Blawg Review #245

Last year in Blawg Review I took on the role of the  Lord of Misrule. It appealed to me on this, my fifth  Blawg Review, to start with a welcome from the Baron Mandelson of Foy, Prince of Darkness,  First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills,  Lord President of The Council and Witch Finder-General for H M Government….

”You are unwise to lower your defenses”

I have no theme – other than to look at as many good blog posts and bloggers as I can under various quasi-random headings. I can’t visit or cover every blog  – caprice is my theme if any.  I would also like to wish you a Happy and, being lawyers, a prosperous New Year – although I do appreciate that some criminal and family law practitioners in England & Wales may start crying or laugh in a maniacal way on the matter of prosperity,  given the Ministry of Justice’s curious passion for reducing access to justice in our green, pleasant and sceptred land.

It has not always been possible to refer to a recent post – simply because some bloggers have not had time to blog during the Christmas season. You will note that I choose the highly emotive term Christmas…not to offend my readers, who, whatever god, faith or non-belief they follow,  are unlikely to be offended by my use of the ‘term of art’.   My intention, for as Oscar Wilde said ‘A gentlemen never insults anyone unintentionally’, is to irritate the increasing army of busybodies,  licensed nannies and professional bed-wetters who think that the word Christmas will offend some minority belief.  The only people who are irritated by Christmas are Fellows of The Royal Society of Grinches.  I am an honorary member.  We like to be irritated by Christmas. It provides us with a suitably festive feeling of satisfaction.

This said… I move on. My customary warning to readers at the beginning of my Blawg Reviews  has been delivered by the ‘dark lord’ in the picture above.  We now proceed… with a very serious issue first.  It does lighten up in later sections.

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At 10.30 on Tuesday 29th December the Chinese executed Akmal Shaikh for drug offences.  Akmal Shaikh was a British Citizen.

The BBC reported:

“The Chinese ambassador Fu Ying has been summoned to the Foreign Office amid a growing row between the UK and China over the execution of a British man. Akmal Shaikh, 53, a father-of-three from London, was executed in China after being convicted of drug smuggling despite claims he was mentally ill. Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis told the ambassador “China had failed in its basic human rights responsibilities”. The Chinese Embassy said Mr Shaikh had no previous record of mental illness. Mr Lewis said after the meeting: “I had a difficult conversation with the Chinese Ambassador today.”

I can well understand that the British government had ‘difficult’ conversations – but they, like many other Western governments,  can barely breathe as they hyperventilate about the opportunities that China provides to weakened western economies.  I am opposed, as many are, to the death penalty – yet, sadly, it continues to be exacted in many civilised countries throughout the world, including many states of the World’s most powerful democracy, the United States of America.  There are many in our own country who support the death penalty – indeed, only today it is believed that 60% of Daily Mail readers (may ‘god’ have mercy on their souls – as the judges of old used to say after passing sentence of death) support the death penalty.

LEO McKINSTRY: Sorry not to join the liberal wailing: heroin traffickers deserve to die

Mr McKinistry cheered up his readership with a rather bizarre rant on why Britain needs to get with it like the Chinese and start putting bullets into the back of people’s necks… or however it is, these days, that civilised countries descend to the level of barbarians and commit state sanctioned murder.

You may find the Power of Words with Morgan Freeman of interest and also The Innocence Project.   (Hat Tip to Ed of @BlawgReview)

I know that many United States citizens and lawyers are against the death penalty and I have no hesitation in drawing the blogosphere’s attention (if you don’t already read him) to Gideon who writes the excellent A Public Defender’s Blog.  I don’t point to any particular post – just dig around on Gideon’s  blog and you’ll read some very well structured and argued pieces on the subject. Gideon is a staunch opponent of the death penalty.

A selection of Gideon posts on the death penalty in the US: Death penalty’s broke and we can’t fix it | A few thoughts on the death penalty | Bailout where it’s needed: public defender systems | It’s time to wake up (updated)

Another Year In The Trenches: Norm Pattis writes...”Come next week, I start another trial. This one is a capital felony, although the state is not seeking death. I suppose it’s hard for the state to get up a good case of blood lust when there are no photographs of a mangled corpse to show the jury.”

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I would like to pay tribute to the hard work done by Clive Stafford-Smith at his colleagues at Reprieve.  This is a very good organisation and if you are not familiar with their work,  may I urge you to have a look at their website.

The Barrister Bard has a rather different take on the issue and asks where Reprieve is “when we need a voice crying in the wilderness?”: CAST NOT THE FIRST STONE


“Lewis (The Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis) said that there had been 27 ministerial representations to China about Shaikh’s case in the last two years. Despite the increased international dialogue with China “all of those representations have been in vain and this is a very very different view of what constitutes universal human rights”.

…and it’s the last 3 words that really stick in my craw; this dishonest, morally-corrupt, money-grabbing pack of cretins have the temerity to suggest how yet another country should run its affairs, and all this after conspiring with the CIA to spirit several British citizens out of the country to be tortured.

Bastards.


WELCOME to  The Dark Edition…the Darth Vader of Blawg Reviews


I. BANKERS – THE ONLY PEOPLE JESUS EVER SHOUTED AT

The Fuckpig is part of a series of paintings I did over Christmas to amuse myself and have a mild dig at the pretentious nature of some modern art. [F**kART - the complete series] As I  drank more and lost the plot through an excess of free time, the series expanded.

The Bankers wrecked the banks through sheer greed and with it the global economy. Lehman Brothers went down.  Others were bailed out at tremendous cost simply because government had to act decisively to protect the economy and depositors.   I am pleased to be able to report that our prime minister says that it started in America. All seems to be improving now, slowly – although there is still talk of double dip  – and the British and French governments are giving the Bankers a kicking where it hurts – in their wallets – through a special tax.

Law is inextricably linked to economics, finance and the global economy so I make no apology for referring to a number of blog posts written by people in the financial world and politics.

First up are two guest posts on my own blog written by a friend of mine under the name Tonto Popadopolous.  His real name for those of you who like people to have real names is Richard Rude. (True Story)

If you haven’t already seen these – they might interest you if you want to get a handle on the economic crisis we are just coming through.

ARRIVEDERCI LONDRA!The Billion Dollar Bonus

Capitalists@Work is, in my view, essential reading for any British lawyer (and I can see no reason why overseas lawyers could not benefit from the views and thoughts of City Unslicker and his colleagues.  Capitalists@Work predictions in 2009 makes interesting reading.

I read Guido Fawkes every day – and whatever your politics – it is a  great read and will give you comment, information and analysis that the mainstream media don’t even think about.  (I have even appeared as Judge Charon QC – The most expert judge in the world on GUYNewswhich I thoroughly enjoyed doing.  I suspect that my television career will come to an abrupt end with that appearance. It is unlikely that I will be invited to be the 12th Doctor when the 11th has had his go.) Here is Guido Fawkes on the Bankers:  In Defence of Some Banker’s Bonuses

Cathy Gellis is a good blogger – and I have had the pleasure of meeting her.  I think she was disappointed that I didn’t get completely pissed (or even mildly over refreshed) at our lunch… next time, Cathy. Her Blawg Review #219 - absolutely nothing to do with Bankers… had everything to do with Huey Lewis.  I just cannot leave out a blogger who themes an entire Blawg Review around Huey Lewis – so I won’t.  (PS – she comes from California and lives on a  boat – so gets my vote on that…res ipsa loquitur on the California point.)  I said it was going to be ‘dark’… but..hey… a bit of ‘random’ is good as well.

On the subject of Bankers – Walter Olson of Overlawyered tweeted a link to an interesting and critical article:  The (New York) Times and Goldman Sachs“Wall Street continues to defend what looks to us as rank financial speculation,” the Times says. “What goals, other than lining it [sic] pockets, were served by the deals?” “Lining pockets” is a term the Times editorialists use to convey their contempt for the profit motive, which is a pretty basic element of capitalism.

Walter Olson keeps a very close eye on the activities of lawyers – always a good read.  An example of the ‘genre’ comes with this, his 29 December Round Up.

Pragmatist has a view on  Simple, Low Cost Financial Services

It is good to see the Adam Smith Esq blog - a serious blog for those interested in the economics of law firms – visiting the auld country: Adam Smith’s Home Town

2. SOCIAL MEDIA MAVENS & GURUS

Let me explain my thoughts on this.  I have absolutely no interest in Twitter, Linked-In, Facebook or any other form of social media – other than for amusement.  By taking this attitude, I have met some great people – real life and virtual – and through that have learned a great deal from the blog posts of others and, indeed, many of my podcastees have come through meeting  on Twitter.  What I do not need is some grasping greedy b’stard telling me (a) how to use twitter or (b) tweeting at me endlessly about his or her wonderful life and the opportunities to be had through Twitter et al.

Just to make it absolutely clear… this is the type of tweet I like to see…it reflects social and pleasurable interaction.  Oedipus_Lex doesn’t just tweet – he also writes a very good blog. Here he remembers where he was on 9/11

So, when I discovered on twitter that an american lawyer and serial tweeter had written a book on How to Use twitter for Lawyers at the wonderfully absurd price of £145… I just could not help myself….

Blogging isn’t dead – as some mavens predicted.  Scott Greenfield , author of Simple Justice and I share a taste for the sardonic and I shall return to a selection of Scott Greenfield classics later – but his Come Rest Ye Merry Blawgers is one of the good things about social media in the blogging sense – one gets to read some very interesting things by interesting people and…yes..he is right… we blog for pleasure not profit.  While Scott Greenfield is a criminal defense lawyer in the US – you do not need to be interested in criminal law to read his blog – he covers a wide range of topical themes of interest to all lawyers  – and he is refreshingly direct.

For example - Findlaw Plays Dirty finds Greenfield stating his views bluntly..“Ask anybody in the blawgosphere about the New York Personal Injury Law Blog and they will immediately tell you what a great job Eric Turkewitz does with his blog. It’s one of the best known, best respected PI blawgs around. Everyone knows that. Everyone, apparently, except Findlaw. As Turk found out to his amazement (though not amusement), Findlaw like the name so much that it created its own New York Personal Injury Law Blog. It’s shabby and worthless….

And… you certainly don’t want to write a book and get Greenfield to review it  unless you really know what you are talking about.  I just can’t resist putting this into the mix:  Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Criminal Justice System by Robin Sax

And finally…. it is back to Scott Greenfield for a warning that some people on Twitter are rather unpleasant as this post reveals:  The Lesson Of One Psycho On Twitter

3. OF DUCK ISLAND, MOATS, THE SURREAL AND POLITICS

In the “You could not make it up category”-  the absurdity of many of our elected representatives hammering their expenses, hoovering up goodies from the John Lewis department store catalogue and flipping their houses to claim housing allowances for a second home (several of them dishonestly) at tax payer expense must be  at No 1.

I don’t plan to rehearse the saga here but it is an appropriate category to showcase some of the more surreal bloggers  or more unusual blog posts in recent weeks (or further back because a lot of bloggers have succumbed to Christmas and there isn’t a lot of recent stuff about).

Just behind the MPs must be GEEKLAWYER. I am fairly certain, if Geeklawyer had been a Member of Parliament or, even more wonderful, a member of The House of Lords …he would have been in the merde up to his elbows almost as a point of honour.  His last Blawg Review was excellent.  He spends a fair amount… well…., a lot of… time on twitter looking after his harem, talking to the laydees,  but he did find time recently to save the Inner Temple and Middle Temple libraries from merging.

Geeklawyer gives of his time freely, with no thought of reward.  This is reflected in a recent post:  The Bar as a career

Nick Griffin, ‘everyone’s’ favourite fascist revealed himself to be even more of a buffoon than we thought he was when he appeared on BBC Question Time to represent his party – a party that has now been forced to change membership rules to allow non-whites to join to avoid falling foul of discrimination laws.  Griffin astonished viewers when he wasn’t able to explain why he had been a holocaust denier and tried to promote the BNP in a more reasonable light by telling us that he had been in touch with the Klu Klux Klan in America – or, at least, a non-violent chapter of the Klan.  Laughter all round.

Matt Wardman of The Wardman Wire is on the money with this… even a video of Griffin.  Nick Griffin’s BNP Christmas Story, complete with a Blofeld Cat

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2010 – Election Year: Let me showcase a few political blogs.

First up is Tom Harris MP – Labour member for Glasgow South. Tom Harris is an enthusiastic user of twitter. I did a podcast with him some time ago.  His blog is widely read and well regarded. A recent post: We cannot afford a government that sneers at public service demonstrates why.

Guido Fawkes has his Sh*ts of the Year 2009 as there isn’t a lot of political news about at the moment. Iain Dale (Tory) has  Ten Blog Headlines You Won’t See in 2010

Alastair Campbell, Spinmeister-general for Tony Blair’s regime and denier of ‘suggestions’  that he is the model for Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It- probably the best political satire since Yes, Minister - weaves his dark arts to revive an ailing Gordon Brown and still finds time to blog. Campbell asks us to – Prepare for avalanche of Ashcroft posters for Tories

Old Holborn who has a great strap line “There are 60 million of us but only 646 of them” – is a serious blogger and very direct. A recent post veers away from the political to reflect on the nature of the human condition – and in particular The PANIC buyer. VAT and salt: “There was not one grain of salt on Morrisons’ shelves this evening, even though today the temperature touched the friendly side of zero for the first time in at least a week. The glacier outside my house took the opportunity to melt its surface and smooth itself, ready to freeze again tonight. I think there’s a postman in there. We’ll find out in a thousand years or so.”

Obnoxio The Clown can fall into both the political blogger and off the wall surreal category. Hyperventilators and those of a nervous disposition may benefit by giving this one a miss. Obo notes “It’s the economy, stupid!”: “Bill Clinton won his first election on this bon mot. Unfortunately for us, it hasn’t always been the decider that it should be.”

Mr Eugenides writes:  I haven’t changed my mind about… the Guardian

Ian Parker-Joseph, former leader of the Libertarian Party UK and author of the PJC Journal takes a thoughtful approach to politics and is particularly keen to promote the Albion alliance – a cross-party, non-aligned campaign group whose aim is to get all election candidates to sign up to a personal pledge to work for a referendum on the UKs relationship with the EU.

Netvibes list with many political blogs at a glance (I must and will update it)

And so…back to the surreal…

@infobunny continues to come up with some great ideas on twitter. This year – animal advent – and, clearly, she continues to read some interesting books and watch some ‘unusual’ films as this recent tweet demonstrates beyond peradventure: “I just want to fuck your brain into my brain” (what a line!)”

@infobunny also does some serious art and has now gone into photography.  I make no secret of the fact that her ART paintings inspired me to do my own F**kART series and, indeed, she was the recipient of Fuckerflies 1

And… her librarian skills are often put to good use on twitter. This series of pictures from The Sun showing the british enjoying New Year and defying the weather show diligence in research… classic.And some more classic brit binge drinkers captured by the Daily Mail here

I would normally place US defense lawyer Mark W Bennett in the serious criminal law category (and may well include him below when I turn to serious legal posts – but this excellent post deserves a place in the ‘surreal’ category. Lizards Don’t Laugh. Bennett writes: ” Personal injury lawyer Paul Luvera has written about Applying Reptile Concepts in Trial—describing how plaintiffs’ lawyers should appeal to jurors’ reptile brains.

The reptile brain is the core of the human brain, sitting right at the top of the spine surrounded by the later-developing dog brain and ape brain. The reptile brain is a survival engine, concerned only with survival: kill, eat, mate, flee. To get through to the reptile brain, you show it a threat, a way to mitigate or resolve that threat, and a greater threat that could otherwise result. In the example of a personal injury trial, says Paul, the plaintiff’s lawyer wants to make the points that….”

Rick Horowitz, a very friendly tweeter, and a US lawyer – has a few sites to choose from. He is not phased, as far as I can see, by any of the British tweeters or bloggers…and that.. is just fine by me.

Tim Kevan’s wonderful and sometimes venal, duplicitous and cunning character, Babybarista,  continues with his adventures and (as Geeklawyer and Charon QC blog did) got nominated for the ABA Journal Top 100.  Tim also writes the Barrister Blog. The three of us decided to enjoy the voting process by encouraging American and other voters to vote for our blogs. The British are also, truth be told, pretty lazy when it comes to voting (you should see our appallingly low turn out figures for parliamentary elections)  – but thanks to friends  for doing so.  The British tend to be more reserved about honours, preferring to buy them or spend years doing something to get the tinsel at the end.  The Americans, or some of them, are not quite so reserved.  Mark Randazza with his legal satyricon (who I hope wins the IMHO category Geeklawyer and I were in) suggested, in a wonderfully surreal way, that the ‘kittens would get it’ if people didn’t vote for him. After a few days of faffing around with our poster campaign “FREE the BRIT 3″, I gave up.  But… the show goes on… and Robert Ambrogi had a great tweet on Wednesday 30th December.

Robert Ambrogi writes a serious blog and does excellent podcasts

And something  surreal from our world?

Venkat Balasubramani writes Spamnotes, a US blog about electronic communications.  He noted on twitter a fascinating story about how Facebook lawyers are sending out ‘cease and desist’ letters to Seppukoo, website that offers “virtual suicide” of Facebook profiles for those who are disatisfied with their accounts and want to have a little fun. perhaps all this social media is getting a bit tedious when lawyers start to get involved in fun? I’d far rather read about lawyers creating fun than stopping it when it comes to harmless social media stuff.

And if you want some really serious UK centric information technology analysis – no better place than Charles Christian’s Legal Technology Insider and the accompanying blog The Orange Rag.  I’ve known Charles since the 15th Century… or so it might seem as I marvel that it is 2010 and I am still around.  I plan to do a regular briefing podcast with Charles on IT matters during 2010. We’ve done a couple so far – see Insite Law magazine

And… in this section… the last word just has to go to Scott Greenfield of Simple Justice for a truly remarkable piece of writing and direct, simple, honesty. I quote from Scott’s post…

“Neil Squillante at Technolawyer wants to win his category (ABA Journal Awards)  so badly that he has started a sweepstakes with cash prizes, substantial cash prizes, for those who vote for Technolawyer.  Nothing that I’ve experienced as a part of the blawgosphere, as a blawg in the ABA Journal Blawg 100, has made me more ashamed than this.”

The full post is essential reading – but the comments section (I could not resist putting in a few ‘observations’) is as interesting as the main post. Full marks to Neil Squillante though.  He is prepared to debate the issue and answer his critics – and that is good.

Information Overlord was a bit pre-occupied with lists of Best books, films and music in the run up to Christmas – but he often manages to capture telling points on IT matters in his blog during the legal year.

On the subject of honours… I have to report that yet again Her Majesty was not advised by her prime minister to give me something…. I don’t really mind if honours are what people want… although it still seems to me a bit bizarre,  in the 21st century,  that people want to be called Baron Sugarpuff or Dame Madasahatter with a medal celebrating an empire we lost years ago. Mind you, it is the Pantomime season.   I  don’t want them myself. (Apart from those I can award to myself)

4. SOME LAW FOR THE WEEKEND, SIR?


I suppose it was inevitable, given that this is a review about law blogs, that I would have to shoehorn a bit of Law in. This, I shall do without an injection and shall select recent pieces I found interesting with no particular theme in mind.

But I shall start with Andrew Keogh, a criminal law specialist, barrister and published author, who writes the White Rabbit blog. There is very little law in White Rabbit’s blog - but it is a treasure trove of pleasures.  I won’t select any particular post – go and see for yourself.  He has been to see Avatar and writes a brief review.  The White Rabbit also asks (and I concur) “…could we start the second decade of the twenty-first century by dropping the ‘two thousand and…’ business as regards the year? Twentyten will do nicely, thank you. We didn’t speak of one thousand, nine hundred and eighty four or whatever.”

But we must start somewhere with ‘Law’ and first up is : Colin Samuels’ Infamy or Praise.

Colin has won Blawg Review four years running.  He doesn’t really want to win again.  He may well do so – certainly, his 2009 Blawg Review, as ever, was extremely good. For years Colin was a sherpa on Blawg Review – supplying useful links (with copious notes) to writers of Blawg Review to help them. He has retired from this – and now produces a very good review of blog posts weekly on his blog under the Round Tuit category.  Check the latest one out. (And he says that my Blawg Reviews are long?  Oi Vey! )

Time to get down and dirty with some British  and overseas hard law blogs…

I’m going to start off this serious section with one of my favourite blogs.  He has been at it (by which I mean blogging and dispensing justice)  for many years… ladies and gentlemen… I present Bystander JP and The Magistrate’s blog.

Old Bystander’s Almanac 2010 : “Some of us have just about sorted out the Millennium nonsense, and here we are, ten years on….”

Another UK blogger who just does the business…. for family lawyers… no matter what the weather, is good friend John Bolch of Family Lore. There is a huge amount of free content on his blog and Family Lore Focus – and he now has a Wiki.  He even gives out monthly Virtual Oscars… I am proud to have received a few – and recently he considers… the  Top Ten Cases of 2009 I’m not a family lawyer, but I suspect that many family lawyers will be grateful for his sharp observations and tireless news and updating.

And… indeed… I shall… we continue with some of the best legal blogging about.

We shall start with Dan Hull of WhatAboutClients?

It is difficult to categorise Dan Hull and his colleagues who produce a very serious blog - his client centred material is mainstream serious for any practitioner – when he then goes off piste into literature, music, art, film, Europe (He is a Europhile) and turns the blog into WhatAboutParis? – it is another of those magical mystery tours which also give pleasure.  Take a look, if you haven’t already. Law ( I hope most lawyers would accept this)  is fairly straightforward if you do the reading and the spadework – the human being side of being a lawyer and applying it daily in practice is the tricky bit. Thankfully…the lawyers I tend to meet do the human being bit pretty well…and if they blog… they express it.

Dan Hull (and a few others) have a wonderful obsession with ‘anonymous’ bloggers. I always look forward to going on to Dan’s blog to see what his ‘Rant du Jour’ on this topic is.  Dan Hull was active on just this issue on 29th December…. big time… with  Name Please?

I am not ‘Anonymous’.  As I have observed before… I am ‘pseudonymous’ – my About section explains all – and… I’ve used this before… sometimes I am even Hieronymous when I hit the juice… inevitable at this time of year.

And this a Dan Hull / WAC?  post you really should read: Starting fresh, curious and truly awed.  This is what makes blogging and reading blogs interesting and thought provoking.

Antonin Pribetic, author of The Trial Warrior (a very detailed and content rich blog from a Canadian lawyer) considers the topic of Defamation in Canada – a topic of great importance in our jurisdiction given the restrictions on freedom of speech and libel tourism we have experienced this year – let alone the vexed question of superinjunctions.  The Trial Warrior considers: Supreme Court of Canada Recognizes Responsible Journalism Defence in Defamation Claims

5. BRITBLOGS – A SELECTION

The number of British blogs is increasing – although some on my Netvibes page (which I must update and will) are not so active as once they were.

In this section I take a look at some recent posts and bloggers not mentioned in other sections…

Prof. John Flood and his RATS (Random Academic Thoughts) blog ended the year with  The End of the Tournament? The Re-Organization and Re-Professionalization of Large Law Firms in the 21st Century

Jonathan Mitchell QC, a Scots advocate, knocked off on December 17th until the New Year.  He left behind a quiz and a prize.. Review of the year

Law Actually also did a review….The Law Actually 2009 Review. Good to see the Curious Black Cat ‘Blogging Again’. John Hirst, aka Jailhouse Lawyer is an indefatigable blogger and source of some very funny links. Always happy to read and listen to him – even If I do not always agree with his stance.  That is one of the values of blogs – there are many opinions and shades of opinion. Here is Jailhouse Lawyer / A prisoner’s Voice on  Prisoners Votes Case aired on the radio on Iain Dale’s radio show

Android’s Reminiscences is always worth a look and the artwork is great. Here she is with a new design for a friend’s blog: New Blog Design for Aimless Wanderer.

Enquiring Minds has a resolution to revive the blog. That is a good resolution.

It is difficult for me to resist this remarkable ‘giving the bird’ logo from the Scottish Court Service – found on Jennie Law. Perhaps Alex Salmond designed this one evening while watching Braveheart?  Who knows?

The Running Librarian suggests that we.. Keep an eye out for social media snake oil.

I quote: “Kevin O’Keefe has published an interesting post called Law firms should beware social media snake oil in it he refers to a post from Business Week, called “Beware Social Media snake oil” in the post from Business Week the author argues that “…an entire industry of consultants has arisen to help companies navigate the world of social networks, blogs, and wikis. The self-proclaimed experts range from legions of wannabes, many of them refugees from the real estate bust, to industry superstars”

Bloody Relations has some wonderfully surreal stuff on the blog at the moment – not a lot of law, it has to be said – but I can hardly cast a stone in that direction at the moment: Bethlehem Social Services is on the case

Natasha Phillips, author of The Divorce Manual, entertains on twitter with her Blip.fm, Scrabble and amusing tweets – but she also produces a very thorough work on divorce and family law issues.  Natasha does podcasts and organises conferences.  She is pictured (2nd left)  with Sandra Davis,  Tim Loughton MP, Lord Justice Munby

There are several very good Intellectual property Law blogsIpso Facto, written by Dr Peter Groves, a solicitor, is always on the point as, of course, is the IPKAT by Professor Jeremy Phillips and his colleagues.

Simon Myerson QC continues to dispense free advice and give of his time on his blog Pupillage and How to Get it : Still A Job Worth Doing

Chris Sherliker, co-founder of Silverman Sherliker LLP, is a very good user of twitter. I don’t know if he is going to stick with blogging but his Blawg Review #243 was excellent : Fighting Back. Check out his Tweets He has also managed to stick to his New Year resolution to START smoking..unless I misread a recent tweet.

And.. when you have a quiet moment – perhaps away from Twitter, have a look at serial tweeter @Loveandgarbage blog: Love and Garbage Some commonplace musings

And I just have to mention Pink Tape. @lucindee, it appears, has fallen for the ‘charm’s of the 29 year old and BUFF  Ubertweeter @Geeklawyer.  Quite apart from the fact that her Family Law blog posts are always well constructed – @lucindee has a great dog!

This is Pink Tape’s message of Optimism for 2010: “I have sought the guidance of the Geek and there is hope for the family bar after all…Apparently I need first to ditch hubby number one and find a more…uh…economically viable one. I KNEW I was missing a big part of the economic equation that made this job worth it. The solution is so simple. Thanks GL and happy 2010.”

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And while we are it - here is my Netvives page for UK BlogsPageflakes page for Canadian blogs | Pageflakes page for US blogs | Pageflakes page for Blogs from other jurisdictions.


6. ON CIVIL LIBERTIES AND FREEDOM GENERALLY

The last decade has defined freedom perhaps more than many decades in the last part of the 20th century. We have seen over 3000 new crimes added to the statute book.  We have been to war, possibly an illegal war, with Iraq.  We are still at war in Afghanistan and the government has introduced powers, some so draconian, they allow the state to wage war, in effect, on the people they seek to govern… or, more accurately put, in whose name they govern. One begins to wonder if the terrorists would have been so effective in restricting our freedoms by other means.

Before I look at recent blog posts, it may be of interest to listen to two podcasts I did recently with well known British civil liberties and human rights lawyers.

College of Law Inside Track Podcast: Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty

I talk to Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty. Shami Chakrabarti gives her thoughts on why the Human Rights Act is so important and outlines Liberty’s key role in the successful campaign to defeat proposals to increase the period that terror suspects could be held without charge to 42 days. She also discusses the role of the judiciary in upholding democratic values and gives advice to young lawyers interested in working within the field of human rights and civil liberties.

Listen to the podcast

Law Society Gazette Podcast: Roger Smith, Director of Justice – The POCA extension and the erosion of human rights and civil liberties.

I talk to Roger Smith, director of Justice, about the POCA extension and the erosion of human rights and civil liberties. Roger Smith is director of the law reform and human rights organisation Justice, he is a solicitor who has worked for organisations including the Law Society, the Legal Action Group and the Child Poverty Action Group.

Listen to the podcast

I take a broad approach to civil liberties and freedom in this section – there are, thankfully, many lawyers involved in ensuring that the rule of law in this and other countries is maintained and that law is applied according to the principles of a democratic society.

I shall have a rant.  I am an adult.  Most people over the age of 16-18 are. We do not need to be told what is good for us.  If I wish to go out onto my balcony and perform the noble art of Smokedo by smoking as I do press-ups, use my weights, do squats – that is my choice.  If I want to sit in front of my computer at night, drinking a bottle of rioja while I blog, paint or tweet – that is my privilege and right.  I certainly don’t need some licensed nanny from an increasingly intrusive government being a busybody. I am quite comfortable with the fact that when the real Charon ferries me across the Styx to Hades and my coffin goes into the flames – the coffin will explode because of all the alcohol in my bloodstream.

Upon reflection..perhaps some Brits need to be told to handle their alcohol intake.  These pictures are just wonderful: And some more classic brit binge drinkers captured by the Daily Mail here

Carl Gardner, ex government lawyer, barrister, author of The Head of Legal blog and, more often than not, my first port of call when I want to do a podcast on civil liberty issues is always worth reading.  I have done many podcasts on this topic and many with Carl.  I suspect that we will have to do more as the years pass.  Trafigura: the UN report, and free expression is an example of his style and care.

China is going to be a major player in the Tens.  US lawyer Dan Harris has a very comprehensive coverage of China Law resources and this may be worth book marking if you are doing business with China.

Heather Brooke of Your Right to Know is another useful blog.

It is always useful to keep one’s thinking and brain in tune. You may like to have a look around at Stephanie West Allen’s Idealawg blog.

In terms of freedom of information: Nick Holmes of Binary Law has a fund of useful information with infolaw – and deserves recognition for the valuable work he does on infolaw and in promoting the free legal web.

Freedom to have sex is certainly within the scope of this review:  The Legal Satyricon considers: Speech suppression and sex

“Sex is the only reason anybody does anything.  Wars have been fought over women, great men have mutilated themselves over them, and men generally acquire money, power and status to increase their desirability and ability to obtain sex.  Sure, there’s the benefit of money, fame and the respect of the community, but traditionally sex has been part and parcel of high social standing….”

Balkinisation has matters of surveillance in mind: Updates on the National Surveillance State. The Volokh Conspiracy has the attempted airline bombing at Christmas as the lead post recently.

Deservedly, a special mention to Mark W Bennett of Defending People – a criminal defense lawyer.  His views on criminal law may be Texas and US specific, but his views on freedoms and ethics are universal in spirit and application. His latest post pays tribute to a fellow lawyer: Two Things to Read Today.

AND also to Brian Tannebaum who is able to parry @geeklawyer on Twitter with a panache I last saw on the cricket square at Slough Grammar. Brian Tannebaum  is another criminal defense lawyer – from Florida – with strong views.  He also enjoys wine and is kind enough to send me slices of virtual key lime pie – but we don’t let Scott Greenfield know this.  Not surprisingly, Brian has  A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s New Year’s Resolutions.

Strictly speaking, Inner Temple’s Current Awareness blog isn’t a blog in the traditional sense – but it is a very good current information service updated daily (outside holiday periods) and ensures that lawyers in the UK are kept abreast of important legal news, caselaw and statute.  So.. it goes in.

Freedom comes in many forms and the approach to legal blogging, analysis and coverage taken by Slaw, a Canadian blog, is remarkable. You don’t need to be Canadian to read this blog – there is always something of value and interest to overseas lawyers.  Simon Fodden and his many colleagues keep the standard high. A pleasure to read and res ipsa loquitur is most appropriate as a compliment here.

Lex Ferenda asks: Do we now have a law of privacy?

Dr Eoin O’Dell a Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin, is the author of cearta.ie, Irish for rights. He keeps a very close watch on developments in Ireland.

Nearly Legal and his colleagues continue to keep a very valuable and close watch on Housing Law:  Ending ‘Horsham’ possessions?

Mediation plays an important part in individual freedoms and is playing an increasing role in dispute resolution worldwide. Here are a few well known bloggers who write about Mediation. Dialogic Mediation services has this:  Turning Conflict into Conversation …

Blawg review sherpa, tweeter  and author  Vickie Pynchon keeps a close eye on mediation and settlement.  I provide the link to her main page.  From there you can get to her blogs.  And… there is Diane Levin of The Mediation Channel who, curiously,  is pre-occupied this week with  What color is a banana? Perception, bias, and identity

And I have no hesitation in recommending a serious law blogger Jack of Kent who really does analyse things most carefully: The Injustice Done To Paul Clarke. I have no doubt that Jack of Kent will have to analyse more ‘hard cases’ in 2010 – and for that reason – well worth book marking.


7.  A LOOK INTO THE ABYSS OR THE FUTURE?

2010 is going to be an important year for all lawyers, but particularly for lawyers in England & Wales. The Legal Services Act will start to kick in.  Soon,  people will be going down to Tesco not just to get their shopping, but also to get advice on whether they can divorce, sue anyone for falling over etc etc… or will they?

Richard Susskind is a leading master of the dark art of looking into the future.

So is Jordan Furlong of Law.21. Indeed, in a recent post Jordan Furlong asks: “What if you could take a law firm, carve away all the parts of it you don’t like, and keep all the parts you did? What if, from the client perspective, you could get rid of high and rising prices, time-based bills, gratuitous overhead costs and unfamiliarity with your business? What if, from the lawyer perspective, you could do away with brutal billing targets, inflexible work schedules and long commutes into the downtown core? But what if in both cases, you could keep the high quality of talent and the brand-name assurance that comes with a respected legal services provider — what would that be like?”

I have had the pleasure of doing podcasts with Richard Susskind and Jordan Furlong. You may find them useful if you haven’t already listened to them.

The Greatest American Lawyer asks: Time to Say Goodbye to Billable Hours.  It will certainly be worth keeping an eye out on John Flood’s RATs (Random Academic Thoughts) blog.  Here he considers, albeit  briefly on this occasion:  Legal Services Act Breeds New Lawyers

Brian Inkster, who engages with many on Twitter has a very interesting model for legal practice in Scotland.  It is worth looking at his website.  Here is the podcast I did with Brian Inkster

Just before Christmas I did a Law Society Gazette Podcast with Robert Heslett, President of The Law Society. We covered a wide range of topics from the rule of law, the opportunities and threats to the solicitors profession, human rights and Twitter and other forms of social media and how they could be of benefit to lawyers. Listen to the podcast

In a podcast  Professor Stephen Mayson considers the future of the legal profession and the legal landscape following the opportunities for alternate business structures and the opportunities for young lawyers coming into the profession over the next few years |  Listen to the podcast

Although a few of the above do not blog – their views may be of interest to those of you concerned about where the legal profession is going and what the future legal landscape is likely to be.  It is important to remember that five of the top 10 law firms in the world are British (the law of England & Wales), that English law is often applicable in international contracts because of our links with the Commonwealth countries and British law firms are very well placed to take part and influence the future globalisation of legal services. It is interesting to listen to (and read)  the views of these experienced and expert analysts. You may not agree with them – but they are certainly worth a look.

Gerry Riskin of EDGE International is always worth a visit on this issue: Law Firm Leadership Eye Openers

8. SHOOTING ONESELF IN THE FOOT

While The Darwin Awards celebrate the departure of human beings from this earth through their own stupidity.  Shooting oneself in the foot, short of death, does not qualify for a Darwin award. I thought that I would like to have a short section in this review to look at a few cases of ‘foot shooting’.

I took my inspiration for this from a wonderful story reported in April 2009 where the composer of Bright Eyes – the theme song for the wonderful Watership Down film – ordered a massacre of hundreds of bunnies  on his own land because they were destroying his estate.

101 Reasons to kill all the lawyers is an amusing site.  Here is the most recent:

# 67. Judges Quiet in the Court!

!

Above The Law (always worth reading) placed this story in their Non-sequiturs section: Judge Rejects Paul Weiss Partner’s Bid to Revisit His Divorce Pact After Madoff Loss

Althouse writesI must correct Barack Obama’s grammar.

He said:

“A systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable. There was a mix of human and systemic failure that contributed to this potential catastrophic breach of security.”

He meant “potentially catastrophic breach of security.” Potential needs to be an adverb, because it modifies the adjective catastrophic. It shouldn’t be an adjective, which makes it seem to modify the noun breach. It was a breach. If the bomb had gone off, it would have been catastrophic. That’s where the potentiality lies.
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I end with a cartoon from Bitcher & Prickman – always worth looking at for keen observations on the human condition in law – of universal application, one would have thought.  Website

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.
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29 thoughts on “Blawg Review #245

  1. Wow that’s quite a review Charon – good stuff! Thanks for the mention! The UK student/graduate sector of the blawgosphere has taken quite a battering during 2009. Let’s hope 2010 proves less traumatic!

    Oh, and Happy New Year BTW! :-)

  2. Thanks… to you too! Student/graduate sector blogs are good… but I do understand pressures on time …and ‘other priorities’… they can always return to blogging in the future!

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  5. Many congratulations – A veritable tour de force of blogworld. The Rioja clearly did you no obvious harm!!

    The item about the execution of Akmal Shaikh stood out. I also oppose the death penalty and, fundamentally, I have no problem with the UK government making its views known to those nations who continue to execute people. My problem with the present government is their holier than thou attitude at a time when there are major concerns about their own complicity in torture – e.g. the Binyam Mohamed case. Also, I recall little to no protest from Whitehall when Saddam Hussein was handed over to the Iraqi hangmen. Where was Miliband’s “the UK is completely opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances” then? Ultimately, “he who seeks equity must come with clean hands”. The hands of the British government have been in some very unseemly places!

    Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers writes in The Guardian 4th January 2010 – “UK can’t cover up abuse for ever.” His article is well worth reading. Shiner highlights the planned changes which would prevent non UK residents claiming legal aid. That might, in turn, prevent courtroom or inquiry revelations of our government’s dirtier tricks.

    Some interesting observations about the use of the death penalty in China may be read at Dui Hua Foundation and these include the views of Professor Chen Guangzhong about the need for China to begin to release data about the numbers of executions. At present, so much about the Chinese use of the death penalty remains shrouded in secrecy. Professor Chen is an eminent Chinese jurist and he points out that China has actually made steady progress with regard to the rule of law. Unfortunately, their obsessive secrecy denies them any credit for their progress.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/04/uk-human-rights-abuses-courts

    http://www.duihua.org/hrjournal/2009/12/translation-commentary-eminent-legal.html

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  9. I’m a regular visitor to your blog Charon and have been for sometime. Always meant to make a comment complementing you but never seemed to get round to it.

    Well finally I’ve made it!

    Great blog with plenty of useful information and great insights. I highly recommend it to people I know in the legal business.

    Keep up the good work Charon!

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  10. Prince of darkness , good one Charon love the review. I would have to agree with this post , it is very refreshing with a good source of information for any person who is really keen on law.

  11. Great site, very informative. I like to read this.,it is very helpful in my part for my criminal law studies. I like such themes and everything connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon. hanks the author for it.

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