A quick note to say that I am now returning to regular blogging and podcasting. I suspect that Muttley Dastardly LLP et al will be re-appearing as well – and, I shall almost certainly be taken with a desire to do a bit of Rive Gauche as well.
I am returning to regular podcasting – and blogging. My thanks to Brian Inkster of Inksters for his continuing support for the blog and podcasting.
As Chris Grayling raids the dressing up box, it warms the heart to see that he has finally been apprehended…
If I was inclined to rudeness – which I am not, I might be tempted to suggest that Mr Grayling would serve his country better by returning to the fold of back bench psychopaths on the Tory benches. But as I am not rude, I won’t. Tuberville v Savage  EWHC KB J25
Having managed to fall backwards into a bath, slipping on a bathmat while shaving some months back – cracking my spine, I take an interest in The Darwin Awards.
The winner this year…
Yes, it’s that magical time of year again when the Darwin Awards are bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us.
Here Is The Glorious Winner:
1. When his .38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.
Dexter Dias QC talks to me about the legal and moral issues involved in female genital mutilation and the increasing prison population in the USA and UK.
Dexter Dias QC is a member of Garden Court Chambers
Tour Report #26: Direct Access to barristers and the changing face of legal practice
”myBARRISTER is a new online service that gives people and businesses direct access to the specialised skills of barristers, helping them resolve legal issues, defend against prosecution, take legal action or simply providing specialist legal advice on a particular situation.”
The podcast covers:
The start up and challenge
Overview of myBARRISTER
Aim of the Business
Direct access , the potential and online offering for client choice
What our business does
Views on the prospects for the profession moving forward
Tour Report #25: The role of Information technology in modern legal practice
Yesterday I talked with Charles Christian, Editor in Chief of Legal IT Insider (both available online and in print), about the role of technology in the practice of law and the information tools used by lawyers in the modern era.
We looked at:
1. The consumerisation of legal software – why Facebook is so easy yet MS Word so difficult when it comes to training
2. Asked why don’t legal publishers adopt the iTunes approach to content – you buy the chapter you want, boot the 19 chapters you’ll never need
3. The use of social media
4. The gamification in continuing education and training, making it more fun to learn
(We had bad signal issues on Skype yesterday so in parts the sound broke up briefly. Beyond my control unfortunately)
Today I am talking with Jerry Hayes a former Tory MP and practising barrister about the purpose and likely impact of the cuts to legal aid being proposed by Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
Much has been written about the legal reforms in the dead tree press and the law blogs. (Patrick Torsney has a comprehensive listing of blogs written by lawyers and others from the legal blogging community. )
We discuss the need for the protest by lawyers outside parliament and the likely impact on society in terms of access to justice. It is not about ‘lawyer fatcattery’ – the proposals being put forward by the Lord Chancellor will impact on many in our society in terms of a fair trial and access to good legal representation – and they will, directly or indirectly, affect us all – not least in terms of the ‘Rule of Law’ so lovingly used by the prime minister, foreign secretary and other senior ministers when promoting Britain overseas or lecturing despotic governments abroad.
Jerry Hayes is a former Tory MP who knows the back benches of the Tory party and its workings well. Jerry is also a practising barrister. He is not shy in putting his robust views on Chris Grayling’s reforms – nor is he shy in coming forward to comment sardonically.
Please listen to the podcast – lawyer or non-lawyer. There is a serious message here – but there is also fairly ribald ‘analysis’. It was a most enjoyable podcast to do.
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PLEASE SIGN the petition so that Mr Grayling has to answer before Parliament for his ill conceived reform plans.
The legal profession is under siege from the legal aid reforms being proposed by the Lord Chancellor and access to justice – often for the most vulnerable in society – will be compromised. I discussed this in relation to criminal law with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, in my last podcast.
Some say that there is only a one in eight chance of a Bar student getting through to practice with a tenancy at present. It doesn’t seem to be a good time to contemplate a career at the Bar. Senior members of the Bar have expressed concern at the numbers of aspiring barristers being churned out by the law schools and that the Bar will become less diverse with only the middle class candidates, backed with family money presumably, able to contemplate a career at the Bar.
So what is it about the Bar that attracted a 42 year old ex-army tank commander – a non-commissioned officer with no A levels – to go to university after leaving the army, securing a First class degree in English Literature and Contemporary History from York St John University and a Very Competent in what was then the Bar Vocational Course, and apply for a pupillage at the Bar?
Well… I am about to find out. As part of my 12-18 month tour of the United Kingdom to see how law is practised in different parts of the country and what people think about our legal system, today I am talking to Craig Lowe.
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Tour Report #21: Podcast with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association, on the legal aid reforms
To set the context, I quote from an article in The Express:
“High Street solicitors could be forced to close by Government legal aid changes
MORE than 1,500 High Street solicitors will be forced to close branches “within a year” if the Government’s controversial legal aid reform plans succeed.
The loss of High Street solicitors would also have a severe impact on barristers. Michael Turner QC, head of the Criminal Bar Association, warned: “Our barristers’ system will fail. Our brilliant judiciary comes from the Bar. Once you have Tesco and G4S providing advocates, you will get Tesco and G4S judges in 10 years’ time. Make no bones about it, we are facing absolute devastation to what is the finest legal system in the world.”
He rejected claims that Britain’s legal aid was the most expensive in Europe. “You have a different system there, with investigative magistrates who interview witnesses, and the big cost is the judicial spend.”…..
Access to justice in a civilised society is fundamental to the Rule of Law and the rights enshrined in our Human Rights laws to a fair trial.
New legal aid reforms end ‘justice for all’, lawyers warn
England’s 800-year-old tradition of fair and open access to justice for all will be destroyed by sweeping Government plans to reform criminal legal aid, senior judges and magistrates warn today.
In an attempt to save £200 million by 2018, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling plans to stop paying solicitors for the work they do – and instead give them a fixed fee for each case they represent.
Lawyers will be incentivised to recommend guilty pleas to their clients, a coalition of judges, magistrates and civil liberties groups warns. Their fears are backed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates miscarriages of justice on behalf of the Government.
Criminal suspects will lose their rights to choose or dismiss a solicitor, and the number of accredited legal aid firms will drop from 1,600 to less than 400 – raising the possibility that hundreds of small high street firms could be replaced by huge contractors like G4S.
“The Government is creating a system where potentially the same company could defend you, lock you up in prison and then rehabilitate you when you come out,” said one judicial source……”Under plans to save £200m solicitors will be paid fixed fees, with contracts going to firms like G4S
Interestingly, two well regarded judges have commented on the issue…
The current President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, is understood to have deep reservations about Mr Grayling’s plan. Sources suggest that he believes it undermines the right – first enshrined in the Magna Carta – that “to no man shall we deny justice”.
The former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf told The Independent on Sunday that the proposals would lead to a “factory of mass-produced justice” and miscarriages of justice.
“It is the complete privatisation of justice.”
Michal Turner QC has robust views on the proposed reforms which will have a considerable impact on access to justice, the profession, the public and have a devastating effect on the very cornerstone of our democracy.
Some useful links:
(Sorry about the minor technical recording difficulty at the beginning of the podcast – thankfully we only lost the introduction – and a very brief summary of the Ministry of Justice proposals which are linked above under the links section. We also had the sound of crockery being laid out in an adjoining room – which accounts for a very brief pause in recording eight minutes in!
Michael Turner gave me a short history of the Garden Court Chambers building and an excellent tour. Fascinating.
Please spread the word about this podcast – #SaveUKJustice)
The Police and the Crown Prosecution Service play a pivotal part in the criminal justice system – but, what happens when the Police break the rules or are negligent?
Solicitor Iain Gould has built up specialist expertise in the field of actions against the police and shares his thoughts and experience in this podcast
Tour Lawcast 14: John Cooper QC on the CPS guidelines on social media
“Well I don’t think John Cooper with all respect has seen anything like the number of cases I have. I don’t think he has thought about the sophistication of the issues. There are many cases…I mean he can point to one case [the Twitter Joke Trial]…yeah he makes a cheap point about one case, I’ve got to deal with the many thousands of cases that come in, I’ve got to deal with all the chief constables. So, yes, nice cheap point, but actually let’s get back to reality.”
These are the reported words of Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC following the issuing of new guidelines on social media prosecutions when he was placed under pressure by criticism raised by an experienced criminal silk, John Cooper QC.
Speaking on Radio 5 John Cooper QC said of the guidelines …”totally and utterly unnecessary”, adding that the 25 pages would be better condensed to “two words: common sense”.
Today, I talk to John Cooper QC about the CPS guidelines on Social Media.
Tour Report #17: The Jackson Reforms and costs with Sue Nash
“Let there be no doubt about it, the reforms will come into force next
“It would not be an exaggeration to say that from my perspective costs management is the key to the Jackson reforms. If it succeeds the reforms will succeed. If it doesn’t, then we run a risk that costs will unnecessarily and otherwise avoidably increase and the reforms will fail”.
“I do not want to give the impression that I do not have faith in the reforms. It might seem that I am already expecting disaster. That is very far from the case. But one has to be realistic”
Lord Dyson MR
The Jackson Reforms – in particular the issue of costs and retainers.
Tour Report #16: On Human Rights law with Kirsty Brimelow QC and Francis FitzGibbon QC
Littman, David G. (January 19, 2003). “Human Rights and Human Wrongs”. National Review (New York). “The principal aim of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was to create a framework for a universal code based on mutual consent. The early years of the United Nations were overshadowed by the division between the democratic and communist conceptions of human rights, although neither side called into question the concept of universality. The debate centered on which “rights” — political, economic, and social — were to be included among the Universal Instruments.”
Human rights law is at the very foundation of our Rule of Law. Today, I am talking to two of the leading crime and human rights lawyers – Kirsty Brimelow QC, the new Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee and Francis FitzGibbon QC, both of Doughty Street Chambers.
2. Overview of the European Convention and ECtHR work
3. The HRA and coalition government plans for a ‘British Bill of Rights’
6. The role of The Bar in promoting human rights – British foreign policy predicated to some extent on countries complying with human rights
Welcome to Without Prejudice recorded last night at the offices of Preiskel & Co LLP with Carl Gardner, author of the Head of Legal blog and David Allen Green, solicitor and legal correspondent of The New Statesman.
- Labour’s “Leveson” bill, and what the editors have been up to in Downing Street;
- the government’s proposals on extending marriage to same-sex couples – and the relationship between the Church, bishops and the law;
- the Justice and Security Bill (or “secret courts bill”), due to have its second reading in the Commons next week;
- the government’s proposed changes to judicial review procedure;
- the Law Commission’s consultation on the law of contempt of court, and
- Sir Desmond de Silva QC’s review into Pat Finucane’s murder, and the possibility of prosecutions.
Tour Report 15: podcast with Alex Aldridge, Editor of Legal Cheek
Today, at the offices of Kysen PR in Covent Garden, London I talk with Alex Aldridge, editor of Legal Cheek, about his serious yet irreverent online ‘legal tabloid’ Legal Cheek and the role of law bloggers in observing the state of the legal nation.
- Create a process to “validate” the independence and effectiveness of the new self-regulation body
- Validate a new process of independent arbitration for complainants – which would benefit both the public and publishers by providing speedy resolutions
- Place a duty on government to protect the freedom of press
- Establish a body to regulate the press directly
- Give any Parliament or government rights to interfere with what newspapers publish
Our thanks to Gray’s Inn for hosting the recording.
Social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, is being widely used now and it is not without dangers. The recent Lord McAlpine libel litigation, cyber-stalking, tweets which break the contempt of court laws – all have a ‘chilling’ effect on ‘free speech’. Employers are increasingly turning to Twitter and Facebook to check out future employees and to monitor the behaviour of current employees.
Today, I am talking with Sean Jones QC of 11 KBW, a leading employment and public law set. We look at the employment law implications for use of social media in some depth and discuss the important case of Smith v Trafford Housing Trust  EWHC 3221 (Ch)
We then move on to discuss practice at the Bar, the immediate to medium term prospects for barristers and Sean Jones QC provides some advice for prospective barristers.
Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services
“The past few years have seen incredible innovation and growth in the way legal services can be delivered–yet most law firms around the world continue to practice law the way it’s been practiced for centuries, namely, as a labor-intensive endeavor carried out by high-priced lawyers billing by the hour.”
I’m talking with Toronto lawyer Mitchell Kowalski the author of Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services. Avoiding Extinction makes the case for how the law firm of the future will succeed, with a laser-like focus on delivering high-quality legal services better, faster, and cheaper. This entertaining and instructive book is a must-read for anyone seeking a creative vision into what a new, truly different law firm could look like.
Your book – why did you choose the fictional law firm Bowen Fong and Chandri PC – the medium of a novel – for your book?
A utopian construct or capable of practical reality?
The billable hour v value billing debate
Comparison with UK – UK firms Lawyers on Demand and Riverview Law?
Five key propositions for delivering legal services you regard as the most innovative and important
* Knowledge Management
* The People at the top set the tune for the middle
* Legal process outsourcing – the more money you save, the more money you earn
* Project management – if you can’t map out all the processes you are doing you cannot value and price it.