“Geeklawyer despairs that yet another case on the infringement of trademarks by importing goods from outside the EU has been won by the rights holder. While the rest of the world gets goods largely identical to those given to us, but at half the price charged in the EU, within the EU those rightholders, mostly non-EU paradoxically, get the right to partition us off from the rest of the commercial universe so that they can screw us.”

Read the rest…

Impersonating a solicitor….

Amused by David Pannick QC’s article in The Times on 24th October where he referred to a letter sent in to the paper by Barry Pamplin.  Mr Pamplin offered the information that it is a criminal offence under s.21 of the Solicitors Act 1974 to impersonate a solicitor. I am grateful to Ian Goldie, a friend of mine – a former partner with a leading magic circle firm, for drawing my attention to this prior to our cracking open a bottle of Rioja.

You may recall that The Lord Chief Justice sentenced himself to a day of community service recently – and his cover story was that he was a ’shipping solicitor convicted of driving with excess alcohol and sentenced to 150 hours unpaid work and 18 months disqualification.’

The senior partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP ?

Well… you will have to click the link to see

It has been a good day apart from the appalling result in the Cricket

The view I take will be quite different from the view taken by many commentators in the English Press on Sunday. For my part, I believe, that today’s one day cricket match against Australia was part of a very cunning plan to give Australia a false sense of superiority and security – deceiving them ‘Trojan Horse’ style, into believing that yet another England ‘collapse’ in the cricket is indicative of how we will play when the Ashes series starts in a few weeks time.

I have, of course – for medicinal reasons, had to take of the Rioja – and it may be – that my analysis of today’s performance by England in the one day ICC Champions series is skewed thereby.

Attorneyman?…. surely we can do better?…

RollonFriday has a story about a new comic superhero for lawyers. Here is the Attorneyman website

Apparently Attorneyman is a lawyer by day and superhero by night. According to the website “AttorneyMan and Liselaw exemplify the hero lurking in all of us. Searching for truth, career satisfaction and the best in client relationships, lawyers need a boost. A good idea can take you far. Give that idea superpowers and there’s no telling where you’ll end up. We took Cha Chingi Changa LLP one step closer to Wonderland. Where will you go?”

Clearly a Christmas present opportunity for the senior partner in your life?

Of course, this inspired me to imagine how I might look in a Batman suit. Quite good, really? I then had to think of a ‘foe’. Surprisingly easy. I thought of John Reid as “The Joker” or Charlie Falconer as “The Penguin” – but there ‘could only be one’… The greatest of them all.. “The Riddler.” Clare Short didn’t really make the cut on Catwoman – although Theresa May MP, with her predilection for leopard and other animal print high heeled shoes,  may well have fitted the bill.

Now all I have to do is think about a plot…. but it is Friday afternoon, not Friday evening and it is far too early to crack open the Rioja

So… I have come up with an idea… INVITE the readers to suggest plot lines…perhaps even invite readers to write a short paragraph or two of narrative..string them together and … we have a story! Please feel free to comment, write a bit of narrative, suggest a plot line etc etc… Have a good weekend

And so it is Friday….

This is Dan Hull, an american lawyer who runs a pretty sharp blog. The sea in the background, the relaxed dress, the smile… all suggest that life is pretty relaxed – and, for Dan, it probably is – because if his blog is anything to go by he is on top of his game.

Surprising though it may seem, I am actually interested in law and matters relating to law – so I find myself on Dan’s blog quite often.

And there I was, having completed over ten hours of work after rising at 3.30 this morning, logging on to Dan’s Blog. I can’t get away from Geeklawyer… the man is everywhere. After listening to his excellent podcasts, I can’t get the sound of his sardonic voice out of my mind… Dan is even covering him this week… describing Geeklawyer as “wonderful and flat-out nuts”

Geeklawyer is believed to possess some knowledge of the laws of libel, having reviewed a book on the subject recently – but Dan’s observation, given his most recent podcast, is probably broadly right and may therefore fall into the category of ‘fair comment’ (I am sure the House of Lords in a recent judgment gives some comfort to men and women of the fourth estate – which, with my Press Card, I claim some allegiance to.) Ruthie, Geeklawyer’s co-blogger, who I have met, is well worth reading, particularly when she has a go at him. The podcasts are enjoyable and I am inspired by his lead and example to do some of my own. I shall just have to make sure that I fit a breathalyser to my recording software lest I feel tempted to podcast upon my return to my Staterooms after visiting The Swan.

Back to Dan’s Blog

There is much useful, serious, information on Dan’s blog – and the article (and links) “Work-life balance is a dumb-ass issue” is well worth reading.

This is a subject which I have far too little time to consider – possibly because I enjoy work.

AND… when I am not working, I enjoy a range of activities for the ‘mature’ man… art, politics, chess, reading, cricket, drinking Rioja, smoking, reading tabloids, sitting around in gastropubs talking to interesting people and getting knocked off my motorbike – and then, of course, I blog. Have I got my work / life balance right? No. Will I ever get it right? I doubt it. But as my father used to say…as he poured himself a quarter bottle of whisky.. “Don’t do as I do… do as I say.” It took me a while to get the hang of this phrase.

The World is your lobster?….

Good to see that Nick Holmes of Binary Law is evangelising about blogging. I fully appreciate that my musings are designed to keep me off the streets and provide, hopefully, mild light relief to those who wish to read my posts – but I do spend a fair bit of time at night reading sensible blogs (and there are some excellent blogs around: Human Law, Binary Law, Geeklawyer, Family Lore to name but a few from my blogroll.) I am making some effort to comment in a vaguely sensible manner about important issues – but eventually I find the process tips the balance of my mind and I have to return to ephemera, mild ranting and parody. C’est la vie…as the French say…
Have a look at two recent posts by Nick – worth the effort.

Communicate, share, collaborate

Fertile ground for law blogs (2)


Idiotic enforcement of law….

“Environmentalists yesterday criticised a council for prosecuting a man who put the wrong kind of rubbish into a recycling bag. Friends of the Earth said the case of Michael Reeves, who has been ordered to pay £200 for putting a single sheet of paper in a bag reserved for glass and tin, could put others off recycling.”

The Guardian 19th October

This is absurd. Friends of The Earth Cymru even think it is absurd… their spokesman Julian Rosser said: “I feel a case like this can really damage recycling.”

One can understand local authorities who have warned persistent offenders several times finally losing patience and bringing a prosecution but to mount a case against a first time offender (who denies he put a piece of paper in the wrong bag) is clearly unfair and, frankly, “un-British”. No wonder we are concerned when The Lord Protector and his enforcer, John “Witchfinder” Reid want to give a whole raft of busybodies power to issue fixed penalty tickets. I do my best to recycle – largely by not actually buying any food and eating out. I find it relatively easy to put empty Rioja bottles in the Green box provided by my Council. This action by a Council in Swansea is hardly likely to encourage local residents to recycle.

Muttley Dastardly LLP – The Tailored Legal Practice Course (1)…

It came to me, after reading The Lawyer, that my firm would benefit from having an LPC course tailored to our specific needs. It also occurred to me that by having such a course, I would be able to control the content, to some extent, and ensure that our future trainees could be isolated from unhelpful influences and be trained to an exceptionally high standard in our ways.

Discretion does not permit me to name the institution we approached for this tailored LPC service, nor have I identified the team from the law school who came to our Canary Wharf offices to meet with me. I arranged for the ‘Team’ from the law school to a breakfast meeting at 0645 Hrs. I wanted to see how sharp these people were.

I have a taste for pillars and long corridors – which, given that our office is of modern construction, I had specially built. The columns are actually made of polystyrene, but look very much like the real thing. My office is at the end of this corridor; with departmental heads and section heads in offices leading off this central artery.

The law school team arrived on time. Here is a picture from our high definition CCTV unit – which I have had blurred to disguise the identity of those involved. My PA, Eva Brown, is pictured leading them in through our reception. From time to time, especially with clients who seek my litigation expertise, I use a pogo stick to travel down the corridor to reception. It was useful on this occasion to do so – to view the Team’s reaction and, perhaps, place them in a state of unease. There were three of them; two men and a woman. I was reminded of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ when I saw them with their sharp suits, toned bodies and almost vulpine expressions as they greeted me. I was intrigued by their airline style wheelie bags. I have seen clients with such bags – going into our accounts department.

A light Continental breakfast had been laid out on my conference table. We sat down and I watched as their CEO took out a laptop from his wheeliebag. I could not, of course, allow him to plug his laptop into our network. He had anticipated this. His pitch was polished. His idea about dispensing with areas of the LPC of little interest to our type of firm – conveyancing, wills, probate et al – was on the button and his thoughts on bringing in MBA style business content were right up to the minute. It might help those trainees who didn’t make the cut. I turned and nodded to Eva. She walked briskly over to a display cabinet and took out a Katana – a beautifully hand crafted sword used by The Samurai. She unsheathed it and I threw a croissant into the air. It was sliced perfectly in half. Eva returned the sword to the cabinet and sat down at the table.
“That” I said “Is how we view legal practice at this firm… quick, perfectly executed and effective. Can you focus on that in your course offering?”

The CEO turned to his colleague, a slightly younger man whose mind was clearly uncluttered with academic influences or experience.

“Our course” the younger man said “Is innovative. We provide everything a student needs to know in a pack. We do not encourage students to read law books, articles or even law reports. We focus on what is essential, what is important…..

To be continued….

Muttley Dastardly LLP – The Overseas Seat

I was spending far too much chargeable time re-writing the blogs done by our trainees, before posting them on our Hi-tech website, so I decided that I would turn my hand to a bit of blogging myself. I called in my PA, Eva Brown, and asked her to take dictation.

Today I announced over the new tannoy system which I have had installed throughout the firm – I was most impressed when I watched a TV programme about a cruise liner to discover that the Captain addressed the entire ship’s company and clients at one go over the tannoy – that four of the six trainees would be sent to The Far East for four months on a compulsory overseas seat. The other two, we are sending to our Eastbourne office to attend to the needs of some of our more mature clients. I was pleased to send round this photograph taken of one of last year’s trainees to give some idea of how we integrate efficiency and sport in our work ethic. We are a ‘green’ law firm and I believe we are the only City firm to use rickshaws in our Far East postings. I remember him well. He was pretty good. Managed to take me and a very special client around Central Singapore without any difficulty at all.

I am sure that the experience of an overseas posting will be of great benefit to the trainees.

Matt Muttley, Managing Partner

Editorial Note: I have added a new category ‘Muttley Dastardly LLP’ as I feel certain that MD will continue to feature in one way or another as the year unfolds.

Matt Muttley is seeing the Director of a Vocational Law School next week to discuss the possibility of his law school tailoring an LPC to the firm’s needs. Apparently he was quite impressed by the Course Director’s naked ambition, understanding of modern profitability theory and hunger.

I knew it could not last….

I tried… but an unremitting diet of commenting seriously on matters legal has tipped the balance of my mind. Here is a novel search engine. You may ask an attractive woman to find things for you on the net. Of course, I became bored with asking her to find The Law Society or a particular set of Chambers and started to ask her most unusual questions. (Ms Dewey, in reponse to my question about The Law Society told me…most usefully… “Don’t do the crime unless you can do the time” before providing me with the link) The results amused me for a while – you may also find this search engine interesting – and if you have no-one else to talk to at the time – you might enjoy Ms Dewey talking to you. Try the search engine

Of course.. I just had to ask her who she thought Charon QC is. She laughed and told me that she couldn’t understand a word I was saying and then started talking gibberish herself. I liked that. Poetic justice. I put it down to her remarkable skills of feminine intuition. She did, however, find my blawg. Not exactly Google…but curiously enjoyable. No… she doesn’t want to come out to dinner or drink Rioja with me. Remarkably, when I asked if she would like a glass of Rioja – she produced a German bier stein which, miraculously, filled with beer and laughed (The bier stein did not, of course, laugh – she did). I could find myself using this search engine in future….

Do you want to buy a painting painted by an elephant? A lot cheaper than an original work by Damien Hirst.

Well.. you can by visiting this website.

And finally… for those with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and shoehorning bizarre topics into conversations… here is a website which will give you the origin of rock band names. Quite interesting, as it happens.

And now I can begin my real day… toil and work. A piu tarde.

You really could not make it up…

Blunkett ‘machine-gun prisoners’ claim

I got up at 2.00 this morning to do some work, and as I ran amok through the online newspapers looking for legal news to comment on, I came across an extraordinary story in today’s Guardian – so extraordinary that I have to provide the link to be sure I am not seeing things. Guardian Story

Briefly: There was a riot at Lincoln jail. The Prison Service lost control temporarily. I quote from The Guardian… “A hysterical David Blunkett told the prison service to call in the army and “machine gun” inmates in order to regain control of a riot-torn prison, the former director general of the prison service, Martin Narey, claims today”

Predictably, according to the article, Blunkett’s recollection of events differs from that of Mr Narey.

Narey informed Blunkett of the situation at Lincoln Jail. Blunket became ‘hysterical’ – mindful of the humiliation David Waddington experienced in the Thatcher years during the Manchester Strangeways prison riot. Blunkett said that there must be no ‘dithering’. “If I have to ring [the then defence secretary] Geoff Hoon and bring in the army, so be it, but by dawn I want the prison retaken and I want order restored,”

Narey told Blunkett that he would take the prison back – but would not risk prisoner or staff lives in doing so – a perfectly sensible and measured response – one would have thought.

According to Mr Narey… “He (Blunkett) shrieked at me that he didn’t care about lives, told me to call in the army and ‘machine gun’ prisoners and, still shrieking, again ordered me to take the prison back immediately. I refused. David hung up.”

I watched a TV programme about Blunkett last night. It was not that interesting. It all seemed a bit sad – but this story is rather more worrying than the Kimberley Quinn fiasco.

Credit where credit is due

College of Law to donate £1.25m to underprivileged students as new charity law looms: Legal Week Story

Whether or not The College of Law was prompted into this charitable donation by the prospect of investigation under the new Charities Law (infra) this is good news for diversity. (I quote from the Legal Week report: Stephen Lloyd, senior partner and head of the charity & social enterprise department at leading charity firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, told Legal Week: “As a body charging high fees, The College of Law would be a prime candidate for investigation under the new Charities Bill, which gives charities an increasing obligation to show that they provide benefits to the public. One way to do that is to put money into increasing diversity.” )

I have for years felt that we need to make diversity in the law a major issue. High fees charged by vocational Law Schools for the LPC and BVC make studying law at this level a seriously expensive proposition leading, fairly inevitably, to a predominantly white middle class entry.

£1.25 million will go some way to promoting diversity – and that is very much in the ‘public interest’.

I will let Professor Savage have the last word on this post: “Nigel Savage, chief executive of the College of Law, said: “One of the biggest issues facing the profession is that everyone coming in is a white, middle-class kid. We are talking to law firms to get placements in London and the regions. It would be nice if it eventually led to some bursaries from firms.”

Actually… upon reflection… I will have the last words..and, rarely for me…only two words… Good stuff.

Pupillage a lot more difficult….

LegalWeek report today that “Bar students’ prospects of securing a pupillage have reached an all-time low, new Bar Council figures have shown.”

The report continues – worryingly… “The first-ever Bar Council survey of student trends published today (16 October), found that of the 71.5% that had applied for a pupillage, over half (51%) had not received an interview. Of those who did get an interview, 49.8% did not receive an offer.

The statistics mean that just 17.5% of Bar Vocational Course (BVC) students who apply for pupillages are likely to secure one. It is estimated that 500-550 students will be offered pupillages in 2005-06, compared with 598 the year before, despite the number of students going up.”

You may read the full report from The Bar Council here.

What is particularly worrying is that while prospects of obtaining a pupillage are going down,  numbers enrolling on the BVC are going up. I have a number of concerns here. Firstly, given that Law School admissions tutors ought to be aware of the difficulties of securing pupillage (and are certainly better placed than students to have an overview of trends over the past few years), are they advising students properly of these difficulties when the student applies to enrol on their BVC course? Secondly, are students being properly advised at their university about the difficulties faced by young (or not so young) prospective barristers in terms of getting a pupillage, let alone a tenancy?

To this I add a third question: Do law schools offering the BVC have a duty of care to inform prospective applicants for the BVC about these difficulties and, if so, how much information should they provide to prospective BVC applicants about the reality of obtaining a pupillage and a tenancy?

I have spoken to a number of practising barristers. Some take a robust view and say that competition at the Bar is fairly fierce but tend to the view that prospective applicants should be given a ‘health warning’ – given the high level of debt being taken on by many who decide to read for the Bar.

I take a fairly robust view myself, given my experience in legal education, that it is important for law schools offering the BVC to make it very clear to prospective students that their chances of getting a pupillage are not high, and that it even more difficult to get a tenancy. Others in the academic world, I know, do not share my view.
***

It would be interesting to hear from current BVC students or recently qualified barristers… please feel free to comment in the comments section.

Deus Misereatur – May God Have Mercy….

How a Law Society credit card might look?

Corporate Blawg UK (10 October 06) wishes to begin a campaign against the Law Society for bringing the profession into disrepute. Yesterday Corporate Blawg received information about applying for a Law Society credit card (13.9% APR). Slightly off theme, but what the f**k is the Law Society doing by issuing a credit card?

  1. Is the Law Society a bank? Not last time Corporate Blawg bought a pint there.
  2. Is the Law Society a profit-making organisation? The shop never seems to do very well, but no, essentially.
  3. Should the Law Society profit from lawyers in financial difficulty? Tricky one…
  4. Does the Law Society get enough money from lawyers without providing any tangible benefits? Most definitely yes

Corporate Blawg goes on to ask a few more questions – you may read them here.

For my own part I rather like the idea of The Law Society taking a ‘TescoCard’ approach to life – very modern, up to the minute…hip. The image of Jesus and the moneychangers in the Temple came to mind when I read this report on Corporate Blawg’s blog. Just goes to show that all that religious stuff drilled into me by a particularly venal Minister of The Church of Scotland must have had some effect on me – apart from turning me into a pantheist with a particular interest in Roman gods.

I’m not a member of The Law Society but was very happy when I was in town to pop in to their reading room. They used to do a decent espresso there. One could have a fag and a piece of chocolate cake made by Prue Leith. And then… one could nip off to the bar and enjoy a bottle of Rioja. Quite an amusing way to spend a day, actually – getting over refreshed while eavesdropping on earnest suits talking about closures and completions to other equally earnest type while in the company of a leading light in modern vocation legal education.  Mind you, he is easy and very good company as he shares my reluctance to actually discuss anything to do with law while drinking of the vine.

Alien chaser…..

After weeks of reporting on the more bizarre aspects of legal and lawyer behaviour (viz: Gigolaws, shagging Immigration judges, The WFW Trainee blog) I was coming to the view that lawyers were returning, after the heat of the summer, to their normal sober selves. Not so – I learn from Reuters that one Jens Lorek, a Dresden based lawyer, is drumming up business by saying that he is able to handle PTSD cases from people who may be suffering trauma fafter being abducted by aliens. After the amount of Rioja I was able to consumer last night (purely medicinal and supervised remotely by a qualified doctor) nothing surprised me as I settled down to my first espresso and pack of Silk Cut at 7.00 am this morning.

Herr Lorek (I have tried, fruitlessly, to search for his website on the net) seems to be cornering a new legal market. So far, no leading law firms in the UK have established a specialism in this field – but, no doubt, it will only be a matter of time before some entrepreneurial member of The Bar (I may have to talk to my clerk about this) will be offering free seminars to solicitors to drum up business for themselves.

Lowering the Bar via Reuters reports that Herr Lorek has “not successfully litigated any such claims yet, but insisted that there are plenty of people out there who need the help, as scores of alien abductions are reported each year. “There’s quite obviously demand for legal advice here,” he said. “The trouble is, people are afraid of making fools of themselves in court.” Asked whether he was worried that he would look ridiculous himself, Lorek did not appear to understand why that might be the case. “Nobody has laughed about it up until now,” he said.

Herr Lorek, 41, is pinning his hopes for success on a German law which grants kidnap victims the right to state compensation. So far he has not lost a single case – but admits that this may be because he hasn’t actually fought such a point in court. I have no idea what he drinks – but I want to know. He is getting a lot of publicity on the net!

The beautiful game….

It is with some regret…that, today, I announce my retirement as the Goalkeeper for The Inns of Court FC. The manager, Steve MacAngry, telephoned me today and described my attempt to pass off the fact that I missed an easy pass from a player on my own side, letting in a goal – because The Law Society FC goalkeeper had dug up large sections of the turf around the goalmouth at the end of the first half – as ‘pathetic’. I could have coped with that criticism – but McAngry went on to describe my knowledge of football and my technical skills as a goalkeeper as ‘pitiful’. In the circumstances, I feel that I had to take the honourable route and go to my Inn Library. On a side table, beside a single chair, was a tumbler of malt whisky and a loaded World War II service revolver. I enjoyed the whisky but decided that discretion was the better part of valour (and I had no wish to be charged with possession of a loaded revolver) so I made the entirely pragmatic decision not to shoot myself.

As a result of this decision… I remain able to continue with my blawg which, as I am no longer required to turn out every Saturday to play footer, will keep me occupied on Saturday afternoons.

It is a little known fact that one of my ancestors , Julius Charon, commanded the XV legion during the reign of Caligula. Students of history may well be familiar with Caligula’s rather bizarre invasion of Britain in 40 AD. I draw on Wikipedia for some historical background: “according to Suetonius, he drew up his troops in battle formation facing the English Channel and ordered them to attack the standing water. Afterwards, he had the troops gather sea shells, referring to them as “plunder from the ocean, due to the Capitol and the Palace”. Modern historians are unsure if that was meant to be an ironic punishment for the soldiers’ mutiny or due to Caligula’s derangement. “

I am able to report that my ancestor Julius Charon did not fully understand Caligula’s instructions and set sail for England in three Triremes. The British were not expecting Charon –  so when he landed at Brighton he found a large number of largely peaceful young people drinking beer in the late afternoon sun and smoking what appeared to be parts of a common garden weed. Julius Charon does report in his popular book “Absit invidia – No offence intended” – that ‘there appeared to be no weapons of mass destruction and that the army of Britain appeared to have gone into winter quarters.’ These young people, initially, were pleased to see Charon and his legionaries fully dressed for battle and welcomed them as ‘liberators’ from the tyranny of Togodumnus, a nearby tribal warlord. As the days passed, however, the mood of these young people changed from welcoming to one more sinister and menacing. I fear that my ancestor may have tried to win ‘their hearts and minds’ by pressing them into military service and making them drill with shields over their heads while running up and down the Brighton sea front, which did not go down well with these younger people who preferred to stay up all night at raves.

Julius Charon was eventually prompted to write to Caligula who, now, was delighted with the fact that one of his generals had shown initiative by invading Britain all on his own and was telling his Senators and the People of Rome ‘that Roman troops were in Britain with the full acceptance and mandate of a locally and democratically elected government headed by Antonius Blairitus’ and the troops were needed to keep the peace between a largely warring group of different tribal factions and ‘insurgentii’. Caligula also reported to the Senate and People of Rome that Roman forces would remain in place until the job was done.

My ancestor wrote at the time. “British people can be very welcoming. But you have to understand, that they prefer to invite people into their country. We rather kicked the door in and if we are to have any credibility in this region we must hand over control to local forces and leave.”

I gather that Julius Charon’s letter came as a bit of a blow to Caligula, deranging him further and, in particular, prompting him to say to the Senate and People of Rome that he would rule Rome forever, that he had absolutely no intention of making way for Gordonius, that he now thoroughly agreed with Julius Charon, that there was absolutely no schism or rift between him and the General and they were ‘ad idem’.

It is a curious thing history….

Silly blogger?….

I find I’m becoming addicted to WebCameron… so much so that I thought I might have to start WebCharon.

“Silly blogger’ said the headline in my tabloid of choice when I went for an espresso and a light breakfast this morning. The Mirror reports that Labour MP Sion Simon has done a pastiche of ‘WebCameron’ and posted it to YouTube. A spokesman for an ‘unamused’ Lord Protector ‘said icily’…”Maybe it would be best if backbenchers stuck to being backbenchers.” I suspect that Sion Simon MP may well find himself lurking on the back benches for ever after this parody attempt.

I have applied ‘Qua’ Charon for registration to the WebCameron website – and I have been accepted. I have not, as yet, been moved to write anything – but it is quite probable, over the weekend, that I shall do so. I find myself popping on to see what dave has to say nex… and, to my surprise, I find myself enjoying the show – a bowl of pistachio nuts, a Rioja … an espresso laid out ready and I settle down to watch.

I have been recovering from the motorbike accident of last week and feel certain that normal service will be resumed before too long when I can walk properly without looking like Quasimodo on my way to The Swan.

I am grateful to Iolis – a regular on the Consilio Discussion Board, for sending me this very amusing old Monty Python sketch… I remember seeing it when I was at school in the late 1960s… it brought back a few memories of illicit drinking and smoking.

I will return to perorations, musings and other matters on the morrow – for today… I am fairly busy with other matters.

Hubris? – Why silence can be golden…

Lawyer’s boast backfires…

“ANDREW NULTY decided this year that not enough people were aware of his glittering achievements. In only five years he had set up a law firm in a provincial backwater and turned it into such a money-spinning triumph that at the age of 39 he had a multimillion-pound fortune.”

Full TIMES story By Andrew Norfolk

Very briefly – the story goes as follows: Solicitor becomes partner in Manchester law firm in 1996. Later he sets up his own practice (Avalon), taking 2000 clients with him. Plan works. By specialising in industrial personal injury claims turnover rises to £5 million. A year later turnover rises to £21.2 million with 73 per cent margin – profits. Nulty’s share of profits £13 million!

Nulty, a former model and TV presenter, not happy that he is not in The Lawyer Top 100 fee earners’s rectifies this by arranging for Avalon managing partner to tell the Lawyer them about his firm’s ‘glittering success’. Figures stacked up. The Lawyer published latest Top 100 (Avalon 88th) and Nulty comes out as “highest-earning solicitor in the country.”

The story is best summed up by a quote from the Times story…

“When The Lawyer published its top 100 list in August, Mr Nulty’s £13 million bounty shared centre stage with the news that his firm was under investigation over numerous alleged breaches of Law Society regulations.

Avalon denies any wrongdoing, but its senior partner has begun to shun the public spotlight. His firm, which has been charged with 12 separate offences governing solicitors’ practice rules, accounts rules and professional conduct, will fight its corner at a hearing of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal next year.

Hubris…?

(PS.. I am grateful to a good friend of mine who has recently retired as a partner with Slaughter & May for drawing my attention to this story. I had, in fact, missed it)

Muttley Dastardly LLP – ‘How to Bundle’…

The Watson Farley Williams trainee blog continues to delight… This week we have Daisy… here is (some of) what Daisy has to say:

“I am delighted to blog that my seat in International litigation has so far been great. I have done research into waiver of privilege and freezing injunctions which involved reading cases – a refreshing change from the ‘practical exercises’ of the LPC. Still, lessons at law school in ‘How to bundle’ and ‘Paginators: Number manipulation and ink control’ would have come in handy this week….

Thursday was long awaited payday! …. In the evening the firm laid on a trainee night out – a rather wet treasure hunt around the city followed by supper and hookah pipes. More free booze and food at the law rugby sevens tournament on Sunday – again the rain was torrential but of course didn’t dampen spirits… All in all so far so good. Would love to write for longer, but must get back to some bundles..” WFW Trainee Blog

FROM THE DESK OF MATT MUTTLEY, Managing Partner, Dastardly Muttley LLP

It has come to my attention through our ‘Black Ops unit’ that a London law firm is now allowing trainees to blog about their experiences at the firm. This is a trend which I would like to see replicated throughout The City. It will give us a degree of competitive advantage and you will benefit from the knowledge that your contemporaries at other law firms are not contributing to their firm in the way you are – because they are involved in non-productive work, when they are engaged in these extra-curricular activities. I provide my reasons below.
Having assessed the content of these trainee blogs it seems to me that trainees at this particular firm are spending the firm’s time going on treasure hunts, attending rugby tournaments and reading caselaw – all of which activities, of course, are ‘proscribed activities’ in our firm (See: Para 1247 (b)(iii) of our Terms & Conditions of Service Regulations (Trainees) October 2006). You will recall the briefing you received at your induction that if a partner or assistant at this firm requires you to read a case or other law based document, you will be directed to the relevant library or online resource and carry out research under controlled conditions and will record same on the file using our latest LawChronometer software package to record time spent.

On careful perusal of this firm’s trainee weblog, I am encouraged only by one comment in a blog entry by ‘AL’ where he says this… “My supervisor has been very keen to push me out of my “comfort zone” and turn me into a lean mean drafting machine.”

That is all. Be happy in your work. And remember…everyday at MD is ‘Bring ME Sunshine Day.” I look forward to the day when I will be able to meet you in person.

LCJ gives himself a community service order

“We washed down the underpass. I was sweating. Dirt ran down my arms.”

Lord Phillips, Lord Chief Justice

The Observer today has a fascinating story describing how Lord Philips rolled up his sleeves and spent a day with offenders on a community service ‘payback scheme’ cleaning an underpass. It is worth reading.

According the newspaper report, Lord Phillips “wanted to prove that non-custodial sentences are the right alternative for many to prisons now so overcrowded he considers it ‘difficult or impossible’ for them to rehabilitate offenders and prevent re-offending.”

The issue of imprisonment is complex. Britain’s prisons are full to bursting point – to a point where Police may have to / are having to accommodate convicted criminals in Police station cells.

Briefly – the Observer comments: “Phillips argues it is ‘madness to spend £37,000 jailing someone when, by spending much less on services in the community, you can do as good a job’. He is highly critical of what he sees as the underfunding of community-based punishments and calls for better resources. ‘It’s no answer just to put more and more people in prison,’ he said. “

You may read the report on Mary Riddell’s interview with the LCJ in The Observer . I see no point in rehearsing the debate here.

What impressed me, however, was the fact that Lord Phillips took the trouble to arrange to spend a day doing the type of community service work which those sentenced to community service orders have to do – and went to a great deal of trouble to avoid the Press getting wind of the story, lest they deride it as a publicity stunt. (I liked the idea of his ‘cover’ story being that of a ‘shipping solicitor convicted of driving with excess alcohol and sentenced to 150 hours unpaid work and 18 months disqualification.)

Clearly, there is a serious problem with overcrowding in prisons. Clearly, prison, as a deterrent, as a remedy for crime, does not always work and clearly, there is a need for political action. Building another 8000 prison places is probably not the answer. I have little expertise in this area, but it does seem to me that it is pretty pointless to imprison people who are unlikely to be a danger and threat to society when alternative punishment or penalty may not only be cheaper but also be of greater use to society.

I find it encouraging to know that we have a Lord Chief Justice who is not only prepared to be ‘Liberal’ and think more widely about sentencing options, but who is prepared to roll up his sleeves and address the problem properly with direct action and bring the weight and experience of the Judiciary to bear on a problem which should not just be left to election motivated politicians and the Press.

No doubt some politicians will mock this ‘awayday’ experiment – but, for my part, Phillips has not only given a good demonstration of the problem we face with our overcrowded prisons, he has made a very public statement that he plans to do his part to do something about it and has laid down a very clear marker to the Home Office (in the same Observer story) that the Judiciary will continue, in matters relating to law generally and the Human Rights Act in particular, “apply the law as it is.”

Just goes to show what happens to me when I read The Observer before getting stuck into the News of The World. I shall resume normal non-legal service shortly !…

Dragon talks to a Vulcan at Tory conference…

I was recovering quite nicely – after drinking Rioja on the advice of my doctor to reduce the effects of whiplash injuries to my neck following my accident – and then made the serious mistake of logging on to Webcameron to see if I could end my evening with a laugh.

I clicked on the Rachel Elnaugh film link.

Rachel Elnaugh is no longer on the Dragon’s Den programme but I watched this woman interviewing John Redwood (aka The Vulcan) and came to the view that she was more interested in asking her questions (not particularly incisive) than actually listening to Redwood.

Elnaugh states that she is not a member of the Conservative Party – but makes it clear in her monologue to Redwood that she gets a ‘real feeling WE can win the next election’. Redwood reminds us that the Labour government was elected in 2005 and despite ‘the parlous state Labour are in’ that ‘we may have to put up with the present government for some time’. (Paraphrased) Redwood, thereby escapes a need to actually discuss any policies – hairbrained or otherwise.

I watched as Redwood waffled on – but what drew my eye was that both Elnaugh and Redwood seemed on the precipice of a hyperventilation attack with excitement at talking to each other. Certainly neither of them actually had much to say of any substance as they talked at each other. Finally… Redwood, eyes bulging with unexpected Vulcan enthusiasm, dismissed Elnaugh with a few choice phrases and then the film cuts to a close up of Elnaugh – who had turned herself into David Attenborough, whispering ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ style, while a group of Tories settled down in a function room to be addressed by Redwood.

The film then did a huge jump cut (Perhaps Redwood’s talk could not be broadcast – for fear that a clue as to Tory policy might be leaked to the British Public?) to Elnaugh, on what appeared to be a beach, telling us that it did not matter that the Tories had not yet developed final policies – because people in business – entrepreneurs like herself – looked at the vision before developing a plan… world class waffle which I doubt the current members of the Dragon’s Den panel would have been impressed by. If I had been a panel member of The Dragon’s Den – I would have kept my cash firmly on the table. In fact… I think I would have put my cash back in my swag bag and phoned for a minicab to take me back to The Swan in Chiswick/Acton.

Mind you… it would be quite good to see Rachel Elnaugh on East Enders running the Queen Vic pub. Imagine how she could turn that pub’s fortunes around? There must be a story line there?

You’ll believe a man can fly….

Well there I was, stationary at a junction, waiting to turn right… when a woman in a Volkswagen hit me from behind at 40 mph…

I have never had a bike crash and I’ve been riding for many years on roads, race tracks and the like.

I heard the screech of brakes and the sliding of tyres on wet tarmac. It is true that everything goes into slow motion when one is in danger. It was one of those “Oh…S**T’ moments… and then the car hit me. Unfortunately there was a car coming in the opposite direction. As the bike lurched forward, I could see a look of horror on the face of the driver in the car coming towards me. It was fortunate / lucky that I was able to twist the bars to the left, the wheel gripped with enough traction for the bike to veer to the left, avoiding the oncoming car, according to the witness, by less than a yard – and then I went down, under the bike, and slid about twenty or so feet with my right leg taking the weight of the bike and the scrapes from the tarmac.

It is fair to say that I used colourful language as I lay on the ground. It was a performance which Gordon Ramsay would have been proud of. I could not move. A big guy ran over, lifted the bike and told me not to move. I moved my neck – my helmet was smashed in on the right side. My head was still attached to my shoulders and seemed to be working. As I tried to get up, onlookers brandishing mobile phones, were intent on informing the Police, Ambulance, Coast Guard and, who knows, even HM Revenue & Customs, so keen were they to help.

A rather beautiful young woman – a student at the local Arts Ed in Chiswick, saw everything and volunteered herself as a witness. The driver, a lovely woman in her late forties, her daughter and the daughter’s child were distraught. As I didn’t die or suffer life threatening injuries I did not want to waste time with the Police. Have you ever waited for a copper to turn up at a non-fatal RTA? Could be days! I certainly did not wish to go to one of our hospitals. Hospitals are full of ill people, infested with MRSA and other nasties – and, frankly, I did not need any more problems that night. (Quite apart from the fact that I am told that hospitals do not serve Rioja in their waiting rooms and I had no desire to sit for six hours next to people with knives in their arms, other injuries, or those who may be harbouring some appalling tropical disease after their holiday to tropical regions)

Codebreaker’s wife (Codebreaker writes for my blog occasionally) is a nurse. She lives nearby. Plasters covered the wounds – I then hobbled to The Swan for a couple of glasses of Rioja and a few absolutely fantastic Silk Cuts. I had to operate on several of my cuts later in the night when the larger wounds split with the swelling – but a needle and thread did the business. The Doc was not that impressed this morning with my auto-surgery and told me that I should have had a scan for my head. He was appalled when I told him that I had been drinking Rioja with a friend of mine, an ex Slaughter & May partner, until midnight. That also did the business. I asked Doc if I was OK, after he shone lights into my eyes and ears, took heart rate etc etc – to which he replied that I was. I agreed with him.

Wine is a great healer!. Still puzzled as to how the woman driver did not see me. My helmet is very yellow, as is my jacket – and the bike is one of the biggest on the road. THINK Bike?

Bored with ‘celebrity’ Chefs?… I am… get back into the kitchen and stay there….

Having met a number of celebrity Chefs in my time – I am only too pleased to hear Boris Johnson having a go at one of them. I am bored with seeing Oliver, Ramsay, Ainsley, the ‘squashed beegee’, and all those other chefs who dominate our screens, spending time on TV, the newspapers and any other media which they can sprawl all over – telling us what to do. They’ll be reading the news next… or worse… offering disadvantaged daytime TV viewers loans at high prices in TV commercials. My own view is that Chefs are, and should be called, ‘Cook’..and, like Victorian children, should be seen working (in the kitchen) and not be heard’.

Delighted that Boris Johnson MP has managed to find something which our press hounds actually found interesting about the Conservative Conference. I have struggled… but I am still watching ‘WebCameron’ rather like a mongoose watches a snake… to see what ‘Dave’ does next.

According to the BBC…Mr Johnson (said): “I say let people eat what they like. Why shouldn’t they push pies through the railings?”.

(The BBC reports… “He later said he had been misquoted, adding: “What I said was `let them eat liver and bacon’.”)

Frankly... I have absolutely no interest at all in what parents feed their kids, so long as they keep them out of pubs. If parents want to see their children grow into human zeppelins… that is just fine by me. I am not standing for Parliament. I am not responsible for what parents do with their children, and I most certainly don’t want to see celebrity chefs being given any more air time on National TV. Let them go to some obscure food channel… or even better, get back into the kitchen and get on with their jobs. Ramsay with his limited vocabulary bores me. He is a one horse pony who seems to think the word ‘F*CK’ is still interesting.

Far more interesting.. . was William Hague’s response to the media storm about Boris’s remarks … “If you were to talk to Boris tonight, he’s not normal and he doesn’t pretend to be remotely normal.”

Editor’s note: William Hague, for the politically uninterested/disinterested/very young/foreign readers – was the youngest leader of the Tory Party – and now is a professional Yorkshireman, Judo specialist, rich man and shadow Foreign secretary – whatever that means.

As you might expect… despite being a Labour voter of over 30 years (Lord knows why with Blair’s present government) I find that Boris is a breath of fresh air… Maybe he could do a ‘Winston’ and cross the floor and join a party which is actually likely to govern?

Rather puts Dave’s ‘WebCameron’ in the shade. By the way… WebCameron gets even more bizarre.

The first Monday in October…

And so… another legal year begins…

Bystander JP in his Blog has an amusing story about the judges’ procession which marks the start of the legal year and, below that, a bit of history about the proceedings which mark the start of the year. You may have to scroll down to get to the story.

Follow up to the Watson Farley William’s trainee solicitor blog
RollonFriday has published a list of anonymous reports from trainees about their experiences at law firms – interesting and amusing

Meanwhile at Muttley Dastardley LLPA Cocktail Party

Thanks to an American lawyer who sent this by email “A doctor had just bought a villa on the French Riviera, when he met an old lawyer friend whom he hadn’t seen in years, and they started talking. The lawyer, as it turned out, owned a nearby villa. They discussed how they came to retire to the Riviera.

 

 

“Remember that lousy office complex I bought?” asked the lawyer, “Well, it caught fire, and I retired here with the fire insurance proceeds. What are you doing here?”

The doctor replied, “Remember that real estate I had in Mississippi? Well, the river overflowed, and here I am with the flood insurance proceeds. It’s amazing that we both ended up here in pretty much the same way.”

“It sure is,” the lawyer replied, looking puzzled, “but I’m confused about one thing – how do you start a flood?”

We seek him here..we seek him there: Charon The Scarlet Pimpernel?

The Swan, South Acton/Acton Green/Chiswick…whatever!

Charon can be quite elusive.  You may find yourself at The Swan where he goes rather too often – but he relies on a very cunning disguise when he goes out.  Charon will probably be there, but you would not know it.

Although a W4 postcode – the truth is that I live in South Acton.  Although some people I know like to think that they live in Chiswick for reasons of property prices and good old fashioned snobbery!  The Swan has a similar problem.  Is it Chiswick, South Acton or Acton Green? Frankly, for my part, it doesn’t matter.  It is but 732 paces from my house down a well trodden path from Bollo Lane, via Antrobus Road.

As I tend to spend part of my life at this pub, occasionally, it has to be said, deriving inspiration from the excellent Tempranillo fermented grape juice they provide, and an evening of discussion with Codebreaker et al – I thought it only reasonable to give a plug to this great place.

The Swan is an excellent establishment:  food good, beer good and a decent wine list at reasonable prices.  The staff are great – and very organised and laid back at the same time. Here is the review page/details 

I’m not running a competition but should you find yourself in this pub and can identify me, I’ll happily point you in the direction of some Rioja!

CPD for solicitors and barristers….

Tired of going to expensive CPD courses…want to save money, time and energy?

The Legal Practitioner online CPD service run by SPR, who also publish Consilio, only costs you £225 + VAT for an annual subscription and you can get all your CPD done online cheaply and at times which suit you

Have a look at the CPD service: The Legal Practitioner website

Management courses online for solicitors: 15 hours CPD.

Nick Jarrett-Kerr has produced a stimulating and fascinating course dealing with management of professional service firms. 15 hours CPD for £145 + VAT / Firmwide licences £145+VAT plus £75 + VAT per user up to £1500 cap.

Understanding the professional service law firm – Finance and profitability – Building business and understanding client relationships – People management and motivation – Understanding business planning, strategy and implementation. Read about the course | Try the online demonstrator | Buy the course

I’m pleased to say that Intellectual property law guru, geeklawyer, had a reasonably favourable experience completing his own CPD using The Legal Practitioner online CPD service: He comments here.

I quote: “Geeklawyer just finished doing his CPD backlog: always a royal pain in the ass. This year it was far less hassle than the last. because I used an online CPD course provider a firm not entirely unconnected with geeklawyer blog commentator CharonQC.

What did I think of it? As I discuss in the forum: cost effective informative and as painless as possible with a few minor rough edges.”