Monday, 29 June 2009

More Wacky Search Terms

More Wacky Search Termslost training contract conviction” – What a bummer. Maybe I’m accentuating the positive here, but at least you were offered one! Better to have loved and lost than.... and all that!

is zune pass legall” Yes. Can you spell? No.

i'm techno and you're not” – All right... don’t rub it in!

my tennager's pretending to be a boy on the internet” – Holy Cow! And I thought I had problems. I take it your ‘tennager’ is a girl.... otherwise?

legal practice course secret” – Go on then.... tell us what it is. Still, stable doors and horses spring to mind.

llb worth it” – Probably not.

“is a llb worth it” – I refer you to my previous answer.

“law stuff” You know, just any old ‘law’ ‘stuff’.

“can a thief come in from roof?” I guess he can if he was suitably nimble. Or Spiderman.

“law student love life” – Slow, usually. Often non-existent (despite their fervent claims to the contrary).

“lawyer on a Dictaphone” – what is this, some kind of perverted menu?

“do people still use Dictaphones” – Yes, unfortunately.

“typical computer” – Base unit, monitor, keyboard and mouse.... usually with a bored office worker connected to it (or a teenager surfing for porn).

“lpc cornwall” – Oh come on – they’ve only just gas lighting.

“career prospects after lpc” – Let’s just say, don’t get your hopes up.

“ipod, i spilt water on mine” – Oh cripes. At least you didn’t put it through a spin cycle like muggings, though. Yes, it was pronounced dead at the scene.

“working law student” – A contradiction in terms if experience is anything to go by.

“hardworking law student” – Even rarer.

“typical charges computer service uk” – excessive, usually.

“funny computer wallpaper for law student” - Law Lord pulling a mooner? I don’t know.

“essential reading for first year uk law students” – Somebody’s keen! Save your energy would be my advice. You’ll probably need it coping with an excess intake of alcohol and nights of carefree unadulterated lustful shenanigans as a freshman. Well the booze part is usually correct.

“injury compensation eyebrow waxed” – well you can try it. You’re a glutton for punishment, though: waxing your eyebrows and placing yourself at the mercy of personal injury lawyer.

“is law still worth studying if you get bad grades” – No, to be quite frank, it’s not. Don’t look at me like that – it’s tough love, baby.

“lawactualty” – Oh please – do me a favour.

“examination question on competition law” – tricky usually. And I’ve just finished dealing with that baloney so leave it for now. Deal?

Quite who in Bulgaria is searching for “law atually” I don’t know. But thanks for swinging by.

“what to revise for law a2 exam” – I don’t know – maybe the content you’ve been studying all year. Just a thought.

“how to make law exam notes” – Try using your own initiative?

“lpc cricket blogspot” – Whatever floats your boat.

“is lpc exam an open book exam?” - Which exam would that be exactly? And there was me thinking the LPC drummed specificity and attention to detail into students.

“revise, law, exams, 1 month” - Plenty, of, time, I would, say. :p

“llb student revision notes” – make your own, lazy!

“is llm in commercial law worth it if have llb” – Wow. Go straight for the jugular, eh?! I’ll tell you the answer in a year or so I guess.

“how hard is law in uni?” - Oh, please! What do you expect me to say?

“what is so interesting about competition law” – Good question... I’m still racking my brains.

“mum mooning the camera” – Shame on her, I say!

“riam dean not telling truth” – I’m not saying anything.

“facebook friend request from former girlfriend” – ooh sounds complicated. Could get messy.

“who hates working at Abercrombie” – Quite a lot of you, it would seem.

“the law on the use of dictaphones at work” – Ah, this one I can answer: your first port of call should be the Occupational Sound Recording Devices Act of 1893 (as amended). As I remember, it’s complimented by the EU Acoustic Recording Devices at Work Regulation 2003. And of course, the leading case of “Suffering Colleague v Pompous Boss at Desk 2007 All ER 284” affirmed that anybody using a Dictaphone in the presence of others is extremely annoying.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Law School for Cretins – UK Edition

Law School for CRETINS- UK edition I realise that the true hay-day of ‘the dummies’ series of books has been and gone several years ago now and I think it’s fairly common knowledge that the vast range of topics on which these books exist almost beggars belief. It should come as no surprise, then, that there is a genuine ‘Law School for Dummies’ – pitched at US law school. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before a UK edition of an equivalent title rears its head?

I’m all for good preparation and self-help (up to a point) though I’ve never been a big believer in self-help books per se – perhaps because of their generally patronising approach which invariably promise the world and fall woefully short or the fact they tend to lead the reader on a helter-skelter trip into the bleeding obvious. I’m not quite sure who would actually buy Law School for Dummies: potential students, the interested lay person – if such persons exist – or desperate students looking for shortcuts to success?

In the case of the latter category, sound, useful advice is always a good thing, I guess, though I feel that while some study techniques are more conducive to success than others, there are very few shortcuts or quick fixes to be found out there. Study methods are also a matter of personal taste – a fact I highlighted in my recent ‘How to revise for a law exam’ post.

I’m also not sure that dumbing-down the law school experience, what it demands from students and offering supposed shortcuts to academic success can be a good thing. The graduate market is already over-saturated with second-rate law graduates churned out from former polytechnics and encouraging more like ‘Paul-shouldn’t-have-gone-to-Uni’ to leap into the breach can surely only exacerbate the problem.

In fairness to the US edition of the book which I’ve electronically thumbed through (at least the limited preview available on Amazon, anyway) it did seem to strike a reasonably cautious tone in warning of the hard work ahead and so on. That said, the closing chapter is entitled, ‘Ten little-known Law School Secrets’. Yeah, good luck with those.

Maybe I’m being overly harsh here. Still, I find it vaguely troubling that the title ‘Law School for Dummies’ even exists. It can hardly stand as the proudest addition to a law student’s bookshelf and supposing you were gifted such a book for Christmas? I should imagine that such a present would take some serious bouncing-back from.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Illegal Bakery Worker Needlessly Loses Arm

Bakery Danger From BBC News 11th June 2009:

A Spanish bakery accused of barbaric behaviour towards an illegal worker will face "the full weight of the law", the government has vowed.

The statement comes amid shock over the case of a Bolivian worker whose arm was cut off in an accident at work.

Bosses at the bakery in Valencia are accused of dumping him 100m (330 feet) from the hospital entrance and throwing the severed limb in a rubbish bin.

A Spanish trade union has lodged a complaint against the bakery.

The union - the Workers Commissions (CCOO) - claims that in the early hours of 28 May, the arm of Franns Rilles was severed in a kneading machine while he was working.

It was allegedly dumped in a rubbish bin and only discovered by police the following day, by which time it was too late to reattach it.

This one is a little tough to get your head around and the mystery is not helped by the fact that news reports do not make it clear whether the arm was (allegedly) discarded maliciously or by accident. Either way, it’s certainly odd to say the least; either someone at the factory bore quite a grudge or they’ve a hideously distorted sense of the meaning of rubbish.

In any event, the personal injury suffered by Mr Rilles is by no means the only pressing legal issue at play here:

Mr Rilles, 33, had worked 12-hour days at the bakery, earning 23 euros a day (£20; $32) under no contract, for about a year and a half, the union says.

Police are investigating allegations of mistreatment.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Abercrombie & Fitch worker banished to stockroom for breaking ‘look policy’

From the Daily Mail 16/06/09:

A disabled law student is suing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch for discrimination, claiming it made her work in a stockroom because her prosthetic arm didn't fit its public image.

Riam Dean, 22, was just days into a part-time job at the U.S. firm's flagship London store when she says she was asked to leave the shop floor.

She was born with her left forearm missing and has worn a prosthetic limb since she was three months old but insists she has never allowed her disability to get in her way.

[Dean] was also given a uniform of jeans and a polo shirt, although the company handbook does state that sales associates can wear their own clothing as long as it is in 'Abercrombie style'.

Miss Dean, ... normally wears long-sleeved tops to disguise the join between her upper arm and artificial limb, says she was told to buy a plain white cardigan to wear over her uniform.

But matters came to a head a few days later.

'A worker from what they call the "visual team", people who are employed to go round making sure the shop and its staff look up to scratch, came up to me and demanded I take the cardigan off.

'I told her, yet again, that I had been given special permission to wear it,' she recalled.

'A few minutes later my manager came over to me and said: "I can't have you on the shop floor as you are breaking the Look Policy. Go to the stockroom immediately and I'll get someone to replace you."

'Afterwards I telephoned the company's head office where a member of staff asked whether I was willing to work in the stockroom until the winter uniform arrived.

'That was the final straw. I just couldn't go back.'

Miss Dean, who has just sat her final law exams, is due to take her case to the Central London Employment Tribunal later this month and is seeking damages of £25,000


Riam Dean Aside from the rather shocking issues of (alleged) discrimination here, it’s the fickleness of companies when it comes to uniforms which always astounds me. With a casual dress code such as the one Abercrombie & Fitch employed, policing the uniformity of the ‘uniforms’ with such uncompromising rigidity is frankly bizarre. Let’s remember that this debacle essentially kicked-off over a white cardigan (the same colour as the polo shirts which Abercrombie & Fitch require their shop floor workers to wear) and which the branch manager had verified as being suitable.  Anecdotally, I’ve heard recently of a well known chain in the British high street which employs a more conventional uniform and implements a ‘black sock only policy’.  This aspect they police in the manner of the Gestapo, yet inexplicably turn a blind eye to a couple of workers arriving to work in jeans and permit them to work at the tills.

More often than not panics over uniform are induced by a visit from head office – a guaranteed way of ensuring the management adopt a misguided and delusional sense of prioritisation in the immediate future. (Read as *more* misguided and delusional than usual). It’s ironic that employers worry excessively over policing uniform standards when it is the conduct and work ethic of their staff which remains the real problem.

But credit to Riam Dean here for having the fortitude to make a stand over this.  Perhaps she took employment law as an option on her LLB.  ;-)

Interestingly Abercrombie & Fitch settled over allegations of discrimination back in 2005 for $25 million.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Windows 7 ‘E’ Edition – Pre-emptive action or two-fingers to the EU?

REA_73404_009 From Paul Thurrott’s Short-takes of June 15th 2009:

Like the specter from beyond the grave that it is, Opera has opined on Microsoft's Windows 7 "E" Editions proposal. Opera, you might recall, set off all this silliness when it complained about Windows/IE bundling to the EU. (Opera is also the only browser company that hasn't gained market share against IE in the past three years. Go figure*.) So how did Opera react to news that Microsoft would remove IE 8 from Windows 7 in Europe? With its usual grace, of course. "Microsoft is trying to set the remedy itself by stripping out IE," Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner said. "They are trying to replicate the remedy [from] the media player case, which we all know didn't work." Really? Two things about that. One, that remedy was the EU's remedy, not Microsoft's remedy. And I'd argue that it did work—by pointing out that government-controlled product feature wrangling isn't a good idea. That is, EU consumers overwhelming [sic] chose the version of Windows that included all the features instead of the one that didn't. And speaking of consumer choice, Opera's share of the web browsing market is just .72 percent. Why are we even paying attention to these people anymore, especially when there are viable competitors (Firefox, Chrome, and Safari) that are doing just fine despite Microsoft's so-called abuses? This whole thing is ridiculous. I'd call for a boycott of Opera if anyone was actually using its desktop products.*

*My emphasis.

As Leo Laporte suggested in the Windows Weekly podcast last week, Microsoft’s action was “so obviously just an F.U. to the E.U”. Good one, Leo! And who hasn’t wanted to raise two fingers to the EU once in a while?

If Microsoft does, in fact, make available Windows 7 ‘E’ Edition it will ultimately be down to the European OEMs to decide whether to ship PCs with a version of Windows 7 without the IE or demand the regular version from Microsoft. Shipping an OS without any browser, of course, is hardly an option – as how are consumers expected to obtain a browser from the internet? The EU could, I suppose, require Microsoft to offer competing browsers via Microsoft Update or perhaps force OEMs to ship Windows with competing browsers. Quite how that would sit with the EU’s stance on ‘competition on the merits’ though, I’m not quite sure.

The truth, of course, is that the EC Commission has about as much trust for Microsoft as they would a coiled cobra. And logical though Paul’s arguments are in respect of the growing competition in the browser market in recent years – in which Internet Explorer is losing rather than gaining ground – I suspect they are of little consequence to the Commission or the courts should it get that far. The ECJ famously held in the British Airways case a few years ago that the fact Virgin Atlantic’s market share actually increased during the time of BA’s alleged abuses did not matter, as without those abuses their market share would have grown even further. That’s a tough one to bounce back from and given that it’s MS involved, I wouldn’t hesitate in guessing that a similar attitude would be adopted in condemning Microsoft’s conduct.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Tattoos and Limb Losses

I stumbled across this howler the other day (to which I’ve made a couple of alterations) and couldn’t help being reminded of the strangely disturbing diagrams from the 19th century indicating the average damages awarded in respect of loss of limbs.what your tattoo says about you Limb Losses copy

For what it’s worth, I don’t have any ‘tats’ yet know without any doubt that my girlfriend would promptly leave me should I ever obtain one.   Thank God she’s got such good sense.

Friday, 12 June 2009

How to Revise for a Law Exam

Law Actually Revision Guide Just before the exams started, I mentioned that I might release a revision-method type post. I so often make these promises of posts which never subsequently appear so thought I’d make good on my intentions for once. I realise the exam season is pretty much over for everyone now, but I guess it might be of interest to procrastinating students next year looking for inspiration or a boost of motivation. I’m not sure this post will provide either, but the revision method I outline just might be of interest.

Way back during my A-levels, I discovered a method for revising which worked fairly well and which I’ve gone on to tweak over the past few years. I feel I’ve graduated to a revision system which works well for me, though I realise everyone is different. From personal experience, I think many students’ approach to revision is, to put it mildly, less than optimal, though I recognise that we all learn in different ways. Ultimately, though, your method needs to work well for you – and if it does so, who am I to suggest something else? That said, it doesn’t hurt to mix things up occasionally and to try a different approach; what works for me might work well for you also.

I think one of the biggest mistakes students make is to start learning the material before they’ve got a damn good set of consolidated notes. The fact that creating those notes is actually an effective means of ‘breaking you into’ the revision process is an added bonus. Taking your time at this stage can reap huge dividends later on.

Hardcore Notes

The basic objective here is to know the topic backwards - literally. That way, coupled with an effective plan in the exam, you are well placed to answer virtually any essay or problem based question on the topic at hand.

In essence, I create a list of structured points, which form the basis of my revision notes. The order is crucial and spending a fairly long time on perfecting those notes is time very well spent. If the exam is open book, think about using the natural structure of the casebook as a pointer for the order of the notes. When under the pressure of an exam, this might just save your skin and anything which means you worry less about the order of the material has got to be good – particularly when pulling out the relevant content for answering a problem question. The idea is simple: you then learn those notes inside out, being able to dip into them at any point, picking out the relevant parts for a problem question or being able to follow it through coherently for discursive essay question.

I’ve always referred to these notes as ‘hardcore notes’ – and please, don’t look at me like that! The ‘Key Facts’ books published by Hodder Education form an excellent structure for hardcore notes; in fact, for many of my subjects I used those as the basis which I complimented with my own notes. The better organised you are throughout the year, the easier it is to compliment the structured notes with your own content, of course.

Each point is usually supported by authority. Connecting case names to a particular legal principle is one of the more fun parts of the revision process where you can inject some creativity into what is often a boring and monotonous process. For instance, if there is a batch of successive cases and associated principles connected with a sub-topic, using mnemonics and the like can help recall the order.

Certain content lends itself to being tabulated and doing so adds structure around a sub-topic that can aid in recalling it. For instance, I tabulated the legal principles regarding fraudulent and wrongful trading for my recent company law exam and assigned a distinctive colour to each.

Tough Times

Certain legal topics are just killers and incredibly dry – I’m thinking back to contract law in my first year and property law, and equity and trusts, in my last. I found the only way to conquer them was to brute-force the facts into my brain. And the emphasis really is on force here; as Nigella Lawson might say, ‘this is no time for restraint’. The first step in this process involves writing out the hardcore notes by hand and then, taking it section by section, regurgitating it from memory –either through writing and/or repeating them orally. Of course, it’s crucial to pay careful attention to the order. Then, it’s a question of repeating, repeating, repeating. It’s not a method for a faint-hearted: I would go through several hundred pages of A4 paper over the course of the revision process, scrawling out regurgitated content. But seriously, once you get going, it’s not as hard as you might think. Doing so much writing has other benefits too: as you recall the facts faster as the process wears on, you find yourself writing faster – excellent practice for those impending exams. I also feel that it strengthens the writing muscles, meaning you don’t succumb to the dreaded ‘writer’s cramp’ as easily.

To spice things up, I would also practice writing the content out from memory on computer. Later on when you really know your stuff, I found it useful to brainstorm the material, using A3 sheets. I found a white board and dry wipe markers particularly efficient for this, and far less wasteful. I have even created powerpoint presentations on the material I’ve been revising. Quite how you do it doesn’t matter, but the more time you spend immersed in the material and practice reciting it in various ways, the better and more comfortable you will feel applying it in the context of an exam. I have, on occasions, even resorted to pacing around the house recalling it orally from memory. Others I know record the material and listen to it repeatedly. I never found this worked well for me as my brain tended to switch off far too easily.

In addition, I create gap-fill tests as another means of learning the material – even creating the template is a good learning experience. I found this an excellent way of learning the basic order of the notes early on in the process. Finally, as you are nearing the end of the revision process, applying the knowledge you now know very well in practicing past papers is an excellent means of final preparation – providing you don’t get too hung up on the specifics of the question in hand.

Revising the Revision Process

My hardcore notes started out at about 2.5 pages, Times New Roman, 12 point font. Over the years, they were becoming progressively longer – Company Law, Directors’ Duties weighed in at a heavy 7 and a bit pages with a ‘narrow’ margin. Back in 2005/2006 I found the need to consolidate the hardcore notes down in further by making a flowchart printed in landscape mode, in even more succinct language. This serves as a useful exercise in condensing the material down – an excellent means of revising. Making good use of colour at this stage can better improve your chances of recalling the material quickly and accurately in an exam by helping to focus your mind’s eye in recollecting the content on the page. Practicing recalling the content of the flowcharts can be done in writing, orally or through roping a friend into testing you. The flowchart makes this possible as you’re just following simple points on a list but the knowledge is in your head to expand on any point if called to do so in the exam. Don’t try thrusting the hardcore notes in front of them and asking them to test you; I think we’ve all had experience at some point in our academic lives where you’ve roped some poor soul into ‘testing’ you who hasn’t the foggiest of what they’re doing and end up pulling you up if you get a mere word out of place or for explaining something which doesn’t match verbatim what s/he has on the sheet in front of them. A very frustrating experience – for both parties involved.

The flowchart is perfect for ramming the order of the material firmly into your brain – which is so crucial in answering a question in a law exam. You know the general content of the hardcore notes by this point to be able to expand sufficiently on any principle, but with so much material floating around in your head, the flowchart helps to make more sense of the overall structure. I always make sure I stick to the same means of ordering the material in the flowchart – usually left to right rather than clockwise as this makes the structure more fluent if it is (as it almost certainly will be) spread across more than one page.

Generally when revising – by which I mean actually recalling the material - I would always work through a topic to completion rather than setting myself 50 minute chunks of work-time and the like. Whether it’s a perception thing or otherwise, I always seemed much more productive that way.

So there it is: my technique when it comes to law exams and revision. It works for me and works well but it doesn’t come with guarantees. It was good enough to get me a A’s at A level and a First for my LLB but hey, what do I know? Some people revise through postcards or post-it notes stuck on their walls – I’ve always found that a little too much of a ‘soft touch’ approach for my tastes. My technique calls for dedication in spades but then it yields worthwhile results too.

Knowing the topic so well also means you are far less likely to have revised it but avoided answering it in the exam because you ‘didn’t like the look of it’. Using this method as an undergrad and postgrad, I have never prepared for a subject and then not answered it in the exam.

And FinallyNo crammers allowed

Revision group work can be useful, when used in moderation and at the right stage. In my experience, it should be used quite late on, close to the exams when you know your stuff and you can effectively test each other and straighten out the one or two remaining queries. But the bulk of the work should be done and dusted by then as group sessions can so easily turn into an excuse just to ‘catch up’ socially and wind up being totally unproductive. And a word to the wise: it’s time to socially shun the guy who utters late on in the game, “uhh, I haven’t started revising yet”. 

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Bing – Forget Search – it’s a ‘Decision Engine’


Having broken the habitual grip that Google held over me, I’ve been trying out Bing on and off in the past week or so and the results are considerably better than I’d anticipated.  Whatever you might feel about the credibility of Bing as a competitor to Google, though, Redmond’s new ad shows a level of humour creeping through that had previously been reserved for internal (or at least limited) audiences only.  Long may it continue.

Great stuff.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Exam Season is Over

exam hall desk 13 Yes, it’s finally finished and I can put the trauma of LL.M exams firmly behind me. My final exam (competition law) went fairly well with only one distinct curveball (I guess the cricket equivalent ‘googly’ would be more appropriate here) in the 3 questions I tackled. As per my plan, the desired questions in the desired format all came up on vertical restraints, abuse of a dominant position and refusals to supply.

I was somewhat perturbed, though, to discover that I was going to be sitting my final exam at desk 13 (unlucky for some). I’m not a particularly superstitious person but I have to admit that it had a slightly unsettling effect on me, albeit for a few minutes. Perhaps exam halls should omit the number 13 when labelling desks, if only to appease the more superstitious candidates out there. For instance, hotels often avoid numbering a room ‘13’ and Formula One skip the number 13 when numbering the cars for the season, though there is a P13 grid slot of course.

So I’ll be enjoying some downtime after a very hectic LLM schedule, and I’m heading back home to Cornwall next week. Hopefully, I’ll get a couple more fishing trips in when I’m down there.

Sadly, that’s where the good news ends, though; I realised the other day that I’m working the evening of my birthday. Damn.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Serif Shooting

who shot the serif


Came across this gem via Digg last week which I found worryingly amusing.  I’m putting my currently distorted sense of humour down to the stress and tedium that is LL.M revision.

Yeah, keep telling yourself that, Michael.  :-/