Lawcast 203: Kristen Heimark – From serving on the USS Lexington to practising as a London lawyer
Today I am talking to Kristen Heimark, a practising lawyer in London who started her working life serving with the United States Navy on the USS Lexington. It is a fascinating story.
Kristen talks about her career in the US Navy an her posting to London which eventually led on to her doing a law degree at SOAS and an LLM at The LSE before she qualified as barrister and cross-qualified as a solicitor. Kris now practices mainly in the field of Landlord & tenant as a solicitor-advocate.
I’ve started Part 2 of UK Blawg Review #10 with a podcast because I wanted to highlight that blogging is not the only medium lawyers may use to put their views across.
Pleasingly there are some excellent podcasters on law about. I select two for you to have a look at: NorthpodLaw and Alex Aldridge and Kevin Poulter’s Legal Cheek podcasts. I particularly enjoyed #RoundMyKitchenTable: Orwell Prize Shortlisted Law Blogger Milly Bancroft On The Rise Of The New Media Set
The High Court is unable to agree on Twitter Joke Trial appeal
A fresh appeal hearing is ordered before three appeal judges as the case goes on.
David Allen Green at The New Statesman
Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse.
Groucho’s aphorism seems entirely appropriate to introduce a few posts from the leading family law bloggers I read. First up is Lucy Reed of Pink Tape. Two posts caught my eye: Lost in translation where Lucy considers the advantages of interpreters in court and Gold Band : Gold Standard?
Excessive Verbosity Warning. Do not go past this point unless you have at least two packs of kendall mint cake and a powerade about your person.
[UPDATE : Office for Judicial Complaints now investigating Coleridge J - see end 5pm 15 May]
This weekend I listened to Coleridge J talk about his Marriage Foundation at the FLBA Cumberland Lodge weekend….
Natasha Phillips produces the Researching Reform blog – a fine resource with incisive, analytical and critical commentary on the family law justice system: Her recent piece Single Fathers and the Economic Crisis caught my eye. AND… talking of using podcasts to communicate a message, as I was, Natasha is an enthusiastic podcaster and a good podcastee with John Bolch at Family Lore in his Lorecasts series.
John Bolch works tirelessly, producing a remarkable treasure trove of analysis and coverage of topical Family Law issues – occasionally going orf piste with his Venal & Grabbit satires. His Family Lore blog and Family Lore Focus really are ‘must reads’ for students and practitioners interested in family law issues. AND.. if you are a lawyer manque and rise one morning with the thought that you would like to do your own divorce… his book on the topic is excellent!
Marilyn Stowe, practitioner and blogger considers: The cost of bankruptcy in family proceedings, by Danielle Day.
Jonathan James on Family Law blog writes: There is such a thing as common law marriage!
The freedom to make a fortune on the stock exchange has been made to sound more alluring than freedom of speech.
Sir John Mortimer QC
Given that I still have ‘something of the random’ about me today… in this section I declare myself free to roam at will and select some recent blog posts I have enjoyed before returning with some vague idea of structure and taxonomy. So.. orf we go into another realm…
Adam Manning of A Lawyer Muses… reflects interestingly on: Government Attack on Justice
If you have a compensation claim you might have hired a lawyer who, if they are any good, will be fighting with all their skill, experience and passion to get you as much money and medical treatment as they can after you have been injured. In some cases, particularly involving serious injuries, your case maybe of great importance to you and your future, especially if you have a family to provide for. Proposed changes by the government to the compensation system will attack the rights of injured people and add insult to injury just when they are at their most vulnerable…
I have been reading Bystander JP’s excellent Magistrate’s Blog since ‘time immemorial’. Always a pleasure to dip into and read. A recent post gives a taste of this independent JP’s views: Well Down To Standard
The Anna Raccoon blog is one of my favourite blogs – a blog to make one think – it is a mix of law, politics and social commentary.
Babybarista and Anonymous Assistant always provide a wry smile and often laughter as the authors reveal their sharply observed, often sardonic eye, on the doings of the legal profession. The most recent post from Anonymous Assistant: Hen Dos and Hen Don’ts.
I did a podcast with the author of Anonymous Assistant way back in 2008. She used a wonderful ‘Celia Johnson disguised voice’ and laughed a lot. I decided to speak in the manner of Trevor Howard qua Captain Bligh – a voice style which I often find useful in day to day life. Here it is if you wish to have a listen…. Still worth a listen – the author is a very amusing lady! My obsession at the time was Judge Roger Connor who pulled a knife out in court – only to be asked by counsel if the knife was ‘legal’. We discussed this surreal event and the podcast descended into nonsense thereafter – but in a good way! A surreal podcast – which I thoroughly enjoyed doing.
It was interesting to hear discussion again in the podcast of what law bloggers were doing in 2008 – nothing has changed… which is good..save that some bloggers have fallen away and many others have joined since.We came to the conclusion that many lawyers are frustrated actors or frustrated writers!
Tim Kevan, a good mate, has branched out with a new series of humorous law post on his Barrister blog: My new series of humourous legal posts
Professor John Flood’s RATs blog is another of my favourites – veering as it does between the serious and irreverent. Here John considers The Return of “Silk” (Series 2)
Going to trial with a lawyer who considers your whole life-style a Crime in Progress is not a happy prospect.
Hunter S. Thompson
In this section, I thought I would give you a taste of the practical issues facing lawyers today from some bloggers at the very cutting edge of legal thinking across a range of legal topics!
Right at the forefront of developments which will impact on the future of the legal profession is the thorny issue of ‘Education and Training’. I end Part 2 of UK Blawg Review #10 with a podcast I did with Diane Burleigh, CEO, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives where she explained the advantages of considering qualifying as a lawyer through the CILEx route. (Infra)
I’ve been involved all my professional life in Education. I am now in a position to run ‘rogue’ should I choose to do so. I have some critical views on the new style of practice oriented degrees – but I have an open mind and I am open to persuasion through considered debate.
Professor Stephen Mayson, whose work I have known for many years, is always worth listening to. In his eponymous blog he considers: Lifting the LETR from the doormat. It is an excellent blog post… I introduce the post with his own introduction…
This morning’s seminar on reforming legal education and training, hosted by Westminster Legal Policy Forum, provided a timely opportunity to reflect on the progress so far of the Legal Education & Training Review (LETR).
The lead for the LETR, Professor Julian Webb, rightly reminded us that the function of the Review is to address the question of how best to regulate legal education and training – specifically, the scope, reach and proportionality of that regulation. He said that, so far, responses to the LETR discussion papers had reflected vested interests, and had demonstrated limited consensus and offered little in the way of alternative vision….
Why am I not surprised to read, in relation to the Legal Education Training Review (LETR), of ‘vested interest’ limited consensus and offering little in the way of alternative vision? I am not surprised. Stephen Mayson’s blog post is worth reading. I have found, discussing legal education with legal educators, the smell of vested interests – in both commercial and public sectors – is so powerful at times that I need a pomander !
Right at the forefront of developments in the legal profession is the excellent Legal Futures online magazine. Not strictly a blog – but who cares these days about categorisation? Neil Rose, the editor, is always worth reading. A post today gives a flavour of the current issues of the day: Ombudsman sees good and bad signs in lower-than-expected level of complaints against lawyers
Another prognosticator (such a good word?) and commentator on the legal profession is Professor Richard Moorhead, late of Cardiff University from September and then at UCL. His Lawyer Watch blog is a good read and an excellent source of critical analysis on the profession.
Richard Moorhead comments on the LETR with this sharp post: Activity Based Regulation versus Professional Identity: Some thoughts on the LSCPs thoughts on…
The Legal Services Consumer Panel has published its thoughts on the early stages of the Legal Education and Training Review. Their point of view can best be summed up in the following quote:
“The system is failing because it tries to train the typical lawyer, when in reality there is no such thing. The legal market is simply too diverse to sustain the general practitioner training model any longer. Future education and training system should be built around an activity – based authorisation regime for individuals and entities. This reflects that different legal activities carry varying levels of quality risks for consumers and so different competency thresholds are needed.” (4)
Moving away from the specifics of the legal profession to a blog which invariably produces detailed critical comment on the topical legal issues of the day.
Obiter J in his Law and Lawyers blog is a ‘must read’. Obiter J shares a taste for not being shy about being critical. A recent post gives a good taster: Outrage !! Unelected Euro Judges trampling on our democracy ! His post of last Friday is also worth a read: Unduly lenient sentences: a useful power; well used
Given the emphasis on legal education above, I thought it only fair that Dr Strangelove of Muttley Dastardly LLP be given the opportunity to inform you about a recent interview of an applicant for a training contract…
Eva Braun, Matt Muttley’s PA, elegantly dressed as always in a tailored black suit and high heels, led a young man into the Partner’s Boardroom and seated him at the opposite end of the long boardroom table. He had a brown paper bag over his head.
Dr Erasmus Strangelove, Director of Psyops, Strategy and Education, looked up from his iPad 2, which held the applicant’s curriculum vitae and the security clearance report provided by a leading specialist security firm, and put his first question.
“Forgive the rather theatrical paper bag over your head. At Muttley Dastardly LLP we operate an equal opportunities policy. We are not swayed by good looks. I will allow you to remove the paper bag when you have answered my first question; assuming that your answer is to my taste. If you don’t, my colleague will take you to a waiting taxi, an idea I came up with after watching SurAlanLord Sugar’s reality TV programme The Apprentice the other night. This has the advantage that candidates who I reject do not recognise me should we happen to meet socially or in a nightclub in the West End.
“Contestant.. are you ready?” Strangelove shouted.
“Yes, Dr Strangelove” came the slightly muffled reply from the young law student seated twenty-feet away at the opposite end of the table.
“If you were on the menu in a two star Michelin restaurant in London what dish would you be?” Dr Erasmus Strangelove asked as he glanced at the cricket score on his iPad 2.
The young man, smartly dressed in a newly purchased suit, hesitated and said “I haven’t eaten at a two star Michelin restaurant.”
Strangelove considered the reply for a moment, sat back in the high backed leather chair and smiled. “At Muttley Dastardly LLP, we assume that our future trainees hold a first from Oxbridge or Russell Group university. We assume, having paid a risibly high fee for your LPC at a purveyor of legal education, that they will be sensible enough, and have the grace, to ensure you leave with a creditable result in that course. We are not that interested in the grade. We prefer to teach you how to be a practising lawyer ourselves, but we do like you to start from the entirely reasonable base of actually knowing some law from your university. We have a diversity policy here and we expect our future associates, men and women who we rely on to add to the capital value of the firm and a year on year growth in billings of 20%, to have the flexibility to be able to think on their feet. That you have not eaten in a two star Michelin restaurant troubles me not, but there is no phone a friend or fifty-fifty at our interviews. I don’t want to put too much pressure on you, but you are one down. We have a ‘Three strikes and you’re in that taxi’ policy rule here – a wonderful concept which I seem to remember our current prime minister, Mr Camcorderdirect, coming up with before he became prime minister and wanted votes. Let me suggest another line of enquiry.”
Dr Strangelove flicked back to the applicant’s file on his iPad 2.
“I see, from your Facebook page, that you have a talent for drinking and gurning. Three photographs of you in a file captioned “Future Employer’s…f*ck ‘em” – I will overlook the apostrophe solecism – shows you dressed in what I am advised is tight spandex gear worn by militant cyclists, flicking a V sign at motorists. Do you consider that to be conduct becoming of a future associate at Muttley Dastardly LLP?”
The young man leaned forward. He was shaking slightly. ” I thought I had erased those files”
Dr Strangelove smiled. “Fear not. We are specialists in ‘reputation management’ here. One of my ‘black hat’ departments is most expert at erasing information from Google and replacing it with a more ‘positive’ message. We prefer that more subtle approach to the bludgeon of a superinjunction. After all, we don’t want our clients to be all over Twitter, do we? The question is important. Think carefully.”
The young man sat bolt upright. “Yes… frankly. If I want to go through red traffic lights, cycle on the pavements, and assert my libertarian rights, I shall damn well do so.”
“Correct answer. Well done!” Strangelove said, banging his hand down on one of those old bells found on hotel reception desks in 1950s American movies used by guests to attract the attention of the psycopath who ran the joint.
“Finally… our maxim at Muttley Dastardly LLP is ‘Strength & Profits’. How do you feel about lawyers making exemplary amounts of money during their careers?”
The young man, more confident after his last answer, replied “A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi – A precipice in front, wolves behind. I want to be a wolf”
“Young man” Dr Strangelove replied, a hint of amusement in his voice. “Welcome to Muttley Dastardly LLP. You may remove the paper bag.”
And finally…. for Part 2 of UK Blawg Review # 10 I thought I would end with a podcast I did with Diane Burleigh, CEO, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (pictured far right) this morning on the third branch of the legal profession and the advantages of qualifying as a lawyer through CILEx.
Part 3 will follow tomorrow….and I may have to go to a Part 4 as there are so many interesting blogs to cover. Breaking the UK Blawg Review #10 into sections will, I hope, make it easier to digest.
Part 1 of UK Blawg Review #10 is below and linked here
(Albeit in 3ish parts!)