Pageflakes is down…

Yet again Pageflakes is down, and has been since yesterday.  Some say it will come back.  I hope so.

I have, however, re-done (and expanded considerably) the page for UK legal news and Law Blogs using Netvibes, which I prefer.  I will gradually replace the US, Canadian, Australian and other Pageflake pages I did.  Unfortunately, this means I will have to visit about 500 blogs.  If Pageflakes comes back – great – but I will, in any event, replace all my blog feeder pages.

Have a look at the new Netvibes page for all the major UK Blawgs I have been able to find + news and a few journals (I am still searching for Uk law journal feeds). There are tabs on the Netvibes page for Law news and journal pages.  The URL is to the main Law blogs section. It takes a bit of time to load.  There are a lot of UK blogs coming through now and I had not picked some of these up on my Pageflake page.

Podcast 94: US lawyer Victoria Pynchon on ADR, mediation and settlement in the USA

Today I am talking to Victoria Pynchon, a US lawyer based in Los Angeles, California. She was a commercial litigator and trial attorney for 24 years before shifting her practice from representing clients in court to helping lawyers settle lawsuits hat involve greater risk, expense or time than their clients wish to expend.  She this work through Judicate West Dispute Resolution Services, serves as a private judge (arbitrator) for the American Arbitration Association is an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University and blogs at

IP ADR and Settle it now.

Interestingly Vicky also acts as a sherpa for Blawg Review the international rolling carnival of law bloggers and is on Twitter

Listen to Podcast 94: US lawyer Victoria Pynchon on ADR, mediation and settlement in the USA

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Podcast version for iTunes

Professor R.D. Charon guests…

I despair of my brother Charon QC sometimes. I sit down to a glass of vodka and lime the other morning to read The Lawyer online and find that he is wasting yet more time (quite apart from the time he wastes on Twitter) by writing asinine captions to a picture of fellow academic, Peter Crisp, Dean and CEO of BPP Law School.

Be that as it may… I have spent much of my life in obfuscation; writing books, articles and monographs designed to challenge and baffle.   Generations of law students have left my charge with little understanding of the law, let alone its subtleties and complexities.

Turning to matters of greater importance. The law students of Cambridge University, privileged and assured of a place at the top of the bottom rung of the legal profession when they graduate, have been protesting, quite reasonably, about the conflict in Gaza and Israel.  The only problem is, instead of travelling to London to protest or protest using the power of Twitter or the blawgospehere, they decided to occupy the Law Faculty and this has led to a few problems with the University authorities.

They have a blog – and you may, therefore, consider whether their arguments are reasonable or unreasonable according to your political persuasion and taste. For my part, I make no comment save to say that protest is always good, but the methodology is important for it to have some effect. And if that is not an example of ‘obfuscation’ I do not know what is.

Linklaters to shed 120 associates

The City continues its relentless drive to ensure long term profitability for the partners by facing the stark reality that the credit-crunch has affected the the flow of work and fees.  Linklaters joined other Magic Circle and large City firms by announcing today that it is to shed 120 associates.  Partners are also going to be asked to leave.  Trainees are not affected.  Their training contracts are regulated by the SRA and SRA permission, as I understand it, is required before a trainee can be given the chop.  I stand to be corrected if I have the wrong end of the stick on this latter point.

My brother, yet again demonstrating his ability to reduce everything to a ridiculous joke, commented on the very serious matter of Lords allegedly misusing their position and allegedly taking backhanders by writing a frivolous parody Lord a Leaping. The fact of the matter is that this is a serious matter and it would appear that we don’t have any serious powers to deal with the eventuality of a peer succumbing to mammon and taking cash for inappropriate behaviour.  The Times reports that the sanction appears to be limited to ‘naming and shaming’ – which is all very well, but Lord Archer still hangs onto his ermine after serving a prison sentence and if these four peers are found to have acted inappropriately by the Star Chamber being convened, then it appears that they will also hold onto the ermine trimmed dressing gowns.

Well… as Charon QC would say.. there we are and…  on that note… it is goodnight from me.

29th January: Daily Legal news podcast

The daily legal news and news podcast is now up on Insite Law

FREE NEWSWIRE FROM INSITE LAW.

I am planning to write a weekly newswire covering legal news, interesting posts from law blogs, podcasts, law reports and other useful information for lawyers each weekend covering the events of the preceding week.  It will be short, sharp and to the point – no frills, no pics… just hard, useful information.
Please click here to sign up…

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If you would like to see what the Newswires will look like – click here for the first issue. Subscribers will receive the Newswire each Weekend – and the newswires will be archived on Insite Law during the folowing week.

Weekly email newswire from Insite Law – short, sharp and to the point.

I am planning to write a weekly newswire covering legal news, interesting posts from law blogs, podcasts, law reports and other useful information for lawyers each weekend covering the events of the preceding week.  It will be short, sharp and to the point – no frills, no pics… just hard, useful information.

This will, I hope, help you to keep abreast of legal news, reports and info at a quick glance

If you would like to receive a weekly newswire please sign up.  Your email details will, of course, be confidential and will not be sold to spammers or, indeed, anyone else.

Please click here to sign up…

Podcast 93: US District Judge, John L. Kane on The War on Drugs

Today I am talking to John L. Kane , a senior District Judge in Denver, Colorado, United States.  John has very robust views on the War on drugs and the antiquated Rules of Civil Procedure and the extent to which judges have stopped adjudicating in courts in order to meet the Tsunami of data generated in this information age.

Listen to Podcast 93: John L. Kane on The War on Drugs

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Link for ITunes

Podcast 92: The Rt Hon Lord Hunt of Wirral – Call for Evidence


The Law Society of England & Wales has decided to initiate an  independent Review of the regulation of lawyers and law firms.
Today I am talking to The Rt Hon Lord Hunt of Wirral who has been invited to head the review. Lord Hunt is calling for evidence from the entire legal profession as part of his Law Society-commissioned review of regulation. Lord Hunt has launched his evidence gathering process by publishing a formal Call for Evidence document . The publication inaugurates a three month initial consultation period which will end on Thursday 9 April 2009.

Listen to Podcast 92: The Rt Hon Lord Hunt of Wirral – Call for Evidence

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Direct link to Podcast 92 for iTunes

Materials:

Call for Evidence Website | Review of the Regulation of Law Firms: Call for Evidence (pdf)

Before his elevation to the peerage, David Hunt was the MP for Wirral (and Wirral West) from 1976 – 1997 and served with distinction as Secretary of State for Wales, Secretary of State for Employment and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Lord Hunt was senior partner at his national law firm – Beachcroft Wansbroughs (now Beachcroft LLP) – between 1996-2005. He is now chairman of the firm’s financial services division and is regarded as a major figure in the world of insurance and financial services.

Podcast 91: City Unslicker on the current financial crisis…

Today I am talking to one of the authors of the influential Captalists@Work blog. There are three contributors. City Unslicker, Nick Drew and Bill Quango MP.  This blog is, in my view, a must read for any lawyer who is interested in the City and who works in the corporate-commerical sector.  In fact.. I would go further and say that all lawyers will benefit from reading it.

I’m talking to City Unslicker. We look at an overview of the current financial crisis and the reasons for it – Toxic assets and why the banks lent so much to people with so little – The Role of The Bank of England and whether reduction in interest rates is working – The possibility of Deflation – Short selling of bank shares – The World shedding 70,000 + jobs a day – Madoff  –  How long the recession is likely to last.

Listen to Podcast 91: City Unslicker on the current financial crisis.

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Direct link to Podcast for iTunes

I’ve been *Podcasted*…!

Rather like TV crews waiting for events to happen who start interviewing each other… tonight I was the first guest on John Bolch’s (Family Lore)  new series of Podcasts. While John plans to focus on Family Law and related matters, he asked me (given that he has been a guest on my podcasts on many occasions) if I would like to be his first guest.  I put my *vermin in ermine kit* on, brushed my absurd new *mustache* and waited by the telephone;  Rioja to my right, a woodbine to my left.  I enjoyed the experience and I wish John every success with his series of podcasts – which, I am assured, will be on matters legal in future….

Listen to the Podcast… John Bolch interviews *Moi*…

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Direct link to podcast for iTunes feed

Charon reports from The House of Lords: Lord a leaping….

I report tonight, from outside the House of Lords, the upper chamber of Parliament to a nation with a long, proud, but not always entirely honourable history.   The Sunday Times claimed yesterday that four Labour peers, including Lord Taylor of Blackburn, were prepared to change the law for cash. In a statement to the House of Lords earlier, Lady Royall called the claims “deeply shocking”. She pointed out that they were only allegations at this stage but said the claims had been “damaging not just to this House but to Parliament and politics”. She said the matter had been referred to the Lords Interests sub committee, which had already met and investigations were underway.

I met up with Lord CashnCarry, who, clearly, does not read newspapers or watch television, to see if he might be up for a bit of ‘bending the rules’.  Our conversation, which I recorded, went as follows.

Transcript of conversation between Charon and Lord CashnCarry, 26th January 2009

Charon: Psssst…. Lord CashnCarry?

Lord CashnCarry: Yes….

Charon: Thanks for coming… anyone following you?

Lord CashnCarry: No… not that I am aware of.

Charon: Good….  I’ve got a client who is very interested in the Prawn, Pike and Salmon Restriction on Fishing Bill 2009 being proposed by the government.

Lord CashnCarry: Oh yes… very interesting Bill this. I’m a bit of an angler myself  and not just the fishing type… if you get my drift.

Charon: Indeed… your reputation precedes you.

Lord CashnCarry: So… what can I do for you… a spot of adjusting?  A bit of derogation? Perhaps even a full scale revision of the Bill?

Charon: I gather you have had some success recently in… shall we say… delaying a bill?

Lord CashnCarry: Absolutely.  Yes… put in a small amendment here, another small one there…. you do it quietly behind the scenes you see

Charon: Do you put these amendements yourself?

Lord CashnCarry: No no no no no. You don’t do things like that. That’s stupid. What you do is you talk to the parliamentary team who drafts the statute as it goes through and you point out to them the difficulty the ‘interested party’ would be having on this…

Charon: Do you talk directly to the Minister?

Lord CashnCarry: No no no no no. You don’t do things like that. No no no…. far too many people at the meeting…. things being written down… Oh no… It’s some little chappie half way down…It’s about identifying the decision makers. It’s about identifying the people that make the recommendations…..

Charon: Obviously, from our point of view, this would be something we would remunerate you for. Money is no object on this one.

Lord CashnCarry: Money no object you say?… This is absolutely difficult, this is very difficult for me because some companies that I work for will pay me £100,000 a year.”

Charon: £100,000? Really? Astonishing…

Lord CashnCarry: Oh yes. That’s cheap for what I do for them. One firm gave me a yacht. Another gave me a car to ‘use’… if you get my drift. It all depends on what you are trying to do and how much time I think I am going to spend on it. These are the sort of fees I get. I am being absolutely honest with you. I am not exaggerating. It’s whether I want to do it or not. You’ve got to whet my appetite to get me on board.”

Charon: Well thank you Lord CashnCarry…. I’ll need to consult with the ‘interested party’ and get back to you.

Lord CashnCarry: Right Oh…. don’t take too long.. fortune favours the bold… my own in this case… Ha ha ha….. early bird catches the worm, as they say in the House.

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I made my excuses and left.

With apologies to The Sunday Times transcript… you really couldn’t make it up.


Snapshots 25th January: Lords and Commons in the shit and talking it?….

Sunday 25th January
Lord and Commons in the shit and talking it?….

Another interesting week in the law, quite apart from the Inauguration of President Obama, with a few constitutional issues thrown in. Gordon Brown has yet to be invited to visit the new President but may already have had an opportunity to tell Obama about his plans to save the world and enjoy a post-Obamagasm coffee after the call. Who knows? Charon interviewed the Prime Mentalist?

Gordon Brown was taken by surprise this week, believing he had secured Tory support for suppressing information on MP expenses, only to discover that this was not so during prime minister’s questions. Now we shall be able to enjoy looking at 1.2 million receipts from greedy MPs who have lined their pockets and furnished their homes courtesy of the taxpayer. I have little doubt that the newspapers will be providing us with their analysis in due course.

Petulance is always amusing to watch
and I have to admit to laughing out loud as I enjoyed coffee and a woodbine this morning when I read this from The Telegraph:

Supreme Court judges complain about the name of their website.

“Judges at the new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom have already voiced their displeasure at their postal address, Little George Street, which they complained was “diminutive” and not befitting “the creature being created”. They are now complaining about the name of their website.”

The Telegraph goes on to enjoy this moment of schadenfreude by noting… “We wanted supremecourt.uk, but we were told we couldn’t have it,” says Lord Hope, who will be the deputy president of the court when it opens in October. “It is now supremecourt.gsi.gov.uk, which is not particularly attractive.”

I am baffled by this petulance. The building their lordships are moving into seems to be a rather good one, designed to let the public see justice being done and, quite separate from Parliament… something, one would have thought, which would have appealed to their lordships’ sense of independence. Hopefully, their lordships will have better things to occupy their brilliant legal minds soon. The prospect of a senior member of the judiciary coming out with some other nonsense to slavering journalists, while amusing, would not be in the interests of credibility and the dignity of the new supreme court.

See also: John Bolch, Family Lore – who has a different take on the same story

It would seem that our political and legal masters are going for three YES votes on X Factor this week… or, if you prefer an Olympian metaphor.. they are going for GOLD!

The BBC reports: ‘Concern’ over peers cash claims

The leader of the House of Lords says she is “deeply concerned” over allegations four peers were prepared to accept money to put down amendments.

The Sunday Times claims they offered to help make amendments to legislation in return for up to £120,000. Lady Royall told the BBC she had spoken to the four Labour peers concerned and would be “pursuing the matter with utmost vigour”.

The BBC reports: ” The former energy minister Lord Truscott did admit to having had “discussions” with the reporter, but told the BBC that “to suggest I would offer to put down amendments for money is a lie”.

The second ‘Lord a leaping’ is Lord Moonie, a former defence minister.  He is reported as saying.. “… that he had been suspicious of the people who had approached him”. The BBC notes…. “He acknowledged discussing a fee of £30,000 with the undercover reporters but said: “I am not aware of having offered to do anything for these people that was outside the rules.”

Stepping up to the plate to represent his country is  Lord Taylor of Blackburn, who said “two people approached him claiming to work for a lobbying firm and looking for help with a bill they wanted amending. He said they suggested paying him £5,000 to £10,000 a month as an adviser but he never said he would accept, no contract was signed and no money changed hands. Asked about his alleged suggestion that the rules could be “bent”, he said: “‘Bent’ to me means you will try to persuade the bureaucracy of the House to change them.”

Finally, the BBC states:

Lady Royall went on to say that if it emerged the peers had broken the rules, they would be “named and shamed” but they could not be thrown out of the House of Lords.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg told Andrew Marr that people would be very angry reading about the “allegations of total corruption”… If anyone needed any reminder of how threadbare and weak the creditability of the way we do politics has become, they just need to look at today’s headlines,” he said.

So… there we are.  Not a bad haul for a wet, grey, rainy morning. Perhaps, next week, we shall see an MP, a peer, or even a senior member of the judiciary auditioning for ‘X’ Factor or “Britain’s Got Talent’  with a dancing dog.  I do hope not.

So… where does one start?…

After the BBC broke the news about the separation of Prince Harry and Chelsy to a distraught and credit-crunch battered nation last night, The News of The Screws reported, without the crass solemnity of the BBC:  “Harry, 24, is believed to have told his father about the split a few days ago. Both Charles and Camilla were said to be sad for the couple, but respected his decision. The Queen was also informed. “She does not like surprises,” said an aide.

Chelsy has, however, changed her Facebook status to “Not in a relationship”.

No… HM The Queen doesn’t like surprises. I can’t say I blame her.  She has had quite a few surprises in her time. Apart from a burglar turning up in her Buckingham Palace bedroom many years ago, she has woken several times in her long reign to stories in The Press about her children and now… her grandchildren.

Digressing for a moment to reflect on the painting by Lucian Freud of Her Majesty…  I thought it may interest readers to know this….

“The chief art critic of The Times, Richard Cork, describes the image as “painful, brave, honest, stoical and, above all, clear sighted”. But in the same paper, Richard Morrison says: “The chin has what can only be described as a six-o’clock shadow, and the neck would not disgrace a rugby prop forward.”The expression is of a sovereign who has endured not one annus horribilis but an entire reign of them. The Merry Monarch it isn’t.”

The Sun, at the time (2001), called the portrait “a travesty”. The paper’s royal photographer, Arthur Edwards, says: “They should hang it in the kharzi. “Freud should be locked in the Tower for this.”

Back to 25th January 2009…. The News of The Screws is having a field day today. Not only is there the grave news that Harry Pothead flirts with women and has been kicked into touch by Chelsy – NOTW journos are hyperventilating and beside themselves at the shock revelation that Jonathan Ross (just returned to broadcasting on our airwaves after being suspended for insulting national treasure Manuel from Fawlty Towers)  has DISGRACED himself and the nation…. and has given blazer and cravat wearers from middle England something to do, other than hack around a golf course 30 over par, by being able to complain about his  Saturday Radio show…

Britain wakes this morning to the news… ROSS DOES SICK OAP SEX GAG on his BBC radio 2 show.

The News of The World reports…

“THE FOUL mouth of shamed Jonathan Ross put his BBC career on a new knife-edge yesterday—just minutes after he returned to Radio 2 from his three-month suspension.

The mega-bucks star’s crude joke about sex with an 80-year-old woman infuriated listeners.”  I’ll leave discerning readers the delights of reading this story for themselves and merely extract a few choice comments from the great and the good who run our sceptred isle and who gave up their leisure time on a Saturday to do a bit of hyperventilating with NOTW journos…

First up is former visa fast tracking and  libertarian Home Secretary David Blunkett, the man who helped to transform Britain into a surveillance state while shagging a comely young married woman from a well known political journal, –  edited, at the time, by national Mayor treasure, Boris Johnson.

David Blunkett’s contribution to this story of national importance is this… ““It’s time for Ross to donate some of his salary to charity.”

Next, we turn to the reaction by the man who committed political suicide by taking a stand on 42 days and who has now been overlooked again by David Cameron… the best leader of the Conservatives that never was… David Davies…

The NOTW reports with a straight face: “Tory MP David Davies was listening to the show with his young children and demanded the BBC immediately sack Ross. He raged: “On Radio 2 you don’t expected X-rated references to sex, and especially sex with an 80-year-old, during the day”

THE BBC OFFICIAL RESPONSE?

As reported by the NOTW: ” But Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, refused to condemn Ross. He even declined to listen to a transcript of the crass comments and said: “You’re not going to expect me to make any comment on this, are you?”

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson — on £816,000 a year of licence-payers money — REFUSED to discuss the incident and hung up on us.

Later the corporation defended Ross in a statement which said: “Regular listeners will be familiar with Jonathan’s irreverence and innuendo.”

It is 04:52 am in Britain as I write this… a quick visit to the BBC website confirmed….

“A joke by Jonathan Ross on his first radio show after having been banned had “clearly no intention to offend anyone”, the BBC has said.”

BBC website, 25th January 2009

Well… there we are… news of a different type. Back later in the day.. and now for a spot of breakfast… fried egg, bacon, toast, beans…. and, of course, I shall turn the plate around so that the egg is conveniently placed to the right….

Brigadier Grappa returns….

It is some time since I have been on the internet in this alter ego, but there was a time when I was a regular poster on RollonFriday;  wasting industrial amounts of time along with City lawyers, many of whom were senior associates (with a sprinkling of partners)  – and generally enjoying the pleasures of ribald commentary, drunken RoF drinks and meeting some very amusing people.

I have returned to the fray *Qua Brigadier Grappa* after seeing my other alter ego’s report (below)  on the tragic break up of the relationship between Prince Harry Pothead and his girlfriend, Chelsea and seeing the hyperventilation of the BBC journos who think this information merits front page coverage on the BBC website.  I have been spending a fair bit of time with my wine cellar and consuming of the distilled drink of the gods after which I named myself.  It has been an absence too long….

It seems to me that the BBC is dumbing down. I am not alone, of course, in this view but having seen endless amounts of waffle on Obama Day (Even David Milliband mocked John Sopel who was covering the Inauguration by apologising for interrupting Sopel’s stream of cliches when they cut to him for a *reaction*) I am beginning to wonder if politically correct BBC is catering to morons as part of a bit of * binge inclusiving*.

I watched BBC Breakfast the other morning. It was horrific. I expect GMTV to be happy clappy and full of primary colours. I know what goes on on that channel.  This is why I don’t watch it. With the BBC…  I wasn’t expecting reporters to be wearing dinner jackets but I did think we might be served up some fairly tight analysis given the various crises around the world.  The presenters, reading from their autocues, smiling manically (and, at times, inappropriately) served up the news of the world’s events as if  the people of Britain all had hangovers or had collectively been diagnosed with severe learning difficulties.

There is nothing wrong with being a moron. I would be the first to defend to the death the right of morons to be morons, win the lottery and then drive fast cars around their back gardens, but I do think, given that we now have 24/7 TV, the Dave TV Channel and various other state sponsored opiates for the work shy, that the rest of us could be given serious coverage in a reasonably adult and serious way.   Back to Radio 4 I think…. but not back to Royal Tonbridge Wells… oh no… I’m back… and as they say down my old manor…. laters….!

NEWSFLASH…

We interrupt your lives to announce that Prince Harry and his girlfriend Chelsy Davy have ended their relationship.

The BBC, having run out of Labour politicans to kowtow to, has rekindled its interest in The Monarch and matters Royal. Clarence House has not made any official comment other than to say …”Bugger Orf!”

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BBC News 24 and  their highly trained cadre of autocuties , now with absolutely nothing to do following their return from the Inauguration and Ascension of Barack Obama to the Office of The People’s President,  will now go into an orgy of completely pointless coverage, angst ridden speculation and much wringing of hands.  That is all.  Nicholas Witchell is in make up and will, no doubt, be on a TV screen near you… soon. Aaaaarrrrrgggghhhh.

Podcast 90: Mark Bennett, a criminal defense lawyer from Texas on the jury and the art of advocacy

Today I am talking to Mark Bennett, a lawyer from Houston, Texas who specializes in Criminal defense work. Mark is also the author of the  Defending People blog – the art and science of criminal defense trial lawyering. His blog won the ABA Journal best criminal blog award in a hard won fight with Scott Greenfield’s blog, Simple Justice – more of which later.

This is the fourth podcast with US lawyers  on the theme of Criminal Law  and complements the podcasts I have done with Scott Greenfield, Gideon and Brian Tannebaum.

Today, we paint a picture of trial advocacy, start with defendants talking too much, move on to  the importance of jury selection and then look at how US trial lawyers deal with examination in chief (direct) and cross-examination.

Listen to Podcast 90: Mark Bennett, a criminal defense lawyer from Texas on the jury and the art of advocacy

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Blog references:

Worst Jury Selection Advice Ever: Don’t Listen

J’Accuse (War on Drugs)

Direct link to Podcast 90 with Mark Bennett

Snapshot 23 January: To err is human and other matters….

Charon Reports Podcast version: To err is human and other matters

There is a certain irony that two men holding high political office, one from the UK and one from the US, should suffer from  minor memory loss. The Independent reports this morning:

“Mr Straw came in for criticism for failing to declare a £3,000 donation for four years. The committee said it was “surprised and disappointed” that someone as experienced as Mr Straw had broken the rules. He accepted the gift from Canatxx Energy in 2004 to pay for a dinner to celebrate his 25 years as MP for Blackburn. The committee said Mr Straw was “negligent” and should have known better because as Home Secretary, he had brought in a 2001 law to reform the rules on political funding. The gift was only declared formally last month, following allegations that it might have raised a conflict of interest because the company sought planning permission near Mr Straw’s constituency.”

In the United States, awaiting confirmation by the Senate, is US Treasury Secretary designate Timothy Geithner who, it would appear, forgot to pay some $34,000 in taxes between 2001 and 2004. President Obama stated that this was “embarrassing” but added that Geithner’s “innocent mistake” shouldn’t keep him from taking the helm of the new administration’s urgent efforts to revive the economy.

Prime Mentalist Gordon Brown, our revered leader who is leading Britain PLC on a long march to financial ruin, has been criticised by fresh faced Mr Pilsbury lookalike David Cameron.

“Britain risks bankruptcy and a humiliating bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because of Gordon Brown’s borrowing, David Cameron said yesterday….. If we continue on Labour’s path of fiscal irresponsibility, at some point – and it could be very soon – the money will simply run out.”

The man who would be King went on to insist he was not predicting a date by which the Government would “end up back at the IMF”. But he added: “What I am saying is that we are running the risk of those things happening and those are risks that no government should responsibly run.” The Independent 23 January 2009

But it is not all doom and gloom. Following the removal of restrictions on short selling of Bank stocks (It appears the Chancellor was only given a few hours notice by the FSA and was ‘furious’)… “one of London’s most successful hedge funds has made £12m in just four days by betting on a fall in the Barclays share price, a move that will heighten the controversy over so-called short-selling strategies. Lansdowne Partners, which also profited from the fall in the share price of Northern Rock at the height of its problems, sold Barclays shares last Friday – when the bank lost almost a quarter of its value in frenzied trading – and bought them back again on Wednesday after they had fallen by almost £1.” The Guardian

Well… there we are.  The weekend is almost upon us.  Have a good one.

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Charon Reports Podcast version: To err is human and other matters

Podcast 89: In conversation with US attorney Cathy Gellis…

Today I’m talking to Cathy Gellis,  a US attorney from California, author of the Statements of Interest blog and who is also exploring the delights of twitter.

Who is Cathy Gellis? Well…. I quote from her website … She’s a lawyer licensed in New York, New Jersey, and California … She graduated from Boston University School of Law with a JD and holds a BA from UC Berkeley … She also studied for a semester at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany … Her interests include high tech civil liberties, intellectual property, international law and human rights. On a recent trip to London –  she saw Hamlet several times and, clearly, has a passion for literature and English actors…. We’ll find out later about Edward Fox…

Listen to Podcast 89: In conversation with Cathy Gellis

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Direct link to podcast

Latest news and a news podcast up on Insite Law – 22 January

Each day, as dawn breaks over London, I read all the major news sources for legal stories, including newspapers and our revered Ministry of Justice.  I then go to my Pageflakes page for UK Blawgs and root out the latest stories from the blawgs. My news and blog selections are then carefully inserted onto the front page of Insite Law for your delectation, delight and pleasure.  After several cups of coffee, a few woodbines, I change into a black dinner jacket and, in the style of a BBC newsreader from the 1950s, I read the news – recording it as a podcast.

All this is done without opening a bottle of Rioja – so it seems to make sense. Have a look at the daily news, the latest from the UK Blawgs (Tomorrow, I am doing a US, Canada, Australia  – Blog update) and sit back and have a coffee while listening to the news podcast?

Hopefully, Insite Law and the various Pageflake pages I have put together (You may access these from the blogroll to the right) are of some use to you.

1.  Visit Insite Law for the latest news, the podcast and reports from the blawgs

2.  Try the Pageflake pages if you haven’t already – here is the UK Blawgs page

3. Have a good day!

Upcoming Blawg Review…

Peter Black of the  Freedom to Differ blog in Australia is hosting next week’s Blawg Review.  Last year he released his Blawg Review on Twitter… 140 characters at a time!.  This year?  Who knows. I talk to Peter about his Blawg Review, a bit of cricket, why I am wearing a stetson and wine…

Watch the movie?

Podcast 88: Student complaints to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator

Today I am talking to Solicitor Andrew Johnson of Walker Morris in Leeds about the Office of the Independent Adjudicator and the astonishing statistic that over 10% of student complaints referred to the OIA are brought by law students.

I’d like to stress that the views Andrew expresses are his own and he does not speak for his firm or his firm’s policy during this talk.  Andrew has a great deal of experience of dealing with student complaints litigation both from the side of the student and the institution.

Listen to Podcast 88: Student complaints to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator

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Materials:

Office of The Independent Adjudicator website

THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF SIBORUREMA
Appellant
– and –
OFFICE OF THE INDEPENDENT ADJUDICATOR
CA [2007] EWCA Civ 1365
Law Report

Times report: Adjudicator not to find facts

State of the nation…

Charon reports: State of the nation – podcast version

The Lawyer is keeping a running tally of job losses and redundancies in the legal sector. For some time now we have seen redundancy consultation notices being issued by small to medium sized and then larger law firms.  On 8th January, Clifford Chance the world’s largest law firm announced the redundancy consultation period for up to 80 of their London office lawyers and, yesterday Allen & Overy,  another magic circle firm,  announced the likely redundancy of up to 10 lawyers from their Hong Kong office. This morning, Dentons have announced plans to make up to 80 of their staff redundant.

Yesterday, The Lawyer reported: “Leeds-based firm Fox Hayes has gone into administration a month after the departure of its commercial and private client teams for Lupton Fawcett.”

Our European neighbours take the view that: “… Britain’s economy is about to suffer its most vicious slump since 1946, shrinking by a drastic 2.8 per cent this year, Brussels warned yesterday, as fears over the scale of the recession mounted despite the new banking bailout. In a dire assessment that threatens to leave Alistair Darling red-faced at a meeting of European Union finance ministers today, Brussels predicted that the UK would suffer the worst recession of any large European economy. (Source: Times Business)

Yesterday, RBS shares plummeted.  Times Business note: “RBS, worth £75 billion only two years ago, is now valued at £4.5 billion, even though it received £32 billion from taxpayers and shareholders less than three months ago. “

The restrictions on short selling of bank stock were lifted on 16th January. Short selling of bank stocks seems to have happened as predicted.  Where did short sellers get the stock to shortsell.  Cynics have suggested from the government.  Capitalists@Work, a leading finance blog, made the very pertinent comment… ” Ending the short-selling ban has not worked, as predicted. Bailing-out the banks without suspending the shares has not worked, again. The government has repeated the same mistakes it made in October.”

CityUnslicker, one of the Capitalists@Work blog authors, in reply to a comment on the blog wrote: ” RBS balance sheet is £1.6 trillion. If we take this on and there is say a 20% loss – £320 billion. Then add Barc, LBG, not to mention HSBC. There are assets as well as losses; but if we put these on the government sheet today the UK then I see a sovereign default within a few days in the current febrile atmosphere. We need some space, why oh why did they not suspend bank shares this morning…”

OK… I think the point is fairly clear and I need go no further  in laying the foundation for my main point.

It is not unreasonable to suppose that there will be further, possibly significant, redundancies in the legal sector.  It is possible that other law firms may fail and go into administration.  There have been rumours for some time that a set of Chambers is facing severe cashflow problems.

Yet the law schools continue to report enthusiastic application for places and will, no doubt, be more than happy to take students on to courses this coming September and report increased profits for shareholders (where applicable) and for university funds where there are no shareholders or trustees to satisfy.  Clearly, I am failing to understand some basic law of finance or supply and demand.  It would seem, to my untutored eye, that demand for lawyers is decreasing – for otherwise there would be no redundancies being announced, no three day weeks, no closures and no bankruptcies.  These redundancies, unless again I am failing to understand another law of finance, mean that the supply of lawyers (in this case, experienced lawyers) will increase.

Given that law firms are cutting back on recruitment it is almost certainly the case that students passing out of the law schools after their LPC (and BVC in the case of the Bar)  may not get a post and those fortunate enough in the last year to get a traineeship may find they are not taken on when their training contract is completed.  This will, ineluctably, add to the supply of trained (but not experienced) lawyers chasing jobs.

Given that no-one seems to have a clue how long or how deep this recession is going to be – let alone the Governor of The Bank of England, The Prime ‘Mentalist’ or The Chancellor of The Exchequer….  why do students and law schools think it is a great idea to train as a lawyer now (at fairly significant expense) when the reality is that it will take some time before the excess supply of experienced and recently qualified lawyers  is absorbed by a resurgent legal profession when we finally do start to see the green shoots?

The cynical argument that law firms will continue to recruit cheap labour in the form of trainees, rather than more expensive trained and experienced lawyers, doesn’t really hold water for a sector driven by quality demands. And who is to say that the whole earnings structure for lawyers will not face revaluation (similar to house price ‘corrections’) and assistants and partners will be prpeared to work for less just to hold onto their positions in a febrile and possibly deflationary market.

I think I need to go on a ‘finance and economics  for dummies’ course so that I can learn how the impossible can be achieved by the law schools. for they, alone in the sector, seem to have cracked the problem of boom and bust.  Or is it just one big Ponzi-Madoff?

I claim no expertise in this area and welcome comment, rant, vilification, groups of people with flaming torches standing outside hurling abuse late at night. Over to you.

***

Charon reports: State of the nation – podcast version

With honour…

It had occurred to me (My emails to The Palace nominating myself for a knighthood being rejected yet again as *spam*) that I might award myself some title or other honorific to keep me amused in these dark days. So…..  it was a particular pleasure, this morning, to receive an email from Scotland, from a good friend … James B’Stard Esq … to inform me that although he was murdered some time ago, he has been able to start his famous blog ‘Never Mind the Bollix’ again and has not forgotten his friends.  You can’t keep a Glaswegian down for long.

I noted, in his blogroll, that I have been elevated to *The Rt Hon Charon QC*.  As no money changed hands (unusually for me when I find myself with yet another title) this honorific gives particular pleasure.

So today is the day when our cousins across the sea inaugurate Obamassiah (Hat Tip to Colin Samuels) to the great office of President of The United States of America. I shall be watching the coverage on BBC television.  It may be that I shall  crack open a bottle or two of Rioja or, perhaps… a Claret.

20th January: Obama Day – Daily legal news podcast and news up on Insite Law…

Daily News update and podcast up on Insite Law. Also – major update to UK Blawgs – including a reference to John Bolch’s new Family Law podcasts and LawMinx’s fabulous new blog look.

A new President… a new era?
BBC coverage of The Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States

Judge condemns ‘torrent’ of laws
BBC: Lord Phillips, formerly the UK’s most senior judge, has criticised the government for introducing a “ceaseless torrent of legislation.”


Charon after a glass
A series of captioned pictures reflecting the events we have lived through. Have a look…

We shall never surrender…

Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice blog is always worth dropping into. Scott is a prolific, thoughtful and enthusiastic blogger.  While we both Tweet away, socially in the main, I share his view that Twitter, amusing though it is, cannot provide the depth of analysis, comment, amusement and pleasure given by blogs.

Today, Scott has a piece entitled  “Silent Death in the Blawgosphere” … as always, worth reading.

I’m afraid, I just had to quote Churchill… and did so on his comments section.  I rehearse it again here…

CharonQC wrote:
To paraphrase and abuse Sir Winston Churchill… I can only offer blood, toil, sweat and tears… and this:

“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in the blawgosphere, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our blawgs, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, the blawgosphere or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our imaginations beyond the seas, armed and guarded by our independence of thought and being , would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New Blawgosphere, shorn of Twitter, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

If the wind will not serve, take to the oars…

An old latin maxim.. “If the wind will not serve, take to the oars” is an apt metaphor for my post today. In The Telegraph this morning there is a report that  Jacqui Smith, arguably one of the least effective holders of the office of  Home Secretary in living memory, told MPs at a select committee hearing that out of 550,000 cases leading to arrests last year, 160,000 were dropped. The maths is fairly straightforward.  Roughly a third of cases don’t make the cut to prosecution.  Someone somewhere is doing something wrong;  but the good news is that the wasted expenditure pales into insignificance with the mind boggling figures being chucked at rapacious and incompetent bankers – many of whom are soon, effectively, to become servants of the state through government ownership of their bank.

The Telegraph reports: “It is eight times more than the number originally predicted by the Home Office when a new system was introduced, in which police handed to prosecutors the power of charging serious offences to help save time and money, and increase conviction rates at court.”

So, who is to blame? Are the Police being careless? Are the prosecutors incompetent?  Or is it just ‘circumstance’?  Perhaps the credit-crunch is to blame… or the  problem came from America?

The Telegraph hints at  the usual Great British *fuck up* with the passage…“The first review of the scheme found that present processes were “inconsistent, overly complex, inefficient and lacking in pragmatism, often leading to avoidable delays and frustration”.

***

I just had to put this comment on the post page…!

Miss Chief, on January 19th, 2009 at 12:24 pm Said: Edit Comment

“Arguably one of the least effective”!?
She makes Reginald Maudling look like a political giant.
One the other hand, if your measure of effectiveness is to create a neo-fascist, authoritarian, surveillance based, snooper riddled, police state, then Jacqui Smuts is the greatest home secretary we have ever had.

The Lawyers: Geeklawyer’s tax return and other matters…

Watch the film

Charon: Today I am talking to Geeklawyer about his tax return and other matters.  Good morning Geeklawyer.  You have been doing your tax return for nearly eight months.  Are you going for a Pullitzer prize?

Geeklawyer (In a German accent): Good Morning Charon.  The life I live means I have to pay particular attention to my tax and other official papers.  My tax return is one of the most creative things I have ever done… a work of true genius .

Charon: You appear to have turned into a German.  Have you been watching too many war films on Dave?  Be that as it may,  tell me what else you have been up to.  Have you been on Twitter recently?

Geeklawyer: Ja!  I have been on Twitter night und day.  I am addicted.  I cannot help myself.  I wake, see the Twitter screen and I just have to go on.   I even Twitter from court.  Judge does not like it, but I told him  that  I am  typing a note of the proceedings for my records.

Charon: I’m sorry, Geeklawyer but I am having real difficulty understanding you…  are you sure turning yourself into a german is a great idea?

Geeklawyer: Ja!  It is a great idea.  I can charge clients even more because I also  have doctorate degree from internet and clients think I  know a lot more law than my competitors.  Also, when they ask me to repeat myself, it takes time and time is money!

Charon: Well   there we are.  Lawyers are feeling the pinch in these credit crunch times.  We all have to cope.  Thank you for coming on.  I wish you luck with  your new riches.

Geeklawyer: Did you say Reich?  No… I must have misheard you.  It may be the mead I have been drinking.

Charon: Well it is goodbye from me and it is goodbye from my mate Rommel.  Goodbye.  Auf Wiedersehen.

Podcast 87: With US lawyer Kevin O’Keefe on Twitter et al.

Today I am talking to US Attorney Kevin O’Keefe. Kevin, CEO of LexBlog, Inc., was a trial lawyer for 17 years. Practicing law in rural Wisconsin, he successfully marketed his own law firm on the Internet in a such a positive way that USA Today said “If O’Keefe isn’t careful, he may wind up giving lawyers a good name.

Kevin is also the author of Real Lawyers Have Blogs
–  a leading source of information on the use of blogs and social media for law firm marketing.

Twitter is the application of 2008 and it looks as if growth will increase in 2009. I’m on Twitter myself and I can tell listeners that Kevin is a serial Twitterer, pumping out tweets on law, information, marketing… with the enthusiasm of  a machine gunner in a Cobra attack helicopter.


Let’s see what he has to say….

Listen to Podcast 87:  With US lawyer Kevin O’Keefe on Twitter et al.

Sir John Mortimer QC dies

The BBC reports: Dramatist and author Sir John Mortimer, who created enduring character Rumpole of the Bailey, has died aged 85 after a long illness.

***

On a purely personal note – I had the pleasure of meeting John Mortimer four times when he came to talk to my students at BPP Law School in London when I was the chief executive of the law school.  He always had time for students.  He would take no fee; asking only for a bottle of Champagne which he would consume (part of) while he gave his very amusing one hour talk. He will be missed.

West London Man 24: Diamonds are not forever….

WEST LONDON MAN 24: DIAMONDS ARE NOT FOREVER.

Listen to the podcast audio version.. complete with music and sound effects…

Finally rid of their unwanted house guests, failed American vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family, George and Caroline decamped West London for a three-week break over Christmas, skiing in Verbier, France.  Now home, the children are staying with Caroline’s parents before returning to their Montessori school next week.  George has poured himself the better half of a bottle of Burgundy and is settling down to catch up with his reading in the financial press.  Caroline walks into the drawing room with a package.

***

Caroline: George… we’ve got a package from the United States… how exciting….

George: Oh, hell.  It’s not from the Palins, is it?  They stay for bloody ever and now they send us a dead animal or something as a [affecting exaggerated American accent]”big thank Y’ALL!”

Caroline: I don’t think so… it’s from New York.  Do you know anyone in New York who could have sent you a package?

George: I know a lot of people in New York, darling… but none of them would send me a Christmas present… they are bankers.  They don’t do Christmas; they’re not big on celebrating the birthday of someone who overturned money-lenders’ tables in the temple.

Caroline: Well… it’s a sizable one….  The au pair signed for it and left it on the kitchen table.

George: Really?  Well, open it and see what it is.

Caroline: Oh my god….. George… there are diamonds… big ones… LOTS of them….  There is also a watch… a very swish watch… expensive… a solid gold Rolex with diamonds encrusted around the dial. And there are several pairs of mittens.  What the hell is that about?
George: Caroline… I’m a bit busy, darling… don’t wind me up….  It was a dead animal from the Palins, wasn’t it?

Caroline: I am being serious… here… look for yourself… there’s a note… to you!

Caroline walks over to George and empties the package onto the coffee table.  George stares in disbelief….

George: Christ on a bicycle…. Bloody hell….  Oh, my fucking god!

Caroline: What is it?

George: This note… these are diamonds from Bernard Madoff… the guy who has just been arrested for a $50 Billion Ponzi pyramid fraud… the biggest fraud the world has ever known.  These are diamonds he doesn’t want the US authorities to know about… he sent some to his family as well and they shopped him.

Caroline: Why would he send these to you?  How do you know this man, George?

George: He’s just a casual acquaintance… a dinner or two… and… perhaps a couple of years back, I… might have sent him a few millions of the firm’s petty cash….

Caroline: Well, it’s not as though your firm was the only one which lost money with him.

George: Um… strictly speaking… not everyone at the firm approved of the investment….  It was a bit hushed.

Caroline: How hushed?

George: Unapproved… strictly speaking….

Caroline: Good lord!  You’re mixed-up in this?  George, you cannot become involved… just tell the US authorities and return these things right now.

George: Are you crazy?!  In the present climate knowing Madoff is not a brilliant idea…. The money’s gone… all gone… poof….  I’m going to have to get advice on this. I have to get these diamonds back to New York without anyone… and I mean anyone… knowing.  This is serious.

Caroline leaves; George reads Madoff’s note: “George, I’ve got a bit of a problem, as you may have heard.  Before the wolves reach my door, I thought I’d send you these cherished items for safekeeping.  Your assistance now is, as always, much appreciated.  I’ve always known we’re kindred spirits.  Yours, Bernie” Oh, fuck.

***

George makes a couple of panicked phone calls and books a flight to New York for the next afternoon.

The next morning, he assures Caroline that he will set things to rights before they get more out-of-hand; he tells her that he is flying to New York to see a lawyer and that he has sent the diamonds to the lawyer by courier.  In fact, George still has the diamonds, concealed in a briefcase.  He makes his way to Heathrow and arrives several hours later at La Guardia Airport in New York.

***

La Guardia Airport
US Customs and Immigration

Immigration Officer: What is the purpose of your visit, sir?

George: Purely social.  I’m meeting up with a friend… a personal friend… on personal business… I mean just… casual… informal… you know.

Immigration Officer: Uh huh. I see that you are a regular visitor.  How long will you be here this visit?

George: Oh, just for a day… then I’m flying back to London.

Immigration Officer: Just one day?  You flew all this way to see your friend and you’re just staying one day?

George: Yes!  I’m just going to see my friend.  I… um… missed him… my friend… uh, terribly.  Dear friend.  Like a brother.

Immigration Officer: …OK, OK.  I don’t need your life story.  Enjoy your stay, sir.

Flustered, George makes his way to a nearby washroom and changes into a long black coat and black hat and puts a false beard on.  He calms somewhat when he sees the results; he thinks his Hasidic diamond merchant disguise is quite convincing.

George regards his reflection in the washroom mirror: Hello, Rabbi!

***

Customs Officer: Anything to declare?

George: Absolutely nothing, nothing at all.  I’m a diamond merchant.

Customs Officer: You’re a diamond merchant and you have nothing at all to declare?

George: Wait! I’m a diamond dealer… I have this ONE diamond to declare!  For which I am fully prepared to pay all the appropriate fees, of course.

Customs Officer: Of course.

George: I deal in diamonds.  And I’m Hasidic!  A Hasidic diamond dealer!

Customs Officer: I see that, sir.  Got any other diamonds with you?

George: Other diamonds? Oy vey!  Ha, no, no other diamonds… none at all….  This place is crawling with thieves… I’m not… um… messhugah…. I just have the one diamond.  I’m here to buy some other diamonds, though….  Just a mensch with chutzpah looking to buy some diamonds… officer… um [looking at name tag]… “Goldstein.”  Splendid.

At this point George turns suddenly; the false beard catches on his coat button and falls off onto the floor.

Customs Officer: How about you collect your beard and come with us?  Let’s *kibbitz* about whatever’s in that case of yours.

George is taken to a small room by two armed officers; they quickly discover the remainder of the diamonds and the gold Rolex watch.  Some hours later, he is allowed a phone call and dials Hank “Perry” Mason, an old friend who’s now a lawyer practicing in California.

***

George calls Hank Mason… ring ring… ring ring….

George: Pick up, pick up….

Hank Mason: Hank Mason, good morning.

George: Perry… thank God you are in.  I’ve got a problem.  I’m at La Guardia… I’ve been arrested.

Hank Mason: You’ve been arrested?!  Why have you been arrested, George?

George: They claim that I was smuggling diamonds….

Hank Mason: Smuggling diamonds?  Obviously a mistake… Jeez, George, I thought you’d really done something…. Just tell me what happened and we’ll go from there.

George: My false beard fell off….

Hank Mason: What?!  Your false beard fell off?  What the fuck were you doing wearing a false beard?

George: I wanted to look like one of those Hasidic diamond merchants… black hat, long coat… look like a diamond dealer… told them I was buying diamonds in New York…. I thought that would be a good story… good business for America in these troubled economic times….  I can tell you… your Customs guy was not amused when the effing beard fell off and he found all the diamonds and the gold Rolex watch.

Hank Mason: Oh, fuck.

George: They’re not mine, Perry!  They belong to Bernard Madoff, you know, the….

Hank Mason: LA, LA, LA, LA!  Shut the fuck up, George!  Not another word!  You need a lawyer… another lawyer… one who knows a bit about criminal defense and isn’t in California….

George: I couldn’t agree more… I can almost hear these guys getting the waterboard ready…. I’m in hedge funds, Perry, I short-sell bank stocks, gas, electricity… I’m not a bloody criminal….

Hank Mason: Christ!  My firm doesn’t have anyone who does this kind of thing, much less over there.  I’m going to have to make some calls, George….

George: If it helps, I was able to Google a few names….  There’s a fellow here in New York who’s not only a top criminal defense counsel… he also has a blog and according to something called… uh, “Twitter,” he also happens to be a member of the English peerage… an Earl of some sort.  That might help.  His name is Scott Greenfield.  Can you call him?  I don’t know whether I’ll get another phone call from these customs gentlemen….

Hank Mason: OK… relax… I’ll call him right now.  Do you need me to call Caroline?

George: Caroline?  Oh, Caroline!  Yes, would you?  Let her know that I’m… um, detained… and I may be a bit longer here in the States.

Hank Mason: A bit longer, yeah.  Listen, George, stay where you are… I’m calling Greenfield now.

George: Fine… I’m not exactly going anywhere…. I’ve got manacles around my ankles and my left wrist is chained to another chain around my waist.  They even took my beard, Perry….

***

Hank calls Greenfield’s office… ring ring… ring ring….

Hank Mason: …yes, thank you, thanks…. [pause]… Mr. Greenfield!  Thanks for taking my call… my name is Hank Mason… I’m an attorney out here in California and I have a friend who’s been arrested… he’s from Britain and he’s in the clink at La Guardia…. [pause]… Well, he was… smuggling diamonds and dressed as a Hasidic… yeah…. Yeah, and it gets better… they were sent to him by Bernard Madoff. [pause]… Why you?  Well, you come highly recommended and… look, I think he just found your blog Googling on his cell phone… for some reason, he thinks you’re a British lord.  Please, just go see him and do what you can….  The consulate?  I dunno if they’ve been notified… OK.  And in the meantime, I’ll arrange for your fees…. Thank you!  Thanks so much.  I know this is a little weird… OK, more than a little… I really appreciate it… George is a good guy….  I think he’s just having a really bad day….  What’s that?  Well, I need to call George’s wife right now, but then I’d be happy to call this ‘O’Keefe’ fellow and tell him that we hired you because of your blog….

***

Listen to the podcast audio version.. complete with music and sound effects…

The part of Caroline was played by Jo le Huquet.  George was played by Charon and Colin Samuels took the parts of the US Immigration officer, the Customs Officer and Hank “Perry” Mason.

The script was co-written by Colin Samuels of the Infamy or Praise blog and Charon.

***

Podcast: West London Man 24: Diamonds are not forever






“LegalTech Dirtied by Lexis Lucre”…

US Attorney and criminal defence lawyer Scott Greenfield has some blunt words for Lexis-Nexis and Incisive Media on his blog Simple Justice – well worth a read if you are interested in how mainstream corporates try to *influence* comment on the blawgosphere!  The post and the comments are worth reading.

I quote from Scott Greenfield’s opening…

“LegalTech Dirtied by Lexis Lucre (Update)

You know something is for real when some corporation uses its cash to drag it down into the gutter.  And so the blawgosphere has entered the mainstream of corporate filth when Lexis/Nexis, ATM for that dinosaur Martindale-Hubbell, used its “sponsorship” to pull the plug on Kevin O’Keefe’s panel spot at LegalTech.”

Scott Greenfield also says… and I agree with him…

“This corporate politics approach is a disgrace, and the blawgosphere should do two things:  Let both Lexis/Nexis and Incisive Media know that we know that they are going to punish blawgers who don’t suck up to them.  Kevin O’Keefe is one of the most techno-savvy and knowledgeable guys I’ve ever met, and his absence from the panel is a near-condemnation of anything this panel has to offer.  You don’t toss the guy who knows what he’s talking about and expect to have any credibility.”

***

Read the rest of the post…

Judges and *Mustaches*… but not necessarily in the same context….

Frances Gibb, legal editor of The Times, has an interesting piece on The Judiciary. She starts her article with these words: “It carries a knighthood, prestige and authority. But it is seen as lonely, fusty and male-dominated, with a culture of “male self-confidence and intellectual posturing. The world of the High Court judge, say some women City solicitors, is “even more antediluvian than City commercial law practice”.

It seems that not all is rosy on the High Court bench; the drop in salary, the loss of independence, the lonely existence, the heavy workload.  It is an interesting insight into current thinking about recruitment for the senior judiciary. Times have changed. Lawyers are tending to have families later in life and at a time when appointment to the bench is a possibility many senior members of the Bar (Still the main recruiting ground for the High Court bench) are in the midst of bringing up children, paying school fees and the like.  The £166,000 paid to a High Court judge does not compare well with the higher earnings available to senior lawyers in certain fields of legal practice at the top of their game.

A female Silk also has a rather robust and honest viewpoint from her perspective..

“It’s a very jolly life NOT being a judge. Getting loads of money, making jokes and doing really interesting work. You do really unusual, fascinating things working with people you like. There is lots of flexibility, long holidays, no bureaucracy. Why would you stop?” Woman QC

Times, Monday 11 January 2009

It is surprisingly difficult to take a photograph of oneself with a mobile phone. Ordinarily, of course, I wouldn’t do this…. but having grown a *mustache* (US spelling) over the Christmas period after yet another surreal discussion on Twitter with friends, I asked, apropos of nothing last night as I sank my third glass of Rioja, if fellow Twitterers would like to see my *tache*.  They did.  So rather than use the camera on my iMac, I nipped into the bathroom with the mobile phone.  The result is a picture of a mildly deranged man with a tache.

I’m often asked if I look like my “Charon pic”.  Clearly, I don’t.  Maybe I should look like the ‘avatar’?  Maybe my life would be better if I did?  Who knows?  I don’t… and there is little, short of an expensive trip to a plastic surgeon in Harley Street, that I can do about it at this time in my life.

More to follow on the blogging front later in thre day.  It is 6.15 am and I have to update Insite Law and change into a dinner jacket to read the news for my daily news podcast….. until later….

John Bolch over at Family Lore has been very busy.  Not only has he created a Pageflakes page for Family Law blogs (useful), he has set up a discussion board on his new Family Lore Focus website – a growing (and serious) resource for family lawyers and those interested in family law.  Try the discussion board out.

11 January 2009: Postcard from *East* of London

BBC journalists have been hyperventilating and spinning like dervishes since the early hours of this morning following the *story* broken by that most revered of British institutions … “The News of The Screws* : Harry uses inappropriate language about brother officer and makes spoof phonecall to H M  The Queen, his grandmother.


I’m not in the Household Cavalry… but Harry, three years ago in a short video,  described a fellow officer and friend as a ‘Paki’ and another as a ‘raghead’. Army people tend to have nicknames, some quite crude, for each other.  It is, of course, unacceptable to make derogatory remarks about anyone, but it did seem to me, when I viewed the film, that he referred to his fellow officer in a friendly way and the remark seemed entirely devoid of malice.  A number of people were pulled out of their beds to tell us that it was completely unacceptable for a member of the Royal family or, indeed, anyone to call another person a ‘Paki’… and so it would be in most contexts.  But was Harry being racist?   Was Harry intending to humiliate or degrade his friend/acquaintance? (They were at Sandhurst together)  I don’t think so.   It seemed to me, and to an entirely sensible asian female filmed by the BBC, that his remark was without malice.   This did not stop retired dancer Arlene Phillips, fresh from being bitchy and self important on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’,  telling us this morning on the Andrew Marr show that we live in a very politically correct world.

I was losing the will to live listening to this story when I realised, quite apart from the fact that a Royal Marine was killed in Afghanistan, people are being killed on both sides in Gaza and the world is on the edge of reason, financial and political,  that I was watching the Andrew Marr show – a supposedly heavy weight political programme.  What the fuck is the BBC doing getting a 64 year old dancer and Strictly Come Dancing judge (good though she may be at dancing) to be a pundit and commentator on a politics show?  I then watched Marr interview David Cameron (who mentioned the government wasting £12.5 Billion in the VAT cut no less than five times), decided that Andrew Marr would be better presenting Strictly Come Dancing, and threw myself (metaphorically) off the top floor of the apartment building I am currently staying at.

Podcast 86: Peter Black on Australian plans to censor the net

Today I am talking to Peter Black, a lecturer  in law at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia and  author of the Freedom to Differ blog which is in the running for an award as best law blog in the annual weblog awards.

Peter is an enthusiastic blogger and Twitterer and earlier this year, hosting Blawg Review, tweeted the entire review over Twitter in segments of 140 characters at a time .

I talk to Peter about several things, including blogging and Twitter, but first I  find out why Australia wants to restrict access to the net and join China in erecting a firewall to filter and censor internet content.

Listen to Podcast 86: Peter Black on Australian plans to censor the net

The podcast was done Skype to Skype – so some sound interference beyond our control

***

We talked about cricket. Here is a link to the Ashley’s Ashes story I wrote up about the Ashes series we won a few years ago.

Podcast 85: Michael Scutt on the credit-crunch redundancies and the law.

Today I am talking to Michael Scutt, a City employment lawyer with specialist firm Dale Langley.  Michael Scutt is also the author of Jobsworth, the employment law blog.  His interests, apart from law  and blogging include wine, jazz, classical music and sport.

With the credit-crunch fully under way, redundancies a daily headline on the news, I’m going to start by asking Mike about the situation, as he sees it, from his perspective as a specialist employment lawyer….

Listen to Podcast 85: Michael Scutt on the credit-crunch redundancies and the law.

Is a *Thought Leader* the same as a *Maven* and if so… can I get one?

I may, finally, have gone over the edge. I found myself on Twitter this morning at 5.00 am. I got up early to make a Skype call.   There I was, a cup of strong black coffee to my left, skype call done and… my right hand shaking with anticipation… I reached for my mouse and clicked on *Twitter.*  The familiar Twitter blue screen revealed itself on my Mac and there was  @kevinokeefe pumping tweets out from his lair in Seattle. I thought he might be.  A number of other US and Canadian lawyers were also about.  The UK Blawg tweeps were all fast asleep… but it would only be a matter of time before they surfaced to run amok and riot.

I have been fascinated with the word *Maven*…. as in intellectual property maven, litigation maven….. etc.  Maven appears to mean ‘expert’.  However, for me, in the recesses of my mind, I regard *Maven* as having a more subtle and sinister, possibly anarchic, feel to it, connoting a degree of cunning.  This led me to the thought that I may have to get myself one of these *Mavens*… but where to find one? ebay?  When I do  acquire one, I shall be a Maven maven… and  therein lies true madness.

Turning to another word which fascinates me… *Thought leader*. Where do people cook up these wonderful words?  It appears that a *Thought leader* is a very serious maven.Thought leaders are mentioned quite often on Twitter and, no doubt, they tweet about their thoughts.

I then decided that I needed to visit a blog to restore sanity. Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice was my first port of call.  Given the “Vote Early, Vote Often”  farce of the ABA Journal Awards (more of which in a post later today), I expected to find a post about this on Scott’s blog.  Indeed, there was….

“ABA Blawg 100 Results are Official: Bennett Wins”

Just below this post was another post: Will Twitter’s Popularity Be its Demise?

After reading Sott Greenfield’s subtle and incisive comments on Twitter… I had a look at the comments section and to my delight saw a comment by David Giacalone of f/k/a who is no fan of Twitter – for entirely sensible reasons. I hope Scott does not mind… but I just cannot resist quoting David Giacalone’s comment in full: “If Twitter and LexTweet are fora where we learn what comic strip was funny this morning and what Prof. Althouse had for lunch, it seems like just one more distraction interrupting a lawyer’s thought and work flow. I don’t know which is scarier for clients (or managing partners), hourly-billing or fixed-price lawyers stopping to Tweet (not to mention to do their blawg-related activities and to jump on to “the next big thing”) throughout their workday.”

I’m afraid that the balance of my mind was already tipping in the direction of hysteria and I did not really add to the sensible side of the debate by adding a comment:

“Twitter is so 2008…. already those in the *know* are using a members only service, invitation only, that is so secret … I cannot reveal the name – more secret even than Freemasonry – another very useful social networking system if you are into advancing yourself. I regret that I am not able to let you, or anyone else, know about this new upscale system for networking – but I have only just been ‘elected’ – a little old fashioned…. it was a small plume of white smoke from a building in Rome that let me know I was *IN*… Now…. I must go to a theatrical shop and buy a sword and a black Tricorn hat with a yellow feather… this new ‘networking’ society likes a bit of ritual and regalia… Oh yes…. nothing like a bit of ritual and regalia. Right…. better get on… back to my blog as it is a requirement of membership that all blog posts be seeded with hidden messages based on Fibonacci mathematics.”

But then I saw another comment on Scott’s post about a new social networking site “BTW, all the techgeeks are now moving on to FriendFeed so expect it to be the next thing.”

So… inevitably… I had to look at Friend Feed. I discovered.. (a) that I could “see my friend’s discoveries” and… even more astonishingly… could have : “Awesome discussions: Discuss that great new TV show, that political editorial, or that hilarious cat video with the people you know.”

I started to lose the will to live. My sardonic response to this was to tweet about Friend Feed.  @kevinokeefe was right on my tail like a modern day “Red Baron”

I twisted and turned, as Biggles may well have done in times gone by… but eventually, I had to hold out the white flag…

Blawg Review # 193

Welcome…. BienvenueWillkommen … London Calling….

I have the pleasure of opening the batting for the series of 2009 Blawg Reviews. I did my first Blawg Review exactly a year ago.  I cannot quite believe that a year has gone by so rapidly and that I am one step closer to my own (free) trip across the River Styx.

I would like to thank the mysterious Ed of Blawg Review (who is on Twitter)  for the opportunity to play the part, albeit for a brief time, of The Lord of Misrule.  I shall explain all… in time…..

My thanks also to Victoria Pynchon (infra), BR sherpa, for her links.

I would also like to thank Colin Samuels of the Infamy and Praise blog, sherpa to Blawg Review writers (providing useful links to pursue)  and author of a remarkable, literary and entertaining series of  award winning Blawg Reviews over the past four years. Colin has posted a list of 100 things he didn’t know – fascinating.  I now know 100 more things than I did before reading it.

We are on the eve of Twelfth Night, The Epiphany to some, but not for me… for I follow no gods… apart from one…. Bacchus. The theme of Twelfth Night is most convenient for it relieves me of the need to be too serious, licences me to a degree of anarchy which I shall not resist and excuses the relative frivolity of this first Blawg Review of 2009. Rather than using a literary structure based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, I take the theme and role of The Lord of Misrule or…  as he is known in Scotland, The Abbott of Unreason …  in France,  Le Prince des Sots.  Briefly, for you may look up the detail in Wikipedia, The Lord of Misrule is rooted in many cultures and beliefs.  I am no mere trifle, but thankfully, as US attorney Ron Coleman, author of the Likelihood of Confusion blog, will attest…  there may be “No copyright in the fact of your existence”.

“Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve — now more commonly known as Halloween. The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day the King and all those who were high would become the peasants and vice versa. This Lord of Misrule tradition can be traced back to pre-Christian European festivals such as the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.

Interestingly (I am, after all, supposed to be a law blogger), there is a tradition of The Lord of Misrule at The Inns of Court –  the spiritual home of all barristers in England & Wales. I count myself fortunate in having stumbled across an online encyclopaedia from 1911.

And so my rule shall begin…. with a remarkable story pointed out to me by @Geeklawyer on Twitter, a fellow blogger who… some say… takes on the role of The Lord of Misrule every day. His blog may provide some support and evidence for this proposition. His latest post Internet Donkey of The Year is a fitting start to my survey of bloggers and their writings.

It would appear that a lawyer from a respected law firm in Scotland may have been revealing too much while revelling… revolting bystanders…  but, one can only assume, giving some pleasure to himself and his dining companion.  I don’t always believe what I read in newspapers, but this story is worth linking to.

Some things are best left hidden from public gaze...
“A MILLIONAIRE lawyer has been fined after he was frog-marched out of a top restaurant following a saucy clinch with his girlfriend…. Property tycoon Philip Anderson was arrested after diners in a restaurant at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire complained that they could see his private parts….  The pair had been drinking and shocked guests with increasingly explicit sexual antics…Witnesses gave statements describing the unsavoury scene they had witnessed.”

It seems to me that those tempted to engage in these unusual antics in public may well need the services of a quartet of US Attorneys, specialists in criminal defence work, who I have had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ on Twitter.  Gideon, Public Defender | Scott Greenfield, Simple Justice | Brian Tannebaum, Criminal Defence | Mark Bennett, Defending People.  I have had the pleasure, also, of doing podcasts with three of these learned gentlemen. [Gideon | Greenfield | Tannebaum]

If these attorneys had been asked to defend ‘Mr Membrum Virilis’,  a mythical miscreant who engaged in similar ‘unsavoury activities in public’: Would Brian Tannebaum have said ” Go find another ‘Second’ Lawyer”?   Perhaps Gideon would have asked Mr Membrum Virilis “When does police coercion make a confession involuntary?”.  I’m fairly certain Scott Greenfield would have said “Just how much moral turpitude is too much?”. Mark Bennett, with the precision of  an old hand, may well have had only one word of advice… “Ethos”.

Let’s just hope that anyone tempted to these *unusual antics* does not come across fellow Twitterer @Joelrosenberg.  He has a gun.  In fact, he has lots of guns. He does the business.

***

TO THEME OR NOT TO THEME?…. THAT WAS MY QUESTION

I could have taken the entirely reasonably unreasonable line (appropriate behaviour for an absolute Lord of Misrule) and structured the entire Blawg Review in a random… surreal and mad way.  Dan Hull, my good friend from WhatAboutClients? has already used the phrase “half in the bag” about me. I don’t need to give him  any further evidence… so… structured it shall be…

I am, however, pleased to report that Dan, who is not into work-life balance, is exercised about “Getting America back to work”.

I thought about having The Ten Commandments as a theme

But then… I came across this quotation: “Concerning the Ten Commandments in courthouses and legislatures: You cannot post Thou Shalt Not Steal, Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, and Thou Shall Not Lie in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians…It creates a hostile work environment.”

So, instead, I have decided, as I may – with my absolute power to corrupt (United Nations mandate in place) to structure my Blawg Review along the lines of The Seven Deadly Sins. I like a bit of Latin, so I shall use the Latin, with a translation… of course.

Ladies und gentlemen… the Cabaret is soon to begin… but first… may I present  an English barrister I have known for many years…. The Fat Bigot Opines… who enjoyed 2008. His blog is a fascinating daily read with a sharp analysis of topical events, beautifully reasoned,  and a pleasure to peruse with coffee and a woodbine each morning.

It is at this point that I remind readers – “You are reading this review of your own free will.  I cannot accept any liability, legal or moral, for what follows.  If you are referred to as a blogger in any of the Seven Deadly Sin categories below this does NOT connote, represent,  or imply that you are guilty of such deadly sin. It merely indicates that I, with my absolute powers on this eve of Twelfth Night, feel it appropriate that you should be linked to the theme of the stories therein, thereunder etc etc etc.” All clear?

I am delighted, being a moderate and casual drinker of the drink of the gods, to have found a set of Seven Deadly Sins wine glasses.

***

I  LUXURIA – LUST

Although she is  not a law blogger, I am a fan of the writing and attitude of Ms R, a Woman of Experience.  I’m sure that she will not mind my saying that she knows a bit about lust.  Her blog… intelligent, funny and thoughtful… is well worth a read.  She has some good advice.  Sometimes it is good for us all, lawyers particularly, to act by the watchword “Don’t Speak”.

Sarah Palin comes to mind when I think about LUST… not, of course, because I have inappropriate thoughts about a woman who ran for the office of Vice President of the United States, but…  I understand there are some who do.  For my part?….  I am just pleased that her knowledge of Geography is limited.

On the issue of lust… Eric Turkewitz discusses a distasteful case which explored just how far an attorney can fall, morally speaking, without losing his license to practice.  Scott Greenfield adds his thoughts as well: “So we now have our answer.  Lawyers will be summarily disbarred for messing with escrow funds, but 13 year old girls, not so much.”

On the other hand…  Sweet Hot Justice asks “Do I really need to go to work this week?”.  But Dan McLaughlin breaks the bad news: a court has ruled that just because a girl claims to be 18 on sexsearch.com, on your head be it if she isn’t yet.

And… while we are on the topic of LUST… Conrad Saam offers a round-up of the best and worst in legal marketing in the States this year.  These guys, also from the States, are well worth a look. They are in a class of their own.  We lag behind our american cousins when it comes to advertising.

Lust is a very complex sin, covering many aspects of our lives. Gone is my interest in material things.  I now lust after information and literature, knowledge, humour and, of course a bit of red wine. One of my current *lusts* is water… not drinking the damn stuff, but living on or near it. So… it is always a pleasure to visit my friend Tim Kevan’s Barrister Blog (He really has gone surfing) to nourish the spirit with a bit of surf.  There are added benefits to visiting Tim’s website.  Recently he got a birthday card from a dog.  The dog was wearing a barrister’s wig.

Another *lust* in my life is knowing what is going on – hence the Pageflakes project (Later).  Canadian blogger Jordan Furlong’s Law21.ca blog is a treasure chest of gems. Regeneration, a recent post talks about regeneration and hope…

Another Canadian blog to satisfy lust for knowledge across the pond is the excellent Slaw blog. While I dwell on Canada – there are many good blogs there.  I am adding to the list regularly – but here, on a Pageflake of Canadian blogs, is a snapshot of the blogs I have found so far.  On the subject of Canadian blogs it would be impossible not to mention the tireless Steve Matthews who really does know what is going on with his Stem Legal and Vancouver Law Librarian blogs. It was a pleasure to receive a *Clawbie* this year and here is a full list of Clawbie winners.

And yet another Canadian blog that does *serious information providing*.  Fellow blogger and Twitterer Erik Magraken produces a serious resource for Canadian lawyers on personal injury law.  I am interested in Torts (Thank you for your next email *Advocatus Diaboli* – HNY to you) and Erik’s ICBC Law blog is a useful resource.

And… on a different type of *lust*…. David Mill’s daily “Courtoons” will raise a smile to start your day.  I enjoyed *Supremacy Claus*

In terms of *Lust* for Knowledge – Susan Cartier Liebel over at Build a Solo Practice has a new initiative: Solo Practice University.

Nostradamus I am not, but I do enjoy looking at *predictions* from fellow bloggers in law and finance. Massachusetts lawyer Robert Ambrogi’s website is a mine of information and on a recent Lawyer2lawyer podcast he looks to the future and back at their track record for 2008.

And.. finally… we must not forget about Virginity. A quick shout out for  non lawyer, but good friend, Kate and her Virginity Project blog.  I was a virgin once. I understand that Victoria Pynchon was interviewed by Kate… you’ll have to look for yourselves… I am, this day, after all, the Lord of Misrule!

OK… I can’t resist… it was a good blog post.

***

II  GULA – GLUTTONY

Democracy is a fine thing… and so is being an elected Member of Parliament, it would seem. 2008 saw a spate of greedy politicans snuffling their noses in the trough of the public purse, claiming expenses and buying white goods and other luxuries from the Government approved list at John Lewis… like there was no tomorrow.  Guido Fawkes is a leading political blogger – well worth a visit even if you are  from across the Pond.  Guido has a regular “Pigs in Shit” post chronicling the activities of our political masters. Guido’s New Year Blog Highlights will give you a flavour of how we live in modern Britain.

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott admitted in 2008 that he ‘ate all the pies’ and then, astonishingly,  admitted that he was bulimic.   I’ve always liked John Prescott – he may have done a few pies, shagged his appointments diary secretary on the desk at Admiralty House, or wherever he had his “Office of The Deputy Prime Minister”, but you have to hand it to him – he did the business.

Forgive the play on words…. but it does seem that young men and women considering a career at The Bar may be gluttons for punishment.  Simon Myerson QC continues to provide  superb advice to prospective barristers on his blog “Pupillage and how to get it.” Meanwhile, Geeklawyer reviewed the BBC2 programme “The Barristers” in his own unique way.

Carl Gardner, barrister, author of The Head of Legal blog and formerly an adviser to Tony Blair’s government, keeps us abreast of government excess; particularly when it comes to the continuing erosion of civil liberties in Britain. His recent post about Lord Lester’s resignation as a government adviser on human rights is worth a look (Supra).

Work is the curse of the drinking classes and although I am never knowingly under-refreshed I tend to enjoy my wine rather than feel the need, as many yobs did in Britain this New Year,  to binge, riot, afray, vomit, stab or punch people, and then pass out in sub zero temperatures on the street. Kevin Underhill of Lowering the Bar discusses a strange case wherein a man alleges that excessive beverage service on a flight caused him to punch his wife in the face in the terminal upon landing. Both the husband are wife are suing… United Airlines!

Gluttony is, of course, a Christmas tradition. I rather liked Barmaid’s take on thanking people for Christmas presents:  M is for mendacity Mendacity – n – the tendency to be untruthful…. “Yes, the present was just perfect, exactly what I wanted, Barmaid uttered mendaciously”.

I’m delighted to see that Bar Boy, a prospective barrister, is keeping Christmas going with his Partridge in a Pear Tree series and was on a roll on 2nd January with his Drummers Drumming post.

Turning to gluttony of a very different kind… the musical gluttony when one cannot get enough of a new song or piece of music.  Lacklustre Lawyer has an amusing post : “There’s no-one as Irish as Barack Obama”.

***

III  AVARITIA – GREED

Well… the big story of 2008 just has to be those masters of the universe… The Bankers… who brought the world to the edge of financial armageddon and gave us the credit-crunch.  I confess to a degree of amusement that Northern Wreck is probably the safest bank in Britain now and to a degree of schadenfreude in knowing that *We the People* now own Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland with possibly more to come.  The American people also own a fair few banks now, some with unusual names… Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  Lehman, however, is not one of them.  Lehman went from Wall St to the wall.

On the premise that lawyers should take a professional interest in greed… allow me to present an excellent blog called Capitalists@Work – a good read for those who want an insight into what is actually happening with our economy. The Pound isn’t doing too well at the moment…. but Capitalists@Work has the story “No government target for the pound”.

Another must read for lawyers involved in the business world, particularly, and in the management of law firms is Adam Smith Esq, written by Bruce MacEwen. Bruce MacEwen predicts for 2009…

Greed and divorce often go together and, of course, 2008 was the year when Sir Paul McCartney finally jettisoned his wife “Mucca” .  My friend and fellow blogger John Bolch is usually on the money with his excellent blog Family Lore, supplemented now by Family Lore Focus. John, however, is not a greedy man.  In fact, selfless to a point.  He is even helping those who, for whatever reason cannot bear the sight of each other, need to divorce each other…  with his new book “Do your own divorce” – a snip at £9.99.  Sadly, I won’t be buying this book…..   I wouldn’t want, in my case, to make it Four Weddings and a Funeral.  Anyway, I’ve got an ASBO.  I am not permitted to enter churches or Register Offices for the purpose of engaging in matrimony.

Pink Tape, another entertaining Family Law blog… this one written by a barrister,  has this contribution:  “Your Cheatin Heart”

Perhaps this would have been better in the Lust category… but David Giacalone of f/k/a had a sparklingly Savage year in 2008

Greedy for good news… Best of Deliberations had a good year in 2008… “Against the real news of the year — an African-American president in our lifetimes on the one hand, and most of us significantly poorer on the other — Deliberations‘ 2008 accomplishments are small.  But it was a good year here.”

And… if you are greedy for info… Nick Holmes of infolaw and author of Binary Law is a must. He has a few “Predictions for 2009”.   To call 2008 a year of change is an understatement: Thus spake John Wallbillich of WiredGC in his post “This year can fly away” –  an interesting take on sucess and Apple’s Steve Jobs.

Greedy for coffee? I am very partial to coffee…  so when a lawyer says they are about to have a coffee fix in a blog post I’m intrigued.  Jay Shepherd of The Client Revolution writes.. “So it’s another gray New England winter afternoon, which means it’s time for my caffeine fix.”  An  enjoyable “Coffee Parable”.

Anonymous Assistant, a blog drama written by a City Lawyer is always worth popping into for the latest instalment.   The latest post, a Nightmare before Christmas Part 1 will give you a taste: “Lawyers traditionally possess characteristics which help them in their profession: combativeness, aggression, ruthlessness and guile.  All very useful skills for dealing with wiley opponents but not so useful when dealing with each other………”


And so we move to sin # 4 – SLOTH…

***

IV  ACEDIA – SLOTH

It just has to be Twitter… the *app* of 2008 and no finer way in the world of wasting industrial strength amounts of time. Also, it has to be said – while obtaining a great deal of pleasure.

Am I obsessed by Twitter? I am on Twitter. As at 21.27 on Friday 2nd Jan, as I write these words, I have done 10,867 updates. I must be in @kevinokeefe territory here? 🙂

I wrote a ‘sensible’ post on Twitter some weeks ago (On Twitter: Are you going to put some skin in the game?)  and then… finally… I lost the plot on New Year’s Eve and wrote a *Tweeplay* with the help of other obsessed Tweeps… it was a strange tale, to be sure… ” We sailed against the French”.

I am not alone in my mania. Adrian Lurssen of JDScoop reports that there are over 567 lawyers on Twitter! and… this is the big one… Peter Black, a law lecturer at QUT in Australia and author of Freedom to Differ actually *Tweeted* his entire Blawg Review #178 in the Autumn.

I won’t rehearse the events described in my *sensible* post about Twitter (See: Are you going to put some skin in the game?) but I do have to give an honourable mention to a woman who has over 20,000 tweets to her name…. Ladies und gentlemen… I give you @infobunny.  A virtual bottle of Rioja for her excellent *#bumsngin* theme with pics of bums and gin bottles  and  for her Piratical Christmas Advent calendar – revealed each day on… Twitter.

I have enjoyed some mildly sardonic exchanges about Twitter and authority, influence and  ranking with Victoria Pynchon.  Victoria Pynchon has a lot of sense to impart on her blog Settle it Now“You can’t obtain a favourable settlement if you’re not a formidable adversary”.

A man not touched by *Sloth* is Jonathan D. Frieden of E-Commerce Law.  I enjoyed his latest post “Most popular E-Commerce posts of 2008”.

Another blogger untouched by *Sloth*… who has a good take on many topical issues is Daithí Mac Sithigh, author of  cyberlaw & media law blog Lex Ferenda. He has a “Taxing case on Data Protection and Privacy” for you this week.

I just could not resist this from a fellow *Tweeter*leecomms Real law firm name:(no kidding) Real Lawyers at Affordable Prices, Fresno http://tinyurl.com/a7m4ar (truth in advertising)

And this RT (ReTweet) just had to go in… kevinokeefe Email your confessions to to iFather @ confessional@twittermail.com for anonymous confessions to the twitterverse. http://is.gd/erzO.

Kevin O’Keefe, who also has a blog – Real lawyers have blogs –  is tireless in his quest to promote Twitter as a business tool for lawyers – and came up with this gem: kevinokeefe Law firms use good looking models on their websites, not pics of own lawyers, on websites http://is.gd/esBq

UK Housing law solicitor and blogger, Nearly Legal, is in fact fully legal now with an excellent blog on housing law.  He is a stalwart of the  UK Blawging community and has opened his blog to other specialists in housing law who contribute to a growing resource.  I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about housing law – but NL’s site is always on my list to have  look at.  He is far from *slothful* – a prodigious appetite for blogging.   The same is true of Martin George who set up the superb resource for lawyers interested in Conflict of Law.  The blog?  Well… it is called Confict of Laws.net sponsored by CC – a serious resource.

Our friends over at Reductio ad absurdum do, however, admit to a degree of *sloth* … “Merry Christmas to all dedicated bloggers (and the erm…not so dedicated) … and a happy New Year!”

US lawyer, Cathy Gellis, author of Statements of Interest, has the final word in this section with Law and technology, the disconnect“.

***

V  IRA – WRATH

Where does one start? I won’t mention the various wars going on around the world, the conflicts between human beings, the misery caused by poverty – for these are serious topics best left to a different time and place.

In keeping with the theme of this Blawg Review… *Misrule*… it just has to be the Banks again. It would appear that neither The Bank of England nor the authorities in the United States were fully aware of what bankers (investment and retail) or hedge funds and others were up to.

This morning, a sunny but very cold morning in Bloomsbury, I sat outside smoking a cigarette or two, sipping an ‘americano’ coffee from Starbucks and read The Guardian.  The front page had the headline “BANKS DEFY BROWN CALL TO FREE UP CREDIT – Loans for business increasingly scarce and outlook bleak, says report”.

Journalists (particularly those who write for tabloids) know that there is one subject guaranteed to irritate their readers, the British electorate.  That subject is BANKERS… and their refusal to lend money… our money, now that we seem to own most of the banks operating in Britain. Gordon Brown knows this as well.  This is why he is often pictured looking grim, Moses like, getting on with the job, leading us through the desert to the promised land of plasma screens, nannies and foreign holidays.

So… on the subject of wrath generally…. what do bloggers have to say when it comes to *Wrath*?….

To kick off… on the Social Services for Feral Children blog (Yes… there is such a blog)… there is a wonderful post entitled “We convict, you decide”.  Here is a taste for you… “In a sign that British fascination with reality tv is even worse than that of America, the United Kingdom is considering whether to allow the public to vote on how to punish low level criminals…. The public may be able to vote for what form of punishment is handed out to convicted criminals in their neighbourhood under plans being drawn up by ministers.”

Another half baked idea from our hapless Home Secretary?

Scott Greenfield, Simple Justice: “Susan Kuo at PrawfsBlawg asks an interesting question.  If someone harms another person in self-defense, do they then have a duty to save the person?

John Hirst over at the Jailhouse lawyer’s blog notes:“Britain should be prepared to accept prisoners from Guantanamo Bay if it would help the Americans close the camp, Lord Goldsmith has said.”

Not quite so simple a proposition as it may seem, attractive though the idea is.  Our laws tend not to permit the government to bang people up without charge for too long… 28 days, at the moment.  Fortunately, the plan to detain people without charge for 42 days appears to have been kicked to death (rightly so) in the Lords.

*Wrath* may not be quite the word for it. Pissed off, seriously pissed off… is probably a more British way of looking at the matter of Madoff and his $50 billion Ponzi scam.  The financial press and blogs are awash with stories on this – but it seems appropriate, for reasons of misrule, to have at least one reference to Madoff in this Blawg Review. The Hedge Fund Law Blog covers the matter in “Hedge Funds, Congress and Madoff.”

We also have a bit more Madoff from Pragmatist… ” Madoff Unleashes the Counter-Veblen Effect” – a very subtle and reasoned analysis. I quote from the post: “So welcome, I suggest, to a new world of battered Bentleys, frayed collars and housecoats in Knightsbridge, where cheaper is better and champagne is for wimps.”

WAC? doesn’t waste time with wrath.  They want solutions. “In Salon, see Andrew Leonard’s excellent “The Economy Crumbled” – but then let’s get busy cleaning up our mess. WAC? prefers Pollyannas who like to solve problems.”

Solicitor, Justin Patten of Human Law takes wrath in his stride. He is an enthusiastic supporter of mediation and has been around in the blogging community in the UK since 1189. His most recent post is appropriate for inclusion in this section…“Picking the right solution for conflicts at work”.

Cearta.ie, the Irish rights blog reports “Mark Twain exercises the Privilege of the Grave.”

Usefully Employed considers a different type of wrath…Islington successfully appeals Ladele – religious beliefs do not trump social equality”

Professor Jonathan Turley of the Res Ipsa Loquitur blog (and voted #1 in the recent ABA Journal Awards under the Law Profs and Legal Theory blogs category) has an interesting post about the acceptability of framing murder charges in unusual cases.  His post is a subtle one about  a homeless man who started a fire to keep warm being charged with murder after a firefighter was run over by the firetruck accidentally.  Well worth a read for a view on a complex issue.

***

VI   INVIDIA – ENVY

Obama is good news for the States, we hope... and over here in the UK he is certainly popular.  The fact that he is a smoker, quite apart from his stated policies and optimistic, yet realistic, outlook… does it for me.  Yes…. he can’t smoke at The White House and I wish him luck with his plan to cut down, give up… have the odd crafty puff.  Do we envy the States?  I don’t know.  I can’t speak for anyone but myself.  It is good that the new US president has been elected.  It is good that the new president is a superb communicator and has a great deal of support with, presumably, not too much political baggage for journos and political bloggers to hurl at him as he starts his presidency. I’ll miss Dubya though and his stand up comedy routines. [Thanks to Nicole Black of Sui Generis for tipping me off on Twitter to the list of  Bushisms]

We have Gordon Brown… who is “getting on with the job” and who  is not keen on elections… or referendums.  For those of you who are not familiar with Gordon Brown’s searching technique, here is a popular film of him searching his nose. The technique is good, enviable even, but a rather bizarre thing to do at Prime Minister’s Questions in The Commons? … but there we are.

We may once have envied the lifestyles of rich lawyers, rich bankers, rich estate agents and rich plumbers…. but for 2009…  schadenfreude is the new schadenfreude.  Not so well paid members of the legal profession and even clients of  law firms in the States, the UK and elsewhere, can now have the satisfaction of sitting down in front of their computers and read the tales of woe in many law rags about uncertainty, salary cuts, redundancies, re-structuring and the like.  Unfortunately, as I am interested in the legal profession, this gives me little pleasure…. really.   Above the Law is always good for a laugh.  Here they consider a DLA Piper pay freeze


I will admit to wandering slowly down the high street, looking at estate agents shop windows, and marvelling at the tumbling house prices.
It is quite fun to hover in the doorway until some gelled up, mini driving “chop-chop”  spiv comes over, face wreathed in an unctuous smile, hands wringing faster even than Uriah Heap could manage. “Buying or selling, Sir?”  ….. “Neither….. just seeing how you are getting on and marvelling that you are still here” is the reply.  But… of course I don’t do that… or do I?

Let’s see how the bloggers cover envy…

Concurring opinions writes: “British financial historian Niall Ferguson recently coined the term “Chimerica” to describe the growing economic interdependence between the United States and China, a relationship that he calls the key to understanding the world economy over the past decade.” It seems they may be “Hollow Men”.

Feminist Law Professors – direct and to the point:

More About Rick Warren: Sexist As Well As Homophobic

His homophobia has been widely discussed, but his sexism not as much. Bring yourself up to date here.

JD Bliss reports: “Michelle Obama Puts the Spotlight on Work-life Balance for Lawyer-moms.”

IPKat, a must for UK IP fanatics, writes...”Artist’s resale right derogation – the IPKat was wrong”.

China Law  blog, often on the money, warns… “Employment In China Is Job One. Make This Your Business.”

***

VII   SUPERBIA – PRIDE

This was a difficult one.  I’m proud to be British. I’m proud of our country – not everything we do, but in general I like living here.  Like most Brits, I have a healthy disregard for the utterings and mutterings of the megalomaniacs who seek high office to govern, to strip away our vaunted freedoms, to reduce habeas corpus to dust and generally ignore Magna Carta. So, it was difficult to come up with something to suit the sardonic and, perhaps, cruel gaze of a Lord of Misrule without sounding like a historic home guide or Simon Schama.

How did I do it? I sat down… cracked open a bottle of Rioja and drank a mind nourishing glass of the stuff.  Then I drank another glass.  Noting that only a third of a bottle remained, I drank that too.  It would have been rude not to have done. It was then that I had my Eureka moment… my light on the road to Damascus.  “I’ve got it”…  I shouted at my computer.

I’m proud that we have the richest living artist in the world…. DAMIEN HIRST.

Say what you like about the guy… but anyone who can persuade rich people to part with lunatic amounts of money by stuffing a Noah’s Ark of dead animals into glass cases filled with preservatives and then go and sell a human skull encrusted with diamonds for £50 million quid deserves, if you will forgive the awful and intended pun, to makeoff with the money.

Can You Fire An Employee Because You Just Don’t Get Along: It would seem so.  John Phillips of The Employment Law Post writes: “Yep. Most of the time. Sometimes, it’s called insubordination if you disagree with the boss too often. Sometimes, it’s called failure to meet expectations if you’re not doing what the boss tells you to do. The end result is the same. You’re fired. The latest example is the firing of the dean of Duquesne University Law School by the president of Duquesne University. It’s caused quite a stir. Students are holding protests. Alums are withholding contributions.”

Something to be proud about…
Fellow Twitterer @Jaffne and blogger has good news indeed to report: The State Papers Domestic of Henry VIII to Elizabeth I, covering the period from 1509 to 1603 are now available online for anyone who’s interested to rummage though, at State Papers Online.

And something not to be proud about… Fellow Twitterer and blogger Disillusioned Discordian notes: Private Bailiffs to be given power to use force and violence to reclaim debts. “As Christmas comes the Government has a present for all the debt ridden British people. If you don’t pay your debts, the Bailiffs can kick down your door and use reasonable force to pin you down if you resist.”

And this… from Balkinization :

Can The Senate Refuse to Seat Roland Burris? Quite Possibly

*

Celebrity Big Brother is back on our TV screens!

Guido Fawkes, naturally….. has his own take on the matter. I quote:Celebrity Big Brother is back with freaks and celebs for all. Lucy Pinder has attracted attention because of her natural 32G chest and because she is according to the Sun, “posh totty”, a “bit of a Tory” and “admires Margaret Thatcher for being the first female PM”. The 25-year-old is coulrophobic — she is scared of clowns – which may also explain her antipathy to Gordon Brown.”

BREAKING NEWS…

Robert Amrogi reports from the USA…

Polling ended yesterday for the readers’ choice awards in the ABA Journal Blawg 100. The ABA Journal has yet to release the official results, but based on the numbers of votes showing on the site, here is my unofficial tally of the winners in each category

News: Above the Law.

Crime: Simple Justice.

Professors: Jonathan Turley.

Niche: Patently-O. | Technology: FutureLawyer. | Quirky: Living the Dream Blog. | Careers: Temporary Attorney. | Students: Thank You Ma’am. | Podcasts: Lawyer2Lawyer. | Regional: China Law Blog.

PAGEFLAKES : It has been fun to be Lord of Misrule for this brief time. I visited a great many blogs.  The exigencies of my, perhaps, bizarre structure dictated that some posts I read and enjoyed had to be left out.  Mea culpa.  I have, however, now created Pageflake pages for UK, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Irish and Scots blogs… with more Pageflake pages to follow.  Each pageflake contains a great many blogs on one scrollable page and gives a snapshot of the latest posts for each blog.
US Law Blogs Page Flake
| Canada Law Blogs Pageflakes | Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and Ireland law blogs Pageflake | UK Blawgs

Just a bit more to go… not much more… I promise 🙂

EPILOGUE

Although he is not a law blogger, I would like to include James Higham, an enthusiastic blogger, writer and supporter of all things blog.  James has, inter alia,  a very good blog called Nourishing Obscurity.  Res ipsa loquitur.  There is also a band of bloggers *Bloghounds* who are keen to promote the art and style of blogging.  I am putting together a Pageflakes page of Bloghounds blogs for my blogroll and this will be available fairly soon.

***

I shall now go and tap dance on The Thames, turn a bit of water into wine, and see if The Archbishop of Canterbury will be impressed with my latest stunt.  He was, I can report qua Lord of Misrule, entirely unimpressed when I arrived at Lambeth Palace on New Year’s Eve with 5000 people who were hungry and thirsty.  Have a great New Year and, as the late great Irish comedian Dave Allen used to say… “May your gods go with you”.

I’m sorry it is so long… but as we say down at the old Dog and Duck pub… “Je ne regret rien, Cobber!”

I have just one final statement….for titled people need to stick together.  It is a message for Scott Greenfield at Simple JusticeAs one Lord to another… I got that Earldom for you on ebay... on the way! Sadly, my ‘Lordship’ expires at midnight…. enoblement is such a transient thing… a phantasm.

***

I’ll leave Scott Greenfield with the final word… and I agree..  Twitter is fine… but I prefer blogs… adieu


To which my reply just had to be…  I prefer to be a *Blogger*…


Personal statement… you may like to watch this short *movie*

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

***

It would appear that there is, in fact, an EIGHTH Deadly Sin…. *Prolixity*…. (from Latin prolixus) ….  guilty as charged, mate.  I’ll do the business in court on this charge myself and be a fool for a lawyer!  Have a good year.


Blawg Review 2008 nominations

Blawg Review provides a great deal of information each week to bloggers across the world. While US centric to an extent, things are changing and, gradually, bloggers from other jurisdictions are taking part.  Have a look at the Blawg Review site.  Dates are still free in 2009 and the mysterious and anonymous Ed of Blawg Review will, I am sure, be pleased to hear from you.

My nominations for Blawg Review of the Year 2008 – in order of appearance –  are:
What About Clients, Dan Hull #145

China Law Blog #162

NY Personal Injury Blog, Turkewitz #188

Colin Samuels, Infamy or Praise #189
Legal Satyricon #190

Tweeplay gets Familylore award!

I am grateful to my friend and fellow blogger John Bolch of FamilyLore for the award of an ‘oscar’ for my rather absurd abuse of Twitter while (as Dan Hull of WAC? would put it) ‘half in the bag’ last night.  It is my third ‘oscar’ from John – and I am pleased to have provided some mild amusement for him last night.   I have, naturally, amended my header accordingly!

We sailed against the French…. a short *Tweeplay*