Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The Dissertation is Done!

The Dissertation has been completed and submitted. Yes! I feel quite content with the end result. I feel there were a lot of excellent parts in it; some good ones; but also some areas where I could have done better. Now that I think just how much effort I put into it - in terms of doing lots of reading and making notes - it all seems so very small. In fact, I can't really explain why it took me so long to produce. Its a really strange feeling that I haven't managed to shrug off yet - it hasn't quite sunk in that my dissertation is completed and that I can now move on to prepare for upcoming exams.

Most of my friends seem to feel the opposite way. They are really proud with their end result and quickly chose to share their excitement with Mr Fosters and Mr Carling. Not me though; I even seem to have lost my appetite somewhat.

I overheard a conversation that two female class-mates had in the library after printing off their dissertation for the final time:

"Hey Victoria, how you doing? You printing your dissertation off? It feels so good to have finally finished it doesn't it?"
"Yes, absolutely" replied Victoria, "I feel like a virgin again".
Apparently dissertations can do that to you too.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Yes We Can!

So citizens of Pennsylvania are going to the polls today in the next of what has been a very very long line of primaries. The talking-heads are saying that Clinton needs to win big and is going to win big. Anything short of strong double-digit win over Obama and you may as well say she has lost. I have been trying to think why this is true - why is 51% of the vote not good enough for Clinton? Well, the answer seems to be that Clinton has made this a question of electability in November. If Clinton can't win big in the state that she grew up in and has campaigned so extensively in, there's not much to be said for her chances in November against McCain.

The thing that I hate about this particular primary is just how negative Clinton has become over the past few weeks and especially over the past few days. She is the one playing dirty, not Obama. Thing is: I completely understand why Clinton is doing this. To use a Rocky Balboa comparison (something she is doing herself a lot recently) she is on the ropes; all bloodied from taking a beating in most of the previous primaries; and this is her last round. In her own words, she is 'In it, to Win it'. This all makes for the worst kind of opponent for Obama - the opponent that is willing to stoop as low as possible. Obama is trying to show that he has the right judgement to lead; that he will bring change in politics; and that he will help Americans fulfil their hopes and dreams. He is not prepared to get his hands dirty for one reason and one reason only. Its not because he does not have the guts (he does); its because he would feel bad doing it - its not the way he conducts his politics and that is the way millions of Americans want it to be.

Clinton has been pounding Obama recently following his comments about small-town America that apparently deeply offended citizens of Pennsylvania in particular. What a coincidence. He made the comments in California and half-way across the country Clinton is using them as fodder for the news channels by manipulating them to serve her Pennsylvania campaign. Typical. Clinton called Obama an 'elitist' which most would take as a criticism or a bad thing, but I don't. Obama is a smart person with good judgement and after eight years of a President with the exact opposite of these traits, its time for change, don't you think?

There is no doubt that Clinton has been successful in attacking Obama personally. But she has done it by making wrongful accusations. It does not matter if they are subsequently corrected or clarified by her because people just understand the story as it is when it first comes out - they don't tend to follow it in the news and see what Obama's defence is.

For me though, Obama comes out of all this as being the more inspirational character. I have found the following YouTube video very motivating and I think its really good in incorporating what Obama stands for: change, hope and the fulfillment of dreams for everybody.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Celebrating Success

I was on a train today. Don't worry, I had a table in front of me and so was able to continue working on my dissertation on my laptop. Sat opposite me was a woman (Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile); aged somewhere between mid-late twenties, I would say. What did manage to divert my attention away from working on my dissertation was a series of conversations that she had on her mobile. Thankfully, none of them began: "Oh, hello darling, I've just gotten on the train, I'll be home soon". I really don't understand why people have to make such phone calls all the time. I mean: if its a journey that you make quite frequently (usually to-and-from the place of work) what is the point? Such conversations are only necessary when things aren't going to plan: "Hello Darling, I'm afraid I didn't get off work till late. You're going to have to pick up the kids; feed them; clean them; read to them". These conversations I completely understand.

Anyway, Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile had been at a job interview and was offered the job! Her first conversation was to, what I presume was her back-up option. "Oh Hello, this is Miss Puffy-cheeks speaking. I'm just calling to let you know that I will not be attending the interview I have scheduled with you....because I've just had an interview now and been offered the job". Now, I would have thought Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile would have chosen a slightly different choice of words with her back-up prospective employer. Such as: "My name is Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile, I recently applied to your firm for __________ position. I am just calling to let you know that I am no longer interested in pursuing this position and would like my application to be withdrawn".

By the way, this was a conversation that I think most of the carriage was listening too. Everybody was sharing in the excitement: looking up from reading their newspapers/books etc - especially when it first became clear that Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile was so ecstatic because she had been successful at a job interview. There were, however, only two people who were close to her: me and another guy (who was, I would say, in his mid-forties but was working his way through what seemed like a Mathematics examination paper). So, I thought to myself (and I think the 45-year-old mathematician must have thought this too) should I too congratulate Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile when she hangs up the phone? May be I could even determine which sector she worked in - annoyingly, this was difficult to tell.

There was no time for that, however. Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile ended that conversation and then began the next one.

Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile's next phone call was to her Grandmother, bless. Grandma Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile (if it is to be assumed that her good looks were inherited. I can never tell but it didn't look like she had a lot/any make-up on (not even, surprisingly, lipstick; though her pretty puffy-cheeks was plenty snoggable)). Turns out Grandma Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile was recently in hospital for an operation of some sort. Nuff said. Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile inquired about her health post-operation and then gave the big news.

So, the point of detailing this brief encounter between myself (a Lacklustre Lawyer) and Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile was because I got wondering about my own successes and how I went about disclosing them to my family and friends. In particular, I was thinking that if I was in the same position as Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile, would I also have these very public conversations on the journey back home? Truth be told: I don't think I would. I'd be more secretive. Especially, if my success ran the same course that passing my driving test did. For that one, after I passed, I didn't tell anyone I had passed. No one. I had, however, told everyone about each of the times I failed (quite numerous). My thinking was: one day they will ask me "Have you passed your test yet, Lacklustre Driver?" And I could say: "Oh yes; of course I have. Errr, it was a while back now. Let me I can't remember its been too long now".

Listening to Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile on the train, I can't help but think that I wish I was more public and open about my successes (as strangely I am with my failures). Its just with standards so high - in part set by myself - I just don't feel I take in just how much I have accomplished sometimes. Instead, I am always wanting more and more and more. I turn my attention to the next challenge and then drive myself insane going after that. Thing is and Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile brought this to my attention, its always good to enjoy successes when you can, so you don't have to when you can't.

Broadly thinking: perhaps my ambition to pursue a career at the Bar is a direct result of not wanting to just be another solicitor. I don't doubt that all solicitors are not the same; my point is: perhaps I am interested in the game (pursuing a pupillage/tenancy) rather than the cause itself (representing and doing good for clients). There is an established adage that expresses that feeling better but, for the life of me, I can't think of it.

Anyway, Miss Puffy-cheeks with a nice smile, where ever you are: Congratulations on the job offer and thanks for the lesson.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

The Race against Time

As is to be expected in the final week of my Easter holidays, I am steadily labouring away at revision of various topics and subjects and working to complete my dissertation on time.

The dissertation is worth quite a substantial part of this year's marks but I'm really trying to ensure that I am adequately prepared for my exams too. It is difficult; but this will all be made easier when the dissertation deadline passes, I've recovered from celebrating what will be a short-lived achievement and I'll be able to give exam preparation the attention it deserves.

Having decided to apply for the BVC, I am having to fill in all sorts of forms at considerable speed. This, whilst simultaneously having to perform all sorts of calculations of risk, benefits and money that come with such an important decision. To give you a taster:

- Now that any opportunity of securing a scholarship has passed, do I feel comfortable funding the BVC myself?
- How sure am I that I will enjoy the BVC?
- Which BVC provider and location is my first choice? What are its ratings and reputation like? (Can't seem to find this information anywhere)
- How sure am I that I will do well on the BVC?
- What are my chances of securing pupillage?
- How many pupillage application cycles before I say 'enough is enough'?
- Just how old will I be before I start working? Do I feel comfortable with that?
- What if, after doing well on the Vacation schemes in the Summer, I find myself comforted by the job security that becoming a solicitor involves and accept a training contract offer instead? As I will have two years before the training contract commences will I be able to: (i) complete the BVC (ii) have a shot at securing pupillage (iii) realise that its not going to happen and quickly do the QLTT before commencing a training contract?

I'm planning on submitting my BVC application as soon as possible really - this week I intended. In addition to answering these questions, I will also, as I mentioned in a previous post, have to consider my final degree classification and my mini-pupillage experience. So really I'm not having to make the final decision as soon as I think but its hard not thinking these things anyway!

Monday, 7 April 2008

The picture that didn't change the course of history

After a UK court trial lasting over 6 months - it has been officially, yes officially - decided that Diana died as a result of an 'unlawful killing'. The person to blame isn't a member of the Royal family, isn't a paparazzi or a member of MI6 but Henri Paul the driver of Diana's and Dodi's car on that fatal night in 1997.

I am not a conspiracy theorist but I am someone who has had questions about how Diana was killed. A lot of these questions have been answered through this extensive trial. But then a lot of questions will still persist from people who still won't be satisfied. It is a rather unsatisfactory state of affairs that so much truth has come to the surface after such a long period. Paul Burrell, Diana's self-proclaimed 'Rock' - someone who I think became almost a national hero after publishing his book - now it seems is a very untrustworthy person.

I'm sure Al-Fayed will continue to ask for a 'better' and 'more thorough' inquiry than ever before. But I think it was right that no member of the Royal family was asked to give evidence in court. There really was no substantive basis for it.

I think this inquiry will have a positive effect in bringing closure to this case. I am constantly amazed at how much newspapers, principally the Daily Express has consistently managed to produce so many Diana conspiracy headlines. All this in the pitiful anticipation that one day they will be able to proclaim that their campaign was justified. Well its not and now they should acknowledge this by suspending their campaign.

There are far more pressing needs for an inquiry elsewhere in public policy. The legality of the Iraq War tops the list. Unlike with the Diana inquiry, a failure to begin an inquiry in the near future, will be costly. The government has promised an inquiry when this would no longer impede the continued activity of British Service peronnel in Iraq. Their failure to say why this is an impediment - when it hasn't been one in the past where inquiries on the Iraq war have taken place - just, for me, goes to demonstrate that they have something to cover up. Their asses, in all likelihood.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

My Career Dilemma

As I am coming towards the end of my Easter holidays - only one week left now - I am thinking about the things that I haven't crossed off my to-do list yet. Revision and the dissertation seem to be going steady; not too slow, not too fast either. With my dissertation deadline only a few weeks away now, I imagine that I will be concentrating my efforts on it, just to make sure that it is of the highest standard possible.

So now, I am turning my attention to considering what I will be doing in September and beyond. In my to-do list, I raised the question: LPC? BVC? LLM?

As I am considering what to do in September, I can safely cross LLM off my list. LLM applications for, I think, all universities needed to have been submitted right at the beginning of this year. This is not to say that I won't be doing an LLM in the future - just not in the near future. Ideally, this would have been the best option for two reasons. I am interested in studying for an LLM and it perhaps would have been advantageous to do it hot-on-the-heels of my undergraduate course. Secondly, and more importantly, it would have provided an extra year in which to plan ahead and consider which career route I wanted to take.

Well I am still very much interested in a career at the Bar and from what I can tell, I can still submit an application for entry onto the BVC in September through the pooling option. The deadline for applying through the pooling system is mid-July. Before that though, I need to have joined an Inn. I have been looking at the course content of the BVC and it seems far more appreciable than the LPC.

Speaking of the LPC, I have gotten offers from some providers to commence the LPC in September. I still have time - enough time, I think - to decide whether its really what I want to do before the offers get withdrawn.

So in all, a rather unsatisfactory position. I've said right now that I want to consider, as best as possible, whether pursuing a career at the Bar is for me but I don't think that is going to be possible over these holidays. I thought there were two important considerations that I still needed to consider. Firstly, and most importantly, my final degree classification. Secondly, my mini-pupillage experience to be completed over the Summer. That is not the case though, as the dates of my mini-pupillage are after the final pooling deadline for admission onto the BVC.

Accordingly, at least for the purposes of a 2008 application, the most important thing that I have to go on - on whether the Bar is really for me - is my degree classification. Now, my thoughts on this are a bit more finalised. From what I can tell, academic grades are an important part of selection for pupillages etc. A high 2.I or a 1st overall might therefore swing me in favour of applying for the BVC. A mid 2.I or a low 2.I might prevent me from doing so.

All of the above reasoning is done through thinking in the short-term and perhaps this is wrong. What I mean is, right now, I am not thinking about my chances of securing pupillage which is what I imagine most people applying for the BVC are doing. My real current concern is that I won't enjoy the LPC and if I was to do it I'd continuously be looking back and thinking: should I have done the BVC instead? I have looked at the course content for both and I have to say the BVC interests me so much more. I'd really like the opportunity to find out just how good I am at advocacy, negotiation and writing etc.

Whist the deadline for admission onto the BVC might still be a while away, I guess its preferable to submit the application as soon as possible because it is the 'pooling' period through which I will now be applying. I actually can't understand the reason why places have not been filled up already - did that many applicants in the first round decide not to enrol on the BVC?

Anyway, I would be very interested in hearing any thoughts and ideas anyone may have regarding my position. Especially if someone has spotted a mistake in what I am saying!

Friday, 4 April 2008

Tort Law anthem

Revision has progressed steadily thus far this week. I am finding it quite difficult to concentrate on revision when my dissertation deadline is so soon. My attention has also been diverted by a YouTube clip on Tort Law that was recently brought to my attention. Its absolutely hilarious and so I thought I would share it with my blawg-readers.
The actual clip starts at about 1min 20secs if you want to skip right to it as there are a lot of acknowledgments at the beginning. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008


Well I have received some feedback for the vacation scheme interview and assessments I recently did at a city law firm. I was unsuccessful in getting onto the summer scheme.

Most of the points that I raised in a previous blog-entry, regarding my performance, were reflected in the feedback that I received. It was two things that really let me down. Firstly, the pre-prepared presentation that I delivered that drastically didn't adhere to the time constraints; and, secondly, the group exercise in which I didn't contribute enough. On the positive side: the verbal reasoning test that I sat was fine as were most of my answers during the interview. The polite graduate recruitment officer who provided me with the feedback informed me that I wasn't the only lacklustre performer in the group exercise, which was nice to know. On reflection though, I should have participated more within the group and tried to change things as they were going wrong. Even if this meant interrupting other members and trying to bring more structure to our discussion, it still, I feel, would have been a worthwhile contribution.

Oh well; you can't win them all.