Sunday, 30 October 2011

Trick or Treating - 21st Century Style...

modern trick or treatingHalloween 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. 


Dressing 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. Make sure an older sibling or adult is with them.

Why let them go out at all? Bad things happen out of doors & it’s far safer to leave them locked up in the attic. If you have to let kids go trick or treating, it should be carried out via Skype only!!

Planning a safe route and knowing where your older children are at all times. Set a time for their return home.

I’d suggest having them on a bungee cord – you can yank them back at the appropriate time then.

Instructing them to stop only at familiar houses in your own neighborhood unless you or another responsible adult is with them.

(In which case, go ape sh*t).

Instructing them not to eat any treats until they bring them home to be examined.

All treats should be forensically examined before being consumed. DNA data (for the purposes of elimination – and incriminating potential suspects - having been collected from ‘treaters’ in advance.

Instructing them not to go into the home of a stranger or get into anyone’s car.

Where’s the rape alarm, mace spray and Nunchaku?

Making sure the trick-or-treaters carry a flashlight, glow stick or have reflective tape on their costumes so they are more visible to cars.

I’d dunk my child in day-glo paint.

Letting them know that they should stay together as a group if they go trick-or-treating without an adult.

Yep – no loners at Halloween. It’s scary out there!!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Payment Protection… lost in translation

dammit paypal
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).

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Life as a modern law student - a few thoughts

student depression
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 Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Last year 13,858 people applied to study law at 26 universities that supplied figures to UCAS, but this year the number applying to start their course in autumn 2012 fell to 13,139.

Things aren’t even looking good for graduate recruitment schemes at the moment.  A few years ago, graduate training schemes were all the rage for students with almost any degree.  What a difference 2 or 3 years make.  Your average graduate is now more likely to get a bucketful of smelly stuff from a rocking horse than get accepted onto one of those programs.

Not long ago, a law degree was meant to be one of the more useful and versatile degrees out there, and one that would stand you in good stead for a wide range of graduate careers.  I’m not sure that holds true right now.

Other ‘friends of friends’ are considering jumping ship, all of whom are at various stages of their legal education. Right on cue, I’ve been fascinated to read about US blawgger Katie Luper who recently finished law school and jumped straight on an engineering course.  Kudos to her for that.  I don’t think many law graduates would have the guts to do that.  I know I wouldn’t.

So all in all, it’s an uncertain, scary time, folks. But if you’re a prospective uni student with absolutely no idea which path to take, do the responsible thing: flip a coin and let fate decide.

You’ll thank me for it.

For construction jobs try visiting Mane Recruitment.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Solicitor ‘Glamour’ – Real & Virtual


glamorous solicitorI 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).

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A sting in the tail

wasp nestOver 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 stood by his van.  “Look at that”, he said, pointing.  The front corner of the house was covered in a brownish cloud of swarming, angry wasps.

He warned me that the wasps would start falling from the sky soon.  I put that down as typical pest-exterminator-hyperbole (you know how it is...) but when I left for work around noon, the drive was covered with a carpet of dead wasps. 

I passed the postman on the way who was rubbing the back of his neck moaning that something can stung him further down the cul-de-sac.

Well I never … I wonder what that could have been.  He said he was going to sue someone’s ass for it.  Hmm - good luck with that one. 

There’s never a personal injury solicitor about when you need one, is there? 

Be right back

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Do you worry about your performance as a blogger?

legal blogger - what it means

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 doing that.

But it does beg the question: do you worry about your performance as a blogger? Do you start getting the willies if your blog traffic starts to fall?

Monday, 17 October 2011

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.  Be right back

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.terms and conditions - speed reading EULA

Nah… Redmond wouldn’t have the sense of humour for that! 

Found here.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Karaoke… for lawyers

karaoke for lawyersLawyers 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?  Literally.

Law Shine alight” - to bring back that warm fuzzy (and slightly cringe-worthy feeling) that came with winning Eurovision in ‘97).

Fatboy Slim - “I left my briefcase in el segundo” (we’ve all been there after all..)

All suggestions welcome.   (Btw, I’d love a Britney Spears number if anyone can think of a ‘legalised’ song title).

Please note: accomplished vocalists need not apply... we kind of want that ‘strangling a cat’ sound.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Pet Peeves

moody boy - he'll be a lawyer some dayCome 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.

  1. 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.  
  2. People who bring their bikes on a train (or anywhere in a railway station).  YOU people….!!!
  3. 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.
  4. Phones vibrating on desks.  Heck, my blood pressure’s up just thinking about it.
  5. Name shortening - particularly mine.  I don’t really like my name (who does?), but I can tolerate it providing it’s not shortened to ‘Mike’.  Seriously, if there’s one way to royally p*ss me off, that’s it.

I know - grumpy aren’t I?  But it doesn’t make me any less grumpy when the fact is pointed out. 

Be right back

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Bare assed law

bare assed lawFrom 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 couple said "we were young and full of hope for the future when this magazine cover was released and now....we are saddened that vulnerable people are facing huge cuts in services."

Christ!  Aren’t we all!  But good on the Kinseys for doing something.

I’m all for taking your clothes off in the name of the law - particularly for a cause as worthy legal aid. In fact, I’m thinking of holding a demonstration of my own. 

But please, let’s not have any, ‘the law is an ass’ jokes. I’m trying desperately to raise the tone at Law Actually after all.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Money saving tips for law students

student tips for saving moneyContinuing 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 get a part time job, make sure the emphasis is on the ‘part’.  Anything more than 12 hours a week is silly - unless you’re planning on aiming for a ‘desmond’ 2:2 … or worse...?  Your call, partner.  ;-)

  • Don’t buy your textbooks all in one go.  You'll over-purchase and regret it. 

  • Thinking of adding a legal dictionary to your shopping list?  Seriously, don't bother.  

  • If you’re in rented accommodation avoid putting the heating on.  Instead, call your partner around for a bit of 'afternoon delight' - the thrifty way of warming up.  If in halls of residence, however, get every damn penny out of them you can.  A free ‘n’ easy approach is recommended re. lights and heating and, as far as water is concerned, consider opening a bottled water business - Delboy style.
    Finally (and this is a personal favourite of mine), always nick the vacuum cleaner for the block, keep it in your room for the term before returning it.  An alternative might be pawning it on the final day.  

  • Bum as many free meals as possible.  

  • And talking of bums, don’t bother buying toilet rolls.  Your university have plenty.  Make sure you stock up whenever nature calls on campus.

  • Always down the union?  Don't - corridor parties are far cheaper.

  • Cold feet?  Fashion your partner’s underwear  into thongs, saving the material as insoles for your shoes in the winter.  See - everyone’s a winner!  ;-)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

What is it with law and portals?

mrsaFrom 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 to apologise to anyone who has experienced difficulties ­trying to log on to mySRA. Despite extensive testing prior to launch, there have been some ­initial problems.

Two things immediately strike me from this.

Firstly, mySRA is a horrible name and is worrying close to the killer hospital bug MRSA.  Given the atrocity of MySRA that solicitors up and down the country have had to suffer through, I think the name is scarily apt.

Secondly, why is it any portal concerning law or anything legally related turns into a disaster.

Early attempts at the Land Registry portal anyone?  And how about the Pupillage Portal for crying out loud.  Now MySRA. 

Holy Cripes!

Monday, 3 October 2011

That’s… an interesting approach


End User Licence Agreement

If you find the average EULA (End User Licence Agreement) a touch trying for its verbosity, awkwardness and generally unappealing nature, how does the above grab ya?

The lawyer in me is screaming in pain at this. The free-radical hippie undercurrent(that’s probably more under than current) is whooping for joy.

Found here.