Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Hello all (...anyone out there?).

It's been a wee while since I posted. Since then, good news- passed the BVC, woo! After some wrangles with the course provider it was agreed that I did pass as a first attempt, not as a re-sitter as they wanted to mark me as (which would have capped me at a bare pass) and thus my CV is now gilded proudly with the words Very Competant.

Well worth the £14k, I'm sure.

I didn't get the dream job I went for- but was happy to be one of 10 shortlisted out of 300+ applications. Hopefully that bodes well for the future. I think my CV is ok at the moment, as in another recent interview (with an amazing lawyer, who is quite famous and I managed to quite disappoint/irritate/sicken or all the above) she seemed to be quite impressed with it. I say impressed, she said something like 'well, you've won everything going haven't you' in what some might say was a disdainful way but I am choosing to take it as a compliment. Particularly as I haven't won anything really, anything I have got is more a 'well done for taking part' than a glowing badge of honour.

I am working - temping- which is paying the bills and getting rid of debt/helping save for a Masters. Which I am about to start applying for (a grumbling aside - why do I need to pay to apply?!). Boy is well and fingers crossed he'll have his tenancy confirmed shortly and all will be well that end. From him I have learned that criminal law pays not very well, particularly in the beginning stages of a case - not too bad at the trial end. And that it's not considered good form to ask your clerk how much you're getting for something (but surely that may be a factor in whether you choose to accept it, e.g. if you have to choose between 2 cases or if you risk missing a holiday, if we're being honest?).

On the health side things are much better. The benefit of a 9-5 job is that it's relatively stress free and this is easing recovery. This weekend I've the second part of the Amicus death penalty conference to attend- I will review this in my next post. Suffice it to say: Death Penalty= BAD.

Hope all well in the interweb. How the heck is everyone?


Friday, 31 July 2009


Somewhat belatedly, I can now share my lovely Blawggie award with you received from the lovely Minx.

How can I not have been shouting from the rooftops about this days ago, I hear you ask? Well, nowt to do with Minxy herself- she v promptly notified me and all. Last couple of days have been a tad mad though, house move, re-sit and V V V V important interview.

Re-sit went fine, interview was a train wreck. New abode working out very well!

I'm at the stage where I'm getting interviews for most things I apply for, so my CV seems to be alright. Perhaps in part due to the full on last year with the New York Bar and BVC and all. My personality and interview skills is apparently holding me back from getting an actual JOB though!

An interesting, paid, temporary job is not quite the golden snitch, to borrow Minx's analogy, but it would of those other things that they fly around after that gets you points in the game, even though getting the golden snitch wins the game? Can I tell I'm not really a Potter fan?

Speech? You want a speech? Well... I'm very happy with the above award thank you, and thank you to everyone who stops by here and makes the odd comment or two. I hope it's entertained you at some point, or informed you about the New York Bar. I have to admit, informing or entertaining hasn't really been the objective (this 'ain't the BBC, yo*) but it's jolly nice to share a rant every now and then amongst the blawging community and encourage each other and everything else. Thanks to the blawgers, to for hosting this technical stuff, Boy for buying me chocolates and flowers and stuff every now and then, and my family, and God and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. *wipes humble tear from my eye*.

Now, best get back to revising!

*Yes, I might be addicted to 'The Wire'.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Is that a naked man at 11 o'clock?

I had an interesting experience the other day. A friend came up to my end of town (I live in one of the leafier boroughs of London, great schools but useless for things most people in their 20's are interested in, being in Zone 72 and a half - I digress). (In fact Swiss I think you were close to this end recently? Digressing again).

So my friend came up, and we had lunch and caught up on each other's lives. We decided to go to a cake shop in Muswell Hill (regular readers may suspect this is not an unusual activity). This was a fair way away from where we were, and somehow we ended up in Ally Pally (aka Alexandra Palace) where we picked blackberries, sat on a bench and enjoyed the view.

The view comprised of most of London (Muswell Hill being - shock, horror- built on a hill), the usual trees and shrubs and stuff, couple of magpies, and a naked young man. I didn't spot the man, my friend did.

'Is that a naked man?' she said?
'What? where?' said I.
'At 11 o'clock.
'The other 11 o'clock...over there you, don't stare'.
'Huh. Yeah that is a naked man. And he is...enjoying his nakedness.'

I think it was a private show, seeing as he pulled up his trousers whenever a runner came by. Gosh, I felt special. I really wasn't much in the mood for a perv that day so we just ignored him until he went away, some 10 to 15 minutes later. No idea how long he'd been there.

About 10 mins after that, a couple of local bobbies were walking up and I waved one over. 'Are you here about the flasher?', I asked. They'd heard nowt about a flasher - so we filled them in. It wasn't really important enough to call the police about, but seeing as they were there we figured we should mention it.

I soon forgot the whole thing and expected to hear nothing more about it, but have since received lots of stuff from Victim Support and have been phoned to say they've arrested someone, can I id them and give a statement? I'm pretty impressed that they have tracked anyone down but not sure how I feel about it overall.

Firstly, it's not the most important thing to be arresting people for- the sort of thing the guy was doing was an offence but he didn't come anywhere near us and I don't feel like a victim of crime - as compared to stabbings and burglaries and the like. Second, I'm not sure how I feel about giving a statement and ID information. What if they get a conviction - for something which I found to be a mild annoyance but frankly, hardly surprising to come across at one time or another? Is my natural anti-establishment/anti-authority way of thinking getting the better of me? Or is it more that I think that what he was doing wasn't really a crime? I don't think that's the case, I recognise the need for public order/sexual offences crimes of that sort.

Perhaps it's more of an indictment of how jaded London life has made me that being the 'victim' of such a crime leaves me pretty unfazed.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Swine Flu

I gots it. First in the blawgosphere.

My prize is a fever, headache, fatigue and sore throat. Wait, what? I don't want the prize...

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Are you familiar with fail blog? Here's an example:

Mostly VCs, a couple of competents. 4 fails.

So, I've managed to fail the BVC overall. I need a big FAIL stamp on my head.

I should point out - I didn't attend those exams. I mean, only a total berk would actually fail the BVC, right?

I was ill. For quite a long time. Except I didn't get my evidence in on time. Because I'm a total berk. I shall of course be appealing the decision, but at this stage it looks like I'll be excluded from applying to a bunch of different chambers. Which makes a total shambles of everything I've been working for for the last few years.

On the one hand, I'm seeing my dreams go up in smoke before my eyes and know that I lit the torch paper. On the other hand, with the health of some close relatives apparently failing and other issues, including persistent ill health I'm finding it hard to maintain any stable emotions about anything much at all.

I'm watching other blogs and the Student Room as I'm interested in the progress of others. I've heard some interesting stories, including the one about 4 people invited to drinks at a set offering 4 pupillages (after the second round and before the 31st July, crucially) in a wink wink effort, and the one about the girl who sent in two applications to a non-Olpas set because she wasn't sure they'd received the first one. She received two responses- a rejection and invite to interview.

I'm pretty glad I didn't apply this year- but I'd at least have been able to apply to a bunch more sets than I'm looking at at the moment.

To add insult to injury, there will almost certainly be some exhorbitant charging for re-sits.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Mad as a box of frogs

I went to the Liberty 75th Anniversary Conference yesterday, "Common Values in times of Crisis". It was a thought-provoking and very interesting day. The Liberty staff and volunteers had cool t-shirts, designed by Dame Vivian Westwood which read 'I'm not a terrorist, please don't arrest me'. She sat on one of the panels and whilst she had a lot of interesting things to say that I don't disagree with, she does come across as mad as a box of frogs. No one really does mad eccentrics like the Brits!

There were excellent speeches by Lord Bingham of Cornhill on the Human Rights Act and the history of human rights in the UK- the gist being, they're a good thing, the Human Rights Act is a good thing, and getting rid of it wouldn't do much because we're still bound by the European Convention (which British lawyers and law contributed to very significantly so it's downright silly to think of it as a 'foreign' influence)- and Nick Clegg, Shami Chakrabati and many others.

I must say, I've never thought of joining a political party but Mr Clegg just seemed so eminently sensible, and his proposals for legal reform so workable, I am tempted to nail my colours to the mast for once and all, so devoid was his speech of the usual political hyperbole and posturing for posturings sake.

The most impressive person I think, however, was Gareth Pierce. Famed human rights solicitor who's worked on all the big cases and issues you'd care to think about in the last 20, 30 years she has the most remarkable way of speaking. I don't think you'd know her in the street, or to look at her would think anything in particular but she speaks in a very soft, and yet incredibly powerful way.

She was on the panel in the 'Terror' workshop, alongside many other distinguished speakers. In the audience and attending the Conference was a Mahmoud Abu Rideh, who I understand is a client of Gareth Pierce. His story was chilling.

In short he has been held by the government for 8 years now, first in Belmarsh without trial until the Law Lords ruled that unlawful and then under various control orders. He has been hospitalised and terrorised by the experience, and before us was a clearly desperate man.

When he came to the UK, he had a UN travel document as an asylum seeker. The document is no longer valid, because of the passage of time, and despite promises from David Blunkett and Tony Blair to provide him with a new one they have not. The govt have said he will be allowed to leave the country, but still keep him waiting and under house arrest.

No charges have been brought against him, nor has he been told of the evidence against him - this is the nature of the 'civil' Control Order: because it is non-criminal the Police aren't involved and your PACE or Article 6 powers aren't invoked.

I urge you all to write to the new Home Sectretary, Alan Johnson (at the last I heard, anyway) on and ask him to provide Mr Abu Rideh with the travel document he has been promised. I will edit this post to include some more details of his case, but I'm sure that you will want to do your own research. Plug his name into Google and various articles and information will come up.

It's pretty shocking that this regime is allowed to continue- it is executive action in its more brutal and unchecked form. There is no way of challenging a Control Order (detention of less than 14 hours has been held to not constitute a breach of Convention rights). Mr Abu Rideh's children and wife have left the UK, although they are British Citizens because they could not take living in this way any longer. They were not allowed a telephone, internet, visitors, and were subjected to random and indiscriminate searches every few days.

I've posted previously on the Palestine-Israel situation, and my shock at the horrors of life in Gaza. This man is begging to be allowed to leave so that he can go back to Gaza.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

I think I might heart Obama a little

I'm a big cynic, frankly I consider cynicism to be a democratic duty. And of course, Obama's speech today was just words and hasn't translated into action - the only true test of a politicians worth.

But what a difference having a literate President makes! Quotes from 3 holy books and well-placed historical references, and not a one of them mangled (by a pretzel or otherwise). I think it was a smart speech and I'm encouraged for USA-Middle East links.

PS- Don't forget to do your democratic duty and vote today! Even if they're all blood-sucking, corrupt scum (according to the media image today), best to have your say, ay?

PPS- There's no bloody point, when the current PM is making Suralan a Lord. Because he's such a great businessman that we all have Amstrad computers at home, don't we? Exactly what the present govt needs.
Any remaining confidence I had in Brown's sense now gone.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Pupillage workshops

I received a letter from my Inn today, amongst other things it was advertising Pupillage workshops for those who have failed to attain pupillage. Now, I have yet to apply but it seems a useful thing to do before applying. It includes being assigned a mentor to help with applications.

Sign me up I thought! But it's £50. That's a week of unemployment benefit, which I expect to be shortly in receipt of.

Only joking! But I think I will sign up for a workshop when the dates are set. I've been reading other blogs and the Student Room (which I am new to) and it's all making me very nervous for everyone!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Wigs and gowns

I'm not likely to be buying these items any time soon, but have just been having a look at the various retailer's websites. I have expected the website to have a 'because you're worth it' badge. £145 for a gown doesn't seem so awful.

£525.00 for a wig (or
£1,865.00 for a different style with frizzed rather than looped hair on top), however- now that's pretty big money. That's more than the average UK take-home salary.

When you think that it will last you the rest of your career, I suppose it's not so much (or until they get rid of wigs - but I have a strong faith in the length of time it takes any change to filter through in our blessed legal system).

It's still making me want to sneak into the local farm with a pair of shears and give a horse a haircut, mind. It'd be just like knitting! Maybe the Guardian Craft section will even have a posting on how to make your very own wig soon - it's very frucool, you know!

Although based on the above effort, I wouldn't hold out much hope.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Stream of consciousness

It's been a while. I've been all over, everywhere recently (mentally, not so much physically) except here. How are y'all doing out here?

Some of the highlights of recent weeks:

House moving and new job (both Boy) ; job applications (me from this point onwards); part time work; surprisingly high rate of return of interviews for applications (in fact for 4 odd applications recently I've been offered 4 interviews. Doesn't necessarily say much except that my applications for those positions were good) all of which were legal but not Olpas or pupillage related I should add; illess; missed exams; mucho stress; some dining but still haven't hit the magic 11 dining sessions yet, and not likely to anytime soon; probable likelihood of more missing of deadlines in the next few weeks; exciting Human Rights research; re-alignment of some 'Dream chambers' upon realisation that some really aren't dream chambers and do a lot more work for the government/employers than I am aiming for (Cab rank rule, I know - but we all know the economic power governs to a large extent the location of those ranks!); Mega- exciting Human Rights opportunity coming up (fingers crossed); sporadic crises of confidence; continuing annoyance with BVC requirements; a flop and near fail in one subject, total surprise, but hey it's a pass; weight loss but not much; lack of sleep, abundance of chocolate and painkillers; loss of faith in GPs; and more stress.

Oh, and also:(back to Boy) fights over washing up re quantity, frequency, responsibility and standard of*; and continually wondering where my post and parcels are because Royal Mail insist that I pick them up from their centre at an undisclosed location between the hours of 10.30 and 11.30 weekdays, wearing a red rose and with 5 forms of ID and my primary school report.

Phew. Need a nap. And a new suit (combination of old one getting tatty, and skirt a bit too loose: see weight loss above). Need funds for this. Funding of new suits rather incompatible with commitment to voluntary and pro bono work that seems necessary to align oneself as a Barrister- that-does-helping-people-law these days.

Where do said Human Rights Barristers and other go-getting professionals get the energy?

*Regarding the washing up, this is my position:
  • I have cooked you delicious food, and so it's not really fair for you to complain about the resulting washing up. I realise takeaway entails less dishes, but its bad for you and costs a lot more.
  • Further, even if you do the washing up it doesn't count if it doesn't meet my 2-stage washing up test afterwards (dish/implement clean on quick visual inspection, and squeaks to the touch when wet).
  • Finally, I have done loads of washing up, you just don't notice. In any case- they're your dishes...
  • The only think more boring about washing up dishes, is talking about it. Followed by posting about it, I'm sure.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


Not a funny or interesting post here today* I'm afraid - but a request for advice.

I've asked some people I've worked for to provide me with references (including for an internship I've recently applied for and have an interview for - teasers, it's human rights related and in Europe - eek!).

They've all said they're happy to write references, but that I should write them and they will amend/sign them. I know this is common but still leaves me with a dilemma. I'm modest by nature and not sure where to pitch it!

Any opinions?

* I allow myself the vanity of thinking that some of them are!!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Congrats to all you demon-wrestlers in the ether

By which I mean, in my obfuscatory and heavy way, a hearty well done and pat on the back to those of you who have wrestled with the dastardly Olpas/PP form and bested it. As I know you have. The deadline (at last I heard) ended today, and so you can all put it behind you for now until those invites to interview start rolling in.

I did not feel quite ready for The (Daddy of All Soul-Destroying) Forms and so I will attempt it next year, when hopefully my chakras will be fully balanced and Jupiter is in Mercury, or the mercury is higher, etc.

But seriously, well done. You should all feel v proud. May you emerge, bleary eyed and pale from all the concentration and enjoy the gorgeous May Day bank holiday!

Monday, 27 April 2009

More good news

I mention Boy every now and then, but I try not to say too much about him. After all, this is my blog and not his, and so I try and respect his right to privacy and all. However, on this occasion, I simply must tell all and sundry who is willing to listen to me!

Boy left a rather cushy job in another country, where he had a 15 min walk to work and was listed as a rising star in the legal directories there. He left this job to come over to the grim South Eastern Circuit, where he had no guarantee of getting advocacy work and was not interested in joining a firm. He was subsequently a "self-employed person without any work" for rather longer than is comfortable (more than a few months, less than a year). It was starting to look as if we'd both end up Trainee Baristas at Starbucks, any day.

But Lo! A forward thinking and innovative set has decided it will take a chance on him. He had a sort of tenancy, sort of pupillage arrangement. At a set that I could only dream of I should add, because his credentials are rather more stellar than mine. His CV gleams like fireworks in the night sky, whereas the sparks in mine are more remniscent of a toddler sticking a screwdriver in a socket*.So well done him!

* I did once do this. I was not a toddler, but more at the thick end of my teens. I was shot across the room, and the tip of the screwdriver melted. And so ended my flirtations with DIY, and began my relationship with frizz-reducing hair serums and anti-twitching** medication.

PS - I realise, embroiled in applications as we all are at the moment, that this qualifies as the sort of thing that people don't want to be hearing about. But - and this goes out particularly to the mature students amongst you - he is non-traditional. Very non-traditional, and certainly non-Oxbridge/public school. So, it should be encouraging that his set took a punt on him, and reflective of some sort of progress at the Bar. I'm certainly encouraged by this.

**That bit is a joke. But I could still enter a Dom King lookalike competition.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

I smell a rucus a-brewin'

I wonder if it'll get down to 'yo mamma' stylee mudslinging match?

My tutor gave me a copy of the judges comments, which Michael at Law Actually and Charon QC have posted about today. The Solicitor Advocates in question have responded.

They say the judge was:

"“hostile to us all, me included, the whole way through. Much of
this was conveyed by facial expression and vocal intonation, and therefore won't show up on the transcript. It was obvious from the first day of trial; none of us said anything until halfway through day 3, so the hostility predated anything we said or did. He would not look at any of us or address any of us directly; he referred to us innumerable times as "solicitors"in tones of contempt.” By contrast, he treated the only barrister in the case (prosecuting counsel) with perfectly proper courtesy."
Pretty hefty accusations all round.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Starting as I mean to go on

I've just had my first appearance in a hearing before a real judge in a real case at the Employment Tribunal*.

Even more shocking, it was my first win. This is how it went:

- I was absolutely terrified.

- I was well prepared (this would be a surprise to my BVC colleagues, but apparently I can pull it out for a real life client dependent on me. Yay for not being negligent)

- I said very little (see above, terrified), the Judge took the best possible view on the law which meant that the Respondent had an uphill and pretty much impossible struggle to show that our presentation of the facts was not credible.

- It was a Friday afternoon, and the Judge was mindful that we (he) didn't want to hang about ideally and so was very proactive and crucially, did not let the Respondent dilly dally too much or get away with asking my client any questions that weren't relevant in the strictest sense possible. He didn't know what had hit him.

- The Judge was incredibly sharp. I'm not saying this just because he decided in our favour; I was most impressed.

The potential issues I had prepared for did not come up, but it was there in case I had needed it and obviously, it is essential to avoid any sort of surprise. I was a tad disappointed I didn't get to do a bit more Examination in Chief, and indeed any Cross Examination - but it was a good result for my client on this preliminary issue. It was also a fairly gentle first court room experience.

Finally, I loved every minute of it. In the midst of all the application mumbo jumbo and compulsively cross checking my skills against the qualities required there have, admittedly, been the occasional periods of self doubt as to whether I could actually do this, or whether I would be happy doing something else such as being a solicitor if the elusive pupillage fairy persists in eluding me; the fickle and flighty fae that she is.

Not a bit of it. I'll happily fight the other 1,645** odd applicants to feel that mix of terror and excitement*** throughout my career.

* In Watford. It don't get more real, bros.

** Obviously, esteemed colleagues in the blogosphere, I do not mean you. We can set up our own set where we will champion Human Rights, break ground in Chancery work, right the wrongs of the family law system, and there will always be chocolate Hobnobs in the kitchen.

***Yes, I could achieve this by doing lots more FRU. But I'm sure the terror and excitement is even more when your professional reputation, mortgage, and career are on the line everyday as well as the client's neck.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Police brutality?

For a modern police force, in the last 10 years the police have had a few major incidents which have very seriously affected their public image. There was the Steven Lawrence case and subsequent inquiries which highlighted institutional racism, and the De Menezes case in 2007 showed up a whole raft of problems- not least, the tendency to cover up problems.

Will the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests prove to be a similar case? Charon QC posted this link today. The video is pretty shocking. It seems Tomlinson died minutes after being pushed about by the police. Earlier police reports made no reference to this incident.
I find the video quite shocking. I lean towards a natural suspicion of all authority figures, especially the police, but essentially I think that our Police force probably does a better job than most. However, we keep being told how they've moved on from the bad old days however, and act proportionately and according to the PACE codes of practice. Has there been a cover up?

Have the police learned nothing from the spate of enquiries in recent years - most crucially the De Menezes case?

If the Police did push Tomlinson unnecessarily, as the video seems to suggest, and this is shown to later have caused his death (I believe he died of a heart attack) what would that mean? Did the stress of that encounter cause that heart attack? The Guardian are pushing for an inquiry, but is there a question of civil or criminal liability? The eggshell skull rule comes to mind.

We've just covered abuse of process on the Advanced Criminal Litigation option on the BVC. I wonder what practitioners would say about Police ethics today.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Thou shalt not make graven images. Not with our toys, anyway.

I rarely read this publication, but this story made me smile. It's in the theme of Big Bad Company uses legal rights in an unnecessarily repressive way.

A German priest has been using Playmobil (I guess that's lego?) figures to recreate Biblical scenes. Check out Jesus with his crown of thorns, above. It's the wee lego smilie that gets you.

The suggestion seems to be that Playmobil are worried about non-Christians being offended by this usage. Perhaps their fear is not unreasonable given the massive outcry concerning the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed and similar incidents. I don't think it's all that commonly known but Jesus is the second most important Prophet in Islam, second only to Muhammed. They're like, BFFs, in modern parlance. The prohibition against portraying him is just as strong, and indeed in films made in the Middle East an actor playing Jesus, or other prophets would typically have a light beaming from his face or something, so as to obscure his features.

I caught Ben-Hur on the telly last week, and noted that you never saw Jesus' face on that either - or heard his voice. Presumably the Christian audience for that film would also have felt that showing Jesus' face was taboo. Perhaps this is something that has changed over time, I'm not sure.

Nevertheless, I think Playmobil have overreacted a tad. Many people will probably think that it is wrong to represent Jesus and other prophets in any form, whether by Lego toys, in painted glass, or in cartoon form. Most people however, will probably see that the intentions behind this priests actions were not to offend anyone, and certainly meant no disrespect to anyone. And gosh darnit, they're pretty cute.

Although, I do find the smiles a tad creepy!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009


...are out tomorrow for Drafting and one of the Advocacy assessments. Eek.

In other news, mini-applications a frenzy. Well, I have done a list of places to apply to, but not yet actually sent anything out. You see, for all my legal experience of various types I've only ever actually done 2 minis. And one was really work experience when I was still studying the 3 'R's, so I don't suppose that really counts.

Actually the chap I was followed around Snaresbrook Crown Court for a week or two back in those halcyon days was, I suppose, a bit of an inspiration. It's all his fault that I became taken with the glamour of the law, and justice and that malarky. I should probably drop him an email or a letter to say thanks. I'm not terribly sure what to say, though.

Mind you, once this session of applications is up the tone of that letter may change somewhat!

I had another mock interview at City, and apparently my style is much improved. My first interview, I came across as 'lacking passion' and my answers were too short. My answers are still quite short, but I think I showed a bit more of the spark of life about me.

Summer days are a-coming

Will they find me joining the dole queue? Double eek. Must find myself another bar qualification to do...!

I did get an email regarding internship opportunities (interest piqued) in international law (beginnings of excitement) researching war crimes (mouth beginning to froth) allegedly committed by the IDF in Gaza (hang on a minute...).

Umm. Precisely the sort of work I want to do, but that's the same Gaza with the wall still up, and the limited electricity and supplies, and the people being killed and dying every day? The one that the FCO website suggests "it would be foolish to go at this time", and further that they provide only limited consular support to anyone crazy enough to head out that way.

Maybe I am a complete champagne socialist and coward after all. I thought it might work, but then I ran the possibility past my mum, whose response can be paraphrased as 'No. Hell No.' and Boy who similarly said:

"It would be a bit of a pain if you were to go and get yourself shot. That would put a real damper on the wedding."

It does sound awfully interesting though, and precisely the sort of thing that inspires me. Readers of this blog will know that I am a complete international law nerd. Maybe I'd be fine?

Is travel insurance even offered for unstable regions such as the Occupied Territories?

VCs for 3 subjects so far, woo. Legal Research was a big shock, I expected to barely scrape a pass in that one.

Sunday, 29 March 2009


Yeesh. Picked up the Pupillages handbook. April is gonna be a bundle of fun, isn't it?

I've just gone through and noted all the sets I'm interested in applying to. I note two things: firstly that I have far more than the 12 Olpas sets that I can apply to. Secondly, there aren't many non-Olpas are there?

Actually, I also have a third point. I hear (and read) of people sending out over 100 applications (like that chap who wrote for the Times, now writes for Legal Week? Alex something? Android interviewed him, you know who I mean?). And yet, there are not 100 sets on my list. about 30 max, and that includes a few *dream* sets that I need to rub off and accept that when it comes to those sets, I'm a bit like one of those Pop Idol/X factor contestants who think they are Britain's answer to Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey/Celine Dion and are actually tone deaf, nasal mouth breathers.

I didn't mean to compare some of Britain's top legal minds to the warbling likes of Carey and Dion. Perhaps a better analogy could be found, but my point is that I think I know my limitations.

So, 100 applications? Surely there's only that many sets out there, and you couldn't possibly coherantly apply to all of them?

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Work/life balance

I'm working up to having a go at the Olpas form (soon. I need a lot of warming up and motivational pep-talks before I really start).

In combination with the recent engagement, constant talk of mortgages and credit-a-crunching on the news, I've been thinking about work-life balance and all that.

I imagine that like many I will have to go in for the whole kids, mortgage, and Guardian and veg box subscriptions at some point. (On reflection, my walk around Primrose Hill yesterday with its stupendous number of yummy mummies with ludicrously priced Nasa-designed buggies in tow is probably also a factor in this sort of thinking.)

But barristers don't really do maternity leave or anything, do they? If you're not working, you're not getting paid. Can you reduce the amount that you work and/or work from home without damaging a practice that you'll have spent the last many years working all the hours you had to build up?

What do people do? The female head of one of the top sets (this was a few years ago) once told me at a university careers event about popping in and out of court to breastfeed whilst the nanny waited outside the courtroom with the baby. Fabulously dynamic and go-getting as this may seem, I just don't see myself being able to do that.

Wardrobe malfunctions of a highly inappropriate nature would probably ensue in my case. And can you even get milk out of horsehair?

Thursday, 26 February 2009


So much for my posts on the Death Penalty - I'm not the most reliable of bloggers, am I?

A little update on my life- the BVC is still a magnificent waste of time and money, ICSL practically had to prise their second cheque out of my hands. Upcoming assessments have my nerves all a-twitter.

I'm really disappointed with the Advocacy Training in the BVC. The major skill of a Barrister is surely advocacy, written and oral. I expected much more than a weekly session late-September to February. If assessments were at the end of the year, that would be another 3 months advocacy training. If you're going to make the course a year long, then make it worthwhile.

In other news Boy went ring shopping and when he presented me with a suitably sparkly one, well - it would have been rude to say no, wouldn't it?

I'm so looking forward to all the cake-tasting.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Death Penalty some food...and some complainin'

In reverse order to the title above, first comes the complaining. That's probably not a terribly good way to write a blog, I suppose you're meant to hook your readers in a bit? Look at it another way, we're getting the pain out of the way early. Although not strictly true as I will be ending on the death penalty...

Snowed in

Anyhoo. First- snow! So very pretty, and really terribly good fun. I made a snowman and played around with some bits of it for quite a while. The texture, packing together all those flakes of snow, imagining all those 6 pointed crystals jamming together, was really quite lovely. What made it feel a little slippery, slimy as it melts in your fingers? Ionic bonds, covalent something or other? Lovely as it was it did rather make London come to a stand still.

I think it was the combined prayers of ICSL students that did it...

This was a blessing of sorts because dear old ICSL was forced to extend the Opinion writing deadline for a day. This only made me think, ooh I have another day. Perfect time to finish the Blackadder DVD boxset (up to series 3 now, the power-crazed Liz 1 is most entertaining!). And now it has been submitted and I do hope that I've passed because I would happily never do that again. Until I start my practice as an actual barrister, where a significant chunk of one's daily work will involve giving advice and writing opinions.

Am I deluding myself as to my ability to be a good barrister? I hope not. I think there's a crucial difference between the artificial BVC exercise and real-life opinions. Namely that, if I was researching an area that I knew nothing about I'd probably run some things by someone who knew something about it. 'Dave, can I just check that I've understood this rule of X law? Aha, I see - glad I checked, it wasn't entirely clear from the case law/statutes'.

I'm quite sure that my research skills are severely remiss, and I completely understand why we are not allowed to talk to anyone about the subject matter of the Research/Opinion. It does cause a little bit of unnecessary panic though, and a lot of my panicking to understand the law of defamation would have been a lot more efficient, if for example as a pupil I could have talked to a co-pupil, a solicitor friend, or my pupil master.


The git has been submitted for now, and fingers crossed this is the last I will see of those two options! I'm much more looking forwards to concentrating on Drafting and Advocacy - things I might, with some luck, get good at.
I hope everyone else is feeling suitably relieved. Special mention to Barmaid who it seems had to deal with a stonker of an assignment.

Food, glorious food

And now for something completely different : I want a sous vide machine because of these chaps and also I saw it on a telly programme. Shame they cost $3000ish. Also, I do feel instinctively that they must make food taste of the plastic it's wrapped in. 90 minutes is also rather long for a steak. I'm sure it will pass, last week I wanted a chocolate tempering machine because of this man's blog. And an ice cream maker, the kind that has its own refrigeration unit. Then I could make gelatos, and sorbets, and creams and ices, and all manner of loveliness. The continuing cake obsession shows no sign of fading, you will be pleased to hear. My doctor will be pleased to hear that I have been tempering this will some sort of vegetable based items - try quarted brussel sprouts, boiled/steamed in a minimal amount of water until bright green (when their nutrients are at a peak) seasoned, with stilton cheese sprinkled on top. Revelation of brussel sprouts + blue cheese = guilt free deliciousness courtesy of The Gruniad.

Death Penalty

Finally, I opened up the proverbial can of worms with my last post. I did say that I would do another blog post, and in fact I don't think that the subject can be treated in a single blog post. Well, it could but it would hardly be easy to read.

Why my interest in the death penalty, you might ask? Well, I've lived here all my life and Britain is clearly a country that doesn't entertain capital punishment and I haven't had any personal involvement with it. Or, I should say with aggravated murder generally. That sounds a bit silly, but what I mean is my life experiences don't put me in either the 'victim/survivor' camp or the, umm, convicted murderer camp.

I have a connection to the States, and I spent a few months working with some of the leading death-penalty lawyers in the country. This was at State and Federal level, and included appellate work and working on live cases, and a fair bit on voir dire stuff as well as extensive research. Really blimming interesting.

The other reason for my interest is the same as many others- I live in society, subject to the rules of law and morality along with everyone else. I am probably a bit of a leftie-human-rights-cheerleader. That's me in context.

So, the Death Penalty in three parts:

1 - The Emotions and ethics behind the death penalty
2- the Death Penalty in practice - public perceptions, voir dire and trials.
3 - the Death Penalty in practice - appellate procedures, costs, and lots of lovely, shiny statistics.

Oh - if it wasn't obvious, I'm not a big fan of the death penalty.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Death Penalty- by way of television medical dramas

In my role as part-time complete and utter sad sack (do let's pretend it's only a part-time position) I am a big fan of American medical dramas. This amuses me because I generally do not think much of a lot of American TV, or TV in general (but mind, they know how to do it well- anyone seen Madmen? Or Rome?) and the sight of blood and guts on any real medical show, or even on a British medical drama, has me reaching for the remote before you can say "O-neg, stat!!".

In the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy, the gang had to treat a man on death row. The storyline is by the by, but got me thinking about the issue again.

Grey's is set in Seattle, Washington. A state which I believe has 9 men on death row currently. It is by means comparable to Texas or Florida who execute shockingly high numbers each year, nay- each week. Including some who really shouldn't be - the mentally retarded and the innocent.

Washington is a pretty small state (in terms of population at least) in the Pacific North-West. It's a pretty leftie, Democrat state. Seattle, the biggest city in Washington brought much to the world of music, including Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. It makes sense that the grunge scene could only have come out of pretty comfortable suburban americana!

But Washington unlike say California or Oregon, its friends on the Pacific coast, does actually execute people. It has since 1993 executed 4 people. 3 of these are what are known as 'volunteers' in that they give up their appeals rights and stop fighting execution. This is the same situation in Oregon, which has executed 2 volunteers since the death penalty was re-instated there, however it has not executed anyone under the modern Death penalty statute who has not given up their appeal rights). This is the man who did not volunteer for execution in Washington:

Charles Rodman Campbell
Hanged May 27, 1994
Convicted of killing 2 women, Renae Wicklund, her neighbor Barbara and Renae's nine year old daughter. Charles committed these murders while serving a prison sentence for the sexual assault of Renae Wicklund. At the time of the murders he was in work release. The state settled with the victim's families for 2.3 million dollars, for failing to notify the Wicklunds of Campbell's release status. Campbell refused to cooperate with the execution. He had to be moved from his cell using pepper spray and had to be forcibly strapped to a board so that he could be hanged. It took prison officials 90 seconds to place a hood on his head and to fix the noose before the trap door was opened.

Washington no longer uses hanging, and I think this case was the reason why.

I wasn't aware- until I watched the Grey's episode and then came to do some googling- that a Darold Stenson was due to be executed on 3 December of last year. His execution was stayed by the Federal Government, and currently there is an ongoing investigation as to new DNA evidence . Stenson has always maintained his innocence, and it is suggested that this evidence will show that he was framed.

I don't know much about the case. I am not suggesting that he is innocent. But if this was Texas, and not Washington, he would have been executed on 3 December. And then what of new evidence, that may have been missed in the original trial? The risk of executing an innocent person, even if it's a tiny risk, that awful risk must be so abhorrent that we cannot accept capital punishment in any configuration.

Obama's doing pretty well at the moment. I wonder if the constitutionality of the death penalty will be revisited under his presidency?

Friday, 16 January 2009

I know this is meant to be a blawg, but

...the law does tend to be a bit peripheral here, doesn't it? (except for my generalised complaints about it). Please excuse another further totally non-law post:

Post Xmas diets*. What a pain. Walked 5 miles yesterday - felt good, especially when I looked at the pedometer and saw how many calories that meant I'd burned. I'm trying to make this a daily habit (have been walking about 3 miles a day this week).

But this morning I feel curiously light headed and have all the mental agility of Homer Simpson at the end of an evening at Moe's Tavern. Having a cup of coffee before bed probably not the best idea.

Will just have to have a massive lunch to perk me up. Bang goes yesterday's burn!

I'm trying not to make a big thing of it at home though, just trying to be a bit healthier and feel a bit lighter and perkier. I have a teen-aged sister who is showing rather worrying signs of a very disordered relationship with food and weight, and I'm trying to be a helpful big sister and keep her on the right track.

Hope the other dieters out there are faring better!

*Although it goes back a bit further than Xmas. I brought home a bit of excess baggage from the States, you might say. Damn that pizza joint on the corner!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Waterboarding is torture. Well, duh.

The nominee for the US general attorney has said that waterboarding is torture.

I am encouraged by this and Barack Obama's pledge to close Guantanamo. I'm not sure if the AG has the same role in the US as over here ( I'm thinking of Lord Goldsmith and his opinion which helped legitimise the Iraq war) but every little helps!

Legal Research

I'm done with my Civil MCT and first Advocacy assessment. Both passed without any significant hitches, not amazingly well but as long as I passed then that's ok.

With Legal research however, I am having 2 areas of difficulty:

1) Not knowing any basic Contract/Tort law

2) Laziness

These are a working against my achieving a thorough and well thought out research answer and opinion.

Back to the grindstone!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Still procrastinatin', sweet relief

A facebook friend posted this link:

I'm afraid it's been a terrible distraction and has had me cackling all over the shop. Do pay the site a visit if you could do with a giggle (and who couldn't?)- see particularly the 'Inspiration vs. Perspiration page'.


PS - will not help with January diets! Although some of them look so awful, it could put you off heavily frosted cakes for good.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Getting a proper job

It is exam time, and so naturally I am thinking of all things except revision and exams. Sorry, assessments - the lingo is a bit different when you're paying this much for it. (My cynicism re the BVC and value for money knows no bounds).

And so I am looking on to May, June-ish time. I have not applied for pupillage for next year. So what exactly should I do with myself? Being in London, I am sure I can find some sort of para-legal work, but that's not very exciting is it?

Any suggestions welcome.

ETA- Also: To Olpas or not to Olpas? That is the question. I might leave this joy for next year. If you never apply, you can never be rejected!