Thursday, 23 February 2012

Stinky trains and squashed tomatoes

I spotted a rather dull article in the Metro this morning (one of many), as I stood on a chilly platform waiting for the 07.58.  I had to abandon reading it as the train approached, and instead put on my determined ‘I’m-going-to-do-this-but-I-know-it’s-going-to-be-bad’ grimace as I prepared to board, ready to be hit by that wall of smell which can only be described as a sweaty dog mixed with overtones of early morning passenger excretions.  Oh the joy of trains.

But I digress.  The article itself was a rather uninspiring blurb with the title “Injury lawyer bills '480 per cent higher' than compensation payouts”.  True to form, you might say, for the Metro.  Sigh.

Thinking this would be classic Law Actually material, I went back to the article via their webpage, only to spot something much more interesting, albeit rather dated now.  Goodness knows how I missed it at the time.

It was so good, I thought I wouldn’t trust the Metro any further so I skipped off to search for it on google news.  (Isn’t the Internet great like that?)

Be right back

The trusty Beeb had the following:

A Belfast City Council worker who was dressed as a tomato when she was injured by the then lord mayor has agreed a settlement of £24,021.75.

Lorraine Mallon suffered a slipped disc when Jim Rodgers' knee accidentally hit her head as he tried to vault over her.

Ms Mallon had been dressed as a tomato to launch a gourmet garden event in Botanic Gardens in September 2007.

A spokesperson for the council said: "We can confirm that a settlement has been made in that case [in 2010]."

After the incident, Mr Rodgers, an Ulster Unionist councillor, said he attempted the act of athleticism at the request of photographers.

"There had been three false runs and I think Lorraine thought this was just another one.

sprain claim

"I just caught the top of her head and unfortunately I injured her."

Mr Rodgers said he was confident he could have made the vault.

He said: "I'm very fit and look after myself, but it was just one of those unfortunate things."

Hmm, that’s one way of describing it!  Vertebrae aside, that jump couldn’t have done Jim’s plum tomatoes (ahem) any good either.  Just as well that his days of fathering children are long behind him.

It just goes to prove, where there’s shame, there’s a claim.  (And a broken tomato stalk, I should imagine).

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

No Win, No Tea – legal work experience with a difference

legal coffeeFrom Roll on Friday 14/02/12:

Poor old Hogan Lovells.

Two years ago the firm launched its "Ladder to Law" programme. The scheme is intended to widen access to the profession by providing open days and work experience to kids from inner City state schools. It's clearly a very good thing. When it works...

Heavens to Betsy.  That sounds rather like inviting the hoi polloi to the legal party.  That can’t be right, old chap.

Yesterday morning one young student who was due to turn up never made it to the induction. Cue frantic calls from HR, the girl's parents and the girl's school.

Eventually she was found: setting up coffee and biscuits in Hogan Lovell's meeting rooms. Apparently she'd been wandering around lost. A temporary catering manager bumped into her, assumed that she must have been at the firm to do some waitressing work, snapped her up and packed her off to the meeting rooms.

Forgive me.  I know she’s young, may have been nervous and it’s up to employers to take care of students on work experience schemes, but the girl had a tongue in her head.  Did it not occur to her to mention she wasn’t there to train as a tea lady?  Or perhaps she thought that’s what life as a solicitor entailed.  In which case, she probably wasn’t ready to be let loose in the world of work to begin with.

Mind you, at least she wasn’t handed a file and directions to court to go and represent someone.  Then everyone would’ve been in trouble.

A mortified spokeswoman said that "the student is one of a number spending the week with us on a work experience placement to see what life as a lawyer is like. There were some  crossed wires that were very rapidly uncrossed and we have apologised to the student and their parents for the confusion. An internal investigation is under way and we are taking steps to ensure this can never happen again.”

There’s nothing wrong with working as a dinnerlady - just think of the fetching tabard she could have worn.  Remember the Muller Rice adverts from the 1990s?capture3     capture1
In any case, it serves as a healthy reality check; lawyers have to make tea occasionally, too.   Only at the start of their careers, of course, (and it usually involves doing a run to the coffee machine for the senior partners).  Lovells should have put a positive spin on the incident by claiming it was excellent training for the humility that’s needed as trainee.
And learning how to display dipped Belgian wafers on a doily is a transferable skill and excellent etiquette training that will no doubt come in later on when she’s throwing a dinner party trying to convince the powers that be that she has what it takes to make partner.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Another Law Actually Birthday

law actually birthday graphic 5

Yep. Another blogging birthday is ticked off.

I looked back at what I wrote a year ago and was depressed to realise it was more or less identical to what I planned to write this time.

So I just won’t bother.

I think I’ll go off and enjoy some Law Actually birthday cake instead.  Party smile

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentine’s Day cards for Geeks (and Geekesses)

All found here.

Twitter - Valentines

Tweet heart?  Oh my!  Feel like moaning in despair at this one?  Permission Granted.

Inbox Zero - Valentines

Inbox Zero isn’t awesome.  It’s an unattainable myth with no basis in reality.  As a Valentine’s Day card this fails miserably.  Next?

Range - Valentines

Hmm.  Cute.  That antenna is very, um, erect.  Probably just a coincidence. 

HTML - Valentines

Bit of a damp squib.  I can’t see many ladies’ hearts going all-a-flutter on receipt of this.  That’s not to say that HTML and CSS can’t be sexy.  It just isn’t here.*

*Ok, scratch that – it’s never sexy.

You're My Type - Valentines

Cracking.  That’s more like it.  Just tell me the message inside isn’t in Comic Sans though.

Facebook - Valentines

Ah, romance for the Facebook modern age.  I think we have a winner.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

King’s Student Law Review

For those who aren’t in the know (and in the interests of karma), I thought it would be well worth flagging up the King’s Student Law Review, the existence of which I was alerted to recently.

So what’s the big deal?

Well, firstly, it’s an excellent peer-reviewed journal written by students for students everyone.

It describes itself as an:

online academic publication managed by students of the King's College London School of Law. The Review seeks to publish high-quality legal scholarship written by undergraduate and graduate students at King's and other leading law schools across the globe.

If you aren’t a King’s student and your law school has a law school magazine which is more like this, have no fear. The KSLR isn’t locked behind an expensive paywall; its open access policy means everyone can access and download the material completely free of charge – just as God intended. If you feel a bit funny accessing ‘free-as-in-free’ material, it’s also available via HeinOnline, for you old-school sticklers out there.

Either way, it’s well worth checking out.

Secondly, they’re accepting articles for publication.  Yep, all you law students out there – that’s where you come in.

Working on the basis that practise makes perfect, writing an article for the KSLR would provide you with a great opportunity to improve your legal writing whilst getting your name out there. Plus, for those undergraduates keeping an eye on the future (that’s more or less everyone, right?) it’s something else which might elevate your CV over those of your peers.

That’s not the only incentive, though, as for each edition, the author of the best judged article is awarded £250.

Oh yes.  Be right back

The requested word count for each article is between 5,000 to 10,000 words. Like I said, practise makes perfect.

Still, if that sounds a bit over-ambitious for you, submissions are also welcome for shorter pieces (around 1,000 words) for their various blogs in the following areas:

  • European Law
  • Legal Theory
  • Human Rights
  • Constitutional Law
  • Commercial Law
  • Criminal Law
  • International Law
  • Legal Practice, Procedure and Profession

Submissions for the next edition of the KSLR are due by 29th February 2012, 23:59 GMT, so, you know, you might want to get your skates on!

Submissions for the blogs are welcome at any time.

You can find submission guidelines on their website at

While you’re at it, why not follow them on twitter via @KCLSLR, too?

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Family of brain-dead teen seeks permission for euthanasia

From the Onion:

The parents of 13-year old Caitlin Teagart have decided to end her life, saying she can now do nothing but lay on the couch and whine about things being "gay."

The tragedy is we were all like that once. (Some more than others perhaps).

Still, one painless injection and that’s it. Preferable to puberty any day, I guess.

Brain-Dead Teen, Only Capable Of Rolling Eyes And Texting, To Be Euthanized

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Siri and Scottish accents

I was on a train on Saturday when I overheard someone asking their iPhone all kinds of weather updates – with varying degrees of success. Yep, it was snowflake panic central throughout the whole carriage.

In the circumstances, it would have been a lot more efficient to have used the touchscreen instead of speech recognition to find out that the 5 snowflakes that had settled were enough to bring the country to its knees. I’m not an Apple user myself, and despite the good things I’ve heard about Siri, it’s not enough to make me buy an Apple product.

I’m still somewhat burned by the crashing disappointment of speech recognition back in the late 90s and I find it tough getting past this mental block. I recognise that it has come on a long way since then and Siri, for what it’s worth, seems to be a significant leap forwards.

However, just like my experience on Saturday, this hilarious spin on an Apple iPhone commercial stands as a painful reminder that speech recognition technology still has a long way to go.

Having a wee bit of trouble.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Should they claim

Recognising that large swathes of the public wouldn’t trust a personal injury solicitor further than they could throw him, one firm has decided to take on the challenge of restoring faith in this branch of the profession and in the worthiness of the claims they bring.

I know what you’re thinking: pity the poor PI solicitor, eh? It comes to something when they need to drum-up business and bolster their credibility using an online game. But let’s not be cynical – give it chance.

Eye rolling smile

So, the idea is simple. You watch a selection of short clips in which people suffer various slips, trips, and RTAs and vote whether you think they should bring a claim. Personally, I think it’s missing a voiceover by Michael Buerke and the 999 jingle for dramatic effect.

shouldtheyclaimSo far, so good. But the key question for me is why people would want to do this.

Most people only think about instructing a personal injury lawyer if they’ve suffered some kind of accident or other misfortune. Otherwise, why would you?

And those who are in that unfortunate position, surely won’t be bowled over at the prospect of watching some poor chap going a over t from his bike following a head-on with for Ford Mondeo or an innocent pedestrian getting squished against a wall by an old dear with dodgy clutch control trying to reverse park her Citro├źn Saxo. If you’re recuperating at home with an accident claim pending, with only daytime TV and the thoughts of fashioning a noose from your clothes line to occupy you, do you really want to be exposed to anything that might tip you over the edge?

But what the heck, why not give it a go? 

I wonder if there’s a board game version planned?

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Good for a giggle: Solicitors don’t solicit. Well, not in that way...

solicitors soliciting

I still find it staggering just how bad some university websites are at marketing their courses, given their budgets and specialist marketing departments. What with the hikes in tuition fees, increasing doubt over the value of degrees and the fact that traditional law school prospectuses are going the same way as the Yellow Pages, the effectiveness of their websites has never been more crucial.

I should probably explain: I’ve visited loads of law school websites over the years. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, when, as a procrastinating student stuck fast in the grips of a never-ending paper, I decided to research the authors of some of the materials I was citing. There’s nothing like a trawl through the staff profile pages of law school websites to while away a few minutes, (and if you can convince yourself it’s a productive use of time, so much the better). And don’t knock it until you’ve tried it; sometimes it even bears fruit.

It’s very refreshing, then, to see the University of Glamorgan adopting an aggressive stance embracing social media that isn’t (just) confined Facebook and Twitter. As part of their ‘Glam-Insight’ programme, they have bravely decided to let a selection of current students blog about their experiences of studying at the university.  The resident law student, Rachael, is in her 3rd year with aspirations of qualifying as a solicitor and is keen to offer up nuggets of wisdom along the way.

The latest post on ‘Rachael’s blog’ (sometimes the simplest names are the best) was an absolute corker.

From Rachaelsblog 02/01/12:

“To be a good lawyer, you need to spend some time out of the library”

Good stuff: always start with a quote … she could have almost been a pupil of the Law Actually school of blogging.

As for the sentiment behind the words, I think it’s the old ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy for a boring CV’ message. Yep - that ol’ chestnut.

But wait - there’s more. Rachael’s got quite a way with words - in a laugh-out-loud kind of way.

Those are the words of advice given to me at a law fair a few weeks ago. At a first glance, such words seem quite dramatic – particularly in the context of soliciting.

In the context of WHAT, Rachael?!? Heavens above, girl!  Does your mother know about this?  I know the legal job market is grim at the moment but surely there’s no need to plan on breaking out the mini skirt, fishnet tights and red stilettos? And besides: that kind of get-up (and associated shenanigans) will almost certainly get you thrown out of the law library.

Rachael goes on:

However, today, the advice is invaluable. Of course, academic achievement is essential to being successful in law, but today, employers often look for ‘something special’ in their ideal candidate and thus place much importance on other aspects of your application as well as your grades.

I hope the ‘something special’ isn’t a euphemism. Graduates are desperate to land a training contract or pupillage at any price and senior partners might not be above taking advantage. And, fresh out of law school, there’s nothing worse than a Monika Lewinsky type of incident all over your new suit. (I mean: you could try claiming the dry cleaning bill back on expenses, but prevention’s better than cure and all that).

But I digress.

The moral of the story, then, children, is that proof reading is vital. Secondly, it seems there’s a bit more mileage left in blogs after all; maybe they’re now regarded as so old, they’re back in fashion. But perhaps most significantly of all, it’s that whilst solicitors do a lot of things (some good, some bad), most aren’t guilty of “soliciting”. (That sort of thing goes down very badly with the SRA).  I wonder what the official advice might be on this point?  Probably to confine it to the bedroom with your beau and to stay away from street corners.

Maybe there’s a practice note on this?  Be right back