Showing posts from 2011

Deadly New Year

Just in case you were thinking that New Year’s Eve is a magical night of celebration, excitement for the year ahead and good natured alcohol-fuelled merriment, here’s the USA Today to remind us it’s not. It’s a great big stinking death-trap of a day.Take one New Year's Eve. Combine with a Saturday. Now add alcohol – and you have a health and safety nightmare.At least that's how some emergency room doctors feel about the fast-approaching celebration – which is always an occasion for widespread immoderate drinking and could be worse than usual this year.Geez Louise. I wonder what those ER doctors from the US would make of an average Friday night in any NHS Emergency Department in the UK. Welcome to binge-drinking central!The likely results will include car crashes caused by drunk drivers. Some of those drivers will be inexperienced teens who, in a new survey, confess that New Year's Eve is the most likely night for them to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But i…

The modern family Christmas experience?

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was moaned at for being surgically attached to their smartphone throughout the recent festivities.I felt I’d done nothing wrong; after all, why should the celebrations, merriment and goodwill to all men be allowed to impinge on connectivity?If Tiny Tim had had an iPhone, he’d have been far too busy having a shifty round the app store (or ‘liking’ a picture on Facebook showing off the bumper Cratchit family dinner) to have been endlessly bleating about God blessing everyone.  Picture found here (actually making a different point).(And no, I don’t know why they’re all dressed in blue.  Sorry).

Happy Blawgmas

It’s a terrible cliché but this Christmas seems to have come around faster than ever.Things have now wound down at Law Actually HQ and it’s time to enjoy a little festive merriment for the next few days. But who knows: I might get so sick of the excesses of food, wine and all the rest, an impromptu blog post might emerge in the not too distant future.In the meantime, to all the other blawgers out there, have a good one, and don’t do anything you wake up regretting on Boxing Day.


From the Telegraph 18/12/11:The condition – "Christmas Tree Syndrome" – is caused by mould growing on the trees, whose spores lead to problems when breathed in.It has been discovered by scientists from Upstate Medical University, part of the State University of New York, who carried out research after observing a peak in respiratory illnesses in the weeks either side of December 25.The team analysed clippings from 28 Christmas trees including needles and bark, from a range of species, and found 53 cases of mould.Of these, 70 per cent can cause symptoms including itchy noses, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, chest pains, sinus congestion, feelings of fatigue and problems sleeping.Some of the mould identified can even lead to long term lung problems and conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia.The mould occurs on the trees naturally, but thrives in the warm conditions of a well-heated home at Christmas.So it’s not just that seasonal, alpine aroma that I’ve brough…

With solicitors, it’s all me, me, me

(Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh.  But articles like the one from the LSG below don’t do anything to dispel such impressions).From the Law Society Gazette 15/12/11:The legal profession is unprepared for conflicts of interest in personal injury law that will occur from 2012, the Gazette has been told. Such conflicts could leave PI lawyers open to negligence claims and increase professional indemnity insurance premiums.The problem arises from the willingness of insurers to ‘capture’ both sides of the same claim. Although this is already a feature of the market, it is likely to be exacerbated by the arrival of alternative business structures.Think of it as a the full meal deal.Currently, law firms who act for both claimant and defendant clients refer one, or both, clients to other advisers when a direct conflict is identified.However, the same insurer can have a role on both sides, and so have a role in calculating quantum. If QATs are used with their current ‘calibrations’ unchanged, claim…

When Christmas tunes all get a bit much…

If you’re starting to find those mercilessly painful Christmas songs played in nearly every shop at the moment are starting to get a bit much, here’s a healthy dose of Kevin (Bloody) Wilson to reset the balance.Btw, VERY, VERY NSFW!! A new take on an old classic Santa’s not going to forget this one in a hurry…

What to get a blogger for Christmas?

Choosing Christmas gifts is such a difficult business isn’t it?  If you’re stumped as to what you should get the blogger in your life (legally oriented or otherwise), help is at hand.A new mouse mat  - Do people even use mouse mats any longer?  
Oh wait - I do!

More readers
- Ouch.  Don’t rub it in!  Blogs are having a tough time of it lately.  
Well, some are.

Novelty USB drive - They’re a bit 2005 aren’t they?  And they haven’t got a great reputation for reliability or robustness.  

A Belkin Cushdesk
- these are actually excellent and perfect for the blogger who likes to blog from the boudoir using a laptop.  They’re inexpensive, very hard-wearing, ensure the air intake on your laptop doesn’t get blocked and, most importantly, prevents scorching to your upper thighs!

USB toaster - ‘Cause, you know, blogging really gives you an appetite.  If only this were a real product.  Sigh.

Book: Blogging for dummies –
a bit of a no brainer (even if it’s an insult).  Still, you can laugh …

Christmas must be here again…

No, not because of that frickin’ coca cola truck.  Because of the cheesy Christmas-fied header on Law Actually.  I know: I spoil you each year, right?It’s been a tough year for the more light-hearted ‘studenty’ approach to legal blogging and Law Actually had a massive mid-summer technical meltdown just to compound my misery.  From a traffic perspective, I’ve only recently started to fully recover from the effects of ‘the week my blog died’. It’s been a painful year and I’m lucky to have pulled through.A direct result of that breakdown was a new blog theme which received a bit of a lukewarm reception (from me as well) but I’ve pulled out all the stops and dec’d it up to the rafters. If only the house were so easy to decorate. Oh well, I’ve still got 2 weeks to sort that out (well, just under).  We’ll get there.

Solicitors made a ‘huge contribution’

From the Law Society Gazette 06/12/11:The lord chief justice has thanked defence solicitors for the ‘huge contribution’ made in the summer riot court cases, stressing that they had been included in his earlier praise of the rest of the legal profession.At his annual press conference at the Royal Courts of Justice, Lord Judge said: ‘I want to record publicly that the defence lawyers made a huge contribution to the efficient running of the courts at that time. I am grateful to them.’Judge said in his October judgment on riot sentencing he had thanked a lot of people who had helped in the ‘remarkable piece of efficiency’ dealing with the riot cases.Well, that surely calls for a couple of tins of Quality Street to be sent down to the Law Society this Christmas.

Christmas tunes (for the UK economy)

Lawyers generally have a bad reputation for being mean, conniving and downright slippery; as a profession they’re hated the world over.  Still, it seems they’re not a patch on economists.  Well, one in particular.You can find the full list of ‘songs’ here – think of this as just a festive taster! 
(Shame there’s nothing on YouTube for Save Our Savers… yet).Mervyn King Is Coming To Town
(to tune of “Santa Claus is Coming To Town”) [I didn’t see that coming!]You better be brave
You better not cry
You better not save
I'm telling you why
Mervyn King is coming to town

He's making a list
Checking a lot
He’s gonna find out who's saving or not
Mervyn King is coming to townWe Wish You a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas, can we have one too?
Poor savings we have, thanks to your MPC
We wish you a Merry Christmas, can we have one too?

Oh rid us of high inflat…

Secret Santa & Donoghue v Stevenson

I had an email from the Carbolic Smoke Ball store a few days ago. What fun! It ran as follows:Dear [The Michael]
When I did Articles in a City law firm, there was no such thing as 'Secret Santa'. Secretaries would kick-start the season by pinning sprigs of holly to doorways, but fee-earners never really entered into the festive spirit.Nowadays, it's different. Fee-earners are encouraged to embrace rituals like 'Secret Santa' because it fosters team spirit. Allegedly. For those of a humbuggish disposition, it can be a trial.Secret Santa? Pah!! In my typical Scrooge-esque manner, I’ve opted out of our office’s SS this year. I’ve twice bought a piece of tat to give to a colleague I neither know nor care anything about, only to get an equally meaningless piece of tat back. I wonder how Oscar Wilde would have viewed Secret Santa?  Perhaps that to do it once would be an adventure; to do it twice would be a trifle silly, but to do it three times would be a fricking j…

Google Chrome is now 2nd most popular browser

From Paul Thurrott’s WinInfo Short Takes of the week 02/12/11:Google's Chrome has been on the market for only three years, but it has already surpassed Mozilla Firefox to become the number-two most-often-used web browser after Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE). That's the word from the market researchers at StatCounter, at least, though it's only a matter of time before others who follow web-browser usage share report similar findings[.]I jumped on the Chrome bandwagon at the end of 2008 and haven’t looked back. In 3 short years it’s got to the point where there are now hardly any people I know that *don’t* use Chrome. It’s the de facto standard browser at work and I live in Chrome every single day.Firefox has turned into a bit of an also-ran (although they are at least fighting back a bit now) and IE has lurched from versions 7, 8 to 9, all promising the world and under-delivering each time.  It’s been a long-standing joke that Internet Explorer is simply a one-time …

Dancing in Court

From BBC News 24/11/11:A man who posted video on the internet of his stepmother dancing on seats in the lobby of a court in Cornwall has apologised to a judge.Shane Curnow, 24, from Stithians, faced contempt of court proceedings after taking the footage in Truro Crown Court and posting it on Facebook.Good ol’ Stithians. There’s a steam rally held out there if I recall correctly. (As a child, I remember being dragged around there once by relatives and it was rather like pulling teeth. The noise, smell and utter drudgery of a steam rally is hard to beat).Mr Curnow's lawyer told a judge that his client believed filming bans only applied to courtrooms, not buildings.Mistake of law, never a defence, sadly. Darn it. Still, worth running up the judge’s flagpole in mitigation I suppose. (No, that’s not a euphemism).Mr Curnow said he was very sorry. The judge accepted his apology.Well, shiver m’ timbers and bless his heart: he’s very sorry. That’s all right then. (And I love the Cornish-ed…

It just wasn’t top of mind

From Roll on Friday 25/11/11:A firm that specialised in repossessing homes has gone bust following the publication of a leaked set of photos showing staff celebrating Halloween by dressing up as homeless people. Classy. Steven J. Baum, a New York State firm which represented mortgage lenders against homeowners, is set to close down leaving its 89 staff jobless, according to a New York Times report. The firm found itself embroiled in controversy after photos of staff dressing up as homeless people were plastered all over the web, complete with signs mocking the excuses of desperate homeowners.Every lawyer’s entitled to let their hair down occasionally (even those who are ‘a bit thin on top’ – law tends to do that to people) but there are limits as to what taste, decorum and decency should permit. And that’s before we get into professional conduct regulations – yes, whatever the hell they are.It just goes to show that even property lawyers aren’t above making the odd error of judgement …

Black (pepper) Friday

From CBS 25/11/11: A woman shot pepper spray to keep shoppers from merchandise she wanted during a Black Friday sale, and 20 people suffered minor injuries, authorities said.

The incident occurred shortly after 10:20 p.m. Thursday in a crowded Los Angeles-area Walmart as shoppers hungry for deals were let inside the store.
Police said the suspect shot the pepper spray when the coverings over the items she wanted were removed.

"Somehow she was trying to use it to gain an upper hand," police Lt. Abel Parga told The Associated Press early Friday.Holy Cripes. That’s what I call an unfair advantage. And for stores that complain about ‘challenging trading conditions’ and just how intense the competition is, they should try being a shopper!He said she was apparently after some electronics and used the pepper spray to keep other shoppers at bay.

Officials said 20 people suffered minor injuries. Fire department spokesman Shawn Lenske said the injuries t…

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve done it?

So where do you routinely do it?Perhaps more to the point, where’s the craziest, wackiest, zaniest place you’ve done it in the past?Don’t worry – I’m talking about blogging here. (Obviously!)Most blawggers who know me won’t be surprised that I haven’t strayed too far from the straight and narrow of blogging from a computer whilst sat at a desk.  Sigh.But I’m not opposed to giving it bash in another room: I’ve done it the garden, in bed, the sofa and whilst sat on the stairs. I’ve also blogged from university computer rooms, various foreign countries, hotel rooms (it left me with a rather cheap, dirty and unfulfilled feeling), and even fiddled with the template code on Law Actually whilst held up in an airport lounge. Perhaps most bravely of all, I’ve been daring enough to crack my laptop open whilst being thrown about a train carriage like a rag doll; how anybody can work productively on a train is utterly beyond me!The bedroom is an obvious place to blog from and I’ve seen a number o…

Family lawyers are the most depressed, miserable, (and busy)

Nope, not according to some poll organised by the Law Society, the Solicitors Journal or whatever other body or publication that’s flavour of the month.... according to my optician!!!Well, he should know, shouldn’t he?

(And just to confirm, I think he meant that comment in relation to lawyers generally rather than everyone he encounters).  Still, it’s not impossible I suppose…Yep, it seems you can get a whole lot more from a contact lens check-up these days.Fancy.

Bonfire Night Edition

Guy Fawkes Night came early at Law Actually HQ this year. (And yes, I have jokingly referred to our house as that – (my gf just about tolerates my blogging whims as she might those of a small toddler).We’re rather conveniently located at the rear edge of the campus of one of the UK’s (and I quote) “leading provider[s] of financial products and services”.Despite the gloomy economic climate and the financial services industry forever teetering on the brink, this specific provider festively opted to put on a bumper fireworks display on Thursday evening.They even had the courtesy to come around earlier in the week to stuff a letter in the mailbox of their ‘neighbours’ saying all hell would be breaking loose in the sky from 7.00pm onwards, so we should lock up our pets and children, pop on our safety glasses & ear defenders and suggested that anyone of a nervous disposition should hide under the duvet until the display was over.As fireworks go, they were pretty darn good and we got a f…

Sinful Computer Keys

First there were the deadly sins, then….Well, it kind of works, doesn’t it?I’m not sure about the 'escape = sloth’ bit, and I’d have said that Control + T in a browser is more apt for gluttony.  (I’m am absolute glutton for tabs when I’m browsing).Control + S is more reflective of obsessive compulsive disorder rather than pride, surely?Control + C should should be cheat and Control + X should be home wrecker (or something like that…)They all count as sins, right?  Found here.

Legal Brand Names

… aren’t worth much it seems.From the Solicitors Journal 17/10/11:Brands in the legal services market suffer from poor consumer awareness, with nearly half of consumers relying on personal contacts when choosing a provider, a survey has revealed.When choosing a law firm, 44 per cent said they would ask friends for a recommendation while a further 16 per cent said they would ask professionals they already knew, such as estate agents or accountants.The most important factor for consumers when making decisions was whether the firm had been recommended by a friend and the total cost to them. Only 15 per cent regarded a ‘trusted brand name’ as the most important factor.Most of this isn’t at all surprising. Surely the criteria reflect what every client wants from their solicitor: someone well-recommended, trusted, competent and cheap (preferably charging fixed fees).Hmm – good luck with that one!So I’m not at all surprised that so many people choose a lawyer through reputation and word of m…

Trick or Treating - 21st Century Style...

Halloween is a scary, dangerous time. Just making a Jack O’ Lantern gets me all of a quiver, what with the presence of raw vegetables, sharp knives and a lighted candle. As well as the possibility of having Michael Myers lurking around the next corner, there are hazards to be found (and injuries avoided) with even the most innocuous of trick or treating adventure.  Still, whilst I’m all for a safety first approach, it can be overdone.  From up and trick-or-treating is a treasured part of childhood. To keep the evening’s fun meter on high, the Center for Disease Control and other health and safety groups advise:Allowing children to go out during daylight hours only, unless accompanied by a responsible adult. But it gets dark early at this time of year. And trick or treating at 3 in the afternoon just isn’t the same. Still, you could always give the kids dark glasses to give the impression of night.Never allowing small children to go out alone on Halloween. Mak…

Payment Protection… lost in translation

This brarmer (minus the pink text – I couldn’t help myself… sorry) plopped into my inbox a while back. I really didn’t expect something as raunchy from PayPal; since when did they get so smutty?What’ve the smooching couple got to do with PayPal offering payment protection when one of your online purchases goes t*ts-up?No, I don’t know either.Anyway, good luck to the chap.  Now he’s bought his lady friend a necklace (which benefited from the payment protection thingy) I just hope she ‘puts out’.Judging from the picture, I don’t think he’s got any worries in that department.I just hope one of them has thought ahead.  I don’t think PayPal’s ‘protection’ stretches that far.  (See, PayPal shouldn't be forcing me to go down these mental side roads).

Life as a modern law student - a few thoughts

On the back of my half-hearted ‘back to school’ series, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about just what an awful time it is to be a law student (or any kind of student for that matter).  Not to put anybody off, of course, (but seriously - think carefully).

Let’s face it: graduate jobs of any description are hard enough to come by right now.  I know a couple of people who are/were tackling the LPC part time and have put it on hold half way through because they’re so fearful of ploughing in the rest of the fees and then coming out the other side with a useless diploma and no chance of a training contract.Understandably, there is a lot of concern that many would-be students are taking the attitude that going to university is simply not worth the expense, hassle and stress.The Law Gazette report this:The biggest fall in university applications in more than 30 years has seen the number of candidates applying to study law drop by a record 5.2%, according to figures released by the Univers…

Solicitor ‘Glamour’ – Real & Virtual

I know, I know. Just as you thought Roll on Friday couldn’t sink any lower, they bring out this brarmer.Virtual lawyers, law firms ‘in the cloud’ and holographic lawsuits all seem a bit 2008 these days. I remember Pinsent Masons established a virtual office in Second Life a few years ago for any potential clients who fancied bringing a claim way out there in the ether. They swiftly wound it up, however, after realising it wasn’t doing them an ounce of good and was possibly contraindicated in raising their profile in a meaningful way.Still, the prospect of instructing a virtual lawyer still hits the spot according to this poll; nearly 75% of voters (whoever they are) would prefer lawyer Steven Wu in his virtual, ‘aspirational’ form than his natural self.That’s disturbing.So maybe there is hope for virtual law firms after all – (particularly if the fee earners consist of a tasty bunch of butch and buxom pieces of eye-candy with omnipotent legal brains).

A sting in the tail

Over the weekend, we discovered a wasp nest up in the soffit box at the front of the house.  By the length of the wispy bits of wasp nest poking out under the grill in the soffit, it had been up there for a couple of years at least.  We only moved here in May and hadn’t noticed a thing all summer.

Being the wimpish sort, I got an exterminator in.  He duly turned up Tuesday morning and had already spotted the offending nest before I told him where it was.  He seemed quite excited at the prospect of blasting the suckers with pesticide.

Being a chilly kind of morning (and me supposedly working from home), while he fiddled about preparing his pole and nozzle (ahem), I went back into the house to get on with some work.

A while later I heard some exciting knocking at the front door.  When I got down there, he was standing by his van beckoning me to come out (but to run).  Feeling rather perturbed and wondering if the roof was about to come in, I sprinted across the front lawn and s…

Do you worry about your performance as a blogger?

There was an Interesting debate on Windows Weekly a few weeks ago in which Leo Laporte, Paul Thurrott and Mary-Jo Foley briefly touched upon what it means to be a blogger. (Oh, and is it just me, or is Windows Weekly just not the same now?)

Anyhow, according to Leo, blogging is an obsession - and not always a healthy one.  Speaking for myself, I don’t know whether ‘obsession’ is the right word, but it’s certainly a labour of love. I think it’s important not to hang on too tightly.  I’ve always made a point of only blogging when I feel like it. If blogging becomes a chore, what’s the point?

According to Leo, any self-respecting blogger sweats over their posts, is surgically attached to their computer keyboard, and dwells over what they have written (to the point of getting up in the middle of the night to correct an erroneous post). Casting a quick glance around the UK blawgosphere (which is starting to look a bit frayed around the edges – let’s be honest), I can’t see many of us…

Speed reading Ts&Cs

Lawyers are always reckoned to be the guiltiest when it comes to failing to read terms and conditions properly (outside the course of work, that is!!)So you’re not alone in happily planting a tick in the ‘yep I’ve read and digested each of the terms’ box before ordering something online – (when, in fact, you’ve done no such thing).  Ahem.  So far as the least-read documents on earth are concerned, I think EULAs just edge out the terms of most online stores.  And what’s the harm, scooting down to the bottom and emphatically whacking the ‘I Accept’ radio button when you’re installing something? After all, Microsoft haven’t come over and sued your sweet merry ass yet, right?  Better watch it though: you might just be caught out.Nah… Redmond wouldn’t have the sense of humour for that!  Found here.

Karaoke… for lawyers

Lawyers aren’t particularly renowned for letting their hair down, so what better way to help them unwind than with free-flowing tequila, a stage and a good ol’ karaoke machine.

Professional etiquette might prohibit traipsing over to the entertainment hall at Butlins and getting down and dirty with a Britney Spears rendition but even personal injury lawyers have to cut loose occasionally.  They can’t spend all their time ambulance chasing.

So, in a first of its kind ‘Karaoke for Lawyers’ (sponsored by Law Actually - of course) is coming to a bar near you.  Here are some of the songs currently available.

Pink -  just like APIL” - inspired by a search term from one of my wacky readers...

Elvis Presley - “law me tender” - an obvious choice, but we’ve just gotta have a bit of Elvis.

ABBA - money, money, money” - again, horribly obvious but hey-ho.  All lawyers have a reputation (rightly or wrongly) for being evil, money-grabbing bast*rds.  Why not play to it?  Literal…

Pet Peeves

Come on - admit it: we all have them.  Some of us just seem to have more than others.  Here are 5 I’m currently struggling along with.  There are lots more, believe me.The flailing arms of ‘large’ pedestrians when they’re walking out and about and any other pavement hoggers or those wandering aimlessly talking on their phones. Seriously, talk about asking for what you get...  
I’m something of a passive aggressive pedestrian and I’ll happily ‘pull a manoeuvre’ on you - Michael Schumacher style.  
People who bring their bikes on a train (or anywhere in a railway station).  YOU people….!!!
Email - yeah, (as I’ve already admitted .. I can’t cope with it.)  But I think I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact I can’t cope.  So at least I can say I’m coping with not coping.  Which is an improvement.
Phones vibrating on desks.  Heck, my blood pressure’s up just thinking about it.
Name shortening - particularly mine.  I don’t really like my name (who does?), but I can toler…

Bare assed law

From Roll on Friday 07/10/11:The clients of a legal aid lawyer have recreated a John Lennon and Yoko Ono magazine cover to support her fight to keep her practice.Yvonne Hossack has dedicated her legal career to helping vulnerable people and, in particular, is known for her work on behalf of care home residents facing eviction. She's acted for over 2,000 clients, saved care homes from closure and taken cases to Strasbourg. But it's not been an easy ride: her firm has lost over £100,000 in the last year and she's been fighting a battle against the Legal Services Commission which refused Hossack's application for a legal aid contract (citing incorrectly filled out forms). Down with those bureaucrats, I say!Therefore former clients Roger Kinsey, 66, and his wife Chris, 58 …have decided to draw some attention to her plight by recreating Lennon and Ono's 1968 Rolling Stone cover. Explaining their decision to get their kit off to the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph the…

Money saving tips for law students

Continuing my ‘back to school’ series for law students, next up is saving money and general thriftiness.  Now freshers week is a distant memory, it might be time for a bit of common sense and sound judgement when it comes to finances..I admit it’s a bit of a quirky list, but it should prove a useful starter for ten for any law student.Budgeting: if you’re concerned about your willpower and general prudence with suddenly having so much money, create a separate bank account for the first term taking just under a third out. Go mental with it and enjoy yourself. Then grow the hell up.

Don't bother with expensive screen wipes for your laptop. Instead, keep the free ‘freshen up’ wipes you get given when ordering a KFC and use those instead.

Buying the previous edition of textbooks second hand is a false economy. The hassle of having to update them / always wondering whether the content deals with the most recent law means it’s worth paying more for the convenience.  

If you ge…

What is it with law and portals?

From the Lawyer 19/09/11:Lawyers were told earlier this year that to stay on the roll they would need to ­register between 30 August and 14 October - only then could they submit their applications before the deadline of 8 November.Complaints were made after the site’s launch was delayed by several days and passwords were rejected.“It took me 10 days to ­register,” one lawyer said. “It was a long process and the system just kept coming up with complete gibberish messages. I called the SRA twice and they couldn’t help - they said the deadline wouldn’t be extended.“The problem is that everyone will leave it until the last minute and then there’ll be a deluge and it will go into meltdown.”An SRA spokesman said that so far 25,000 solicitors out of 165,000 had registered online and ­activations have risen to 3,000 per day.“Implementing [the] mySRA [system] signals a step change in the way ­regulated individuals and firms will access our ­services in future,” said the spokesman. “We’d like t…