Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book recommendation: 'Wig Begone' by Charles Courtley


Wig Begone is an exhilarating tale of Charles' early career with disaster often lurking round the corner and culminating in his own appearance in front of England's most notorious judge!

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book recommendation: 'The Litigators' by John Grisham


'Grisham is brilliantly comic in a novel that is full of zest and brimming with memorable characters and rich storylines... The legal storylines are typically rich in social detail and instances of entertaining rascality... Away from his usual southern turf, Grisham is turned by Chicago into a more Dickensian writer, soft-hearted at times but predominantly funny... a brilliant comic set piece'

(The Sunday Times)

'The Litigators is up there with the best of Grisham's 25 novels... vintage Grisham. [His] style is direct and the result is a superbly plotted legal thriller'

(Sunday Express)

'The Litigators is a thrilling romp through the murky world of lawsuits and shysters - rich and poor. Packed with [Grisham's] signature twists and turns, not to mention lots of double-dealing, be careful if you're reading The Litigators on the bus, you may just miss your stop'

(Irish Independent)

'[A] snappy, well-turned novel...Grisham brings his usual nuanced understanding of tort law and civil jurisprudence'

(Washington Post)

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Don't miss 'The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff' on BBC iPlayer! @iammarkevans

I watched The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff on BBC2 last night and couldn't recommend it more highly. It's got an incredible cast which includes Stephen Fry, Robert Webb, David Mitchell, Celia Imrie, Johnny Vegas...the list goes on. It's also written by the brilliant Mark Evans who has already written four series of Bleak Expectations for Radio 4 (and who you can follow on Twitter at @iammarkevans). This was not just slightly good comedy but it was classic British humour at its very best. I really wish there were more programmes like this around but I can only imagine that the reason there aren't is that writing talents like that come along only perhaps once in a generation. You can see it on iPlayer and I'm delighted to hear that there are three more episodes still to come. A big and explosive thumbs up to the BBC for creating such a wonderful piece of comedy drama.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My dog Jack is immortalised by top Hollywood animator Alex Williams!

My dog Jack has just been immortalised by top Hollywood animator Alex Williams who also draws the Queen's Counsel cartoons for The Times and has written numerous books including the excellent The Queen's Counsel Official Lawyers Handbook. He has worked on films such as Roger Rabbit, Narnia and Marmaduke and even drew drew Harry Potter's deer Patronus. You can see a video of Jack surfing here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The real meaning of Christmas


Book recommendation: 'Letters to a Young Poet' by Rainer Maria Rilke


"...I cannot think of a better book to put into the hands of any young would-be poet, as an inspirational guide to poetry and to surviving as a poet in a hostile world." Harry Fainlight, The Times

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas competition - win signed copies of my two BabyBarista novels!



With Christmas looming, I have decided to hold a competition in order to help encourage people to buy my two BabyBarista novels Law and Peace and Law and Disorder which are both published by Harry Potter's very own Bloomsbury Publishing. First prize will be a signed copy of both novels, second prize will be a signed copy of Law and Peace and third prize a signed copy of Law and Disorder. In order to enter, all you have to do is to promote either or both of the books in some way. It might be through forwarding this post, tweeting about the books or through giving them a mention on Facebook or by email to your friends. It might simply be by mentioning them at a meeting of your law society, book group or, frankly, even down the pub. Whatever it is, please put the details in the comment below this post (I've changed the settings so that you only need to leave your name and email). Put as many details as you like (eg number of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, people down the pub you drunkenly mentioned it to, etc). If it's a tweet then if you mention @babybarista I'll be able to see it. For other things I guess I'll have to rely on the fact that you're mostly lawyers or lawyers in training and therefore of the very highest moral standing in terms of honesty and integrity (!) The closing date is midnight on 23rd December and I will then decide at my complete and utter (and totally subjective) discretion who are to be the various winners and contact you to get the postal address where you'd like me to send the prize.

For your information, Law and Disorder (2009) was described by The Times as "a cross between The Talented Mr Ripley, Rumpole and Bridget Jones's Diary" and Law and Peace (2011) was described by the Daily Mail as a "funny, sharp account of backstabbing Bar life...highly recommended" and by broadcaster Jeremy Vine as "a novel bursting with invention". Both books are available at amazon.co.uk.

Book recommendation: 'My Uncle Oswald' by Roald Dahl


Roald Dahl's first-ever novel presents the scurrilous memoirs of that delightful old reprobate from switch bitch, Oswald Hendryks Cornelius - connoisseur, bon vivant, collector of spiders, scorpions, odd walking sticks, lover of opera, expert on Chinese porcelain, and without doubt the greatest fornicator of all time. In this delightful picaresque story, it is revealed how Uncle Oswald first achieved great wealth - all thanks to the Sundance blister beetle, which when ground to powder has the most electrifying aphrodisiac qualities. It is 1919 - armed with the powder and aided by the beautiful amoral Yasmin how comely, Oswald begins an audacious commercial enterprise which involves seducing the most famous men in Europe - from crowded heads to Bernard Shaw and Marcel Proust.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book recommendation: 'Lucky Jim' by Kingsley Amis


Jim Dixon has accidentally fallen into a job at one of Britain's new red brick universities. A moderately successful future in the History Department beckons. As long as Jim can survive a madrigal-singing weekend at Professor Welch's, deliver a lecture on 'Merrie England' and resist Christine, the hopelessly desirable girlfriend of Welch's awful son Bertrand.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top American Law Blog 'Above The Law' reviews 'Law and Peace'


Very many thanks to top American law blog Above the Law for reviewing my new book Law and Peace. You can read the review here or below. You can buy the book at Amazon.co.uk

Certainly, the pompous, jargon-laden speech of the Freeman in the video clip is reminiscent of the lawyers in Law & Peace: The BabyBarista Files, a recently-released satirical novel about the British legal profession by former barrister Tim Kevan. And the Freeman movement as a whole — essentially anarchy dressed up with ritual and long-winded rhetoric — bears more than a passing resemblance to Kevan’s picture of a ceremony-obsessed legal world where, behind the scenes, anything goes.

A recurrent theme in Law & Peace is the cynicism displayed by lawyers in private. At one point, the members of Kevan’s fictional chambers of barristers break off from a session of recruitment interviews to reflect on the sycophantic responses of the applicants to their questions. Later on, over a couple of pints in the local pub, they compile a set of truthful answers.

Why Law?

“Because I just love twisting the truth and taking technical points.”

Why personal injury?

“Because it’s easy and well, I like money.”

Why employment law?

“Because litigants in person are always easier to beat.”

Why landlaw and tenant [aka real estate]?

“Because I’ll enjoy doing-over impoverished tenants and hey, it’s one better even than being a bailiff. Why, it’s living the dream.”

When they’re not partaking in these chats, Kevan’s characters are padding their bills to private clients, screwing the publicly funded litigation system for all it’s worth, and generating as much confusion about the workings of law as they can. At one point, a lawyer named Slippery reflects: “It’s simple. The harder we work at complicating everything the more essential we become to being able to fix it. A wonderful, money-making virtuous circle.”

It may be fiction, but the grain of truth found in this witty distillation of Kevan’s ten years practising as a barrister in London gives an insight into why the U.K. public have become sick not just of politicians and bankers, but increasingly of lawyers, too.

In his rebuttal of the Freeman movement, Gardner argues, not a little pompously himself, that “law is the friend of political progress, not its enemy.” Given the legal profession’s failure to live up to this lofty billing during the boom years, perhaps it’s time lawyers shouldered some of the blame for the rise of the Freeman movement, rather than simply telling everyone how stupid it is.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book recommendation: ‘Secrets of the Spirit’ by Laura Louise Stewart

I've just read  Secrets of the Spirits by new author Laura Louise Stewart and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Whilst it's written for children aged nine and over, I think it will also appeal to adults, particularly those who love animals and the countryside. It's a ghost story involving native American Indians and the animals which were important to them and a young girl who chapter by chapter uncovers the mystery lying at its heart. It's a great read which evocatively transports you to another world whilst at the same time keeping the pages turning as you look to see what happens next. I really do think this could become a hit - remember you heard it here first! It's available on Kindle at a bargain price of £2.14.  The book summary says the following:

"Penelope Piper’s mother accuses her of liking animals more than people, but Penelope thinks her mum is the same about archaeology, and that's a load of boring rocks and the broken belongings of dead people! When they take a trip to a beautiful lake in New York State to investigate some Native American rock paintings, Penelope doesn't think it sounds promising, but then she discovers something strange about the hotel they are staying in, the eerie Bloodgood Homestead, something linked to the rumours that the town is haunted by ghostly deer. Who is the old woman imprisoned at the top of the stairs? What are the weird Bloodgood brothers hiding? Has the town really been cursed by the ghostly deer, ethereal creatures which cause car accidents on the densely forested roads around the lake before disappearing into thin air? And why is her mum acting even stranger than normal? When a black cat leads her to an unexpected meeting, Penelope starts to learn more about the beliefs of the people who used to live around the shores of Lake Wamequin and their connections to the natural world, revealed only to those who share their love of nature. With an ancient medicine bag belonging to an Iroquois boy as the key, the spirit guides reveal themselves one by one and help her to unlock the mystery of the ghostly deer. Along the way Penelope finds herself becoming more deeply involved with the history of the lake’s people (both present and past) then she ever would have thought possible and making startling discoveries about her own history. Throughout this book there is extra fun in finding the secret signs from the animal spirit guides each chapter is named after. Look out for the mighty bear and wily coyote, and think about which creature might be your own spirit guide."

Weekend video: 'Wilberforce (Amazing Grace)'

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Legal Aware review of 'Law and Disorder'


Many Thanks to Legal Aware for their review of my book Law and Disorder. You can read the review here or below. You can buy the book at Amazon.co.uk
‘In ever-more wicked and devilishly-funny ways, from hacking into someone’s Facebook page to committing identity fraud, BabyB tumbles down the slippery slope from eager competitiveness to underhand racketeering faster than you can say “Objection your honour”’ Big Issue

‘For all those aspiring advocates who believe they are entering a glamorous or even principled profession, this book is essential reading.’ Independent

Funnily enough, my audiobook experience of ‘Law and Disorder’ by Tim Kevan was virtually identical to my experience of the #iPad2 #kindle version. Tim Kevan is the author of ‘Law and Peace’ and ‘Law and Disorder,’ which are both published by Bloomsbury and available on Amazon. For further information, visithttp://www.timkevan.com and http://timkevan.blogspot.com.

Tim has a very dry, but hilarious, sense of humour, and his characterisations are extremely clear. I recognised every single one of the character types in ‘Law and Disorder’, can visualise graphically some of the places in London referred to, and even though I am extremely unlikely to go anywhere near an Inn, apart from to attend an academic lecture on a topic which interests me, like human rights, I now have a handy picture of life as a barrister.

It doesn’t matter to me that my graphical representation of life as a junior barrister is probably as accurate as life as a Cambridge undergraduate, graduate or Master, after reading or watching Tom Sharpe’s brilliant ‘Porterhouse Blue’. I could recite, if necessary, certain passages from the book word-by-word; the ‘am I bovvered?’ scene is classic. Some lines are pearls of writing: for example, “Not even Barbara Windsor could have delivered the line better”.

The book is undeniably fictional, as one hopes that a real life BabyBarista does not exist, but the account s frighteningly realistic. It’s impossible to enjoy ‘Law and Disorder’ without wondering what makes Tim Kevan tick, and that is of course part of the success as Tim is a barrister-by-training. Which is why, having completed ‘Law and Disorder’ (several times), I am looking forward enormously to ‘Law and Peace’. Tim’s motivation, in part, unless I have completely misread him, is to try to understand what being a very junior barrister is all about. An unfortunate side-effect of this book is that you can’t help feeling an enormous amount of pity and/or admiration for those people who have somehow survived this process, if it is depicted reasonably faithfully. You indeed wonder how on earth a select few will make it to QC, suffice-to-say that it must help to be very thick-skinned!

Tim writes,
“I guess the thing about legal life is that it doesn’t necessarily need to end up being over-worked and stressful. But in a profession that bills itself out by the hour, there’s an inherent risk of it producing a tendency to commoditise what might be our most precious possession, that of time itself. As BabyBarista discovers, it certainly doesn’t have to be like that and during the course of the book he slowly starts to return to the things that really matter.”

(see here)

I wished to write this review, without having read other people’s thoughts on it. Law and Disorder started life as an anonymous blog and its appeal as a novel is obvious. Tim Kevan, a former barrister himself, has a sharp eye for detail. Law and Disorder was described by The Times as “a cross between The Talented Mr Ripley, Rumpole and Bridget Jones’s Diary” and Law and Peace has been described by the Daily Mail as a “funny, sharp account of backstabbing Bar life…highly recommended” and by broadcaster Jeremy Vine as “a novel bursting with invention”. They are based on the BabyBarista Blog which Tim has written for The Guardian. He is also the co-author of Why Lawyers Should Surf (with Dr Michelle Tempest).

I am also extremely mindful of giving away the story – but it’s a gem. The book commences with BabyBarista’s first day as a pupil barrister. He has just one year to win through whatever means he sees fit the sought-after prize of a tenancy in chambers. Competition is fierce: there’s “TopFirst”, who has a prize-winning CV but unfortunately a huge ego to match; “BusyBody” on a husband hunt but whose life seems to be predictably unpredictable; and “Wide-Eyed Worrier”, buckling under the burgeoning dimensions of the legal world.

Litigation is like war.” So BabyBarista is told on being presented with a copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War during his first day in chambers. BabyB is about to discover that the battle lines are drawn not only in the courtroom but between the barristers who will be his neighbours for the next year of continual assessment in the furious ‘race for pupillage’. It is a lesson he is quick to learn – if fraud, philandering and a string of transgressions are to dictate which of the aspiring pupils make tenancy, BabyB appears to give as good as he gets. Part of you wishes to disapprove of BabyBarista’s behaviour, in the same way the Bar Standards Board most definitely would, but part of you may have some residual affection for the muddling along which epitomises Baby Barista’s rudimentary political survival techniques.

In summary, I strongly recommend this book, even if you have no interest in life at the Bar, young people, or London. It’s a marvellous piece of comedy scripting, and will engender a lot of emotions in your wish to support BabyBarista’s career and personal success. It would make a great Christmas present for any student currently doing the BPTC, for example, hint hint ….!

In a weird way, this book I feel would be incredibly inspiring for anybody about to start their long journey with an Inn of Court here in London. Bring on, ‘Law and peace”!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book recommendation: 'A Week in December' by Sebastian Faulks


`Readers will race through the pages like bankers through cash.' --Guardian

'During times of momentous change, men of letters are driven to produce works that fictionalise the state of the nation, linking individuals with historic events. The 19th century gave us Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Dickens's Our Mutual Friend and Trollope's The Way We Live Now; the 21st has given us Sebastian Faulks's A Week in December.' --Sunday Times

`Faulks's most vivid character is the odious John Veals, a hedge-fund manager, who relishes all the money that he makes and the power that he quietly exerts... Veals is brilliantly insidious... A thoughtful page-turner ... The handsome sunset is heavily, and rightly, weighed down by dark clouds.' --The Times

`As cold, impassive and deadly as a coiled rattlesnake, John Veals will endure as the epoch-defining villain of early 21st-century British fiction.' --Independent

`His book could not be more topical or bang up to date ...Faulks holds a mirror up to our drug-addled, money-obsessed society. The novel is full of Russian babes, venal politicians and bank fraudsters. What more could any reader want? Eat your heart out Charles Dickens.' --Tatler

`This vast novel, well-plotted and gripping throughout, is the first that Sebastian Faulks has set in our time... the ambition and scope of the book are to be applauded. The conclusion is suitably nail-biting and, pleasingly, love triumphs. Sebastian Faulks has probably got another best-seller on his hands.' --Spectator

`A portrayal of modern London that is both richly entertaining and highly rewarding. Faulks has come as close as anyone to completing the jigsaw that is this crazy, fascinating city of ours.' --Evening Standard

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

@LegalCheek – excellent new law blog

Heads up for a great new humorous law blog called Legal Cheek from top legal journalist @AlexAldridgeUK and friends. It's got a Tweets of the Week section and a regular podcast as well as contributions from numerous different contributors. Highly recommended.

Infamy or Praise review of 'Law and Peace'


Very many thanks to Infamy or Praise for reviewing my new book Law and Peace. You can read the review here or below. You can buy the book at Amazon.co.uk

A couple of years ago, I reviewed and recommended Tim Kevan's first BabyBarista novel,BabyBarista and the Art of War:
This is a book worth reading; it's entertaining and insightful, building upon the best aspects of the much-praised BabyBarista blog and providing greater depth and color (or should that be colour?) to its characters and stories. It's not a flawless novel, but it's well worth your time.

In the second volume of "The BabyBarista Files", entitled Law & Peace: The BabyBarista Files, Kevan demonstrates his growth as a novelist. Law & Peace is as engaging as Art of War and its crisper plotting will likely make it more enjoyable for those who are less familiar with the idiosyncracies of the English bar's pupillage and tenancy system.

While readers of his earlier work will already be acquainted with the motley crew of supporting characters around protagonist BabyBarista, those who haven't read BabyBarista and the Art of War (or as it was retitled later, Law and DisOrder) and don't follow BabyB's adventures online at either The Guardian or Kevan's own BabyBarista site shouldn't be deterred. His convention of referring to all but a few characters by nicknames allows us to follow the story without referring back to the character descriptions preceding the first chapter.

As before, BabyB is an earnest figure who often does the wrong things for the right reasons. Struggling with the debts accumulated in putting him through his schooling and pupillage, this time out he becomes entangled in the unscrupulous schemes of a greedy solicitor, SlipperySlope, and of OldSmoothie, a barrister in his own chambers. As he finds himself out of his depth in their self-dealing and cynical plotting and targeted by TopFirst, a rival whom he bested in Art of War, BabyB relies on his wits to see him through. Ultimately, however, it's his at times discounted, if never entirely discarded moral character which both enables his success and makes it worth cheering.

As was the case with the first novel, Law & Peace is, in essence, a morality play. Various figures embody ideals whereas others are evils who tempt or persecute BabyB in this allegorical story. That and the novel's point-of-view narration allow BabyB to always remain the focus of this story, but it necessarily shortchanges characterization for many of the supporting players. We learn more about some of the characters from the earlier novel and learn enough about those introduced in this one, but none of them are especially deep. They represent types, characteristics, and challenges, but they have little existence beyond acting upon BabyB for good or ill. The continuing adventures of BabyBarista are a Pilgrim's Progress for the legal set; unlike that famous work, thankfully, BabyB's progress is never a humorless slog.

In reviewing Art of War, I wrote that its ending was "a bit too abrupt and convenient". Law & Peace builds to a sudden, sweeping resolution of its various plotlines, but the result is much more in keeping with the narrative to that point and thus is more satisfying. As before, Kevan was kind enough to send me a copy of his novel for review and, as before, I'm glad to send another copy on my own dime to a friend, an expat Geordie lawyer, rather than part with my own.

I'm looking forward to BabyB's next novel-length adventure, though I think Kevan will be hard-pressed to come up with a fiction to rival some real shenanigans involving the English bar. Anyone who reads BabyB's stories of his own and others' misfeasance and malfeasance and thinks that these are simply unbelievable need look no further than today's newspapers. If, as is alleged, a prominent lawyer for the now-defunct News of the World had a hand in the hiring of investigators to gather dirt on the private lives of lawyers representing phone hacking victims, can BabyB's next adventure possibly be outrageous enough to rival reality?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book recommendation: 'Bartleby The Scrivener' by Herman Melville


"I prefer not to," he respectfully and slowly said, and mildly disappeared.

Academics hail it as the beginning of modernism, but to readers around the world—even those daunted by Moby-DickBartleby the Scrivener is simply one of the most absorbing and moving novellas ever. Set in the mid-19th century on New York City’s Wall Street, it was also, perhaps, Herman Melville's most prescient story: what if a young man caught up in the rat race of commerce finally just said, "I would prefer not to"?

The tale is one of the final works of fiction published by Melville before, slipping into despair over the continuing critical dismissal of his work after Moby-Dick, he abandoned publishing fiction. The work is presented here exactly as it was originally published in Putnam's magazine—to, sadly, critical disdain.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Thursday, November 10, 2011

North Devon's very own Andrew Cotton tows Garrett McNamara into a world record 90 foot wave

Great to see that it was North Devon big wave surfer Andrew Cotton who was towing Garrett McNamara into the world record breaking 90 foot wave off Portugal recently. You can see a clip of the wave on the BBC and you can read more about Andrew at his blog something about nothing and at the Tiki International website who are one of his sponsors. He also has a new blog at Eyeball Surfcheck

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Support Matt Warshaw and his project to put the Encyclopedia of Surfing online

Matt Warshaw is currently raising money for an exciting new project to put the Encyclopedia of Surfing online. Here's the main concept:

"The Encyclopedia of Surfing online is like the book, except reborn for the digital age. A zillion photos, video clips, and links. Fully searchable. Updated constantly. All the archive material, plus a rundown on what’s happening in surfing right now. The site is already designed, and it’s off-the-chart awesome. Clean as a whistle. Fast and functional. No exclamation points. No ads. All of the text from the book is now updated and loaded into the site. New entries are being written. Photos and video clips are right now being scanned, edited, logged, and tagged. (Prime stuff, too. Contributors include  Art Brewer, Taylor Steele, Bruce Brown, Ron Stoner, Jeff Divine, Alby Falzon, Flame, Chris Malloy, Ron Church, Doc Ball, Don James, Steve Sherman, Tom Servais, Warren Bolster, Dana Brown, Thomas Campbell, and the list goes on.)"

To find out more about the project and how you can help, click here.

Book recommendation: 'Jerusalem' by Jez Butterworth


An Instant Modern Classic. A comic, contemporary vision of life in our green and pleasant land. BEST PLAY Evening Strtandard Awards BEST PLAY Critics Circle Awards. On St George's Day, the morning of the local county fair, Johnny Byron, local waster and modern day Pied Piper, is a wanted man. The council officials want to serve him an eviction notice, his children want their dad to take them to the fair, Troy Whitworth wants to give him a serious kicking and a motley crew of mates want his ample supply of drugs and alcohol.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Douglas E Powell and the Central Casting Band in Ilfracombe this Saturday

Douglas E Powell and the Central Casting Band, with DJ support slot from the Hippy Cowboys, The Landmark, Illfracombe, 12th November

If you are coming along to the Douglas E Powell show at The Landmark Theatre, Illfracombe, Devon, 12th November can you please pre-book your tickets on the theatres on-line box office at THE BOX OFFICE as a lack of pre-booked tickets is threatening to cancel the show. Come on folks it's only £2.00! 

Douglas E Powell is a singer/songwriter who lives in Braunton in North Devon. Great music and lyrics and well worth checking out. His two albums The Still and The West and The Iron Coast are available on his website at douglasepowell.co.uk. You can see more information and his list of forthcoming gigs on his myspace site.

Saunton this evening (click to enlarge)


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sponsored blog post: Making the most of pension contributions with Informed Choice and @andrewneligan

If we are to live the retirement lifestyle we wish to, when we wish to, we need to ensure that we have built up sufficient capital from which to draw an income. The most common source of income in retirement is a pension; either private or company sponsored. The problem for many is that the level of pension planning is not sufficient to meet income expectations and, now the Government have restricted the amount that anyone can save into a pension plan each year to £50,000, it will be harder to build up sufficient capital. For those who intended to maximise pension contributions later in their careers this is no longer an effective strategy.

Fortunately there is a means to make larger contributions in the short term via the ‘carry forward’ rules which allows those who were previously limited by the special annual allowance, or who simply missed maximising contributions in the previous three years, to top up contributions now. There are specific requirements that need to be followed to meet the carry forward rules but it should be seen as an opportunity to quickly boost pension funding and minimise income tax for anyone who has the capacity to do so. Having a father in the law I know time is precious. My aim is to save busy lawyers time they don’t have to research and action the steps necessary to provide a comfortable retirement. Importantly I work on a fee basis to ensure transparency and no conflict of interest. You can contact me via andrew@icl-ifa.co.uk

Book recommendation: 'Opheilia in Pieces' by Clare Jacob


Nail-biting drama... If you like Silk, you will love this...

On the eve of her 39th birthday, top barrister Ophelia Dormandy decides she is going to make amends. Tonight, after months of late nights at her desk, she s going to return home early, cook a special supper maybe even wear that red dress Patrick once said he liked.

But Ophelia is in for a shock. After 20 years together, her husband announces he s been having an affair, and leaves. Her home life implodes, and work soon follows suit before long, she s broke, drinking too much and falling for a client of questionable innocence. And then she is faced with the most serious trial of her life, when a disgruntled defendant comes back to haunt her, threatening everything that she holds dear...

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sponsored blog post: Abide by UK Divorce Rules for a Problem-Free Separation


The mere idea of filing for a divorce in the United Kingdom can prove to be an intimidating task for anybody. The picture of splitting up from your spouse can undoubtedly be a painful experience, but the actual divorce procedure can also be as painful if it is not carried out properly. If you want a successful separation from your partner without any difficulty, it is essential to comprehend the divorce rules and process in the UK. A complete understanding of the rules will assist you in getting over the impediments that you might otherwise go through.     

According to the divorce rules here, it is a mandatory that one of the partners has resided in the country all through the year preceding the split up. In case none of the parties contends the divorce, then the process for an undefended divorce will be initiated, which consumes a minimum of 6 months. In the absence of any kids or real property in common, you do not even need a solicitor. The judge will come to a decision known as decree nisi and you won’t have to present yourself before the judge at the proceeding. The UK divorce rules state that after the passing of 6 weeks from the decree nisi, the applicant will seek the ultimate decree absolute that marks the legal termination of a marriage. In case one partner contests the divorce, a defended divorce process will commence and the need for a solicitor will arise.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bristol and the West Country Food Blog

There's a great food blog which covers Bristol and the West Country called South West Foodie. It's written by someone with both a passion for food and an ability to pass that on to others in a clear and enjoyable way. It's informative, funny and also a very good guide to what's hot. Restaurants covered include the following in Bristol: The Pump House, The Lido, Flinty Red, Three Coqs Brasserie, The Gastro Bar and Grill. There are also reviews of restaurants in North Devon such as The Corner Bistro, the Riverside and of course Braunton's famous Squire's Fish and Chips. You can find it at www.southwestfoodie.com.

Book recommendation: 'The Man Who Planted Trees' by Jean Giono


An allegorical tale, urging readers to rediscover the harmonies of the countryside and prevent its wilful destruction.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Friday, October 21, 2011

RebeccasReads review of 'Law and Peace'


Very many thanks to RebeccasReads for reviewing my new book Law and Peace. You can read the review here or below. You can buy the book at Amazon.co.uk

The title of this book is a misnomer? With law and lawyers how can peace ever prevail…and more importantly how can lawyers live in a world of peace. I am reminded of the work “Utopia” wherein it is remarked that there are no lawyers in Utopia…for lawyers are persons who take advantage of misfortune- and Utopia is the perfect society, the only society were law and peace prevails.

Having read “Law and Disorder” a couple of years back, I knew that the author Tim Kevan has the stuff in him to give you a punch…but what “Law and Peace” provides is not merely a punch, but a real kick that will knock you over.

BabyBarista the protagonist whom we first met in “Law and Disorder” has learned the hard tricks of the trade…lying, cheating and all other underhand dealings to become a good lawyer. But BabyB is deep in financial trouble. He has to get out quick- come clean and save his neck…otherwise everything would be downhill. So does BabyB deal with it? Like a good lawyer he engages in shifty deals, blackmail and some share dealing techniques the types of which one might not even have heard in Wall Street.

What follows is a hilariously funny read which satires the legal profession to its maximum. Not since the days of A. P. Herbert and Laurance Polak has the humorous side of law been so much explored. The demise of John Mortimer a couple of years back left a void in pure legal fiction….and now that vacuum has been filled. Welcome Tim Kevan, the John Mortimer of the 21st century.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book recommendation: 'The Hopeless Life Of Charlie Summers' by Paul Torday


Hector Chetwode-Talbot, Eck to his friends, has left the army and is slightly at a loss as to what to do next, when he is approached by an old army pal, Bilbo Mountwilliam. Bilbo runs an investment fund company and business is booming. Bilbo persuades Eck to join the company as a 'greeter' for moneyed clients. All Eck has to do is supply the contacts with entertainment and large G&Ts and then the fund managers will do the rest. Soon Eck is able to buy himself a luxury sports car and decadent flat. It is on a golfing trip to France that Eck first meets Charlie Summers, a fly-by-night entrepreneur whose latest scheme is to import Japanese dog food into the UK. Soon Charlie lands on Eck's doorstep with his suitcase, intent on staying and relaunching his dog food business in the area. But with the financial crash looming, Eck begins to ask himself if they are so very different...

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Skypecast interview No.8 with top Radio 4 poet Matt Harvey

This is the eighth in a series of Skypecasts with the wonderful Radio 4 Saturday Live poet (and fellow Devon resident) Matt Harvey. His two most recent collections of poems are Where Earwigs Dare and  The Hole in the Sum of my Parts and you can see others here. For more information about Matt visit his website at www.mattharvey.co.uk. The poem about my Dad Robin Kevan (aka Rob the Rubbish) is, with Matt's kind permission, at The Barrister Blog.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Launch of 'Official Lawyers Handbook' - the ultimate guide to surviving a legal career!

Heads up for a great new book entitled The Queen's Counsel Official Lawyer's Handbook by Daniel R.White and Alex Williams. The Queen's Counsel is a cartoon satire by Alex on law and lawyers appearing on Thursdays in the law pages of The Times. Collecting together the very best of the cartoon strip with the sagest of lawyerly advice the Handbook is the ultimate guide to surviving a legal career. Tips include: How to get into a top law firm and stay there', 'Racking up billable hours the easy way', 'Partnership: you can make it if you know what to kiss' and 'Understanding what lawyers do and how to stop them doing it to you'.

By way of background, Alex is a top animator and cartoonist whose Queen's Counsel cartoons not only appear in The Times but also in numerous books including Lawyers Uncovered. He also does the cartoons for BabyBarista and has had two more excellent books published recently: 101 Ways to Leave the Law and 101 Uses for a Useless Banker. You can buy the new Handbook at amazon.co.uk. Alex also offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book recommendation: 'Liar's Poker' by Michael Lewis


'An amazing book, readable, funny and mind-boggling ... one of the great business books of all time' (Punch )

'Read all about it: headlong greed, inarticulate obscenity, Animal House horseplay . . .' (The Sunday Times )

'Immense verve and wit' (20/20 Magazine )

'A highly immoral book' (Daily Mail )

'Wickedly funny' (Daily Express )

'As traders would say, this book is a buy' (Financial Times )

Available on Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book recommendation: 'Fold' by Tom Campbell


I've just finished reading Fold by Tom Campbell and couldn't recommend it more highly. It follows a bunch (or maybe a pack) of five men in their early forties who meet up every month to play poker. But really poker's just a metaphor for the lucky and luckless lives they each are leading and the existential crises they suffer as they crawl helplessly into middle age. They're all stuck in their various ruts in the suburbs of Reading and each starts lashing out at the others as if in a last roar of an ageing lion (or in some cases the last squeak of a dying mouse). But ultimately the odyssey upon which each one of them has embarked inevitably brings them back to their home shores, perhaps not wiser but at least a little more appreciative of the few good hands they've variously been dealt. It's deliciously funny, insightful and also at times terribly sad and reminded me of books such as The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart and one of my all-time favourites Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. I've heard it said that if men want to try and understand women they should watch 'Sex and the City'. Well, if women want to try and understand a little more about the mid-life crisis of the suburban British male then they might do worse than start with this fantastically entertaining debut novel from Tom Campbell. You can buy it at amazon.co.uk.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How about Dominic Grieve to replace Ken Clarke as Justice Secretary?

I see that The Guardian are predicting that Ken Clarke will be given ‘enforced retirement’ at the next reshuffle along with potentially other justice ministers Crispin Blunt and Jonathan Djanogly. With the enormous changes being introduced by the Department for Justice, if the ministerial changes do happen as predicted it’s crucial that high quality ministers with a good grasp of detail are appointed. For my part, I’d like to see the Attorney General (and my former pupilmaster) Dominic Grieve take over as Justice Secretary (and with it also the role of Lord Chancellor). As for junior ministers, I don’t think they should necessarily limit themselves to former lawyers. Instead, how about going for some of the very brightest of the new intake of MPs such as Kwasi Kwarteng and Louise Mensch?

Top tips for the online lawyer


Following on from my previous iPad and copyright tips, here's a few quick helpful technical tips for blogging:

1. Shorten the url for use on Twitter: http://is.gd/create.php

2. Re-size images for blogs: www.resizeyourimage.com

3. Sell pdfs online:  www.e-junkie.com 

4. Create a merchandise store: www.cafepress.co.uk

5. File transfer: www.yousendit.com

6. File sharing: www.sugarsync.com  amd www.dropbox.com



Sponsored blog post: Deal with Commercial Litigation Seeking Advice from a Solicitor


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Expert solicitors are able to issue and defend legal proceedings as well as offer suggestions on all the steps of the litigation process, so that claims can be resolved successfully. They extend a comprehensive and effectual service to recover debts as well. You can seek their advice on all kinds of partnership conflicts and litigation issues too. Solicitors play a prominent role in insolvency matters and perform activities like presenting statutory demands, presenting and defending, completing petitions, and counselling on company voluntary arrangements. A solicitor having expertise in property litigation can aid in property challenges, transfers and conveyances. So, get in touch with them to enforce your legal rights.       

Sponsored blog post: A Visit to the Hairdresser – Riskier than You Think

Hair dyes are used on a regular basis by people of both sexes and all ages, for various cosmetic purposes. These products contain a number of different chemicals that can cause an allergic reaction to hair dye treatment after contact with the skin. For this reason, it is essential that a person receives a skin patch test. This is the only foolproof way of determining any pre-existing allergies. Many hairdressers do not carry out such tests despite the fact that more and more people are suffering from allergic reactions to chemicals contained in colouring products each year.
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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Looking for the best Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) Cash Accounts?

With all the ups and downs in the markets, I'm surprised how little seems to have been said about the possibility of investing your pension in cash accounts through a self-invested personal pension (SIPP). A number of pension providers or brokers seem to offer cash accounts with a minimal interest rate for the short term but what about longer term bonds? After a fair amount of searching online, I found this page which lists lots of accounts which provide bigger interest rates - including 4.25% from Scottish Widows for a five year fixed rate bond. I don't know what the charges are and whether you specifically need a financial adviser or not (I imagine you do) but it's at least a start.
Weedly and irritating legal disclaimer: None of this constitutes financial advice and you act at your own risk!

RIP Steve Jobs



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book recommendation: 'Other People's Money' by Justin Cartwright


The venerable bank of Tubal & Co is in trouble. It's not the first time in its three-hundred-year history - it was bailed out by Rothschilds' in 1847 - but this time will be the last. A sale is under way, and a number of rather important facts need to be kept hidden, especially from any potential buyer. Hundreds of millions of pounds are being diverted - temporarily - to shore it up, masterminded by the bank's chairman, Julian Trevelyan-Tubal. His aging father Sir Henry would be horrified, but fortunately he is in the early stages of dementia, writing admonitory letters that all say the same thing to Julian from the sunny climes of Antibes. His letters instruct his son to stick to the time-honoured traditions of the bank, and, indeed, had his son taken his advice the bank might still be solvent. Great families have all sorts of secrets, though, and this one is no exception. And whether they are lovers, old partners, or retainers who resent not being part of the family, they have a nasty habit of turning awkward. When an alimony payment from the bank to an abandoned husband, the penniless, quixotic director (currently putting on Thomas the Tank Engine, hoping to woo Daniel Day-Lewis for his new playscript), a trickle of consequences turns into a tsunami of potential catastrophe for the family, the bank and all who sail in her. Other People's Money is both a subtle thriller and an acutely delineated portrait of a world and a class. Justin Cartwright manipulates our sympathies with masterly ease, unwinding the story with gentle satire, and, as ever, acute and beautifully phrased insights into the eccentricities and weaknesses of the human condition.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Charon QC review of ‘Law and Peace’


Very many thanks to Charon QC for reviewing my new book Law and Peace. You can read the review here or below. You can buy the book at Amazon.co.uk

Law and Peace is a very good read and builds upon the amusement of Tim Kevan’s regular BabyBarista column in The Guardian and the first book BabyBarista and The Art of War.(now renamed Law and Disorder)

BabyBarista is populated with wonderful characters – few a credit to the legal profession, it has to be said – each with their own perspective on the changing legal landscape.

I enjoy the regular column and I have enjoyed both of the BabyBarista books published so far. I leave you with this extract from a recent BabyBarista post… to give you a flavour of the parodic content…
Have you heard that UpTights, OldSmoothie and HeadofChambers have all applied to be judges?” said TheCreep.

“Why on earth would anyone want to be a judge?” said BusyBody. “I can’t think of anything worse than having to sit around listening to barristers self-indulgently wittering on all day.”

“Not forgetting the nervous meanderings of witnesses,” said Teflon.

“And then there’s the laborious litigants-in-person with their fifty-page long arguments and reams of irrelevant evidence,” said TheCreep.

“Which is a little rich coming from a barrister who sometimes resembles a litigant-in-person,” said TheVamp.

“So why on earth do they want to do it?” asked BusyBody.

“Pensions, of course,” said OldSmoothie. “What little pension I had left after two divorces has now been destroyed in the financial crisis and I hardly think things are going to improve. I mean, it’s not as if there are even any quangos left to sit out one’s days in some degree of comfort.”

And.. if you wish to keep up to speed with BabyBarista or order the book…. no better place than BabyBarista’s own website.

While Abraham Lincoln once said…“Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.” This would not be an aphorism acceptable to BabyBarista. I hope you enjoy reading…..

Skypecast interview No.7 with top British film director, writer and producer Simon Rumley

This is the seventh in a series of Skypecasts with film director, writer and producer Simon Rumley. Simon is the writer/director of such films as Club Le Monde [2002]Strong Language [2000]The Living And The Dead [2006] starring Roger Lloyd-Pack (Trigger in Only Fools and Horses) and most recently Red White & Blue [2011] starring Noah Taylor (Shine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). He was described as "One of Britain's most important and intelligent film-makers" by Sight and Sound and "One of the great British cinematic outsiders, a gifted director with the know-how to puncture conventions" by Screen International. He is also a curator of an exhibition featuring leading young British Artists entitled The Future Can Wait which is showing at B1, Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London WC1 from 11-17 October 2011 in association with The Saatchie Gallery and Channel 4.

Please note that the screen freezes for a short time in the middle for which many apologies. However, the audio remained and so I decided to post it as is.