Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End of the Tournament? The Re-Organization and Re-Professionalization of Large Law Firms in the 21st Century

(Skyscraper farms--the new law firm?)

I am writing an article for a sociology journal (hence the phraseology below) on large law firms in the 21st century. Here's the abstract and any comments will be most welcome.

Law has traditionally seen itself as unique among the professions in that it has been able to invoke notions of the “public interest” to articulate and to protect professional boundaries. With the rise of the large transnational law firm (LTLF) a conflict between the discourses of professionalism and organization has emerged. With the LTLF’s main orientation towards the market with its ideals of flexibility, mobility, and transparency organization appears to have overtaken the professional ethos. Yet, LTLFs have begun to reshape professionalism from within the organization by invoking new concepts of the meaning of profession. By re-engineering education and training and revisiting ethical compliance, for example, law firms are creating new ideas and professional boundaries which supersede those established by lawyers’
professional associations. LTLFs have formed alliances with other professional organizations, eg, investment banks and accounting firms, to augment their power and authority.

The new professional-organizational ethos is altering accepted notions of career (tournament), ethics/deontology (now conflicts of interest) and governance (transnational managerialism). This can be seen as a reflection of the state’s increasing role in interpreting organizations’ environments as well as LTLFs’ ability (and that of law) to shape the nature of the state’s acknowledgement of the profession’s claims. Moreover, these manoeuvres are bleeding over into the
professional mainstream beyond the large law firms. The organization itself has become a professional actor co-equal with the professional. These disruptions and reinterpretations are analyzed within a normative and discursive institutional context using a combination of historical and comparative data. They show a recursiveness between ideas of professionalism in the 19th and 21st centuries which suggest the era of post-professionalism is yet to be achieved.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Legal Services Act Breeds New Lawyers

(Thanks to New Yorker)


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Promoting and Protecting Human Rights in the UK

(Thanks to PSU)

The Westminster International Law and Theory Centre, and the Student Law Society are holding a public seminar on promoting and protecting human rights in the UK.

Thursday 10 December 2009: 1400-1700.

School of Law, Room 3.07, 4 Little Titchfield St, London W1W 7UW

Attendance is free but spaces are limited. Book yours by emailing:

The current lineup of speakers includes:

Michael Willis MP, Justice Minister

Andrew Dismore MP, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights

Prof Francesca Klug, LSE, and former Commission of the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Roger Smith, Director of Justice

Questions and Answers afterwards.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Reclaiming Professional Identity

(Thanks to Don Marquis-1933)

Lawyers are worrying about the potential effects of "Tesco Law" when it hits the streets in 2011. Some have predicted that more than 1,000 law firms might be extinguished.

One other impact, not normally talked about, will be the loss of professional identity or, worse, status. There's no doubt we will see deprofessionalization occur. But does it matter? Is professional identity nought but a chimera? Should we shrug our shoulders and say, "wotthehell, archy, toujours gai".

It's important because of a report issued on the fate of Baby Peter who died while under the supervision of Haringey social services department. Social work failed in frontline services and their management.

So what was to be the fate of social work? It's always been one of those categories which some theorists have argued could be a profession or at best a semi-profession. The British government appointed a Social Work Task Force to answer this. Its report was published today.

It recommends
a call for a reformed system of initial training, together with greater leadership and a strong national voice for the social work profession, led by a college of social work. The report also calls for a single, nationally recognised career structure and a system for forecasting levels of demand for social workers, coupled with clear and binding standards for employers in how frontline social work should be resourced, managed and supported. The Task Force has also recommended a licence to practise system for social workers to acquire and keep up their professional status. In addition to this, improved understanding among the general public, service users, other professionals and the media about the role and purpose of social work, the demands of the job and the contribution social workers make, will be crucial in raising and securing the status of the profession for the future.
As one social worker said on the Today programme: "It's time to raise the profile of social work and reclaim professional identity."

One of the suggestion is to create a Royal College of Social Work like the Royal College of Surgeons. So will it be possible to (re-)create a profession through these measures? There's something manufactured about them that makes me feel very uncertain.

When we look at the histories of professions, their existence seems to be one of tension and struggle with the state. Are they monopolies? Are their practices in the public interest? Do they extract rents? Should they self-regulate?

The answer of the British state is to deprofessionalize and externally regulate where it can--doctors, accountants, university teachers. In this respect lawyers are the last of the tribe to be taken on. And in the case of the Legal Services Act 2007, they didn't realise what hit them. Many still don't.

I don't hold much hope for social workers. But it would pay lawyers to take a moment and look at what has happened to social work and its members. It's very easy to slide down the professional pole; but it is exceedingly hard to climb it.

So let me close with another of archy's maxims, which lawyers might take comfort in:
if you get gloomy just
take an hour off and sit
and think how
much better this world
is than hell
of course it won t cheer
you up much if
you expect to go there


Monday, November 23, 2009

New Blog...

(Ok, if you don't know who this is it's Doctor Who)

In the very near future I will be moving my blog to a new home over at my website, My web designer, Caroline Mockett, is making some changes to the layout before the final change occurs.

The blog will be at It's my opportunity to put most of my virtual life in one place.

It's based on Wordpress so there is a new technology to get used to. And I will be scratching my head just like the good doctor above. For a while I will run both the new one and Blogger simultaneously until I decide to switch off the old one.

I'm quite nervous about doing this. I've become used to Blogger and although at times it's slow and clunky, it's like an old friend. So I shall be like Doctor Who and jump in my cyberspace TARDIS and set off for new dimensions....sort of....


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Transforming Justice in the UK after 60 Years


This coming week I shall be in Portugal at a conference on the transformation on access to law and justice. I am giving a paper on the situation in the UK. The paper is available at or SSRN.

The abstract says:

It is the 60th birthday of legal aid in the UK. The question asked in this paper is: has legal aid reached the end of its life or is it about to enter a new "third age"? The UK has the highest spend on legal aid of any country in the world, running to over £2 billion a year. The vast majority of this goes on criminal legal aid of which a considerable portion pays for very high cost criminal cases. Civil legal aid is the rump receiving whatever is left over after criminal work has been paid for.

Over the last 60 years legal aid has gone from near universal coverage to a very limited range of work which is now mostly taken up with family and welfare aid. Means and merits tests exclude most people from accessing legal aid.

The supplement/replacement to legal aid has come from the insurance industry with After the Event and Before the Event insurance policies guaranteeing some access to law and justice. Third party litigation funding is also gathering force.

The largest component, however, of civil justice in the modern era is in auxillary forms of justice, most notably in the rise of complaints procedures and ombudsmen. In the example used in the paper, the Financial Ombudsman Service, is ranked as the busiest adjudicator in the country dealing with over 700,000 complaints a year.

Legal aid has been shrunk by government and has now become part of a mixed model of the delivery of legal services. Whether this will be sufficient to fight Beveridge's five ‘Giant Evils’ of Want (poverty), Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness (unemployment) is still an open question.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shaking Up the Legal Profession

(you know what this is...)

Whether the legal profession in the UK is screaming for pleasure or because of the agonizing pain is open to interpretation after two announcements today.

The Legal Services Board announced and published its consultation paper on alternative business structures, titled, Alternative Business Structures: Approaches to Licensing. It's 113 pages long so I haven't read it yet, but the summary says:
The paper proposes removing restrictions that have, until now, prevented non-lawyers from owning legal service businesses. The new rules will mean that lawyers will have new freedoms to provide their services alongside services from non-lawyers, and for existing legal practices to attract new external investment.

A robust framework of consumer protection, professional competence and commercial integrity is at the heart of proposals. The LSB is currently consulting on guidance to govern the licensing of these new models of service delivery. There are three key protections.

• a test to ensure that non-lawyer owners and managers of new forms of legal practice are fit and proper;

• the introduction of two new roles in every new firm: the Head of Legal Practice and Head of Finance and Administration who will ensure compliance with licence requirements;

• a widening of the complaints handling system to deal with complaints about firms that do not deliver legal services in isolation but instead offer these alongside other services (for example, financial services) whilst ensuring access to the Office for Legal Complaints.

The new framework aims to ensure that lawyers and non-lawyers alike have the commercial freedom to provide legal services to consumers in ways that harness commercial creativity, maximise business efficiencies, embed professional ethics and meet consumer demand.

It has the potential to allow consumers to access their legal services in a variety of new different ways, for example as a part of a 'one stop shop' with other professional services such as insurance, tax advice and accountancy, or through existing legal practices diversifying and developing with the benefit of external investment.

The guidance announced today sets out principles that new ‘licensing authorities’ will be expected to regulate in accordance with, anticipating that the first licences will be issued by mid 2011.

The responsibility for ensuring that current restrictions on individual lawyers preventing them from developing new forms of practice lies with the eight Approved Regulators overseen by the LSB.
The second piece of news concerns the Bar. Its regulator, the Bar Standards Board, has decided, apparently (decision due 19 November), to permit partnerships between barristers and with others. Frances Gibb of the TimesOnline reports:
Hundreds of years of tradition may be ditched today when the ban on barristers joining in partnership with other professionals is lifted.

The decision, to be taken at a public meeting by the Bar Standards Board, the profession’s regulator, has provoked furious controversy because key papers have not been released in advance.

At present barristers cannot form partnerships with each other or with solicitors, and neither can form partnerships with other professionals such as accountants or surveyors. The Legal Services Act paves the way for a complete shake-up in the legal market and sweeps away current restrictions.

Of course the problem with Munch's screamer was solved by its theft. But I don't think anyone is going to steal away the Legal Services Board or the Bar Standards Board just yet. Lawyers will have to adjust and it's not that difficult. The 21st arrived a while ago.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don't Make Lists!

(Thanks to Craven's World)

I met with a friend, Christine Parker, from Australia today and we talked about research and writing. We have both been dealing with a particular British journal that thrives on having each article submitted reviewed by as many reviewers as possible--5 in my case and 6 in hers. It's not easy as I now have a further 3 reviewers on the revision.

The upshot was I decided to list what I had to do over the next several months. And I shouldn't have done it.

  • Finish final revisions on my lawyer-client relationship article for a journal
  • Finish draft of paper for conference in Portugal on "The transformation of access to justice in the UK"
  • Finish chapter on "Professionalism and entrepreneurship: the case of the legal profession in England and Wales" with Daniel Muzio for Handbook of Research on Entrepreneurship in Professional Services
  • Finish revising "Will there be fallout from Clementi? global repercussions for the legal profession after the Legal Services Act 2007" for a journal
  • Plan paper on lawyers, clients, and billing for book on topic: book being edited by former student
  • Consider invitation to contribute chapter, "Legal mechanisms: global, transnational or international?" to book on Capitalism and Capitalisms being edited by friend from another university
  • Finish draft of new book on Barristers' Clerks
  • Revise draft of book on globalization of law
  • Plan panel and paper for legal ethics at Stanford next year and for conference at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London next year
  • Finish drafting paper on "Becoming a global lawyer" with Peter Lederer
  • Think of contributing editors and plan future pieces for
  • Revise grant proposal with Reza Banakar on impact in legal scholarship
  • Prepare grant proposal on legal ethics with four other colleagues on which I am lead PI
  • Finish fieldwork interviews with Daniel Muzio on our "After Clementi/Legal Services Act" project, then prepare bigger research grant proposal
  • There is a fellowship I saw that I should apply for
  • Daniel and I have been thinking about setting up a seminar series
  • I want to hibernate all winter long....

PS. I also met a very interesting lawyer today, Michael Scutt, who is one of the few who has grasped the full implications of the Legal Services Act and the impact of "Tesco Law".

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Korea Adopts Clementi?

(Thanks to Libraryman)

According to the The Korea Herald (courtesy of American Lawyer) the government will introduce Clementi-style reforms to its legal profession.

The Korean Development Institute, a think tank, recommended that a number of professions be compelled to relax their restrictive practices, i.e. deregulate.

Among the measures promoted were investment by non-lawyers in law firms, and the removal of service barriers between lawyers and accountants and patent agents. We shall be seeing "Lotte Mart Law" (a major Korean supermarket as they don't have Tesco...) and other forms of multidisciplinary practices or should that be multi-chabol-practices?

Naturally the bar associations didn't greet this announcement with unalloyed glee. The Seoul Bar Association was quick off the mark with a snappy rejoinder:
The Seoul Bar Association released a statement, saying "a non-lawyer's ownership of a law firm will make law firms subordinate to market capital which undermines the fundamental legitimacy of the current lawyer licensing system."
And naturally I have been referring to South Korea not North. They probably don't have much use for lawyers up there yet.

(Thanks to Eric Lafforgue)


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Jotwell Launches

Jotwell Launches Today

Today is the official launch of Jotwell: The Journal of Things We Like (Lots), a new online law journal that I am editing. At Jotwell you will find leading academics and practitioners providing short reviews of recent scholarship related to the law that the reviewer likes and thinks deserves a wide audience. We launch with a great set of original contributions spanning a wide range of legal topics.

Jotwell is a special type of law review housed on a set of inter-linked blogs. As a law review, Jotwell has only one mission: to bring to readers' attention great recent scholarship related to the law. As a blog, Jotwell invites your comments.

We have an amazing team of superb contributors, whose names are listed in the sections:

On the Jotwell main page you should expect new content once or twice a week, although as we add more sections contributions may become more frequent. Each of the subject-specific sections will have something new at least once a month. In any case, every time a new review appears in any of the subject-specific sections, an excerpt with a link to the full text will also appear there.

There are three ways to read Jotwell.
  1. You can visit the main Jotwell page, which aggregates all the sections; or you can sample just the sections you like, choosing from the list in the right column.
  2. If you use a newsreader, you can sign up for the RSS feed for the main Jotwell section, or select among the feeds for the subject sections by choosing the link to the RSS feed found in each section.
  3. Or, if you prefer to get your updates by e-mail, you can click here to request a message every time we have new article, or click on the email link found in every subject section for a more tailored, and less frequent, reminder.
PS. There is a Jotwell store at

(Courtesy of Michael Froomkin at

Monday, November 02, 2009

Can Legal Education Be Globalized?

(Law School in Buenos Aires. Thanks to FIERnando)

Law is parochial yet it plays a considerable role in globalization. With few exceptions legal education has continued listing towards the local away from the global. Harry Arthurs, along with Carole Silver and Margaret Thornton, is one of the few scholars to investigate globalization and legal education. Arthurs has spent many years thinking about legal education as befits one who has been both Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and President of York University in Canada and written one of the major reports on legal education. (See Julian Webb’s reflections on the 1983 “Arthurs’ Report”.)

The starting point is that political economy has profound influences on the shaping of legal education via the research agendas of legal academics, types of jobs available for graduates, regulatory structures created by government, licensing of law schools, etc. As economies and legal markets adapt to globalization so does the knowledge it is perceived to need. Law schools like to promote themselves as global either in their names—Jindal Global Law School—or in their courses and faculty.

According to Arthurs there is a deeper level to this: globalization of the mind, which has become an ideology. It infuses our thinking where the transnational trumps the national, markets trump politics and law’s role is to make the world safe for markets. This is the “new normal” and it has consequences. The rule of law is seen to protect economic interests from the state; states will be seen to be of less influence than transnational institutions; local resentments consolidate in supranational bodies like the EU or devolution as in Spain or Canada; and the law is decoupled from the state and the state is decentered. Arthurs foresees a new curriculum which contains not judicial decisions but arbitration awards, not legislation but corporate codes of conduct.

Does legal education have to be this pessimistic? Not according to Arthurs. His example of a successful future legal education is found at McGill Law School in Montreal. McGill has developed a “polyjural or transsystemic” curriculum. The result is that
“individual courses and the curriculum as a whole consciously integrate civil and common law perspectives, domestic and international perspectives, the perspectives of state law and of non-state legal systems, and legal perspectives with those of other disciplines” (at 636).
A former McGill dean said “McGill has always been habited by the conviction that a great deal can be gained...from a sustained and humble dialogue with otherness.” And Jukier, a McGill law professor, notes that the idea of otherness is not to be the same but, through the freeing of law from jurisdiction or systemic boundaries, perspectives multiply and understanding is increased. She contrasts this approach with Justice Scalia’s disdain for foreign cases as meaningless dicta (Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)). Thus, for McGill, law is unbounded, legal systems interpenetrate or meet resistance, common law is mixed with civil and religious, domestic and international law struggle with each other, and law is found in transactions, discourse, and the quotidian routines of life.

Arthurs argues that such a curriculum is refreshing for legal scholars but how do students fare on such a diet? Since McGill favors unpredictability, students might balk, so let them have what they want. Arthurs says this isn’t so far from what law teachers already do as Scalia indicates. He prefers the approach of niche marketing, however, whereby the law school should try to attract those students who will feel most comfortable in the transsystemic environment. But it presupposes adequate knowledge on the part of the students to make an informed choice. Arthurs favored way is “to engage students in serious conversations which will free them from the tyranny of rules.” It has three principles. One is that students’ own experiences have validity in legal studies. Two is that faculty have to show they value questions more than answers. Three is for students to use their new knowledge to interrogate themselves. And four is to help students understand that their lives will be riven by ambiguity, indeterminacy, and irony.

This is a brave approach for a law school to take. And it challenges the faculty’s preconceptions as much as those of the students. Harry Arthurs is raising the stakes for law schools in that many wish to embrace globalization in some way but don’t necessarily know which is the best approach. Constrained by professional regulation, they might ignore it or introduce one or two courses, or they might reconstitute the entire curriculum as a challenge to conventional wisdom. Perhaps the last great revolution in legal education occurred in 1870 when Christopher Columbus Langdell became dean of Harvard Law School in which case the next one is overdue.

[Harry W. Arthurs, Law and Learning in an Era of Globalization, 10 German Law Journal 629 (2009); CLPE Research Paper 22/2009. (German Law Journal version; SSRN version)]


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Is What ALL Writers Want!

(Thanks to the New Yorker)

All writers--fiction and nonfiction--crave to hear this. There are other ends to writing but getting approval is a major one. It's obvious really as most writing is for an audience. Even "secret" writing is now done via blogs and tweets, so diaries are wide open. A bad review or, worse, a rejection go right to the heart of one's being.

We are simple and gullible beings. These things never get better no matter how many times you do it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Law of the Future at HiiL

The Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law (HiiL) held its third annual conference on the Law of the Future at the Peace Palace last week. The conference brought together a range of academics, policy wonks, and practitioners to focus on the question:
In this era of globalization, does the ever-increasing complexity of political and socioeconomic relations require that a new equilibrium be sought with respect to public-private cooperation in shaping law and governance?
After a series of talks by high theorists like Gunther Teubner and general counsel like Peter Wakkie we broke into separate workshops on private actors and self-regulation, corporate social responsibility, the millenium goals, and the financial crisis and regulation.

My workshop was the financial crisis and regulation subject. Even with the contribution of invaluable input from members of the European Central Bank, various competition authorities and other institutions, there was a feeling that the tension between what politicians needed to be seen to be doing might well conflict with longer term goals in stabilizing the financial sector.

There were those who thought a rebirth of trust and legitimacy would suffice along with enlightened self-interest--a minority view. Others thought that ordinary people should be put back at the centre of interest not the banks.

There were clear differences between the US and EU views on regulation with the EU view having a clear differentiation between macro and micro perspectives on regulation. Both, however, had difficulties with raising levels of transparency among institutions.

One item that stuck out was the "large and complex institution". This beast appeared to be untameable. Think of Goldman Sachs or Barclays now and you get the picture. These organizations are so unwieldy that different parts of them can act against others without being aware of their actions. One part buys long while another sells short. Their own internal networks seem incapable of communication, in which case how are the high executives supposed to know or to understand what is being done. Should they be tamed and how?


More information about the conference can be found within the concept paper that preceded it and in the programme abstracts.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Where's Your WiFi Come From?

I know folks who do this.

(Thanks to New Yorker)


It's Worth Complaining?

(Would you buy a used car from this man?)

I'm writing this with Abba's Money, Money, Money as my backdrop. About a year ago I moved house renting my old one. The tenants wanted to take over my cable and broadband package with Virgin Media (no link given). No problem.

No problem for me: big problem for Virgin. They would do it but wanted £20 to change the names. I reluctantly agreed and told them where to send the paperwork. This where it starts going awry. Virgin had problems recording my new address. It only has two syllables and is four letters long for goodness sake. Eventually some documents arrived and I completed them.

At this point I presumed all had gone through straightforwardly. The tenant was having the money taken from her bank account for her bill.

After six months the tenants quit. Virgin sent me a bill. I ignored it. Virgin called me: I owed them money for my account.

"I don't have an account with you."

"Yes you do."

"I transferred it."

"No you didn't. The transfer failed. We told you."

"No you didn't."

Look I know this is an enthralling conversation and you'd like to read more but I am stopping it here as a favour to your blood pressure.

It seems my tenant's birthday was recorded incorrectly so the agreement wasn't transferred and I was still liable. And, oh yes, Virgin had written to me with this information. Which address no one knew as I never received it.

The tenant agreed to pay the outstanding bill. And I closed my Virgin account...I thought I had...

A few weeks later a call from Virgin. They wanted their equipment. No problem, it's waiting for you. Go and collect it.

"When will you be in so we can call?"

"I don't live there. You'll have to knock on the door and ask the new tenant."

"Are you moving house? We can arrange transfer of your service."

"I don't have an account with you."

Sorry, I don't want your pulse to race again with excitement. After speaking to a different department about picking up the equipment, I was assured all was done. Finito....

A couple of weeks later a letter from Virgin demands £100 for unpaid bill. I ignored it.

Virgin call. Yes I owe them the money; no I don' get the picture.

I write a letter of complaint. For the next three weeks Virgin's customer service responds to my complaint by telling me I owe them this money. I say no. Then they offer me a cut price deal. Instead of £100 they'll accept £50.

I'm a little ticked off by this time and make a counter offer of zero pounds. Customer service shouts at me that they will go after me with everything they've got. I say I will complain to the independent ADR service to which Virgin belongs, CISAS. No, says customer service. You can't. Whoa, there, Mr Customer Service man, I don't think you're allowed to say that.

I complain to the Communication and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS--a kind of ombudsman) and Virgin swings into overdrive. (Sorry about the cliches but sometimes nothing else will do.) I get letters from Virgin dated three weeks before the last call demanding payments and dismissing my complaint. Then they bring a debt collection agency into action.

My complaint to CISAS grows in size as I add Virgin's and the debt agency's letters to the complaint submission. I'm thinking bring it on. For £100 you are prepared to spend this kind of money (=how much of your resources do you want to waste?)

A week later I get a call from the debt collection agency who tells me I have no grounds for complaint, that I have a rolling contract with Virgin that I can't break except on specific dates in the year. I better pay.

"The complaint exists and is now with CISAS so you should put your proceedings on hold."

"No I won't. The law says you owe the money and you should pay. I see from my notes of your conversations with customer service you are in breach of their contract."

"Well, then, let me have a copy of the contract and those conversations and I will see if I agree with you."


More information off to CISAS. Then a quick internet search on the debt company who subscribe to the Credit Services Association which actually has a code of practice. This is a bit like lions subscribing to a butcher's service to cut up their freshly-killed carcasses. But the code does say when asked give information.

A quick email to the agency pointing out what they should do in accord with their own code of practice and to lay off until CISAS has had its say.

A quiet moment of reflection as I await Virgin's response to my CISAS complaint. CISAS ask the complainant to state the remedies they'd like. I said I wanted an apology, all the charges to disappear, and then, as an afterthought, I'd like £250 in compensation. The first two were important.

Virgin called--just as I was about to enter the dentist's surgery. Brilliant timing. We connected later. I was able to discern a slight change of tone from ballistic belligerence to cosy compliance and contrition.

"We're sorry that customer service hasn't treated your complaint well."

Depends whether customer service's role is to listent to customer complaints or complain about customers. I think it's the latter in which they were doing well.

Valerie of Virgin Media (I could see the glow behind her...) assured me that things were not good in customer service land and that they were sorry! I'm hard of hearing so I asked for that to be repeated. Wonderful, glorious: someone said "sorry".

(If you ever need to know more read David Engel's "Oven Bird's Song".)

She only had one quibble with my complaint to CISAS: £250 was a bit high so would I accept £100. Since it was an afterthought and the other points had been accepted, sure I'll take it.

She wrote me a sweet letter--still to the wrong address--saying I owed no money, no remarks on credit files anywhere, the debt collectors would be told to go where the sun don't shine, and here's a cheque.

Obviously Virgin Media doesn't want rack up black stars with CISAS so settlement is paramount. But how much money did Virgin Media waste on this matter? It must have run into thousands of pounds in salary time, etc.

I'm sure someone in their organization is saying "lessons will be learned". Of course they won't: they never are.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Global Legal 100

(Thanks to GnomePress)

Robert J. Ambrogi on Legal Blog Watch has relayed the American Lawyer's results on the top 100 global law firms. They don't make happy reading for managing partners. Clifford Chance's profits per partner fell by 41%.

Yet law firm revenues haven't suffered too much in the financial crisis--a matter of a few percentage points. Six firms break into the $2 billion band, of which four are UK firms. And 18 firms grossed over $1 billion.

Out of the top 100 American Lawyer says:
American and British players continue to dominate: Seventy-five of the world’s top-grossing firms are American, and 14 are British. Rounding out this year’s list are five Australian firms; two firms each from France and Spain; and one firm each from the Netherlands and Canada.
When it comes to profits per partner, however, niche is king. Wachtell Lipton and Quinn Emmanuel outstrip the bigger firms by a considerable margin at over $4 and $3 million respectively. But the rest of the top 10 are OK: none is less than $2.5 million. So no tears needed. In this group only three firms were British.

This is where one sees the difference between the US and UK legal markets. The US market has a huge domestic market to work in. The UK by comparison is tiny and therefore its law firms have to forage overseas. The only exception is Slaughter and May, which has excellent relations with the UK Treasury and has done a lot of work on the financial crisis restructuring.

Despite the doom and gloom law firms are beginning to see a rise in their work. What the recession has enabled them to do is downsize by getting rid of surplus associates and partners. That's good for the PEP.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Curse of the Billable Hour?

(Thanks to the New Yorker)


The Death of the Training Contract?

(indentured servants)

The College of Law's Legal Services Policy Institute has published a paper, Training for the Future: The Professional Preparation of Lawyers for the Commercial and Regulatory Environment after the Legal Services Act 2007.

Its main points are that the point of qualification for solicitors should be the completion of the Legal Practice Course instead of after the LPC and a two-year training contract. This means the tension between preparing young lawyers for practice and knowing how to handle reserved activities could be resolved by separating them.

Corporate practice is largely transactional in nature and therefore doesn't require full knowledge of reserved activities. So if a lawyer wants to practice in the reserved practice area (eg. litigation; administration of oaths), then the practising certificate would have to be endorsed showing competence in these areas (ie. extra training).

The result is that we don't need the training contract as a precursor to becoming a lawyer. A lawyer would receive on the job training for whatever tasks are necessary. Bye bye training contract...

Training contracts/articles have always been a form of indentured bondage primarily designed to winnow out the less desirable candidates. How many occupations have a two-year job interview?

First, one had to pay to be trained, then a miserly salary was eventually instituted by a few firms. Now a proper employee relationship ought to exist. If a lawyer is hired then it shouldn't be on a conditional basis of this length.

I suspect that training is rather variable in many places and with that I wouldn't exclude the big firms. In principle the College of Law is right. It is time for law firms to move from the 19th to the 21st century. We'll let them skip the 20th. There is nothing extraordinary about law that marks it out for this kind of distinctive treatment.

I was struck by the comments of a series of managing partners of the biggest law firms at a symposium recently. (Chatham House rules won't let me be specific.) When asked about what made their firms especially good, they all referred to "shared values, a common core". Not a single one realized how this would play with a critical audience that was asking why there were so few women partners or partners belonging to ethnic minorities. For clever people they weren't too reflective. According to them the best benefit offered by their firms to young lawyers was the training.

If your future job depends on a two-year period in which you must demonstrate your adherence to shared values, this could conceivably create difficulty for some groups who might want to contest those values. After all, isn't that what good lawyers do? Test the assumptions so readily taken for granted.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review Essay on Gillian Tett's "Fool's Gold" Available

(Thanks to Jeff Clark)

I have made available my review essay on Gillian Tett's new book, Fool's Gold", her analysis of the history and causes of the present financial crisis. You can download it either from my website or from SSRN.

Gillian Tett is both a visiting fellow at the University of Westminster School of Law and a social anthropologist by training. It is her persona as social scientist that gives her an interesting perspective on the financial crisis and its players. I recommend the book as a gripping and first-class read.

I would also like to thank Peter D. Lederer, Joe Tanega, Jason Chuah, and Viktoria Baklanova for their help and corrections.

Now it's on to the next one....


Monday, August 24, 2009

I Take Care of People

Sign in Nenagh Hospital, Tipperary, Ireland

(Hat tip to


Thursday, August 20, 2009

(Silly Season) or Why I Am Unstinting in my Search for World Peace

I've recently let my hair down, but my values haven't changed. Please help me in my pursuit of world peace. Otherwise just get in the groove...


Friday, July 31, 2009

The Adventures of John Flood or Why Google Thinks I'm Schizo

When I was finishing up an article a while back I wrote a post on how I'd found a new book, Jeremy Till's Architecture Depends, and that it had changed my view of what I was doing. A couple of days later Jeremy emailed me. He was using Google Alerts and my post was flagged.

This was intriguing. I set up an alert for a couple of items I'm researching and then I thought why not set one up for me. Usually when I google myself--and who doesn't--I get my website and my blog. But there's often another critter masquerading as me: John C Flood. I've talked about him in my standup. He's a plumber in Virginia, USA. He must have the worst video ever produced on YouTube. Warning: watch at your peril! It's bad!

I got to know John C because I used to get his emails. (Flood's a great name for a plumber isn't it? Inspires you with confidence...) What really put me on to John C was an email from a stranger who wanted to buy my domain name so he could put together a wedding portfolio for a friend, John Flood. He offered me $2000 but I said no. He upped the offer, but I still refused. A day later I got an email meant for John C from the stranger who'd been trying to buy my domain name. He apologized to John C for not being able to get the "John Flood" domain name because the idiot who had it wouldn't release it. Moi! So I wrote to both of them and I've never had another email from John C Flood.

So what could Google Alerts do for me? At first, not much. It picked up my blog posts, but I already had those. But after a month of tracking me down, Google became adventurous.

In June John Flood was a rampaging teenage gangster charged with auto theft in Naperville, IL. Maybe I was the suburban branch of the Crips. Anyhow I was wild. I knew it was me.

But I was fed up with the small stuff and aspired to greater things so I graduated to Chief Inspector of Inspections, Permits and Licensing when I was busted for felony cheque fraud in Louisville, Kentucky. (I get around, man.) So I was down and out, but when my lovely wife, Madonna, was elected to the Metro Council she made damn sure I was hired by the council. OK, I had to swear I had no felony convictions. I slipped up a bit, but it wasn't much. It didn't mean I couldn't do it again. Hey, if Bernie can big it up, why couldn't I? Seems more money went missing. Warn't $65 billion though. Hey, see you at my trial?

Well, after that I moved to Texas. I wanted to leave all that bad karma behind me. I became an attorney in Corpus Christi. You can tell I saw the light. I was acting for a widow whose husband coughed his last while helping our brave boys in blue with their enquiries. My client's previous convictions for manslaughter and cocaine possession had nothing to do with the way the police behaved I'm sure.

To tell you the truth, as you read this you see me diving towards the inferno where I belonged. But I have recanted. I am a better person. Google tells me so! Hallelujah!

I found solace in music. And for a while lately Google has kept me on this musical path. July found me "nestled among olive trees and bougainvillea...looking quintessentially Southern the 110-year-old Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo". Oh, man, bliss. I was in heaven. Good karma. Seems I was playing percussion for a dance version of "Threepenny Opera". Never mind the dance, the vino was good.

But I needed something more substantial, something that really said this is the essence of John Flood! It came. I knew Google wouldn't let me down.

Mindrot! Read this and weep:
Back in the summer of 1989, four gloomy souls got together to create a sound that forever change the face of the Southern California underground music scene. For a year straight the members of Mindrot holed themselves up in a studio in Westminster, CA and honed their musical craft. Then in the June of 1990 they played their first ever show in a living room in Huntington Beach, CA with local crust-masters Glycine Max. The rest as they say was history.
Mindrot combined the heaviness of doom-metal, the gloominess of goth, and the political awareness of punk. I, of course, played the geetar.

Here's our avatar:
You can listen to our music over at our MySpace page. Withersoul and Despair are my favourites. You'll really appreciate my playing. It has a subtlety that is often overlooked on a cursory hearing, so give it a little time. But in case you need a more immediate hit, here I am letting rip.

Hi, I'm John Flood...anyone you want me to be.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Law Will Get You...

(Thanks to New Yorker)


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Plagiarism Rears Its Ugly Head

(Thief by The Blackbird)

While grading student essays I came across one that was quite good. It was discussing a legal issue in the UK. I was fine until I came across a sentence that referred to dollars instead of pounds. It was in relation to a particular statute introduced onto the statute book in the 1960s.

I didn't know this statute so I googled it. When I pulled it up there was the sentence with the dollar reference and the fact that the statute was actually American and not British. It was a cut and paste job. Or otherwise plagiarism.

I have written about plagiarism before, especially in relation to Raj Persaud. For me it is the worst offence an academic can commit. I've had my own work plagiarized so I know what it feels like.

Now I felt I had to check the rest of the student's essay. Particular phrases appeared to demonstrate a fluency somewhat beyond what I considered the student's capacity to be. I fed them into google again and found articles and books from Australia, Asia, and the US coming into view.

It could no longer be "accidental" cutting and pasting as the student would subtly change certain phrases. The original might say, "In the US, and other parts of North America, the law states..."; and the student's version would read, "In the UK, and Europe, the law states..." What was clever was the introduction of spurious references that appeared to relate to the statements being plagiarized, but weren't actually mentioned in the original. And of course the plagiarized sections were not referenced in the bibliography.

After I had found five plagiarized sections I stopped. Basta! No more was needed. This was deliberate, wilful plagiarism--inexcusable.

I devote a substantial part of a class to the iniquities of plagiarism. I emphasize that it is an offence nonpareil. But it is one that students or anyone else don't really need to do. In this case the student knew how to cite authorities and could have easily done so in this essay. Indeed, I would have thought more of the essay as the student was showing some diversity in reading material. True, there was the blunder of using an American statute instead of an English one (?), which one might want to put down to tiredness rather than crass stupidity.

Two lessons: don't cheat since it's easy to find out; or, for god's sake, do it well and show some creativity. It's the Don Camillo paradox when you have the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. Have a look here.


Friday, July 10, 2009

What Is Your Research Worth?

(The Scholar by Renee Ann Wirick (Away))

Yesterday I sat with 15 other academics as we went through 20 research grant proposals for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). We spent between seven and eight hours discussing the merits and demerits of the proposals. It was exhausting but worthwhile.

For obvious reasons of confidentiality I can't go into detail about the proposals themselves. I belong to Panel A which covers law, history, theology, and philosophy. It's a wide remit. We are expected to read and decide on all the proposals from our constituent disciplines and then rank order them.

The process is thorough. You, the applicant, write your proposal which your institution approves. Your proposal must cover the research context, the questions, the importance of the research, the methods you will be using, your dissemination plan, and the expected impact of your findings. In addition you must mention who you are and how you will manage the project.

All the research councils limit how much you can actually write in the proposal and this can make the writing more difficult as you have to cut and pare until you have the absolute kernel.

In many ways it's no different from writing an article. It takes as long, requires as much background research to compose, and there's no guarantee you will be rewarded/published. But you have to do it because universities pressure their academics to apply. External funding for them means some relief on internal resources, and it's kudos for you.

So once your baby has been weaned from the page and submitted the funder swings into action. The AHRC selects three reviewers who critique your lovingly composed proposal under similar headings to those you used to write it. When the reviewers are finished, you get a redacted version of their comments to which you respond. In this way, if you are lucky, you get to fill in any gaps and expand beyond that original word limit.

As well as critiquing you the reviewers score you on a scale of 1 (unfundable) to 6 (outstanding). Assuming your proposal has scored well it will go to the panel for moderation.

We, the panel, get to read everything: the proposal, the reviews, your response, and the scores. In preparation for the meeting we prepare introductions for the others. These introductions draw out the distinctions between the reviewers and tell how you have responded to their criticisms.

It's not easy to do. Some reviewers are laudatory while others are highly critical. This can result in a range of scores. One proposal had scores of 3, 4, 6. Our discussion is influenced by how you respond to the reviewers. And it's fair to say that often you will focus on the most critical.

Trying to answer the reviewers does take some balance from you because the others will also have queries they want answering and you must take account of them, not just the critic.

What the panel wants to read from you is a factual response. They don't want to see you take umbrage and get snarky back at the reviewers. It happens. The problem is that academia is composed of small worlds as David Lodge has clearly described. Even though the reviewers are anonymous, you may be able to identify them in their reviews. If you do (or don't), try not take it personally. Just because you think your proposal is stellar and groundbreaking and landmark research, not everyone else will.

We saw all of this yesterday. The other tactic you may employ is that of avoidance or evasion. If the reviewer has spotted something of substance that needs fixing, don't pretend it wasn't mentioned. We look for how you deal with these things. And avoidance doesn't go well with the panel. We want to see what steps you will take or have already taken.

Another aspect of this is if there are a group of you applying for a grant, your research must be coherent and fit together. There's no point in coming up with your favourite topics and trying to bundle them together under a common set of aims and objectives (What do these mean, for god's sake? It's like job and person specifications: you want to say "As long as they breathe...") We see through that.

Surprisingly for the humanities some of the research proposed contains very sophisticated technical issues which have to be properly integrated. The AHRC obtains technical reviews and they can be harsh. And you have to respond to those as well.

As we go through our roster of proposals--we have a very short break for lunch--we start to rank them. We're using the same 1 to 6 scale except we start to refine it by introducing decimals. Yesterday we went to two decimal places to complete our ranking.

At the end we're exhausted, relieved, and satisfied because I believe we tried hard to be fair and reasonable. After all, we know our own research will be on the receiving end soon. But I'm afraid that is not the end because there are financial constraints and so not every good proposal gets funded.

If I were to draw any conclusions they would be simple. The truly outstanding proposals stood out. They were intellectually exciting; they were trying to engage with new ideas. They were coherent and well structured. They gave us the context and the research questions complete with a methodology for how they would answer them.

They made sure that the progress of the research could be tracked and measured. They had milestones and/or advisers who would review progress. They made sure that they were asking for the right amounts of money. Were all these trips to the other side of the world necessary? They made certain that each investigator played a strong role in the project and hadn't been inserted to get some clout.

They thought about how they would publish their results. It could be books, articles, papers, workshops, blogs, websites, seminars for policy makers, newspaper articles and so on. How does your research relate to the world around you?

Research proposals take time and effort and if you are successful your VC will be happy, you will have time to do what you want, and you will make a mark. So don't rush it, get help, make sure your university research office is on top of their brief. If not bug them; they're being paid to help.

And then you can start the next one....

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Jane Lambert Discusses Issues Facing Today's Bar

Jane Lambert is an intellectual property lawyer (barrister) in the north of England. Among barristers she is forward thinking. She has recorded a podcast with Charon QC which you can listen to here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Darrois--Clementi Comes to France?

I went along to a presentation by Jean-Michel Darrois on his commission's proposals to reform the French legal profession at the Law Society yesterday. It, of course, begs comparison with the Clementi Review in the UK.

Darrois prefaced his remarks by saying that President Sarkozy was concerned that French lawyers weren't as present in the world as US and UK lawyers. It seems that French lawyers, apart from a few big firms like Gide, are more inward looking.

Taking this to heart the commission was composed of few lawyers, a couple of professors, judges, administrators and one in house lawyer, although it heard evidence from a wide range of people.

The French legal profession is divided rather like English lawyers with turf wars constantly being fought. When notaries were about to get the power to grant mutual divorces, French lawyers (avocats) objected that they were being excluded--hence Darrois.

Part of the trouble with the French legal profession is the perception of what each part's role is. Notaries are seen as quasi-public officials who can do "authentic acts". (Apparently, according to Prof Aynes, learning what these are is the bane of French law students' studies.) Avocats can't do them. In fact, avocats are seen as court lawyers whose prime duty is to the client--a defender.

Others do law as well including accountants and legal advisers. But strangely in house counsel are not lawyers. They are merely employees of the company and don't enjoy lawyer-client confidentiality or secrecy. The French legal profession likes it this way.

Overall, the reforms proposed by Darrois are modest, when compared to Clementi's.
  • Some fee sharing between notaries and lawyers will be allowed, but merging the two arms of the profession won't happen.
  • French lawyers can become in house counsel, but without the normal privileges.
  • Forms of multidisciplinary practice (or more likely legal disciplinary practice) will be permitted, eg. lawyers and accountants (but not lawyers and auditors). These can be temporary, short term or permanent.
  • Law firm partnerships will be encouraged.
  • Legal aid will be properly introduced and funded.
  • Some form of joint legal training will be introduced so that law students will know what others in the legal profession do and can therefore make an informed choice.
Nicolas Sarkozy has said he will introduce the reforms next year.

Are they going to increase the presence of French lawyers in the world at large? Unlikely. At best this is a minor reconfiguration which brings the French legal profession into the early 20th century, but nowhere near the 21st century of Clementi and the Legal Services Act.

I can't see how the Darrois reforms are going to reduce the fragmentation of the French legal profession. One lawyer who spoke about the reforms expressed strong doubts. Another mentioned that being a notary in France still depended on nationality and therefore excluded UK notaries. (This is being heard by the ECJ.)

Even though Darrois kept lawyer participation on his commission to the minimum, they have won through. Of course, it's possible that if he had come up with radical Clementi-style proposals, Liberty would be raising her tricolor once more and we would have heard the screams from London.

The final conclusion to draw from this is that the French legal profession doesn't want to liberalize in the same way that the British have. Nor it seems do the Americans. At least the US recognizes the difficulties it faces. And at some point New York state will liberalize its own rules to cope with the pressures of globalization. The French haven't realized that globalization has already been in action for some time. They have a lot to catch up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Civil Justice

I went to a seminar on the decline of civil justice today where it was argued that mediation is a cheap alternative to adjudication. Here's proof.

(Thanks New Yorker)


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Straight There No Detours

Avis Whyte and I have just finished an article derived from the research we did for the Bar Council on direct access to clients. It can be downloaded here.

The Bar has been a referral profession for many years and now it is attempting to reconfigure itself towards direct dealings with clients. This has a serious impact on the manner in which the Bar constitutes itself as a profession.

Our conclusion reads:
Modernity unsettles professional certainties. For four centuries the Bar has enjoyed many privileges (Prest 1986) but there has been a hollowing out of its professional core as its reserved areas have come under threat. The gradual erosion of the referral aspects of barristers’ relationships with solicitors and others exposes barristers to the contingencies of the market in a raw form not usually experienced. The rising intervention of the state into the lawyer-client relationship through the control of the legal aid budget is accelerating these moves. These are moves to bureaucratic control and potential proletarianization (Larson 1977: 232). The Bar is losing its grip on its professional project. Or is it? Muzio and Ackroyd (2008: 49) argue we are not observing the end of professionalism but rather various defensive manoeuvres by professionals to maintain their privileges.

How does the rise in direct access work fit with the changes in the Bar? In part it has to do with what Boon and Levin (2008: 77) described as “The legal services market has a multitude of sites in which different norms proliferate.” Barristers occupy many positions outside traditional private practice. They are in business, government, the Crown Prosecution Service, and even inside solicitors’ firms. And when we add to the mix an increasing diversity of professional members in gender and ethnicity, common cultural values change and may not hold. This is reinforced by the division in work at the Bar between those who largely undertake publicly aided work and those who act for private clients. Barristers paid by the state operate under considerable control in terms of what they can do and what they can charge for their labour. No equivalent constraints fall on private client practitioners: they function within the market. Further controls are imposed by chambers arrangements which are becoming more corporate in focus. Chambers are increasingly specialized in their practice areas. They target potential lateral hires, including groups of practitioners, and establish business targets, all of which compromises the ethic of individuality espoused in the Bar.

Although the fusion of barristers and solicitors is unlikely to happen, the introduction of Legal Disciplinary Partnerships in 2009 has opened up the organization possibility for the conjoining of the two. And when alternative business structures make themselves known, many conventional arrangements might begin to fail. Alternative business structures will seriously affect numbers and structures within the legal profession and increase the employed section of the legal profession. We suggested that up to a thousand law firms could fail in competition with supermarkets and other legal service providers. Barristers too will be affected.

With these eventualities direct access work grants the possibility of holding onto traditional values and procedures. Prest (1986) is clear that the settling of the referral structure of the Bar did not come into being until the 19th century, so that an earlier paradigm of professionalism for the Bar encompassed direct relations with clients. Attorneys and solicitors stepped in when geography made it difficult for clients. Direct access recaptures these pre-modern ideals of working. But perhaps of more significance is that barristers can situate themselves more centrally in the market through doing direct access work. Their potential for control over their work and professional relationships is enhanced.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We've All Felt Like This...

(Thanks to the New Yorker)

Play "404 Not Found" by Decal in the background, then it really works.
Helps they're Irish.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Busy Times Ahead...

I went to the Institute of Barristers' Clerks annual conference last Saturday. This is a precursor to my writing project over the summer, which is to complete my new book on barristers' clerks.

Barristers' clerks were my first ever research project, so I've been grateful to them for setting me on the research path. (More references to them here1, here2, here3 & here4).

For me one of the most interesting sessions was a Question and Answer session--The Generation Game: Clerking Past, Present & Future--where a senior clerk, a first junior, and a beginning clerk were interviewed about being a clerk and the changes they had seen.

David Goddard, the senior clerk, and Michelle Doyle and Reiss Nott (members of the IBC Junior Clerks Committee) spoke of how varied the job was , how unusual it was, and what it could offer.

Three things struck me about the conversation. One was that despite all the technological changes that had occurred (mobiles, computers, online diaries), the essence of the job hadn't really changed. The relationship between clerk and barrister is close. How one defines close I leave your imagination. This comment, however, came from the senior clerk and the most junior one.

The second point was the change in interaction between clerks. When I did my research most communication between clerks was either by phone or face to face. Now it's by email. According to all three it is now harder to get junior clerks to talk to each other face to face. They've become so accustomed to electronic communication that they find it hard to talk.

The third was the degree of specialization that has overtaken the Bar and so clerking. As David said, it was easy for a clerk to move from a criminal set of chambers to a civil set when he started, but now it's virtually impossible. Reiss, who is in a civil set, said he wouldn't know where to begin in a criminal chambers.

The first book was a slim volume. I think the second is going to be somewhat thicker.

While the materials are being collated I've decided to convert another piece of work into an article. Avis Whyte and I were asked to research direct access by clients to barristers for the Bar Council. The report is available on SSRN.

Given the Bar is going to be hit by the Clementi changes just as much as anyone else, I think this will be timely.

It's going to be a busy summer. Thank god it's raining right now....

Friday, June 05, 2009

Lawyer-Client Relationships

Banker on Bishopsgate
(Darrell Berry)

I have just posted on SSRN the final revised version of my paper on lawyer-client relationships. It is "Ambiguous Allegiances in the Lawyer-Client Relationship: The Case of Bankers and Lawyers".

The paper deconstructs the prototypical dyadic lawyer-client relationship in the context of corporate transactions. Most lawyer-client analyses view the relationship as a direct unmediated one between the two. I argue this is illusory and that without understanding the context of business transactions, much about the relationship is omitted or missed from analysis.

At a minimum the relationship is triadic. If, for example, a client is borrowing funds from a bank for an investment, even though the client's lawyer's primary duty is to the client, the lawyer always has an eye on the future business that might come from the bank. The lawyer's allegiances are pulled more ways than one.

For example, Jonathan Knee in The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade That Transformed Wall Street (2006), wrote of one deal:
This episode highlights an important and inherent conflict between banker and client in sales processes. After a successful transaction, the client disappears and any future business will come from the universe of suitors. This creates a sometime irrestible incentive to provide, or give the appearance of providing, some form of subtle preferential treatment to those most likely to offer something in return at a later date.
The paper uses a mix of interview data, ethnography, and documentary sources. I would appreciate any comments and feedback.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Blawg Review #214 by CharonQC

You know it's that time of year when Charon QC is asked to host Blawg Review. So here it is, number 214.

It starts with the immortal line: "On this day in 1812 the United States of America declared war on Great Britain" (which did happen on June 1).

Charon QC continues

Had enough of the Credit-Crunch?

This is an edition of Blawg Review for those who say… “When the Credit-Crunch gets tough… the Credit-Crunched get crunched with SMOKEDO… and blog.”

It is not X rated, it is office safe;  the Geeklawyer  fearing need not fear… but, to modify a phrase from a friend and colleague of many moons ago… There’s a plot… let’s go and lose it… come and join me.


His coverage of legal blogs is encyclopaedic--there's everything from criminal law to China.

And on a point of disclosure: He's put me in it too.