Monday, February 18, 2013

Top Ten Legal Profession Stories of 2012

A short post to give a heads up to an excellent post by Laurel Terry on the Top Ten Legal Profession Stories of 2012 over at Legal Ethics Forum.

The stories are:
  1. ABS go live in the UK
  2. The influence of the Troika
  3. Market liberalization in countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia
  4. Market access contraction in Brazil and Vietnam
  5. Developments in India's ongoing UPL saga
  6. FATF and Gatekeeper developments
  7. US action (or not) on accreditation of foreign law schools
  8. New resources regarding admission and legal practice outside the US
  9. Formation of an international network of legal regulators
  10. National developments
This is a comprehensive collection and should be essential reading.



Friday, February 15, 2013

I became an anthropologist in Middle Temple...

Legal Cheek is running a series:  

This is the latest post in the 'If I knew then what I know now' series, where leading members of the legal profession share their wisdom with the next generation of wannabes.

It's my turn this week and my piece is called

I Became An Anthropologist In Middle Temple, Pitching My Tent And Observing This Little Known Tribe


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

This One Will Run and Run.....(Cab Rank Rule)

The Chair of the Bar Council, Maura McGowan QC (@MauraMcGowanQC), has written an open letter to the Criminal Bar Association in which she includes a paragraph on our Cab Rank Rule report. It makes good reading, especially in the light of Bertrand Russell's Decalogue I mentioned in my last post. She says:
The LSB has commissioned a ’report’ on the cab rank rule, it seems a bizarre thing to have done and it is now being described as a ‘discussion document’. There doesn’t seem to be much to discuss, the rule operates in the public interest. I have submitted a Freedom of Information request to find how much the report cost. Sir Sydney Kentridge QC is drafting the Bar’s response. We think he might know a little bit more about the subject than the LSB’s hand-picked academics, Professors Flood and Hvvid, who were the authors of the report. The BSB is equally concerned and has also commissioned a response. The Senior Judiciary will also express a strong view.

It's just seems as if the tone of her criticisms are a little off and again Russell might let an acerbic comment or two pass his lips here. But why is report in quotation marks? I recall the front cover says report quite plainly.

The telling sentence is the next one: "There doesn't seem much to discuss, the rule operates in the public interest." Then why the defensiveness? There is actually plenty to discuss which is why our report runs to 20,000 words or so. Why should such a simple "rule" (there, quotation marks again) operating in the public interest be so surrounded by exceptions and exemptions as to be virtually impossible to enforce? Why does the Bar exclude a whole section of clients from its application? Why do I think that the rule has more to do with money than people? The Bar's new standard terms seem to belie their belief in the public interest.

She slips in another one here--we're "hand-picked". Perhaps she thinks we should have been chosen randomly instead of going through a call for proposals and submitting one to the LSB. And given Sir Sydney's long association with the Bar, I'm sure he knows lots. But perhaps the Chairman of the Bar should ponder on this: We tried to find as much evidence as possible. The Bar collects no data on this, and we asked. If it has evidence and data that we don't know about, we would be delighted to consider it. The more the better. But now you see there is plenty to discuss after all.

In any case we propose something more fundamental than a rule that is never enforced, if it could be, that applies to a small sector of the legal services market, and that is impossible for consumers to understand. We think these types of principles should apply to all legal service providers.

I make two simple suggestions: 1. Please read the report. 2. Have a quick look at Russell's decalogue before replying, especially number 6.


Monday, February 04, 2013

Sundays? Then Indulge in Brain Pickings

Every Sunday I receive an email from Brain Pickings, which is described thus

Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.
It is, of course, the brainchild of Maria Popova. She describes herself as the curator of the site and I like that way of describing herself because given the range of different topics she puts together no other term would do.

This week, for example, she delves into Susan Sontag's radical ideas on education. Sontag thought sending 12 to 16 year olds to school a waste of time. They're not interested and she says it's too psychologically a turbulent time for them. Let them work, be physically active or whatever. But, and here's the interesting bit, at the age of 50 to 54 you return to school to make up for those missing years, maybe to learn a new profession or engage with the liberal arts.

I find this idea so attractive that I wish it had happened to me. Although I slightly subverted it for my own ends. In becoming an academic I ensured that I would never stop learning (although plenty of academics do stop) and entertaining new ideas and experiences. I confess this is my interpretation of being an academic, but why not?

Maria and her Brain Pickings remind me of my quest--never to be dull, never to be bored, and to enjoy life.

Do sign up for her weekly newsletter. It's well worth it. Anne-Marie Slaughter is one of her biggest fans. I consider that a pretty big endorsement.

Catch up......

Since the way Brain Pickings works is for the reader to follow trails, you can't help but wander. In the light of the reaction to my report on the cab rank rule (sorry, it's back again...) I found Russell's Decalogue on the Liberal outlook. It hits the target:
Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:
  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.