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.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Exams are finished!

So my third and final year exams are finally finished and I couldn't be more pleased. I'm glad that I can take a definitive break away from work - which is something that I have found really hard to do throughout all of the past three years of my course. I have this sense of relief that I haven't felt in a long time. Perhaps it was post-A Levels when I was wondering whether my time in education will continue. Well it did and on the whole its been a very enjoyable experience.

As to how my exams went - well, not all that great, actually. My best exam was probably Trusts Law - which was a contender from the start for this position. The reason that I think I did well in Trust was because throughout the exam I felt like I was very familiar with the areas that I was answering - a consequence of being well-trained in answering similar questions in the recent past. So that was all good.

Next best - and very surprisingly - is Jurisprudence. This was the subject that I thought I would have to go through the most pain to revise for but that actually turned out to be something else (see later). The questions weren't as bad as I expected. One question - which was the first exam question I answered - was very broad. For that one, I felt like I was being more descriptive rather than analytical - which, for Jurisprudence especially, is bad.

Of my remaining two subjects - I.P. Law and Employment Law - the biggest surprise was Employment Law. For Employment Law I hadn't revised a particular part of the syllabus: employment status, i.e. deciding whether X is an employee or not etc. I hadn't looked at the case-law relating to agency workers etc; nor was I able to recall the case-law on what factors were to be considered in deciding whether X was employed under a contract of service or a contract for services. In contract law terms, the part of the syllabus that I omitted to learn was the law relating to offer and acceptance. In tort law terms, the parralel is with negligence and whether X owes a duty to Y. Basically, I didn't revise this area because I didn't find it interesting enough. What this area and the other example areas I have stated have in common is that they are the: "how are things put together" part of the law. Me, I'm a "things are falling apart around me" type of guy. Accordingly, I concentrated my revision on Unfair Dismissal, Wrongful Dismissal, Redundancy, TUPE etc. Unfortunately, every question seemed to test something about employment status, of which I knew nothing about. So that was one big gaping hole in my exam. The other one, for Employment law, was one particular problem question which tested two of the aforementioned areas (which I had revised) but in a very obscure (there was a lot of cross-over in terms of what claims could be brought) and lengthy (there were six parties to consider!) way. To make matters worse, whilst answering this question, my nice black pen finished on me. Lacklustre being my middle name, the only other pen I had on me is better characterised as a thick marker pen with an unfriendly nib. So, from an examiner's point of view, the last few pages of my exam script are indicative of a disturbed and thoughtless undergraduate law student. Sorry Mr./Mrs. Examiner.

Finally, I turn to I.P. Law. One immediate problem with this exam that springs to mind is the same as I had for Employment Law: two of the principal areas that I had revised very well were being tested through an obscure problem question. This wasn't lengthy but, if I have understood this area correctly, it was intended to catch out wary students because it was cleverly disguised as a question from one area but was in reality testing another. That description doesn't really do it justice, so perhaps I could use an example. In Tort law terms: this problem question would contain details including: a snail, a bottle of ginger ale and a cafe; but rather than being about consumer protection or negligence, the relevant tort was defamation. I hope that's not more confusing! The only other problem I had with I.P. Law was not recalling enough case-law. The names just completely slipped my mind, so I was mostly just detailing the law whilst providing little authority.

So, anyway, that's that. I had hoped that I would have a more favourable end to my undergraduate years but it appears that wasn't to be. So far I have managed to convince myself somewhat that things aren't as bad as I think they are. I say somewhat because there are strange points during the day when I recall something that I did wrong or should have added. I am realising that there's nothing more I can do now but that doesn't help me get to sleep on a night and I have being staying up late thinking about all these relatively small mistakes; which all makes for a tired Lacklustre Lawyer.

I have previously promised myself a nice enjoyable summer and hopefully I can deliver up on that!