Friday, 29 May 2009

One exam down – one to go

This morning saw me take the first of my two exams on the LLM - company law. Despite the exam room being incredibly hot, the exam itself was ‘textbook’ with barely a curve ball thrown at us throughout the entire paper. In fact, two of the three questions I answered on the corporate veil and directors’ duties respectively, were incredibly similar to the practice essays we had done throughout the year. Our tutor had informed us that attempting those practice questions would stand us in very good stead and she certainly wasn’t kidding! Thank God I duly completed both and looked them over yesterday as part of my revision.

Despite prepping my statute book with the requisite plethora of page markers, I reflected on leaving the exam that I didn’t refer to it once. Still, I rarely thumbed through a statute book during all of my exams as an undergrad either. If you’ve revised properly, I’ve always said that statute books are more like security blankets for law students; you don’t really need one but you’re comforted that it’s by your side. Under pressure of exams, law students are sometimes prone to ‘tizzies’ when that section number obstinately evades them.

I’ve been understandably focussing on revision of late (and had booked the entire week off of work, though that was at the time when BOTH of my exams were scheduled for this week). That said, it hasn’t been all work, as my girlfriend and I ventured out on one of our (increasingly rare) trips over the Bank Holiday weekend, engaging in a little retail therapy and checking out the movie ‘Angels and Demons’ - amongst other things. Having just finished the book, my girlfriend spent the rest of the day bemoaning the inaccuracies and inconsistencies between the book and film, concluding as is so often the case, that the book was infinitely better. She isn’t much of a lover of fiction but that was one book that she barely put down.

Anyhoo, while I won’t be back to regular posting for another 10 days or so – my competition law exam is on June 9th – I thought I’d generously brief the blawgosphere with a Law Actually update. I’ve always feared the competition law exam and I’m praying there won’t be any curve balls in that paper either.  Until the next time, then.

Try not to miss me too much! :p

Oh, I almost forgot: for the first time in my life I also had to ask for extra paper in the exam.  How the hell did that happen?  Has my handwriting suddenly swollen or have answer booklets gotton thinner?

Friday, 22 May 2009

My Legal Space – Revision Edition

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a legal space picture so here’s my latest. Although I’m currently in the midst of revision, it should be noted that my desk has seen a slight improvement in tidiness from the last time.

Note an abundance of page-marking sticky notes on the monitor base – a sure sign that it’s revision season.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

When Word Verification Turns Nasty

So there I was last night, entering a comment on someone’s blog (who uses Blogger’s word verification to help keep pesky spammers at bay) when this insult pops up:

Word Verification Turns Nasty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The irony was I had showered that morning. :p

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Yet More Fun with Keywords

Keywords Update Despite my supposed ‘break’ from blawging for the exam season, I thought it was high time I provided another selection of keywords that certain visitors have used to surf their way over to Law Actually.  There are some real brarmers in there:  

people suing dum resons” – This visitor was from the states. Perhaps s/he should have looked closer to home for examples.

career prospects after llb” – I would say ‘varied’. Next?

microsoft songsmith any good” – No, no it’s not.

microsoft songsmith why is it so good” It’s not. I thought we just established that.

little's law assignment” Is that as opposed to ‘big’s law assignment’?

cloud computing law jurisprudence” – You what?!?

i lost my respect at wes' house of ribs” Yeah, we’ve all lost our self respect buddy. And the phrase is: “I lost my self respect at wes’ rib house”. Just so we’re clear.

legal space amount for people at a desk” Room for an average sized notepad, can of mountain dew and a stapler. Next?

wtf is calibri” It’s a font, dear. Just a font.

macbook air for law school” – Go and get one then, you show-off!

clean washing machine gunk left on ipod” – Oh, eewww!

is law school worth the cost” – Err, ask me another.

as a foreigner would you do the lpc or bvc” Oh you’re just winding me up now.

i am a law lecturer with lpc biography”  Are you now?!

hot lass law student” Oh really?

hoe many lpc students don't get a training contract” Hoe many? An awful lot.

noise at night who to call in uk” Ghostbusters? Just a guess.

law grads difficulty finding training contracts” – oh really! Has it taken this long for the penny to drop?

lawactualy” – oh, do me a favour!

you tube training contract” – Ok, this can’t be good on a number of levels.

i want a dictaphone to record my univeristy lectures” Do you? That’s nice!

i can't afford my bvc” – Put your begging bowl away please.

why my writing is sloppy”  Because you don't make enough effort?

tape has snapped dictaphone tape help” Yikes.

domain names funnies” www.heehee-haahaa.com?

It’s good to see the dudes at Pinsent Masons using a wide variety of research materials in this day and age. So whichever PM employee spent 10 minutes reading my Google Maps Streetview Silliness post, I hope you liked it. Leave a comment next time, eh? ;-)

Friday, 15 May 2009

Brief Hiatus – Courtesy of the Exam Season

Exam SeasonYes, it’s that time of year, again, and much as I would love to carry on blogging with full vigour, I feel compelled to focus on revision for my two exams: company law and competition law. Happily, the dreaded exam season only has 3 and a bit weeks left to run, with my final exam on June 9th.

This hiatus is particularly ill-timed, though, as there is a wealth of potentially bloggable material out there at the moment:

- Lawyers protest over ‘Tesco Law’ as it takes one further step towards reality. Oh yes!

- The findings of Lord Justice Jackson’s report on the status and future of civil litigation. As the Times reports, somewhat predictably, the prognosis isn’t exactly one of unmitigated good health. The article made some interesting suggestions for reform as regards lawyers’ success fees and alternative payment structures as well as suggestions in response to the broader problems that ensue from contingency fee arrangements, particularly in respect of personal injury cases.

- The EU fining Intel for competition law infringements. Actually, if I’m honest, competition law and I aren’t exactly on the best of terms right now, so I doubt I would have blogged about this anyway.

- I had intended to post a ‘revision procedure’ post, based on my tried and trusted methods. That might still emerge at some point but quite when, God alone knows.

Despite this heads-up re. the hiatus, I might still throw up one or two posts in the next 3 weeks, but I wouldn’t count on it. I’m relying heavily on caffeine to see my through these 3 weeks and need all the help I can get, particularly as far as competition law is concerned. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

iTunes costs a lot; Zune Pass costs a little. You do the math

From Engadget 11/05/09:

We've been wondering when we'd see the next Laptop Hunters ad from Microsoft, but it looks like the company's throwing a change-up: its latest 30-second spot features Wes Moss, Certified Financial Planner, explaining that iTunes "costs a lot" while Zune Pass "costs a little." The argument, of course, is that at a buck a song (or more), filling up your iPod costs way more than the $15 / month cost of the Zune subscription service.

The eagle-eyed amongst you might have recognised that Wes Moss, Certified Financial Planner, is a contestant from series 2 of The Apprentice that aired a few years ago. By ‘the Apprentice’ I mean the US version with Donald Trump - you know, the ‘real’ Apprentice …. the one actually worth watching. Wes, as I recall, didn’t fair too well in Trump’s boardroom who was fired about mid way through the series. But not before he had chance to show off his driving ‘skills’ at the wheel of a small lorry, who manoeuvred it through the backstreets of New York as if it were a dodgem car.

For what it’s worth, I have never actually bought anything via the iTunes store, though I do use it to automatically download new podcasts for my iPod, which form the majority of the content I consume while commuting. I have a large enough music collection for my needs and certainly don’t consider myself rich enough to be downloading en masse from the iTunes store. Equally, if I were a Zune user, I’m not sure I’d be rushing to sign up for this monthly-subscription based account - as engadget point out:

“most people have plenty of music from all kinds of sources already, and an additional monthly bill in the current economy doesn't seem all too appealing”.

Quite right. But “all kinds of sources” strikes me as a touch euphemistic. I’m reading those words primarily as meaning ‘bit torrent’ and other dubious sources.  ;-)

Drunk Pedestrian’s Negligence Claim against Driver Fails

RTA negligence claim From The Solicitors’ Journal 20/04/09:

A drunk man who ran into the road, collided with a car and suffered catastrophic head injuries, cannot sue the driver for negligence, the High Court has held.

Michael Stewart, who is in a persistent vegetative state as a result of his injuries, had drunk an estimated five to seven pints and was sitting at a bus stop in the early hours of the morning, talking to a friend.

Delivering judgment in Stewart v Glaze [2009] EWHC 704(QB), Mr Justice Coulson said Stewart suddenly got up in the middle of his conversation and, without any warning, began walking towards the road.

“Mr Glaze was driving at about the speed limit. On his own evidence, he was driving carefully, and there is nothing to indicate otherwise. In particular, there was nothing to say that he had been distracted by anything at all.

“He had no reason to take any particular note of Mr Stewart until he stepped off the kerb. From then on, everything happened in a split second. It would, in my judgment, be wholly unreasonable on the evidence available to me to conclude that, immediately prior to the conclusion, Mr Glaze suddenly stopped being careful.”

“The case hinged on the proposition that Mr Glaze should have been looking out for Mr Stewart’s inexplicable charge into the road.

“In all the circumstances, I regard that as untenable. I do not consider that a reasonable driver would necessarily have seen Mr Stewart at that precise split second.”

Rejecting the negligence claim, Coulson J said that, given Mr Stewart’s inexplicable conduct, the collision was all but inevitable.

The duty of care that road-users owe is a two-way street. Pedestrians not only owe a duty to other road-users but arguably, in a broader sense, to themselves as well. High alcohol consumption and public roads are a dangerous combination, period, whether you’re behind the wheel or otherwise. And the law has long recognised that; let’s not forget here, Stewart was almost certainly guilty of an offence under the Licensing Act of 1872.

Although the consequences in this case were horrific, they could, of course, have been much worse. What if Glaze had been a motorcyclist and sustained serious injuries himself as a result of Stewart wandering into the road? As terrible as Stewart’s injuries were, I can only agree with the decision – particularly seeing that as far as Road Traffic Accidents are concerned, liability usually favours the pedestrian. On the facts, there was absolutely no reason to find that Glaze had been negligent, but there are broader policy issues in play here too; to have found in favour of Stewart would have been to create a dangerous precedent which would hardly be a fitting response to the growing culture of irresponsible public drinking that plagues modern society.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

25 Random Things (About Facebook Users)

Continuing with my Facebook theme of yesterday, I thought I’d post this amusing parody of Miley Cyrus’ ‘7 things’ which bemoans users’ tendency to post ‘random’ facts about themselves on FB (and for that matter, other social networking services). 

My latest social networking related hate, though, is the content of so many users’ profiles on Twitter.  Quite why anybody feels the need to laden down a blurb about themselves with corny and meaningless attributes like ‘friend’, ‘father’, ‘loving husband’ etc. etc. I really don’t get.  Virtually every single person on earth is a friend to somebody, and do you know how many parents and spouses there are in the world?  To those people, I would simply say: seriously – you need to get over yourselves!  Oh, don’t tell me, you’re a ‘PR guru’ and ‘entrepreneur’ too.  Of course you are – as well as being a ‘social butterfly’ for good measure.  While I’m at it, I’m guessing you’re a blogger’ an ‘optimist’ and an ‘internet enthusiast’ too. 

Really?  Well, good for you.  You and all the other tens of millions out there!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Techno Llama: “Why I’m Quitting Facebook”

FacebookLong time readers of Law Actually will be well aware of my general dislike for social networking and Facebook in particular. While I have mellowed slightly in my feelings towards certain forms of social media in the last few months, I’ve still kept Facebook at arms’ length.

Naturally, then, when I stumbled across Techno Llama’s post entitled ‘Why I’m quitting Facebook’ I just couldn’t resist a peek. Author of the blog, Andres Guadamuz, makes a number of excellent points:

[Through using Facebook I’ve] ended up with “friends” that I would probably not recognise in the street if they crossed my path. Unsurprisingly, by the time close friends and family had joined, my list was a bloated and unwieldy collection of former friends, former acquaintances, former work colleagues, former students, and former girlfriends.

Facebook is changing the way in which we interact with one another, and not always in a good way.

Maybe there are good reasons why we lose touch with old acquaintances, yet Facebook offers a space where the past and the present blur in ways that we are just starting to navigate.

I’ve long voiced similar ideas, reasoning that, in the main, personal relationships are self-regulating. The nature of the dynamic between people regulates the longevity of the relationship: you remain in contact with those you like and relate to and lose touch with those you don’t. Facebook is frustrating this process whereby the wheat and the chaff are no longer sorted. Instead, people are left with an ever-increasing list of people ‘hanging on’ which blurs the concept of friend, acquaintance, relative stranger and complete stranger. In the longer term, this could mean that the ingrained social and personal skills people rely on in recognising ‘real’ friends are dulled and made ineffective. The damage could be particularly far reaching for children as they develop social skills. That surely can’t be a good thing for society going forward.

Another point from Andres:

Face it, large part of people’s profile pages are nothing more than an exercise in gloating, showing-off the best version of themselves they can find.... to flaunt and to compare profiles... [and use Facebook] to gleefully go through someone’s profile to laugh and ridicule them in private.

If I’m honest, I’ve long suspected that the real reason I’ve stayed clear of Facebook is because I’m so contrary and didn’t want to be seen to ‘follow the masses’. I’ve maintained this stance for so long now that I’ve made a rod for my own back and feel unable to capitulate. Facebook for me always represented everything that was bad, corny and stereotypically insulting about social networking. While the current user base has now transcended the original Facebook demographic, my feelings are neatly summed up by a fantastic quote I found as part of my IT law course on the LLM entitled ‘Say Everything’ from New York magazine:

Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online. They have virtual friends instead of real ones. They talk in illiterate instant messages. They are interested only in attention—and yet they have zero attention span, flitting like hummingbirds from one virtual stage to another.

Perhaps I’m just old before my time but I know that a lot of people in my age bracket flock to social networking sites for precisely these reasons.

While I’m sure that Andres made the right call to leave based on his personal reasons, I think it’s pretty clear that social networking isn’t going to be disappearing any time soon; arguably, all the indications point to the contrary. I’m not sure that a mass exodus is the right way to go about this as users will simply flock to the next ‘big thing’ in social media. Social networking users need to understand and appreciate the complex relationships going on through Facebook and other social media services and the way they are different from conventional relationships. It’s common practice to accept the majority of friend invitations, leave the hangers-on in place and ‘defriending’ contacts is regarded as a personal affront. As I highlighted earlier, this is blurring the concept of ‘friend’ and potentially frustrating the ability of people to identity suitable subjects with whom to forge strong and dependable relationships.  Put another way, I believe we’re at a stage where dangerous social norms are at risk of entrenching themselves which could have implications that spread far wider than just social networking sites.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

A typical computer desktop?

Most people’s computer desktops fall into one of three categories:

Spartan/Minimalist - Perfectly clean with just a small handful of oft-used icons strategically placed.

Cluttered, chaotic and disorderly – icons on your desktop are analogous to sardines in tins, rarely, if ever cleaned up.

The Filing Procrastinator - You’ve tried, bless you, but you’re losing the cluttered desktop war. Most people fall into this category (to varying degrees) and I would include myself in that. I have a bout of desktop clearing every now and then but my clearing antics are always swiftly countered by a returning salvo of new icons/files flooding in.

If you fall into one of the latter two categories, this might be just the answer. Zoned DesktopYou can download a blank version as a desktop wallpaper at the correct resolution for your computer which neatly divides up the available screen real estate into ‘zones’. While you might not be able to relate to all of them, most computer users must surely raise their hands to having some of this content cluttering their desktops.

I particularly like the ‘Side Side Projects’ area and I’m certainly incredibly guilty of having an overflowing zone of (legal) ‘papers you’ve been meaning to read for months’ sitting there right in front of me but continuously ignored. Also, for certain projects (particularly protracted ones) I often place a ‘to do’ list on my desktop though I frankly don’t know why I bother, for all the good they do! Moreover, I like (and can readily relate to) the subtle yet important difference in prioritisation between the content of the ‘to do’ list and the ‘to really do’ list. And yes, I’m guilty of usually having a ‘supposed to have done last week’ list which is far longer than it should be.

But best of all, an awful lot of my desktop clutter stems from the ‘stuff you don’t know what to do with but don’t want to delete’ category. After all, it might prove useful some day.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Blawgosphere Lives On

blawgosphere lives on

<N.B. THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED IN LIGHT OF DEVELOPMENTS IN THE BLAWGOSPHERE. /THE MICHAEL - DECEMBER 2009>

Since my ‘Best of the Blawgs’ review in February 2008, there had been a distinct lack of new blawgs gracing the blawgosphere with their presence, a fact I documented in my post last December - Blawging: the burst bubble. That post painted a rather pessimistic picture of the health of the ‘sphere and I prophesised that the death of the rich, diverse ecosystem of blawgs as we knew it was rapidly approaching. Happily, I’ve been proven wrong as in recent weeks a bevy of new blawgs have sprung up and brought the blawgosphere’s numbers back up to healthy levels while injecting some much-needed diversity and vitality into the ‘sphere too.

What follows is a list of newly discovered UK blawgs which I regard as entrants to the ‘inner sanctum’ and which you too might want to check out and add to your blogrolls. (If you haven’t already, that is - good news travels quickly between bloggers!) Naturally, I’ve added my take on their rich contributions to the blawgging world. All are highly recommended.

In no particular order:

Poonam: A light-hearted look at mostly non-legal material, Poonam’s blog is a breath of fresh air - you can have too much law after all! An ex-LPCer, Poonam certainly isn’t afraid of going off-piste in her postings and typically covers topical matters of interest, the UK Apprentice (if you like that kind of thing) and loads more. While her ‘Daily Hotness’ series might not be to everyone’s taste, her irreverent style and wacky posting topics should be welcomed for their novelty. I did suggest to Pooni that she could ‘law it up a bit’ by basing a ‘Daily Hotness’ series on the more prepossessing members of the judiciary. Sadly, she didn’t seem keen but she might come around!

A Law Student’s Ringbinder: A novel blawg with a wholly fresh approach, LSRB is written by a current LPC student who’s the Miss Motivator of the Organisational World. A self-professed techie, LSRB lists a vast array of organisational tips and suggestions, as well as documenting the trials and tribulations she experiences on the LPC. It’s hugely refreshing to have a female techie frequent blawgosphere and remain true to her geekiness without reserve; she’s such a techie in fact, that she probably listens to TWiT religiously, hangs out daily in the iPhone app store and has Cali Lewis on speed dial! LSRB is a frequent-poster whose content is always thoughtful, well-written and above all – useful. Although the blog has been going for a while, it’s remained sadly unknown to the UK inner sanctum of blawgers. I discovered LSRB via Twitter and thankfully, her existence is a secret no longer.  While this blawg is no longer updated, it remains online.  However, Travis has started a new blawg which can be found here.

Scots Law Student: Another blog that has escaped detection for way too long, I discovered Scotslaw student via comments left on Law Actually. Focussing heavily on technology related matters, Scots Law Student is a blawg well worth checking out if your interests extend to the techno-world. That said, SLS is certainly not afraid to go off piste and covers topics as broad ranging as vintage typewriters to student food. I see a lot of parallels between SLS and Law Actually and unsurprisingly, I’m a big fan. Definitely worth checking out.

The Wanderings of a Law Student: Another blawg that seems to have popped up and settled into the inner sanctum as if a long-lost relative. (Word of warning: I think I said the same about Legal Seagull and look what happened there). Wanderings of a law student is a new-born blawg and but was straight away Pupillage Portal-bashing like a seasoned pro. The author, Odysseus, is currently at a ‘northern’ university and seems hell-bent on a career at the bar in criminal law.

Obiter: A BVC graduate and newbie blogger who has hit the ground running. Well written, interesting posts, focussed predominantly on his tireless quest for pupillage and gripes over Pupillage Portal related stuff.  Missing in Action/AWOL.

The Aimless Wanderer – A current LPCer and would-be solicitor, AW has returned to blogging after a recent bereavement. Like Curious Black Cat, AW is a law student also plagued by the traumas of romance – in AW’s case it’s a law school tutor who she’s developed an ‘itsy-bitsy crush’ on. Stay tuned for more.

Curious Black Cat: Thoughtful and insightful, CBC is a law student extraordinaire with a broken heart. Despite pining after her true love – mysteriously labelled ‘Leo’ – CBC leads the reader on a curious journey of legal tidbits, personal insights and wacky news stories. As the name suggests, CBC is a is a feline-lover and the colour scheme and writing style means that this blog takes on a dreamy nature which is as refreshing as it is welcome. And, perhaps most importantly, there’s not a mention of the Pupillage Portal in sight.

So there you have it. Prior to the last few weeks, not only was there a dearth of new blawgs entering the fray, but I felt the topics on which most were blogging had converged considerably. If it were not for these new blogs entering the mix, the blawgosphere might have been in danger of degenerating entirely into a bevy of frustrated moans and screams directed at chambers for not offering enough pupillages or threats of bodily harm to the code monkeys who made such a hash of designing the Pupillage Portal. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve nothing against distinguished members of the blawgosphere bemoaning such things but a bit of diversity might be just the shot in the arm that the blawgosphere was looking for. It is reckoned to be the spice of life after all. Long may it continue!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Swine Flu: The Way Forward?

Found this via Digg earlier:

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About right, I’d say.

When Lawyers Panic

From the Times 30/04/09 – Lawyer of the Week (Jo Pizzala)

What was your worst day as a lawyer?

In a particularly awful domestic violence case, I suspected that a husband whom I was acting against was parking outside my office (he had been in prison for firearms offences). I called the police and an innocent man who was merely looking for a parking space for the dentist next door was cuffed and thrown across the bonnet of his car by the armed rapid response team.

‘Easily done’, I guess.  And ‘better safe than sorry’.  Any other tired clich├ęd phrases I can throw at it?  No, I think that will do for now.