Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Multi Monitor Mayhem

dual monitor truth

From Future Lawyer 19/04/11:

I don't use dual monitors. I am not conflicted about work and play. When I play, I don't hide it. You don't really need dual monitors. You know you don't.

Hmm. I’m not totally convinced it’s as simple as that. There are genuine advantages to a multiple monitor set-up and it doesn’t necessarily follow that one monitor has to be for work and one for play. Still, YMMV.

I have a bit of a love-hate thing as far as dual monitors are concerned; I’ve used an additional monitor at times with my laptop but I’ve consciously avoided going double (or even triple) with my desktop.  I have plenty of space on my desk but I want it to stay that way, and I’m conscious just how much would be taken up by more than one monitor.  I also spend a lot of time moving between computers, so it’s probably as well that I don’t get too cosy with a multiple monitor setup.

I think dual monitors are a genuine advantage for some types of work, but there’s a key trade off with space which I’m just not willing to pay – at least at home. The distraction factor is an issue too; if you can park your mainstream work on your your main monitor, it’s easier to convince yourself you’re still working whilst you switch over to the secondary ‘recreational’ stuff on the other.  And that can play havoc with one’s productivity!

Believe me, I have a hard enough time staying focussed as it is.  Be right back

From what I recall, I’ve found more than one monitor useful when comparing different drafts of contracts side by side for instance, and for cross-checking information from two different sources without having to flick between windows.  Plus, it’s also really nice to have the ‘extra elbow’ room whilst working generally.

Still, whenever I’ve used multiple monitors, I can’t really say that it caused my productivity to skyrocket, though I don’t know if that’s a good or bad reflection on my usual working practice.

Are any members of the ‘sphere out there harbouring any strong feelings (positive or otherwise) about multiple monitors? 


Friday, 22 April 2011

Mobile Network Operators Suck – Lady Gaga parody


I’m sure anyone who owns a mobile phone can appreciate the sentiment in this witty parody put together by TV Live on Stage.  It seems that mobile providers aren’t any better down under, than they are in Blighty.

Love it!  Smile

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

APIL, dumb lawyers & civil justice reforms: seeking efficiency but at what price?

the legal lites - personal injury styleFrom Claims 18/04/11:

The new president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) today warned of the emergence of a new breed of ‘dumbed-down, legal-lite’ lawyer following the introduction of alternative business structures.

Oh God... that sounds horribly like Mr Bean in a pinstripe suit. Not a pretty sight.

Addressing APIL’s annual conference, David Bott predicted that ‘potentially massive’ new entrants to the personal injury market will be ‘very efficient’, but ‘process-driven’, voicing fears that these ABSs will not prioritise the needs of injured people.

’How much free thought, intellect and empathy will be used by this process-driven lawyer?

Good question. I should imagine that clients want a lawyer who will really cut loose occasionally, undo their top button, loosen their tie, slip on some flip flops and exercise some hardcore lateral thinking – legal style. In all seriousness, though, the personal, professional touch is important in legal services. Claimants don’t want to be kept on hold for twenty minutes listening to Night Fever by the Bee Gees on continuous loop, only for some hopeless moron with a script card in front of him to finally respond to their query with ‘computer says no’ type of answer.

’Ironically, claimants might at first prefer to deal with this new breed of legal-lite adviser, but that happiness may only last until the claimant has a problem, or until their particular, individual injury does not fit into the rigidly defined, immovable process being used by the ABS.

I think this has been a well-established phenomenon. For instance, large ‘wholesale’ businesses handling mass conveyancing services have been slated by many in the past for being cheap and cheerful, but everything can go horribly awry and prove more costly (in time and money) if a curveball is ever thrown their way.  Isn’t this just more of the same?

‘Because these new firms could be like hulking steam trains; fantastic at moving ahead but useless at moving in any other direction.’

Pursuing the analogy, I think the new plans have all the makings of an epic legal train-wreck, and we’re careering towards disaster.

Well, maybe.  Be right back

’The only party to benefit from these proposals is the negligent defendant, or moreover his insurance company, which has collected a premium to pay out in the event of a claim.

‘At the heart of these proposals is a movement of costs away from the negligent defendant and on to the innocent claimant. That is just plain wrong.’

And there end’th the lesson for today, children.


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Lawyers – the circle of life

From Calamities of Nature 15/04/11


That’s aaawwwful!  Surprised smile

Granted, law is supposed to be one of the most despised professions of all, but there are surely worse things someone can do in life.

For instance, your child might always come to you one day and proclaim that they’re not interested in being an astronaut any longer but instead want to be a:

- car salesman,

- estate agent,

- insurance broker,

erm, prostitute ?

In all seriousness, though, is choosing a career in law really that bad?

I was astounded talking to some colleagues recently who, it turned out, a) wouldn’t choose law if they had their time again and b) would definitely discourage their kids from choosing it.

I know Tesco Law ABS might shake things up a bit, but surely the future isn’t THAT gloomy?

Friday, 15 April 2011

Grapes, slips and compensation – not again?!?

Yes - remember this and this?

From the Telegraph 15/04/11:

A teacher who slipped on a grape was awarded £200,000 as school staff earned at least £22 million in compensation claims last year.

[The] NUT member who slipped on a grape in a corridor and fractured her hip was given £20,000 because the school did not have a system in place ensuring the corridors were cleaned after lunch breaks.

The teacher who slipped on a grape, which had been left on a stairwell, won the compensation because it aggravated an existing hernia problem, leaving him unable to work due to chronic pain

I blame Jamie Oliver.   Damn Jamie Oliver.
It’s one thing to make schoolkids’ lunches healthier, but it’s an own-goal if it jeopardises the health and wellbeing of their teachers.

And you can’t put a price on that, can you?  Be right back Bring back crisps and chocolate biscuits, I say.  

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: "The level of compensation is no cause for celebration.

No, indeed.

I wonder if I can design a pair of anti-grape shoe grippers.  Or a pair of shoes designed specifically not to succumb to grape slips, slides and off-track excursions.  Heck, if you can get a pair of shoes which helps you tone your booty, I’m sure I could cobble something together to help prevent me going A over T on a grape.   (It’s called walking like an adult!!)

Ooh sweetcheeks! 

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Scrap in-store legal reps – bring on the embarrassing legal problem roadshow

embarrassing lawyers - legal roadshowFrom The Law Society Gazette 07/04/11:

Today’s news that QualitySolicitors is to put a member of staff in WHSmithstores throughout the country has provoked a strong reaction from the profession; as any regular visitor the Gazette site would expect.

So how significant is this move to place QS staff in WHSmith stores?

Frankly, QS boss Craig Holt hits the nail on the head when he points out that the deal will ‘fast forward QS to “household name” status years ahead of target’. You bet it will.

True, but that’s not to say it will be a ‘good’ or ‘positive’ household name. Clearly they’re banking on the maxim that all publicity is good publicity will hold true. I’m not convinced it always does for the legal profession.  Heck, just look at Andrew Crossley & ACS:Law.

One of the biggest problems solicitors face is that many people who might want to use their services are actually a bit scared of them.

A consumer research project conducted by the SRA recently found that consumers are ‘in awe’ of the profession.

That might sound complimentary, but in practice it means they are too intimidated to walk into a solicitors’ office and finally get that will written up.

In one canny move, QS has eliminated that problem. Instead of trying to entice reluctant clients through a law firm’s doors, now the brand comes to them instead – in among the two-for-one chocolate deals and paperback books, a place where a smiling employee in a black and pink polo shirt presents customers with just the perfect opportunity to do something about that nagging legal problem.

And that’s the very problem. WHSmith tried placing reps from utility providers in stores a while ago who generally milled around annoying customers who had just popped in for a porn mag copy of the Daily Telegraph. I hate sales people and I know I’m not the only one; most people seem to welcome them as they would a bad case of haemorrhoids.

It doesn’t matter whether that person is a lawyer or not – and in fact will probably work better if they’re not.

It is more important for them to be approachable than knowledgeable (I know commentators won’t like this). All they need to do is tap that appointment into the iPad, and let the qualified lawyers take it from there.

I’m not sure two wrongs make a right. If it takes someone being hassled by a salesperson to realise they need access to justice, their need can’t have been very great in the first place.

But it is hard to see how this deal can be anything other than a very smart move for QS firms; all the better, because now QS has really stolen a march on the non-legal brands that will be looking to exploit their own high street outlets and branches come October.

Boooo, I say.

I’m all for improving transparency and accessibility, but this is terrible.  I think the ‘I need somebody’ billboard campaign for solicitors ran by the Law Society is a good idea – for what that’s worth.   As a campaign it was clear, dignified and relevant.  But placing salespeople in shops to grab customers by the elbow while they’re standing in line to buy a completely unrelated product most certainly is not. 

If it’s suddenly so important to take legal services and the profession to the client, perhaps roadshows for embarrassing legal problems a la the Embarrassing Bodies doctors on Channel 4 would be a better idea. At least that wouldn’t involve getting your naughty bits out on national television, as you lay back, your legs in stirrups, whilst the cameraman pans up towards your nether regions. 

Well, I guess that could be optional.  Be right back

Heck, for the overseas episode, you might even persuade a solicitor to take off his Oxfords and socks, roll up his trousers, and walk across the beach looking for clients with a dire legal problem.

Think it’d be a goer? 

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Yet more new bloggers emerge

law actually - more blogs join the 'sphere

I know, I know – I’m as surprised as you are. I thought we’d exhausted our quota of new blawgers for this year so I did a double-take when I glimpsed the following bunch come ambling down the pike.

As ever, all are highly recommended.

Legally Weighting made a bit of a faltering start to her blogging career, but that’s not to say that all can’t still come good. Started in September 2010, LW has seen a mere 10 posts so far and nothing since early January. But judging from earlier posts, this blogger has a lot to offer and I hope she graces us with her presence again soon.

Speaking of names, I initially had visions of Legally Weighting being the blog of an amateur weight lifter turned law student, but it turns out I was miles from the mark. It appears that LW is a (semi?) mature law student with two sons, and currently doing battle with the OLPAS portal whilst trying to lose weight.

In LW’s first post, she sums up her position:

Having completed my law degree, a PG diploma and the Bar Vocational Course, I'm now at that stage of trying to get the much wanted pupillage. And boy is it tough.

Damn true. But she can count on shedloads of moral support from the blogosphere as she takes that meandering journey on the quest towards a pupillage.

Ashley Connick – Social butterfly Ashley has a lot to say and with all of his flittering here and fluttering there, he’s carved out a nice little niche for himself in a tasteful corner of the blogosphere. A regular legal tweeter, sometimes Ashley flutters over from Twitter and throws up a cracking post on his blog which generally receives a good bunch of comments and associated buzz.

Ashley’s not afraid to tackle a diverse range of subjects, with a particular focus on legal education and legal blogging.

Ashley’s currently finishing his legal studies before starting his training contract in 2012 with an international law firm. His blogging maxim is clearly ‘quality rather than quantity’ and is very Minx-esque in that regard, albeit without the numerous strikethroughs!

I fancy that Ashley will be in the blawgosphere for quite some time to come and it should be interesting to see how he manages that cross over from law student to trainee.

Miss TS – Another great newcomer and reminiscent of many of the old-skool legal blogs which have gone on to great things. Miss TC is a trainee solicitor in a commercial firm who’s apparently, ‘helping people in need and overhauling the justice system’ whilst wearing her trademark red high heels of course.

Insightful and well-written posts tackle a variety of subjects which always seem to hit that sweet-spot in terms of length. Undoubtedly, the blawgosphere has another corker on its hands with Miss TS and I look forward to reading more from her going forward.

Never let it be said that Miss TS is all work and no play; perhaps the background picture of a cocktail glass betrays her favourite way of winding down after a hard week in the office?

WannabeQC – When I casually suggested to WannabeQC via Twitter that he should start a blog, I didn’t think he actually would. The next thing I know is that the ‘sphere has a new participant and one with a fascinating story to tell as well.

Yes, it seems that Wannabe (cue that awful little number from the spice girls) made a rather inauspicious start to his academic career but having started his LLB he’s really found his feet and already outperforming many of his peers. With just two posts to his name, let’s hope that Wannabe re-finds his initial blogging mojo and becomes a regular in the UK student blawgophsere.

Diet Justice – is the new creation of uber-ambitious blogger, Ollie, who formerly penned ‘No Such Word as Kant’. For those of you who missed it, No Such Word as Kant burst onto the blogging scene but his ferocious posting frequency made me initially fear that he’d burn himself out. Happily, I’ve been proven wrong on that front!

Ollie clearly felt that NSWAK was restricting his creativity and his new blog sports a new name and a lick of paint. The result is an attractive blog and one which tackles a broad range of subjects and Ollie always has something interesting to say. As well as being a second year law student, he’s battling health problems along the way, too, and is frequently blogging from his hospital bed as he convalesces from his weekly op. He should get bonus blogger points for bravery at the very least!

I’m looking forward to seeing this blog evolve and mature; there’s a lot going on here and there are rumblings of even more exciting projects yet to come. Stay tuned!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Let’s kill unboxing videos

I often turn to YouTube for reviews of tech products and real-world performance tests and it’s always disturbing to see just how many ‘unboxing’ videos are available. I’ve never understood the obsession; unboxing is a necessary inconvenience to get to the product in side but nothing more.

What matters is the product inside, right?  Thinking smile

It does amuse me just how much fuss reviewers make of the packaging – not the main box but often the name and composition of secondary packaging. I was watching a netbook unboxing and performance test the other day when the reviewer commented on the sleeve packaging that the netbook came in and promptly went off at a tangent for a couple of minutes in which he admitted:

a) He didn’t know what material it was;

b) he should really find out;

c) it’s that stuff that all laptops, netbooks and other gadgets are wrapped in;

d) he’ll just call it Styrofoam wrap for now; and

e) it’s damn useful stuff.

I think he almost forgot about the netbook.

Anyway, this parody of your typical unboxing vid is full of thoughtful observations about this pointless practice.  Love it!


Unboxing videos: an exercise in pointlessness

Maybe members of the blawgosphere who buy legal textbooks, casebooks and practitioner texts should do an unboxing video the next time they order something from Amazon. Heck, I might make one myself!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

iPhone users: pretentious and broke … apparently

android versus iphoneFrom: 05/04/11:

If you’re an iPhone owner, chances are that you’re constantly wiping sweat off it. Sweat that pours from your furrowed brow, from the stress and worry caused by the fact that you’re up to your eyes in DEBT.

Or at least that’s the findings of a new YouGov survey which claims that someone’s salary and financial circumstances can be linked to the phone that they own. If you own an Android-powered phone or a BlackBerry, you are more likely to be earning more than your hovel-dwelling iPhone-brandishing counterparts.

What have we learned from this? That all iPhone owners are flash little twerps who don’t actually have the fiscal substance to be able to back up what they imagine to be a luxury lifestyle. As ever, we welcome your comments – unless they’re idiotic and poorly delivered.


I don’t know how much truth there is in this. At a guess, I’d say it’s probably less than Android users would like to think and more than iPhone users are comfortable admitting. But what do I know?

Well, I know this much: I’m an Android user and generally a big fan of the cute little green robot. My HTC desire never skips a beat and every day I enjoy that warm glow of contentment knowing that I’ve shunned another Apple product and feel all the better for it. (Oh, and I’m a self-proclaimed app-aholic, but then again, who isn’t?).

Be right back

While we’re on the subject, I also stumbled across a rather trite entry on the usually un-trite futurelawyer – generally a great blog for all legal-techies.

... iPhone versus Android, [-] which phone is better for lawyers? I can tell you the answer right up front; it doesn't matter, because the smartphone you use is a matter of personal taste. Each lawyer has to measure their needs versus the feature set of the phone they are looking at, and, while I prefer Android for a lot of reasons that I will discuss this afternoon, others prefer Apple's iPhone for their own reasons.

Well there ya go. I’m glad we cleared that up. Eye rolling smile

Monday, 4 April 2011

Mailbag – Can you write my law school assignment for me?

law actually mailbag

Every now and then I get the odd email asking for help. Sometimes it’s choosing a law school, how to cope with legal exams, whether I recommend a masters in law, how can someone survive a law degree with their sanity and bank balance intact etc. etc.

Every now and then I get something really wacky, often concerning someone slipping on a spilt yoghurt or something similar and suffering some kind of personal injury and whether I think they can claim compensation.
Heck, what do I know – I don’t even like yoghurt! Be right back


Anyhow, the following little gem which plopped into my inbox was a first – even for me:

Hi Michael,

I am wanting some coursework doing in taxation i would be willing to pay £120 per1000 words, its 3000 words in total so i would more than happy to pay £360 in total.

you can take your time doing it. 3-4 weeks.

would you be interested in doing it?

Many Thanks


Call me old fashioned, but I really couldn’t believe the audacity and blatancy of this.

Apparently students don’t complete coursework by themselves any longer – they outsource it, by first putting it out to tender.  No student should utter the phrase that they ‘want some coursework doing’.

Had I been interested, though, it seems I could have taken my time with it.  How generous – like he was doing me a favour!

But what did he think this is - my email address isn’t !!

When I’d finished simmering a few days later, I did take a couple of minutes to respond and stated that I didn’t engage in plagiarism and I didn’t suggest that he did either. Whilst having to write papers can be annoying, stressful, difficult and all the rest, it’s that way for a reason and paying someone to do it for you shouldn’t even be an option. (He’d probably found some moron to write something for him by that point, but I hope he hadn’t).

There are plenty of other things a struggling student can try: talking to lecturers, going to a drop-in study session, trying different, more approachable texts and so on. But paying someone to write a paper which you intend to pass off as your own really is a stretch too far. You’d be better failing or dropping out than that.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Have Google’s April Fools ideas jumped the shark?

gmail motionWithout particularly wanting to use the phrase which Paul Thurrott evangelises so much, I really couldn’t think of a more applicable one. (If you aren’t up to speed with this over-used idiom, check this out).

Don’t get me wrong  - I’ve always liked the idea that Google do this kind of thing, though I can’t help but feel it’s lost its sparkle a bit.

In 2007 we had the Google TiSP connection – a superior alternative to internet connectivity achieved by flushing cables down your toilet. It came in 3 different bundled packages: starter - ‘the trickle’, the intermediate package - ‘the number 2’ and the super-duper all-you-can-eat – the ‘royale flush’.

And all of that was kind of cute.

In 2008 we had Gmail custom time: a sort of time-travel function built into Gmail so you could, you know, mess with the recipient’s mind.

Just click "Set custom time" from the Compose view. Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient's inbox. You can opt for it to show up read or unread by selecting the appropriate option."

Which again was kind of funny.

2009 flopped spectacularly with a weird kind of panda site spoof. What was all that about? 

As for 2010, I don’t think I even bothered covering it on Law Actually.  I think it coincided with Easter, too, so I was probably too busy eating chocolate to blog about it anyway.

And this year, Google have served up ‘Gmail Motion’ in which you can use body gestures captured on your computer’s webcam to manage email rather than a mouse and keyboard.

The accompanying video on their site was a bit dull to be honest, though I was rather tickled by the fact that the gesture to send an email was licking your finger and ‘pressing down’ to mimic the action of affixing a stamp to an envelope.

But really – body gestures? With some of the wacky experimental labs features already available within Gmail, I fully expect this to be rolled out for real by the end of the year. Heck, the Wii has had this for years.


Anyhow, I guess it’s an improvement on the panda thing, but that’s not saying much.

Maybe it’s time Google knocked these April Fools things on the head?