Monday, 22 December 2008

There's No One as Irish as Barack Obama!

This is a very catchy song that I can't get out of my head. Watch it and sing along. Its great!

No one as Irish as Barack OBama O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

You don't believe me, I hear you say But Barack's as Irish, as was JFK His granddaddy's daddy came from Moneygall A small Irish village, well known to you all

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama There's no one as Irish As Barack O'Bama

He's as Irish as bacon and cabbage and stew He's Hawaiian he's Kenyan American too He’s in the white house, He took his chance Now let’s see Barack do Riverdance

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama There's no one as Irish As Barack O'Bama

From Kerry and cork to old Donegal Let’s hear it for Barack from old moneygall From the lakes if Killarney to old Connemara There’s no one as Irish as Barack O’Bama

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama From the old blarney stone to the great hill of Tara There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

2008 the white house is green, their cheering in Mayo and in Skibereen. The Irish in Kenya, and in Yokahama, Are cheering for President Barack O’Bama

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

The Hockey Moms gone, and so is McCain They are cheering in Texas and in Borrisokane,

In Moneygall town, the greatest of drama, for our Famous president Barack o Bama

Toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a loo, toor a lama There's no one as Irish As Barack O'Bama

The great Stephen Neill, a great man of God, He proved that Barack was from the Auld Sod They came by bus and they came by car, to celebrate Barack in Ollie Hayes’s Bar

O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Who is your favourite fiction writer?

I will be logging onto Amazon sometime soon and purchasing a fair few books. Some will be Christmas presents but mostly they will be for me. When it comes to Christmas presents and deciding what to get to someone, I always find it easiest to decide which book to buy for them (if that is the type of present I have chosen for them). I think this is because of two reasons. Firstly, because I love wandering about bookshops and perusing literary review articles and thinking whether I would enjoy a particular book. Secondly, because there is just so much to choose from and so you are bound to find something. The thing about books is, there may seem to be an awful lot of them but you can always find a good bookshop that sells all the books you could want to buy for someone under one roof.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to ask some blawgers what their favourite novels are and who their favourite literary writers are. Its just a point of interest for me really. I want to see whether I am surprised by anybody's choice. They don't necessarily have to be law-related i.e. the likes of Bleak House or To Kill a Mockingbird but if you want to state your favourite in that category, do so.

Finally I thought I would mention one novel that I will be re-reading over the Christmas period: Netherland by Joseph O'Neill. I read it shortly after it was long-listed for this year's Man Booker Prize. The reason that I will be re-reading it so soon is because its turned out to be on everybody's Christmas favourite list. I do remember feeling that the novel made me think a lot after I finished it but I can't, for the life of me, remember why. Joseph O'Neill by-the-bye was formerly a barrister practising in Ireland. The novel is about cricket a subject dear to about 95% of the barristers that I have come across; but, interestingly, the plot takes place in New York. So why do you suppose a novel about cricket in New York has turned out be so popular - read it and find out for yourself is my advice.

EDIT By the way, I can't explain why the front cover of Netherland has a picture of an ice-skater on it. I remember thinking that I didn't come across any ice-skating happening in the novel. The only explanation that I have is: if the front-cover had a batsman on it, it wouldn't be flying off the American bookshelves as it has been.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Barristers on the Beeb

I have of course been closely watching 'The Barristers' on the Beeb and have to say that I have enjoyed it very much. The series has been successful in getting across the role of the barrister in the legal system, how they go about their work and how tough it is to become a barrister.

I was left stricken, though, by the final episode of the series. In this episode, Kakole Pande - having been awarded tenancy in the previous week - was facing the possibility of having her tenancy revoked just shortly after her first appearance in a Crown Court as defence counsel. The head of Kakole's chambers first told us that having awarded tenancy to some of its pupils, about four old members of the chambers were now having second thoughts. Accordingly, Kakole was summoned back to her Chambers - to face up to, we were told, 30 members - for another interview for a position she had already been told she had. I was shocked. In the end it went just fine for Kakole who was able to vindicate herself in the eyes of the members of chambers that had a problem with her.

Unfortunately, just like we didn't get to see the House of Lords in session during the progression of a case, we didn't get to see the members of chambers who had a problem with Kakole! I'm guessing it was because they didn't want to be shamed on national television. The camera did after all follow Anna, another student, into one of her pupillage interviews.

Now, my feelings could all be premised on a misunderstanding; but, isn't it the case, that once you become a tenant, you have as much right to be in the chambers as any of its former members? Also, what if Kakole did not agree to this last interview? Wasn't she able to?

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Legal Secretary application: what to do next?

I sent off an application for a legal secretary position at a high-street law firm back in August. The position was to commence in September. About three weeks after sending off my application I phoned up the firm to get an idea of what progress was being made on my application and when I could expect to hear from them. The partner that I spoke to seemed to be pretty interested in my application. Our conversation ended by him saying: 'I'll need to give this some more thought'. I've basically waited patiently since. I was surprised that all through September and October the position was still being advertised in my local newspaper. Even with the words 'to commence in September' throughout all of this period.

Now, half-way through November and the position isn't being advertised any more and I don't know what to do. The partner that I spoke to on the phone seemed pretty interested in me and its still something I desparately want to do. It occurs to me that, what with the credit crunch and all, they may be unable to pay another employee. That's a possibility, right? Well, for a while at least, I'd be prepared to work without being paid. I'm wondering whether I should perhaps phone up and make some inquiries. But, just how far should I go?

Your thoughts would be much appreciated :)

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

President-elect Obama

Obama won yesterday's Presidential election with, what will probably be, 364 electoral college votes to McCain's 174.

I say 'probably' because a couple of states - North Carolina and Missouri - have not officially been called yet. Obama is likely to win North Carolina; and McCain is likely to win Missouri.

In my prediction (see previous blog entry) Obama won with 325 electoral college votes to McCain's 213. I was off by three states worth 39 electoral college votes. They were: Indiana (11), Virginia (13) and North Carolina (15). All of these were so-called 'battleground' states and showed a very small, but remarkable, lead by Obama in the days before the election. I thought McCain would have won them back in the final push of his campaign where he visited these states.

Election night for me began when the first batch of polls closed and ended when the last batch of polls closed. It was at 04:00 a.m. that the race was finally called here in the U.K. for Obama, immediately after the polls in California closed and the Democratic nominee was projected to win. The race, for McCain, ended much sooner than that though. Three important states with hefty electoral college votes were among those to close early: Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio. Obama could win the presidency with one of these (at a stretch); McCain, however, needed at least two of these go red for him to be within a chance of winning. All three, as I predicted they would, went for Obama.

The highlight of the night was watching McCain's concession speech and Obama's victory speech. Both speeches are being compared very favourably with the best of those given in previous presidential elections. McCain seemed to have accepted defeat very well. Obama was more cautious - he didn't want to gloat and he wanted to be quick to push the success away from himself and into the hands of the American electorate.

It was a night of democracy and powerful oratory in action and it was just beautiful to watch.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

My Prediction: Obama v McCain 325-213

What follows is my prediction for Tuesday's Presidential election.

There are a total of 538 Electoral college votes to be awarded. A candidate needs at least 270 votes to be elected President. In my prediction, Obama wins with 325 electoral college votes to McCain's 213.

Here are the states that I think each candidate will win. The corresponding electoral college votes are in brackets afterwards.

Obama (325)

California (55), Colarado (9), Columbia (3), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Florida (27), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), Iowa (7), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (17), Minnesota (10), Nevada (5), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (15), New Mexico (5), New York (31), Ohio (20), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (21), Rhode Island (4), Washington (11), Vermont (3), Wisconsin (10),

McCain (213)

Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arizona (10), Arkansas (6), Georgia (15), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (9), Mississippi (6), Missouri (11), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Carolina (15), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (8), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (34), Utah (5), Virginia (13), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3)

In recent weeks the election has been fought in the following 13 battleground states worth 158 electoral votes:

Colarado (9)
Florida (27)
Georgia (15)
Indiana (11)
Missouri (11)
Montana (3)
Nevada (5)
New Mexico (5)
North Carolina (15)
North Dakota (3)
Ohio (20)
Pennsylvania (21)
Virginia (13)

I think Obama will win the 6 states in bold which are cumulatively worth 87 electoral college votes. In winning the other 7 states, 71 electoral college votes will be in the McCain column. 87-71.

This, though, makes the election seem closer than it really is. Outside of these states, Obama has a much clearer lead over McCain. Also, calling some of the above states 'battleground states' is a bit misleading because some of them clearly aren't. In New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Obama is ahead by at least 5 points. He is up in Florida too, but not by much. The reason that I put Florida in Obama's column is because I think he has ran a really successful campaign there. On the ground, he's pushed lots of Democrats and Independents to the polls in his early voting drive. The Obama campaign has further topped that off with adding a historic amount of new voters there. McCain definitely has support down there; but I think Obama has more. Just don't ask me how much!

Apologies for not being able to present the above numbers in an electoral college map. If I can find a way to do that, I will try to get it up.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

University Report Cards

The national media is reporting today of a new scheme that will be piloted in 18 UK universities following the publication of a report suggesting that the traditional degree classification system is outdated because of its failure to recognise important skills.

To quote directly from today's Times on the purpose of the report cards:

The report cards will give information on students' performance throughout their time at university, such as a breakdown of grades by modules and details of areas in which they have excelled. They will be given alongside a graduate's traditional final degree grade, and aim to give employers, higher education institutions or other interested parties more contextual detail about a candidate's abilities.

Confusingly, The Times is saying that the report cards are intended to supplement the traditional degree classification system whereas the Guardian talks about them being an eventual replacement of the '200-year-old degree classification system'. The Guardian refers to them as 'achievement reports', though. Achievement reports will contain, amongst other things, a full breakdown of results for modules studied and any prizes won. The report cards are likely to be particularly useful to employers because they contain assessments of the student's presentational skills and ability to work effectively in a team.

Any student seeking a legal career after graduating will view this differently. Recruiters in the legal profession already, in my experience, manage to successfully identify an applicant's presentational skills and team-working skills. Especially on the solicitor side. Typically, as part of a training contract application to a city law firm (or really any commercial law firm) you will be required to write about examples of when you used these skills in application forms. After that, if invited to an assessment centre, the graduate recruitment team at the firm will be able to test your competency in these areas themselves.

Even recruiters in the legal profession might welcome this proposal, though. This is because it is veritable evidence that the applicant actually did the activities they say they did and used the skills they say they developed. At the moment, I don't believe the same checks exist by university tutors who, in their references to employers, are only really required to ensure the applicant has achieved the first and second year grades they stated in their application form.

Friday, 17 October 2008

U.S. Election - Al Smith Dinner

This is hilarious. An absolute must watch. The Al Smith dinner is something fans of The West Wing might know a little about from early on in season 7 of the hit show. It is an event held in New York at which the Presidential nominees from both parties speak at. Arnie Vinnick, the Republican nominee in The West Wing, didn't want to go it because he didn't want to be in a room with members of the Church. Matt Santos, the Democratic nominee for President in The West Wing called it the most "political non-political event". That is an apt description of it. Here's the clip from YouTube of Obama's speech - it is hilarious. Who needs debates on policy when this Presidential race can be decided by determining who the best stand-up comedian between them is?!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

U.S. Election - Final Presidential Debate

The third and final Presidential debate took place last night and having watched all three (as well as the Vice-Presidential debate <--Nerd Alert) I can say, without a doubt, that it was the best one so far.

Both candidates were on the ball. Many of the problems that I highlighted of the previous debates were not repeated, only hinted at. In the last debates, Obama had attacked McCain's campaign comment that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong". McCain had defended that he was referring to the American workforce and was not being delusional about the current financial crisis. Likewise, McCain attacked Obama on his campaign statement in which he expressed an apparent willingess to sit down with the President of Iran "without preconditions". Both of the candidates were stretching their interpretation of the other's remarks. But not in last night's debate.

Instead, over an hour and a half, the candidates were both asked questions on eight issues. The first question (as with previous debates) was the economy. McCain immediately found what would become for both candidates a point of reference: a plumber in the toss-up state of Ohio by the name of Joe Wurzelbacher (or just Joe). McCain tried to explain how his economic and tax plans would be best for Joe's small business and how under an Obama presidency, he would be taxed heavily. This was a bad example though. Obama countered (as in previous debates) that because Joe earned less than $250,000 per annum he would not have to pay more tax. McCain said that Obama was intent on "spreading wealth around Americans" which he called a form of "class warfare". But that's a clear distortion of what Obama is actually doing.

The third and fourth questions were about the candidates leadership in the current election campaign and their respective verdicts on their opponents running-mate. Both stated that they were unhappy with the way the campaign has turned negative in recent weeks. Obama did well in clearing up the misconceptions over his actual relationship with Steven Ayers and ACORN, a voter registration service, that has been in the news because of allegations of corruption.

Interestingly, when it came to discussing the respective running-mates of the candidates, McCain had more negative things to say about Biden than Obama did have about Palin (which was, in fact, nothing). McCain identified Palin as a role model who, in particular, understood children with special needs. Obama simply agreed with McCain on these points; however, in his support of Biden, he was able to offer more substantial evidence: his foreign policy experience and his record for fighting crime.

The sixth question was about healthcare and the same spiel was regurgitated by both candidates only this time they addressed Joe from Ohio in particular. What a lucky guy he must be! On top of all of his current worries he's probably being pursued by the press and being asked about his views on how the candidates performed in the debate.

The final topics debated were: Roe v. Wade and Education. The former question is important because the next President is likely to appoint at least one judge to the bench (probably two). So what criteria will they be using? McCain is in favour of overturning Roe v. Wade and stated that he will not require a litmus test to be passed by potential appointees. Obama stated his position on a woman's right to choose and the specific requirements on which he would ban partial birth abortion (i.e. the mother's life is not put under risk). For this part of the debate at least, your either for one candidate or against them. I support a woman's right to choose.

On education, neither candidate was able to pin down the reason why America is able to invest so much in its students yet it performs consistently less better than it should against other countries. Obama, however, was the only one to identify the element of parental responsibility in showing children the benefits of knowledge and learning.

It was clear from this debate that McCain hasn't changed the content of his policies so much as he has changed the way he expresses them. Obama, as commentators have pointed out, tried to play it as cool as possible. This strategy is obviously because it was difficult to tell what sort of tone McCain would adopt in the debate. That McCain was angry can be seen from a statement that he made early on in the debate: "Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush you should have done so four years ago". Ouch. This didn't stop Obama concluding at the end of the debate that only he can effect the requisite change required in America and that American cannot afford to commit itself to four more years of the "same failed politics and the same failed policies" of the past eight years.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Man Booker Prize 2008 Winner - The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga

Aravind Adiga has won this year's Man Booker Prize for his novel The White Tiger.

This was the first novel that I read after it was long-listed back in July. I thought it was a pretty decent book at the time but I didn't expect it to get shortlisted or be the winner in the long run.

What I did like about the book was that it was thoroughly original, modern and very readable because of its engaging characters. However, I didn't like the way the novel was structured. The main character - the White Tiger of the novel - is Balram Halwai. We learn early on in the novel that he kills his master (at the end of the first chapter in the book, I think). Over most of the next chapters, the author explores Balram's relationship with his master and this is really where the novel is at its best. Adiga used humour well and there were some interesting subplots. Then I quickly found myself at the end of the novel and I still didn't understand why Balram had to kill his Master to get what he wanted. I understand his entrepreneurial ambitions but not why they lead to him committing such a vicious act. The socio-political parts of the book were the best parts, I thought, and were what remained with me after closing the book.

In my last post I mentioned that dream winner would be Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole. This was a much longer book that Adiga's and whilst some of the criticisms that I have made of Adiga could equally be applicable to Toltz, I found the novel resonated with me much more. In fact, when Michael Portillo this year began to announce the winner, he said: "The Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008 is a debutante novelist..." - this meant either Toltz or Adiga from the shortlist and I leapt up with joy, but it was not to be.

Monday, 13 October 2008

The Power of Literary Writers

This is something that I was in awe of recently: the Power of Literary Writers. Some people are a able to conceptualise problematic issues in special ways and deal with them accordingly. A select few of those are able to go one further and write about them in interesting and engaging ways. Yet fewer of those are able to write about them through the medium of a novel.

Three different examples that I have read about recently help emphasise my point. These are: the Man Booker Prize, Toni Morrison's endorsement of Barack Obama and a selection of 42 Writers who have each written pieces arguing against the 42 day detention proposal being debated in the Lords today.

The Man Booker Prize 2008

The shortlist for this year's prize was published at the beginning of September and the winner will be announced on Wednesday. I have nearly finished reading all the shortlisted books. My dream choice to be awarded the prize would be Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole. I thought it was a tremendous epic novel. This 700 page masterpiece dealt with a variety of themes, including: betrayal, love, rebellion against accepted norms in society and a fantastic exploration of a father-son relationship.

This is the first novel that the author has published. I have read a couple of interviews by this author since being shortlisted and the thing which struck me was just how successful a philosopher he is on the aforementioned oft-appearing themes in his novel.

Toni Morrison's endorsement of Barack Obama

Toni Morrison was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She famously called former President Bill Clinton America's first black president. Morrison is supporting Barack Obama this year and has done so since early on in this year's election season.

Why is this particular endorsement special? Well, it came in the form of a letter that she wrote to Senator Obama; here is an excerpt taken from the New York Observer:

In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?

Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.

There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.

Good luck to you and to us.

I agree with all of what Morrison writes and think that it is an excellent precis of why Obama is a special candidate. The level of understanding that Morrison reaches in her letter is something that I haven't really seen elsewhere.

42 Writers against 42 day detention proposal

Visit and you will be able to read several well-known writers take on the government's proposals for 42 days detention of suspected terrorists. Its not just their views, though. They are all against the proposal; but the point is that they have such valid and interesting reasons for opposing it. For some, like Hardeep Singh Kohli, its about the length itself. For others, like Linda Grant (a short-listed author for this year's Booker prize), its the additional words 'without trial'.

My favourite is the writing by Sadie Jones. In such a short piece, Jones is able to demonstrate the different interpretations of the phrases: terror, war on terror and war on terrorism and why this is problematic.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Fair Game

We are currently observing a turning point in the American election season and I think it is the most crucial part of this election. Various polls are showing that Barack Obama has a comfortable lead over John McCain and the polling in the important toss-up states suggests that news is even worse for McCain. So what do you do if you're McCain? The answer is you attack and having just watched one of his rallies in the toss-up state of New Mexico it is obvious that he is doing just that.

Attacking is a good strategy to win elections. If you can get a good soundbite of something that your opponent believes in or thinks that sounds stupid or reprehensible and if you say it again and again, it could easily be something that the voters will think of immediately before casting their vote on November 4th. Governor Palin has been attacking Obama for befriending a domestic terrorist, William Ayers. When I first heard that she said this, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and read more about the case she was referring to. It quickly became obvious though that its a non-story. Obama's website - Fight the Smears - has been updated to fight this particular one too.

In his speech in New Mexico, McCain said that when he tried to question a particular view of Obama's he gets the cold shoulder from him. "For a guy that has written two memoirs", said McCain "he's hardly an open book". A good line and certainly one that some voters will remember, for want of more accurate and reliable information, before casting their vote. This is simply not the case though, in my opinion. McCain, it seems obvious to me, is trying to move away from speaking about the economy - the real issue that matters. This must be frustrating for the American voter. During their first debate, well over half an hour was spent on the bailout plan and a real attempt was made by the moderator to force the candidates to talk about the situation between themselves. Neither candidate sufficiently engaged with each other. This is disappointing because it would have been a fantastic opportunity to get a genuine one-over on the candidate.

The Obama camp has been on the attack too. However, their attack is valid, in my opinon. It comes in the form of a short documentary (13mins) called Keating Economics on their website. This documentary links a rather shady period of McCain's period in the Senate with his current (and future) attitude towards the economy. It shows that he doesn't have good judgment or people's best interests at heart when he is functioning as a leader. Having watched the documentary, I think its content is fair game. The same cannot be said for some of McCain's and Palin's most recent attacks on Obama.

This brings me to the reason that I am writing this. Tonight is the second Presidential debate. The bailout plan has now been passed by congress. Both candidates should be able to openly talk about the economy and get across to voters why their recovery plans are better than their opponents. Furthermore, both candidates should be able to commit to answering the question. This sounds silly; but, for example, if asked which parts of their plans for government are no longer feasible because of the need to be tight on the purse strings, they should be able to single particular areas out no matter how unpopular their ideas would be.

Tonight's debate is going to be won by the candidate that is most willing and able to engage with the key issue affecting voters: the economy. If McCain brings along his tacky one-liners, the American people should send him packing. If Obama isn't able to demonstrate his command over issues relating to the economy, then he should be judged weak too and voters, rightly, shouldn't vote for him because he's a Democrat. That wouldn't be fair game either.

Friday, 3 October 2008


Having decided to take an impromptu year out before commencing the BVC in 2009, I have been giving thought to how I could fill that year best.

I haven't taken a gap year previously and this is actually something that I have regretted since. However, for some reason the idea of traipsing leisurely across the world doesn't really appeal to me right now because I feel I would prefer to get some good experience on my C.V.

I like the idea of working in the legal sector and earning money at the same time. This is because I would probably have something useful to talk about on my C.V. and I would be earning actual money. The next question I've had to consider is what sort of legal position am I interested in and where am I interested in doing the work. The answer to these questions respectively are: firstly, either a legal secretary or a paralegal position would be preferred; and secondly, as close to home as possible.

So far I have managed to fire off an application for a legal secretary position that was being advertised by a local law firm. I have since called about the position and to see how my application is progressing but, unfortunately, I have received no indication either way. The recruiting solicitor at the firm seems interested in my application but hasn't really taken any further steps since telling me so. The position remains advertised and I don't know what to do. I don't want to keep nagging at the solicitor so as to frustrate him; however, at the same time I would like to know where I stand.

Everybody I talk to about this gives me the same response: "Oh, well its the credit crunch, isn't it? These places will be having a tough time taking anyone on right now".
I'm not so sure though. If the economy is to blame, which it may well be, I would like to know. Mostly because its something I can tell my grandchildren about in a few years time and feel important about: "Your generation has got it easy. In my day, by the time I had graduated and was looking for a job, I had the challenge of doing so during the Greatest Depression on record!"

This has led me to start thinking of a short non-legal career. The easy one would be to get a job at the local supermarket. Long hours; not bad money; but a lower self-esteem is required than I am prepared to offer, I think. I am, though, teetering on the brink of firing off an application to them too. At least I will be earning something.

On the distant Bar-related side of things: I still haven't joined an inn yet. That is the first thing that I need to do. I think I might be in London later this year and so will try and fit a visit to some of the inns that I am interested in in my travel plans.

Thursday, 2 October 2008


Reasons why I support Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States:

1. He is a Democrat. I am somewhat of a lefty. Therefore it is natural that I would be attracted to supporting the candidate that the Democrats nominated. I believe in a larger government than most people on the right of the political spectrum would favour. Although this does not mean that I am in favour of government prying into aspects of private life where they don't have a place.

2. Not only is he a Democrat, he opposes the war in Iraq and has plan to remove American troops from there. I think the war was illegal: the reasons that the Bush administration and a lot of other Republicans gave for going to war in Iraq were because that it posed an imminent threat, had WMDs and harboured terrorists. None of these reasons turned out to be true. I would have supported an invasion of Iraq if the reason was to dispose of a cruel military dictator. However, I would have expected a much better planned and better executed invasion than the one that we did get. I think the world will be better with Obama as Commander-in-Chief of the USA's armed forces. Having listened to how he conceptualises the existing threats against America, I think he is better placed to make the correct decisions on how they should be handled. McCain may have the military background but I don't think he has as sounder judgment as Obama on foreign policy issues. I think he would be too ready to involve American military power where it shouldn't be.

3. Having said that last point, this point may seem to conflict with it, but I hope I am able to explain why I don't think it does. Obama has stated that he is prepared to attack terrorists in Pakistan if they have actionable intelligence and the President of Pakistan isn't prepared to go after them himself. McCain, like Bush before him, is determined to keep Pakistan as an ally of America. I don't understand how a distinction could have been made between Mussharaf (the then President of Pakistan) and Saddam Hussein, by the Bush administration. They were both military dictators. If America is for freedom every where, why didn't they liberate Pakistan too? At least they shouldn't have classified it as an ally. Obama hasn't said that Pakistan will no longer be an ally of America; however, his attitude to the country is an improvement, I would say.

4. Obama is a smart guy. The first time that I read about Obama was shortly after the Democratic National Convention in 2004 (when John Kerry was nominated). The Independent had an article about him. I remember thinking that he was obviously a very clever and charismatic person - a born leader. I read a little about his background: his work in Chicago as a community organiser and his work in the Illinois state legislature. Most of the article was concerned with the speech he had made to the convention in which he talked of America not being disparate blue states and red states but one United States of America. I always thought of America being like in the former and so I was very interested in someone who was talking of an America that was just one entity. I think someone who is so fond of this idea of togetherness and working with friends and foes side-by-side to get things done is admirable. McCain is far more of a divisive character in my opinion.

5. I don't know exactly what Obamamania is. However if there is such a thing as an Obamamaniac, I am probably one of them. I mention these strange words because I think it helps highlight the fact that Obama is somewhat of a brand now. And that brand or that slogan is about the overcoming of a challenge and reaching heights that haven't been reached before. This is a guy who openly called the existence of slavery in America the 'greatest sin in the nation's history' - he is prepared to state what he thinks because, even though it pains him, he has a vision for making his country a better place. No easy feat.

6. I have read one of the books that Obama has written: The Audacity of Hope. In it, as well as describing the policy positions that he stands for, he talks about his life experiences that helped shape those positions. Obama is, in my opinion, a genuine politician who can connect with ordinary citizens of the country and understand their problems. How many houses does McCain have? Well actually I don't care how many houses McCain has. He can have 10 or 100 - but he must be able to state, in under 2 seconds, how many houses he has and not refer the question to his own advisors.

7. Obama chose Biden; McCain chose Palin. This, for me, shows how much more responsible Obama is. He could have chose Clinton and wrapped-up the election now, but he didn't want the distraction that choosing her would entail because it would impinge on his promise of change. Obama is prepared to look at the bigger picture, McCain is small-time in comparison. He is a self-proclaimed maverick which I actually think is dangerous. He pulls stunts: consider his most recent: suspending his election campaign to go back to Washington and deal with the financial crisis. Now, consider the current position: things aren't resolved, he is to blame for putting other members of congress on edge, and he's suddenly trying to benefit from his actions by saying he was right and Obama was wrong in the course of his election campaign. Well, for me, when he suspended his campaign, he suspended his campaign. He can't go back on what he said and use his actions to support his campaign. There was no need for him to suspend his campaign - he was clearly pulling a stunt.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Tony Blair on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Tony Blair recently appeared on what has to be my favourite thing on television at the moment: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I really can't get enough of this show: it is just so funny in its righteousness. I've watched the show religiously pretty much all through this year. Yep: I can remember the early primaries in the current election cycle and how they were 'documented' by the show. Basically, Stewart takes to town lots of different television commentators on political issues and demonstrates how ridiculous some of their ideas and views are. There is, obviously, a continuous thread of Bushisms which is always very funny.

I have seen Ricky Gervais appear a couple of times as guest on the show and both times it was such a treat - it really made me laugh my heart out. This week Tony Blair was to appear on the show and so again I thought it would be quite interesting. Maybe Stewart was really going to take him to town over his relationship with George Bush or maybe focus in particular on the war in Iraq. It turns out both of these issues were covered equally and the interview segment of the show was especially doubled to accommodate this. Having not heard Blair speak for such a long time, it was quite strange hearing his voice. He looked pretty fit - I think he's lost weight and got a bit of a tan. However, he was also pretty hesitant and not at all that engaging with Stewart like some of his other interviewees are. I guess that's because not many of his interviewees are former leaders of countries though. There was a great part in this interview where Blair says: 'No two democracies have ever fought each other'. Stewart points to Argentina and England, Blair manages to wiggle himself out of that one though.

I really recommend the show. Here is the Blair interview (its in two parts):

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

A decision made...

So I guess I haven’t done well in keeping by blawg up-to-date recently. For that, I apologise. Basically I have had a lot on my plate. Big decisions to make; different legal experiences to complete; and, of course, lots of enjoyable summer reading to do.

Regular readers of my blog will recall that I was a late applicant for a place on the BVC. For a long time, I simply believed that I wanted to be a commercial solicitor and blindly went about trying to secure a training contract. This Summer I did a vacation scheme at an international commercial law firm. I also completed my first mini-pupillage. I finally decided to take a year out. My intention is to commence the BVC in September 2009. I am not completely sure what I will do in the meantime. I will endeavour to complete more mini-pupillages. I should probably find some gainful employment somewhere which could either be a useful addition to my C.V. or, more likely, helpful in paying the BVC fees.

This was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make. Looking back now, I feel there was a period whilst at university where I should have been more forward-thinking like many of my peers. When you consider how much law students at the same institution talk amongst themselves about their future career plans, it is quite shocking how I have been able to delay giving even a small amount of thought to what I want to do after university. I ask you to forget though, dearest blogreader, how late I came to the party and instead to rejoice in the fact that I turned up at all.

I should add a note of appreciation for some of the other bloggers whose blogs have been useful in helping me come to this decision. Through reading your blogs and understanding the difficult journey to becoming a barrister has been very, very helpful. Its not just the particular details of what it is you are doing and how you feel about it that has been helpful, it’s the fact that you chose to pursue a career in a profession that is notoriously difficult to enter into. As someone who blindly accepted a potential legal career as a commercial solicitor because of the obvious perks and supposedly glamorous lifestyle, I do value the determination and passion that someone who is looking for a career as a barrister needs. Beyond any other means, it has been through reading many of your blogs (especially those listed down the side of this blog) that I begun to understand this.

Actual experience of the different sides of the profession has been very helpful too. In short, I absolutely hated the two week vacation placement that I did at a commercial law firm. In contrast, I wholeheartedly enjoyed the time that I spent on a mini-pupillage. I loved every minute of the time I spent at chambers and in different courts I visited. At the end of the vacation scheme I was on, a fellow student asked me:

“So, Lackie, what was your favourite part of the scheme?”
I thought about some of the fantastic individuals I had met at the firm: the partners and associates who did their best to involve me in the deals they were working on and the trainee solicitors who went out of their way to ensure that I enjoyed the two weeks I spent at the firm.
After thinking for a while, I replied:
“Well, I thought visiting a Court on Monday to observe that commercial case and have a chat with a Judge in his chambers was the highlight. How about yourself?”

What can I say? I told the truth and really that was when I realised that I’d finally found something I felt good pursuing. A career as a barrister, that is.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


...for not posting on this blog for a while. I have been kept busy with my vacation placement at a commercial law firm which finishes at the end of this week. Readers of my blawg will be aware that this was my summer of reckoning - when I would finally decide whether to do the BVC or not. I do believe that I found my mini-pupillage infinitely better than the vacation scheme I am currently doing. My experience of the latter has not been that different to Android's experience at her new job.

I still haven't finished blawging about the final two days of the mini-pupillage I did earlier this Summer. I shall get round to that soon. In addition I will probably blawg about my experiences of working at an international commercial law firm; so you have all that to look forward to.

In terms of what I will be going next i.e. in September. I still don't know. I am still in touch with different BVC providers to see if they have any places that they can offer through clearing ('clearing', incidentally, is what it is actually called - its not something I just made up and just assumed to have always been there; I mention this because more prepared folk are unlikely to have heard of such a thing being available). Anyway, I am keeping my fingers crossed that something will come up.

What else? Well I have continued to maintain my interest in the American Presidential elections and in particular, the Democratic National Convention happening now in Denver. I absolutely love these Conventions - I think they are absolutely fantastic; really great to watch and Democracy in action. I enjoy the hair-raising speeches, the nomination process involving all the different States of the USA which are brought together. I have watched all of the first night speeches and thought it was great. Especially Michelle Obama; but also Ted Kennedy.

I must add that I am a little uncertain about Obama's choice of running-mate: Joe Biden. Admittedly, I am still learning a lot about him. My main problem is that I don't see how he can usefully help Obama win the Presidency in November. Recent polls back me up on this claim.

I have not been surprised at all that the race is becoming increasingly closer with Obama and McCain virtually neck-and-neck. McCain has benefited a lot through his negative T.V. adds against Obama. I think this just shows that he is running out of ideas. I think the closer we get to November, the less he is going to have to be negative about that he hasn't used already. Also, I am expecting that Obama's numbers are going to go through the roof when the Denver Convention is concluded and he emerges officially as the party's nominee. I don't believe that McCain will get a similar boost following his party's convention. And, if he picks Romney as his running-mate, I think he will have handed the race to Obama & Biden there and then. On the other hand, if he picks a very different kind of running-mate - the female kind - I think we could see something very different happening. I think that there are a lot of female voters that will turn to the Republicans and away from Obama and the Democrats. This will undoubtedly be costly to the Democrats in November. There are two groups of people without which any Democrat in the U.S. would not get elected to office without: Women voters and African-American voters.

I should add that I entirely understand why Obama didn't opt for a female running-mate. If he wins, his administration will already be ground-breaking: the first Black President. You can't staff a new administration or the Democratic ticket like an arc.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Mini-pupillage - Day Three

Spent all of the day three in a county court observing a family law case. I was shadowing a different barrister today called Peter. Peter had been with Chambers for about 10 years now. As with most of Chambers' members, he had established broad practice areas, including: criminal, family, civil and a few other more specialist areas. Peter is quite possibly the most-liked member around Chambers and amongst other barristers. I found him to be a really interesting guy that was good around other people - especially Chambers' most recent members.

Peter was representing a mother in her early thirties who was seeking a non-molestation order against a physically and verbally abusive partner. Prior to the arrival of both the applicant and the respondent at court, Peter took time to explain to me what the case was about and he showed me the bundle that he had been given about the case. On the face of it, it was an open-and-shut case - the non-molestation order could easily be granted because there was plenty of reasons for it being in place.

Peter then met with the applicant in one of the court's conference rooms. Also present were the applicant's instructing solicitors. The main issue that was being discussed was the actual details that would be contained in the non-molestation order. This was quite difficult. The applicant did not want, if possible, the respondent to be any where near the family home. However, she was also keen for her partner to be able to work, earn money and contribute to the mortgage they were paying off. In order to do this, her partner had to be able to work in the garage which was on the same land as the family home. This didn't seem to be much of a problem at first. OK: the respondent needed access to the house to use the toilet; but apart from that, there was no reason that he should have to interact with the applicant in any way. Things didn't turn out that way though. The applicant turned out to be a fairly compassionate person and had quite strong feelings towards her partner which she recognised that she shouldn't really have, having suffered physical abuse from him. Peter had the difficult task of trying to anticipate any problems that may arise and dealing with those; but also thinking about the applicant herself and explaining to her what her position would be if she was to her partner into the house willingly and then suffer harm from him.

When we first went before the judge he was mostly concerned with the children's safety and well-being. In one previous incident, the youngest child had sustained a bruise to his eye from the fighting between his parents. So the judge wanted a CAFFCASS representative to look over the case and advise him of the child's safety before he gave the green light to the non-molestation order drafted by Peter.

After a series of meetings with a CAFFCASS officer and long time waiting for him to interview the respective parties, we went back into court again with a slightly different non-molestation order which included changes recommended by CAFFCASS (but which was fundamentally the same in practice). He liked it and that was that.

By the time this all finished it was 16:00. Peter took me for some food and drinks and we had a very enjoyable conversation about some of his up-coming cases and major on-going cases in the news: Darwin the canoeist, Max Mosley and Robert Murat. He asked for my thoughts and shared his own. A very enjoyable end to day three.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Graduation is a beginning, not an end

I read a very interesting article in the Times today by Libby Purves: "The simple way to stop being uneducated".

Purves discusses various ways in which not having a University education isn't really an impediment to learning at all. The article is written after an interview that Keira Knightley gave to a magazine. Knightley states that she is "completely uneducated" because she did not go to university. Absent the point that nobody would notice whether Knightley attended university or not, Purves argues that she has been able to get a more meaningful education and through a better route.

Libby Purves writes: "The poor girl is currently wading through a biography of Albert Speer, a history of the Vietnam War, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Germaine Greer's hoard old Female Eunuch". With dyslexia, too. What a heroine. Meanwhile, innumerable men and women who have university degrees - and therefore no chips but a sense of 2:1 superiority - will be on the beach happily sinking themselves in moronic chick-lit and Jeremy Clarkson."

All very true, I thought. I go get the feeling that many students treat their university education as an end rather than as a beginning. But a university education should have a much greater role than just being another line on a curriculum vitae. The skills and interest levels in learning that students have acquired over 20+ years of education can surely be put to much better use. Moreover, if this doesn't happen soon after leaving university, surely the mind goes stale and you eventually lose all worth of your education.

It is difficult, I acknowledge, to find time to do whatever it is that you find interesting. There's always increasing pressure to find work and pay off debts whilst simultaneously acquiring lots of new responsibilities.

I have to say, though, that these things whilst being troublesome for me too, haven't thus far prevented me from doing the things I wanted to do. Primarily, this means that all those books that I kept thinking I would definitely read at some point in the future, I have now actually come back to. I shall omit reciting all the reading I have done this Summer (may be at some point on this blog I shall talk about the odd book that really caught my attention) but suffice to say: its been very pleasurable and I do believe that I am spending more time in books each day than I did during my time at university. At first, I found this quite disconcerting; but now, helped somewhat by this article, I feel pretty good!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Mini-pupillage - Day Two

Visited a Crown Court today with a different barrister from Chambers: Nick. I was told to meet Nick at the Crown Court. Its been nearly five years since I last stepped foot in a Crown Court. On arrival, I was asked by the security staff whether I was a witness or something (can't remember what exactly; surely they didn't say 'defendant', did they?). "No", I replied emptying out my pockets before passing through a metal detector, "I'm shadowing a barrister who is expecting me here".

I ended up waiting for about twenty five minutes in the entrance area. A security guard had made it known to Nick that I had arrived after about five minutes. This was all getting very tiresome. There I was seated in the main entrance watching people come and go. Whilst checking out the court announcer each time she passed me by, I began playing guess-what-the-person-who-just-walked-through-the-metal-detectors-is-here-for. I found that with the younger unknown people who walked passed me, it was quite telling to see what their reaction was to me sitting there. If they smiled and wanted to high-five me, they were obviously a defendant. If there was a group of such people, the one that acted in either of the aforementioned ways was the defendant and the others were his family or friends. The people that ignored me, I believe I am correct in saying were witnesses. The people that came in groups in dazzling white shirts and flashing silver badges were constables. If they were over-forties and chatted politely with the security guards, they were witnesses. Then there was a sixteen year old in a suit wearing geeky glasses and carrying a notebook - the work experience student, of course!

Nick then suddenly turned up.

"Are you Lacklustre Lawyer?" Yes.
"Hi, I'm Nick."
"Nice to meet you." (shake hands)
"You too. Allow me to explain why I haven't been able to see you until now. I had this case thrust into my hands just this morning and I got called into court in short notice without having any opportunity to grab you".
"No problem", I replied, "I figured something like that must have happened".

Then we continued up the stairs to the advocate's suite.

"So what was the case about that you got given this morning?"
"....". I'm afraid I don't actually recall what he said at this point. I do remember it being quite interesting though.

So in the advocate's suite we talked about the cases that he would be in court for soon. They were mostly probation breaches in which he was prosecuting and only one in which he was for the defence. We had well over an hour before he was going to be back in court for these. During this time we talked to some of the other advocates there on topics including: the facts of the cases before them, changes to the criminal justice system, the usefulness of some defences in criminal law. I read some interesting case files of defendants my age doing things which are unpleasant: getting into fights, dealing drugs with the wrong people, committing criminal damage and so on. All very riveting to read, I might add.

Then we went into court. All the people that I had first encountered in the entrance to the court were there and were exactly who I thought they were. At this point I wondered whether any of them had been thinking what I was doing in the Court and, dare I say, they thought I was there as one of them. This me made smile uncontrollably.

That all took us to lunch time. I headed back to Chambers with Nick. At this point we began talking about pupillage, my career and the BVC. We stopped at a place where he bought me lunch - which was delicious. We talked some more about our extra-curricular interests and life at Chambers and as a barrister.

Then we headed back to Chambers. Nick had some interesting case-files for me to read. One was for a negligence claim and was conditional fee arrangement in which Nick had written guidance on the claimant's chances of success on two separate occasions. I should explain: the negligent act was the not keeping of a dog on his leash, the victim was an electrician doing work at the dog owner's house. The two guidance notes were written in between one favourable and one unfavourable medical report in which the medical practitioner had talked about causation - the dog's bite being the cause of the claimant's dizziness and prolonged headaches. Nick had asked me whether he should take the case or not. In other words: this is a CFA case - what chances have I got of winning before a judge and actually earning something. My initial answer was pedestrian somewhat. Nick said: "You're not answering a legal problem question in a university course" or words to that effect. I tightened up; tried to sound more interesting and complete; and succeeded, I think!

Aside from meeting some of Chambers' other members and doing some research in its library that was it for Day Two.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Mini-pupillage – Day One

Arrived at Chambers for a 09:00 start – met with all the clerks and was shown around the place, meeting with lots of different members and people on the way. It’s a great building with a terrific vibe of work in progress, people on the move and justice to be served. I was told that for each of my five days, I would be with different barristers in different practice areas so as to get as broad an experience as possible. This sounded like just what someone in my position needed to decide whether the Bar is somewhere you could see yourself working in.

I was introduced to the barrister that I would be shadowing for the day. She – Shantarra – was the most recent addition to the member’s list of the chambers having completed her pupillage there last year. We set off for the County Court for a case that was scheduled for some time in the morning. The dispute was about the sale of defective goods. Shantarra was acting for a foreign manufacturer of the goods who had sold the goods to a company in the U.K. The U.K. Company had then sold the goods to what would be the end-buyer. All that is know for sure was the goods were defective – everything else, including where the defect occurred, was unknown. We talked about the case during our journey to the court; at court I had time to read through the case file in full. According to the U.K. Company, a previous court hearing had taken place in which they were ordered to recompense the end-buyer the full sum. Strangely, though, they were not forthcoming with any documents that would support their claim. It seemed as though they simply paid off the end-buyer without involving the European manufacturers and were now seeking that sum from the manufacturers. The manufacturers, however, had a clause in their sale agreement with the U.K. Company stipulating that they had 7 days in which to ensure that the goods received were of a good quality. This was not used.

What happened next was that we went before the judge who had already read the case-file and was satisfied that the claim of the U.K. Company could not stand. Shantarra put forward a very well-organised and forceful argument that was a pleasure to observe (I told her so afterwards, but she wasn’t very forthcoming in accepting the compliment – in fact, I think she ignored me completely.).

In our walk back to Chambers we talked about my career situation. I told her that was in between places really: keen to go to the Bar, but as yet with no place on the BVC because of a late application. Then we talked about the Chambers and Shantarra herself which was far more interesting. It seems to me that the route to gaining pupillage and tenancy, whilst very difficult, does allow for people to have some great additional life experiences. This was the case for Shantarra too. We talked about pupillage applications including who was involved in selection, what the application process involved etc. Its all quite typical really: there are a couple of rounds of interviews and there is an interview panel whom conduct the interviews. I asked whether Chambers currently had any Pupils and was told that there weren’t any. Before I could ask the obvious question I was informed that Chambers had not been impressed by any of the applicants in that year and so did not even take on any one for Pupillage. “Oh”, I said without further ado and a face which suggested, as best as I could, that I was not in the least bit perturbed.

The afternoon was very interesting too. I would be back in the County Court with a different member of Chambers to observe a road traffic accident case. I didn’t think this would be particularly interesting when I first heard about it but actually it turned out to be quite something. The case involved a collision which occurred at some point on a roundabout. Both parties were saying that their opposite collided with them; there was no consistency in which direction the parties said they were travelling (even though they both claimed to use the roads regularly for the same journey); worse still, there were no photographs of the damage done to both cars (which could, I believe, have helped understand better the circumstances leading up to the crash). The time in court was quite long. The judge insisted on hearing what happened from both sides (who were present in court) through their respective representatives. I particularly enjoyed the time each side spent cross-examining the other. By the end of the final speeches from both sides, I calculate that there must have been (what each side knew had happened on the day, what they told their respective counsels, what the judge understood at different points throughout the hearing and of course what actually happened). It was absolutely fascinating to watch. Obviously, one of these sides was lying. I couldn’t decide myself who I believed more. The judge did what I had hoped, as an objective observer, he would do – he accepted facts which were agreed by both sides, tried to understand the physical damage to the cars as best as possible and based his decision on that. Although the advocacy on both sides was forceful, I don’t believe it could have made that much of a difference to the end result.

That was it for the day. A great day, I thought, in which I had learned a lot. Four more days to go!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Murat wins big Libel payout

Robert Murat, it will be recalled was the first official suspect named by the Portuguese police investigating the claim of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

I vividly remember the day when this news story broke. It was a good few weeks after the disappearance of Madeleine and whilst I was sitting my second year Law exams. In fact, Sky News broke this story one evening during the week. I was due to sit an exam the next day and watching this news story actually helped me keep awake that night to do some last minute revision.

Obviously, all these newspaper headlines were libellous and it is surely right that they have had to pay out. Apparently the sums that Murat has received are quite large. The total amount he received is in the region of £500,000. This from a string of newspapers including: the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star, Daily Mail, London Evening Standard, Metro, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, News of the World, Sun and the Scotsman.

I have glanced at the headlines that these newspapers ran and I can't believe how all Murat received was £500,000. These claims must have had a terrible impact on him. His status as a criminal suspect still hasn't been lifted by the Portuguese police. Of course, I can't claim whether it should be removed or it shouldn't be removed. That's not a problem for me.

There is a problem for me though and that relates to the way that Sky News ran the story that night. Tensions were running high, you won't have forgotten the numerous photographers that were queueing up outside the Madeleine villa. All the leading reporters were there too from all the major news-outlets. That night, for Sky News though, the leading reporter that was standing in front of the camera was what I will term a junior reporter. This reporter knew Murat, as it happened, as she had attended the same school as him whilst he was in England in his earlier life. If I recall correctly, she had bumped into him at a supermarket in Portugal whilst the Madeleine investigation was on-going and Murat was not, as yet, arrested. I just couldn't believe my ears when police had only just begun investigating Murat and this reporter was painting a very bad picture of Murat. What happened to reporting all the facts objectively when they become known? Would it have killed Sky News to have waited until daylight to get more facts and then put their asset before the cameras. She was a Sky News reporter for God's sake. If she was going to break an exclusive, she would be fired. Amongst those listed that will pay Murat damages is Sky which is surely right.

Of course, I don't know whether Murat is truly innocent. However, the way Sky News reported the story was wrong, for me; and that is what stops me from believing anything other than he is entirely innocent.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Can you believe this?

Very interesting news story that I have just been reading about, which I thought I would share with you.

It looks as though the word “gullible” is not going to appear in this year’s edition of Collin’s English Dictionary? Can you believe this?

What have I learnt from my time at University?

With graduation happening shortly, I’ve been thinking about my time at university and how beneficial it has been for me.

At the outset, I should state this fact: I am the first one in my family to go to university. None of my grandparents, my grandparent’s grandparents, or even their grandparents even went beyond a secondary school education. Accordingly, I was also the first in my family to go to college; which is, of course, a lesser achievement, somewhat.

The above, in a way, makes redundant any chance of me concluding that my time at university has not been beneficial. As is to be expected, my family is very very very proud of me. I cannot count the number of people that have congratulated me after being told by members of my family that my university education has been successfully completed. Its all quite overwhelming actually.

Now, enough of that. This state of affairs was always going to be the case, no matter who was the first in my family to graduate from university. Be it one of my children or my children’s children’s children. What have I actually learnt?

Obviously, the results that I have achieved in the respective areas of the law I have studied speak for themselves.

Aside from this though, I have been thinking about what else I have gained from my time at university.

Firstly, as always is the case, there are the people that I have spent a lot of time with. I have had the privilege of making some great friends. I can’t say for sure whether they will last throughout my lifetime. Nonetheless, it has still been a privilege to study alongside these people; and this, itself, warms the heart.

I will not go as far as to say that all of my relationships have been successful. They haven’t – and this fact will haunt me in years to come, I’m sure. Principally this is a case of Love’s Labour Lost. What I thought would turn out to be a long relationship of friendship and then some; in fact turned out to be a calamity. My heart was torn from my body and stamped upon by the high-heels of someone whom I thought of very dearly. The way girls are inclined to do, I have since learnt.

Perhaps the greatest attribute I have developed at university is that of maturity. I can say with 100% certainty that I have matured a lot over the past three years. I can’t really describe in specific details how I know this or why this is the case; but I am very certain that it’s the case. I can’t also add what part of university has allowed me to develop in this way: it wasn’t part of the syllabus, that’s for damn sure. Perhaps its somewhat due to the level of independence that one has over their studies and way of living.

Aside from that, the other skills I have developed are all part-and-parcel of studying Law at University level. Undoubtedly, the soundest, the bestest and the hardest thing one can study at undergraduate level! I do think a lot more than I used to; I do analyse things more than I used to; and, I do understand things better than I used to.

I am sure that I will have that same feeling going through my body that I have had at a lot of many junctions in my life. That is: if I had my time again, I’d do it different and I’d do it better. However, I hope that this won’t be the case this time. I hope that with my new found mature level of thinking, I will be able to say that I did my best and my damned hardest. I am inclined to think that its better if my performance wasn’t the peak in my life – that there will be times in the future when I can do better and times after that when I can do even more better.

I hope that I realise that graduation is only the beginning and that bigger challenges await me in the future.

Monday, 7 July 2008

What is going on with the world…

…when young people are being stabbed to death in London in unprecedented repetitive acts of aggression?

It saddens me, when every time now I turn on the news I have to listen to gruesome details of another stabbing for absolutely no reason. The same question keeps re-emerging: why is this happening? What is fuelling such tragedies? Hell if I know the answer. There’s not a lot that anyone can say with certain when answering this question. What I will say though is: its not because there aren’t enough evening social clubs for young people; its not always because there is a reason for it either; the problem is much bigger than that – it’s a larger societal problem.

On a not completely unrelated note, a recent headline in my regional newspaper saddened me even more. It was about a twenty year old female student, L.G. L.G. was a third-year Biochemist at University. She was intelligent, beautiful and someone who everyone enjoyed being around. L.G. suffered from Bulimia, depression and a tendency to self-harm. In a seemingly happy period of her life – when her family and friends were doing lots of fun activities with her – she hung herself in her apartment until she died. She left a note, to be found afterwards, addressed to no one in particular, which said: “If only…”. She either didn’t want anyone to know why she did what she did; or she didn’t know why she did what she did.

Perhaps its because I have been a University student too, that explains why I was struck by this news story. I have seen fellow students go through very tough times. Its not the rigours of their academic study that is the cause – that’s the only thing keeping them there – instead, it’s the inability to keep themselves happy. It’s a very strange phenomenon; especially because most students characterise their university-years as “the best years in their life”. Anyway, that’s that. R.I.P. L.G.

Epic Wimbledon 2008 Men’s Final

What a game. I watched it from beginning to end. From the start, I thought the match would last five sets. I guessed correctly that Nadal would take the first set; however, I thought that Federer would take at least the next two sets. Instead, he took the third and fourth – both after a tie-break.

What I love about tennis is just how easily a game can just go on-and-on with players being where they started after three hours of play. I like the passion and energy that goes into every point. The game can go to the edge: you can win a game, a set, a match and a tournament all in one point or you can lose that point and have to play for another two hours and end up losing the game. This is Wimbledon, so there are the added elements of luck, atmosphere and rain! It can go for you or against you. At the beginning of the match, I was rooting for Nadal – whom I mistook to be the underdog. There was no underdog. Federer may have won the tournament the previous five times, but Nadal had momentum on his side after winning in Roland Garros and Eastbourne. I didn’t realise this, though, until Nadal was two sets up. Thereafter, I was 100% for Federer. The tension was increased when Federer was able to claim the second set after benefiting from a well-earned break because of the rain. Only just though! Federer could not break Nadal’s serve until he was made to in do-or-die fashion at the end of the third and fourth set when it was 6-6. Nadal’s strength was the key though: with a strong serve and a commitment not to drop in his service games, he managed to hammer home a win against the reigning champion.

Whilst watching this match it dawned on me that tennis matches are the equivalent of a football penalty shootout – albeit a longer and more drawn out version. As in football penalty shootouts: tensions are running high with the shooter (the server) not wanting to lose a point, the goalkeeper (his opponent) trying to go one up by saving the shot. The way it often works with Nadal in particular is that he can find a suitable corner to squeeze the ball into – perhaps with one of his passing shots which leaves his opponent looking on. The game, as a spectator, suddenly seems like so much more to me now than it has done in the past. It’s about who has the bigger heart; who is it that wants to win more? For Federer, his confidence typically provides his passion for winning; but with Nadal, and in a Wimbledon final, he too met his match. Right then, right at the end – when it mattered the most – Nadal wanted it more. That is all that there was to distinguish between these players.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Call me unpatriotic but: “Damn you, Andy Murray”

When it comes to British sports persons and British teams competing in any sports competition that I am interested in, I usually don’t support them. I am British and I am a patriot – at least I satisfy my own definition of patriotism. Yet, there I was, supporting Croatia to beat England in the Euro 2008 qualifier. It hasn’t always been like this for me. If I recall correctly, the last major sporting event that I watched closely in which I did support England (a lot, I should add) was the Football World Cup in France 1998. I don’t know what it is that has changed but I just can’t support the British in sporting events any more.

Yesterday, I continued this trend. Watching an update of the tennis scores whilst on the Internet, I then decided to switch on the T.V. instead to watch (hopefully) Murray lose when he was two sets down and tied in the fourth set. I hung in there right until the end (mostly because I wanted to watch Criminal Justice afterwards). I absolutely hated every minute of it and was supporting Gasque all the way. Now, I like Wimbledon. I like watching the drama in Centre Court when there is a tough match being played out. I like how resilient players are able to come so close to losing the match before turning it around and winning. This is, of course, exactly what Murray did. In the particular game in which this occurred, I have to admit, he hit a rather fantastic shot from outside the lines of the court. Above all else, what I didn’t like, was the Wimbledon crowd that treated every winning shot by Murray like a 5-0 win over Germany in football. I didn’t like how Gasque was repetitively taunted and booed during the crucial stages of the match. Now some will counter that this atmosphere was to be expected where the match is being played on the player’s own turf – but this simply isn’t the case. Of the four main tennis grand slam events – I follow them all on T.V. except the U.S. Open. I haven’t seen a similar atmosphere being repeated in other events where a foreign player has to undergo similar experiences. I have to say though, I think I fully understand why this is happening. It’s a consequence of a British sportsperson not being successful in such a long time. When someone as promising as Andy Murray comes along, he is undoubtedly going to stir up strong emotions.

This morning I read Boris Johnson’s weekly article in the Daily Telegraph. He talks – in the context of football, not tennis – about how the British need to be more like the Germans. We need to work harder, develop a tougher character, show some decorum and leadership skills. Its no coincidence, in my opinion, that these characteristics are present in the numerous Russian women who have partaken in this year’s Wimbledon tournament. What about the Spanish? Champions of Europe in football and a possible Wimbledon winner in Rafael Nadal. Britain needs to raise standards. Until it does, I hope Nadal slaughters Murray in the semi-final.

Obama to visit the UK

Very exciting news. As part of a tour of Europe and the Middle East, Barack Obama will be stopping off in the UK too. Yipppeee! The trip will be taking place in the next few weeks - before the Democratic National Convention, I think. I imagine it will be his last stop on the way back from Afghanistan (probably) and Iraq (probably) and Europe.

Maybe if I stand outside the entrance to Downing St long enough on the right day I will get a glimpse of my idol.

This is exciting!

Monday, 30 June 2008

End of June Update

So I guess I haven't been blogging for a while now, have I?

Well, truth be told, I haven't had a lot to talk about. Obviously, nothing on the legal front - now that studies are officially over, my contact with the law is only by way of the odd legal news article in the press or the odd newswire update by Charon QC.

Shortly, though, that will change. This Summer I will be undertaking a mini-pupillage and a vacation scheme by way of trying to determine which career route I want to pursue.

As to what I will be doing in September. Well, I have applied for both the LPC and the BVC. My BVC application is still being processed by my first choice location (my second choice has already signalled that they will not be able to take me because they are over-subscribed). LPC-wise: I have gotten offers from both my first choice location and my second location. So that's all up in the air too.

I've worked out that I have got at least 60 days before I start whatever I am going to do in September. Deducting from that the days I will spend on my mini-pupillage and vacation scheme and some other days when I know I have got something planned, that leaves about 30-35 days. A whole month you could say. I really, really want to use that time as best as possible. I feel like I have a lot of energy to put into something - whether it be for enjoyment or profit - and moreover, I don't want to get to the end of the Summer and think that I should have or could have used the time better. I am spending a lot of time thinking what it is that I could do.

I had planned a trip (in my head) to the USA in the Summer to see some family and perhaps even visit Denver in time for the Democratic National Convention. Didn't quite work out though. Its happening at the same time as my vacation scheme which must take priority. Unfortunately, I believe its also this time in August that Law Minx is planning a Blawgger get together for August drinks.

Aside from that, I am only able to disclose how I am actually spending my days. Well I have managed to get to the gym more often than usual. I am averaging at least 4 trips a week, sometimes 5, never more than that. There's been a lot of football on which I am now officially bored of watching. I planned on making a trip to Wimbledon - as I have done in recent years at this stage of the tournament - but that doesn't look like its going to happen either as I have no one to go with (my friends are more efficient and effective at using their time and planning their holidays in advance). I have thought about contacting some old friends from college or friends from university to get together to do something. Haven't quite gotten round to it though. I suppose, in my heart, I just consider it to be quite a redundant exercise. Also, I don't want to talk about my degree or my degree results any more than I have to.

The best thing that I did in the week gone was to have gone shopping. I love going shopping. This time, I was thinking ahead to my summer placements and so was out to buy some office-wear etc. I ended up adding a couple of suits to my collection, 5 new shirts and more ties than I could ever need. Yep: I hadn't been shopping in this area of my wardrobe for a while! I tried on lots of different black leather shoes but found absolutely nothing remotely appreciable. I really don't think I am being that picky either - there's literally nothing out there that I like! Why o why can I not wear my sandals to work?

This is my Forty-first post by the way, which I find quite impressive. I actually meant to point out my fortieth post but must have forgot; or may be I thought I'd wait until a half-century. Oh well!

Thanks for reading :)

Friday, 20 June 2008

The Country I Love

The Obama campaign has released its first General Election ad that will be screened across America.

TV ads can, and have, destroyed even the best candidates' chances of winning elections. In recent elections, both John Kerry (2004) and John McCain (2000), have had their chances of winning severely dented because of attack ads. Attack ads work - Bush used them as a candidate against the aforementioned politicians. In the case of Kerry, it was in an attempt to reduce his Commander-in-Chief credentials; in the case of John McCain, it was the notorious illegitimate child claim that prevented McCain from winning important primaries in the 2000 campaign.

Obama's ad comes as a surprise therefore. It doesn't mention McCain his opponent in November; it doesn't mention any partisan policy issues; instead its an attempt to help more Americans understand who Barack Obama really is. It speaks of where he's come from, what he's achieved and why the next step is to be in the White House for 8 years. Here it is:

Thursday, 19 June 2008


...are in and I have joined the huge huge number of Law graduates with a 2:1 degree.

In a previous post I detailed which subjects I thought I had performed well in and which I had performed not so well in. Ommitting my dissertation from the equation, I thought I did best in Trusts Law and worst in I.P. Law with Jurisprudence and Employment in between those subjects in that order. Well, I was right, here's the final order:

Dissertation (1st)
Trusts Law (2.i)
Employment Law (2.i)
I.P. Law (2.ii) / Jurisprudence (2.ii)

Starting with the best result, that's for my dissertation. I am very pleased with this result and glad that all the work that I put into it paid off. Undoubtedly I spent too much time on my dissertation, which meant too little time revising for my other subjects (especially during the Easter holiday period), but its good to see that I was awarded a good mark for it.

Trusts is just Trusts: boring, tedious and Property Law in another guise. But, yeah, pleased I got a 2:1 in that.

Employment Law - my only true love in life - when did you think I stopped loving you that you thought I shall give him the lowest possible 2:1 to deliver the final blow to a passionless lover?

I.P. Law - I'm sorry we never really got to know each other. I thought you were my type, I thought we had a future together. When I looked into your eyes and saw registered trademarks, when I held your tender patents for all the good they were going to do in the world, I didn't know you were going to damn me with a groundless threats claim for copyright infringement.

Jurisprudence - Yes, I'm the one with the head stuck up my arse because I got a 2:2 in Jurisprudence, aren't I? Not you damn feminists, no; you think you've gotten it all figured out with your ideas that the world is fair and all peoples should be equal. Well God knows I ain't supporting your cause no more: go iron some shirts.

So, in all, a few surprises: an unexpected First, some Firsts gone unrewarded and more 2:2s than I had hoped, but a 2:1 overall nonetheless. My overall degree classification was calculated through using this years' exams and last year's exams too. I had a pretty solid foundation for a 2:1 last year. I always figured that I would perform to the same standard at least and get that 2:1. Surprisingly and largely due to my dissertation mark, I surpassed last year's average, which is good to know too.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

21 and a 2:1 !

Soon I will find out my final, third year, set of exam results. They are out middle of next week. Of course, until I see what I have got, I have absolutely no idea how I have done. One does get feelings that they performed well in this exam and bad in that one. However, its all relative, isn't it? In past years' exams, I've performed better in exams that I thought were rather difficult. And, in exams that I thought I had aced, I hadn't performed as well in. The reason for this phenomenon - as I understand it - is that, for tougher exam questions, one is forced to think harder and answer with more analysis. Analysis gets rewarded; rambling at length - which occurs when you do know what you're talking about - doesn't get rewarded.

Today I am celebrating my 21st birthday with some family and friends. What better thing to take my mind off these upcoming exam results than a reason to party...hard :)

Interestingly, for a lot of my balloons which I imagine will be still around in the next few days, I will be able to insert a ":" symbol between the digits to celebrate achieving a 2:1. Bet no one thought of that, did they?!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Apprentice: Why Helene will win!

So this is the day. The final of this year's The Apprentice. Once again, there's a lacklustre field of candidates for Sir Alan to choose from; perhaps even the most lacklustre ever. Which begs the question: what are four of them doing in the final? Well, for one, it makes the decision that bit easier for Sir Alan. One team will be automatically fired for losing that means one less decision for Sir Alan to make.

Accordingly, I am going to make a prediction about who will win tonight. The teams, if I recall the clip shown at the end of last week's episode, puts Helene and Alex in one team and Claire and Lee in the other.

The consensus seems to be that Claire is the strongest candidate. I agree. My first prediction is that either Claire or Helene will win. Its not going to be one of the lads in my opinion. Lee's unemployable because he lied last week but also because he's a terrible person to be around. He speaks and writes (as we saw with regards to his C.V. last week) in a terrible fashion and this, for me, is what would make him a terrible person to hire. As for Alex, I have a feeling that unless he pulls of a spectacular performance tonight, he won't win. He's been on the losing team a lot of times and more often than not it has led to a confrontation in the boardroom with Sir Alan. I think he's fed up with him. I think he doesn't like him too.

That leaves Claire and Helene. Now for who I want to win: Helene. Helene is my favourite Apprentice because I think she has the best C.V. and I think she's the most capable of being a success and, I believe she wants the job too. I absolutely understand her when she said in her interview last week that she's not use to being around 15 other gobshites!

Because Lee is so incompetent, I think his team will lose. Unfortunately, therefore, I don't think that Sir Alan will even get the opportunity to hire Claire. Rules are rules. She will have lost not because she wasn't good enough; but because she worked with an incompetent prick.

That leaves Sir Alan with the opportunity to hire or fire Helene or to hire or fire Alex. Helene, for the reasons I have given, will be hired; Alex, for the reasons I have given, will be fired. It will be a tough choice and probably the wrong one; but this is how I believe it will play out.

Well, seems I got it all wrong and Android got it 100% right. Lee - whom I thought would perform terrible and have no chance whatsoever - still performed terrible but crucially not as terrible as some of the other candidates. Both my predictions were wrong: that either Claire or Helene would win and that it was more likely to be Claire because Lee's contribution was likely to lose the task for his team. I was right to an extent though: Alex/Helene would have won if they managed to keep their costs down. Both sides seemed to be carefree about the cost of their perfume. I don't recall Lee/Claire stressing over it. Also, how terrible was their 'Roulette' brand. Lee/Claire's team squeaked through because the other side lost, not because they won. It would have been very interesting to see what Sir Alan would have done with Alex/Helene. I stick to my guns though: he would have hired Helene.

Well done, of course, to Android who guessed correctly that Lee would win, after previously watching only one episode of The Apprentice in the current series. I'm ashamed to say that I watched every single episode (no really, I did) and appear to be no better because of it. Interestingly, not only did Android guess they winner correctly, but also for the right reasons. Android, probabaly in response to the pterodactyl imitation that Lee did last week, thought that he would win because he was a funny guy. The other candidates seem to have found this to be the case too - this is probably what kept him out of a single boardroom confrontation with Sir Alan.

Unfortunately, some would say, Nicholas De-Lacey Brown did not appear either to help the finalists in their last task or on Adrian Chiles' 'The Apprentice: you're fired/hired'. It was because of a, some would say, terrible accident that the first-to-be-fired Apprentice recently had. The Sun says that he was involved in a freak (some would say) accident that crushed his leg. Its hoped that he gets better soon (some would say). I imagine, though, that once he's all nicely recovered, he'll be bringing a claim in tort against the lorry driver/the owner of the wall. I hope he wins that claim (some would say). I hope his career doesn't suffer a set back because of the accident (some would say).

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Crap Cannon: it does exactly what is says on the tin!

A couple of interesting post-election news stories involving the Democrats that I've been reading about. One quite serious; the other highly amusing.

On a serious note: Vice-President selection. A potentially tough choice for both Obama and McCain. More so for McCain, I believe.

On the Democrats' side, there's the obvious choice of Hillary Clinton. The main strength in selecting Clinton is that Obama will have gone some way to reconnecting with the 18 million Americans that voted for Clinton in the recent Primaries. The weakness - which I (unfortunately) believe counteracts that strength - is that selecting Clinton is highly indicative that Obama isn't so resolute on bringing change to American politics.

The first news story that I've been reading about suggests that Obama is keen to select a running-mate based upon their military credentials. Obviously, McCain has the advantages for appealing to a lot of Americans in this regard because of his own heroic military history. Jim Webb, it appears, is top of Obama's list. He's my favourite because I think he will help Obama a lot in the General.

The second news story that I've been reading about is the planned method of crowd control during the Democrats' National Convention in Denver. The weapon to be used is called the "crap cannon" or the "brown note" - "crap cannon" is the better description, I think. It does exactly what it says on the tin!

"it is believed to be an infrasound frequency that debilitates a person by making them defecate involuntarily"

So, if I've gotten this right, the plan is: disperse of a rowdy bunch of people by making them shit themselves on the spot. Yeah, that should do the trick. A question though: who's going to be doing the cleaning up afterwards?

Sunday, 8 June 2008

So my 2:1's in the bag, is it?

Even before the August headlines: "A-Levels are getting to easy" and "90% of pupils are achieving at least 3 'A' grades", today's Sunday Times has a piece by a University Lecturer questioning whether the 2:2 degree is an endangered species.

The writer suggests that with the increased pressure on examiners to award either a first or a 2:1, there isn't even need to have either a 2:2 or a Third as part of the classification system. Having looked at degree classifications for the past couple of years at my university for my course, I can, to an extent, see where he is coming from. There is quite a large body of students achieving a 2:2, which makes me think that the class isn't as redundant as the writer makes out. The largest block consistently is the 2:1 block; a much smaller proportion of Firsts are awarded. With only a handful of fails, I'm guessing that's due to mitigating circumstances as much as anything else.

More annoyingly, the writer suggests that the way forward is to bring guessed it...the starred First and the starred 2:1. Now, what I strongly concede is that there is, in my opinion, a world of difference between the lowest 2:1 and a very high 2:1 that could easily have been a First. In my opinion, if that is given recognition, we are on the right track. Is it? Well, as far as legal careers go, it is. Most legal recruiters require you to disclose a breakdown of your module results. Why is this so important? Its because - and this isn't picked up on by the writer of the article - different universities have a different systems for classifying what degree classification students receive. There is, I believe, far more consistency in what exam scripts qualify as a First or a 2:1 than the number of a First class results you need to have to secure a First overall between universities.

What made me cringe even more when reading this article was the writer's account of a growing number of students wanting their 68 turned into a 70 or their 58 into a 62; also, the growing number of students claiming "mitigating circumstances" (aka "benefit-seekers"). All things which I can't imagine myself doing unless under very particular circumstances.

So, in all, this piece left me feeling very unsatisfactory. I hated how A-Levels were being belittled when I was sitting them and I'd hate for the feelings expressed by this University Lecturer to lead to similar unpleasantry; for me and a lot of others I'm sure.