Friday, September 30, 2011

Sponsored blog post: I Hurt My Back At Work What Should I Do?

Employees injuring their backs at work is fairly common. This is especially true if you have a physically demanding job. For example, nurses, warehouse workers and builders are likely to have roles at work involving lifting heavy objects, such as patients, crates or machinery. As lawyers we are often asked; I hurt my back at work what should I do?.

If you have injured your back at work you should do the following:

• Immediately report the incident to your employer
• Follow your employer's procedures regarding injuries and illnesses, such as obtaining sick notes
• Consult your GP and follow any medical advice that you are given

If you feel that your back injury was due to the negligence of your employer, a fellow worker, or a substandard system of work, then you may consider talking to a specialist personal injury solicitor. Before you contact a lawyer, note down the following points so that you are well prepared to give an accurate picture of your work role, and the circumstances surrounding your injury.

• What does your job entail, and which part of your role do you feel caused the injury.
• Did your employer give you manual handling training?
• Make a note of the weight of the objects that you were required to lift.
• Draw a diagram of how you were expected to lift these objects.
• Were you given any machinery to assist you?

Workers should seek advice from specialist back injury solicitors to establish if they have a claim.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book recommendation: 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' by Paul Torday


"A brilliant satire, leavened by genuine passion for its protagonist and his sport" (REBECCA SEAL OBSERVER )

"A delight ... Paul Torday's sparkling debut uses spoof parliamentary papers to tell a splendidly dotty tale" (SALLY COUSINS SUNDAY TELEGRAPH )

"Utterly charming and extremely funny" (IRISH TIMES )

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Skypecast No.6 with writer and philosopher Andy Martin

This video is the sixth in what is a series of Skypecasts on this blog. Andy Martin is a writer, philosopher and Cambridge academic. His books include Stealing the Wave: The Epic Struggle Between Ken Bradshaw and Mark FooBeware Invisible Cows: My Search for the Soul of the Universe and the forthcoming The Boxer and The Goalkeeper: Satre vs Camus. He has also recently produced and directed an excellent short film about surfing in New York for The Independent. You can find more information about Andy on his website.

Please note that the video freezes a couple of times and also there is a short interruption in the audio for which many apologies. The content remained in tact and so I decided to put it up in any event.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Roll on Friday review of 'Law and Disorder'


Very many overdue thanks to VultureCulture at Roll on Friday for reviewing my book Law and Disorder. You can read the review here or below. You can buy the book at Amazon.co.uk

Tim Kevan has numbered the ranks of the legal bloggers for over three years now. The former barrister pens the musings of a fictional junior barrister, BabyBarrista, who discovers that the bar is stuffed to the brim with incompetent, arrogant and out of touch individuals playing the system for all it’s worth.

And the blog has been popular. It was serialised in The Times, before Kevan switched allegiances to The Guardian once the paywall was installed. And from the blog a book was born. Law and Disorder, Kevan’s debut novel, is the first instalment of BabyB’s career path. It tells the tale of the young pupil barrister navigating his way through a year of pupillage, competing against a motley crew of fellow pupils to score the prize of tenancy.

BabyB's journey starts off with the (non-shocking) realisation that he is little more than a glorified coffee maker And it gets worse as he realises that his chambers are populated by unscrupulous characters.

Early indications that BabyB must get tenancy in order to support his poor, indebted, single mother who has sacrificed herself financially at the altar of his legal dreams - sound like the beginnings of a cliché and made VultureCulture groan inside a little.

However, it turns out that BabyB is not a self-righteous twerp who just wants to make a better life for his poor old ma. He is far from immune to a bit (in fact a lot) of backstabbing in order to grab the tenancy trophy from his thrusting fellow pupils. He plots their respective downfalls with relish - stooping to impersonation, identity theft, Facebook hacking, fraud and some kinky business along the way.

A deft study in the nuances of characterisation this book isn’t. The novel’s cast is colourful, brash and largely 2D - few of them very appealing. Only one person is given a name, BabyB’s confidante and best pal Claire. The rest are bestowed with helpful monikers. TopFirst is the main competition – bright, arrogant but led by his pants. TheBoss is BabyB’s very dodgy pupil master and TheVamp is a tenant in chambers and carry on character with whom BabyB enjoys a brief dalliance. You get the idea.

The reader is catapulted head first into BabyB's Machiavellian scheming. There are certainly elements of cliché and farce throughout - but the book is richer for it. Kevan manages to swiftly draw the reader into BabyB's duplicitous journey. The book is full of humour and sharp observations about the legal system and those who play it to their advantage. It quickly grabs the reader's attention and turns out to be really quite hard to put down.

Poem about the riots: ‘A victim of his Era’ by James Woolf

The following is a poem by poet, playwright and children's author James Woolf who can be contacted here.

A Victim of his Era

Frank was sent to jail last week for some burglary or other
He blames it on his barrister, I blame it on his mother
He says his counsel knobbled him to accept a lesser plea
I say she’s molly-coddled him from birth to forty three
Frank maintains the Judge was bent and that the jurors were all mental
I would argue that Frank’s school has failed in the essentials
He says he was fitted up and was miles from all the riots
I say that his behaviour can be linked to his poor diet
My husband claims his Co-D was the one that caused the rumpus
Whereas I’d suggest society has lost its moral compass
Frank is very confident they’ll free him on appeal
I think lack of realism is Frank’s Achilles heel
Frank says that he’ll get revenge – that those SOBs will pay
I feel a father figure would have helped Frank find his way
Franks says that his legal team will be strung up from the ceiling
I say Frank has issues with expressing his true feelings
It’s really academic if he’s guilty or was framed
Whichever way you look at it, my Frank should not be blamed
The picture which emerges could not in fact be clearer
Frank is both an icon and a victim of his era

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book recommendation: 'The Warden' by Anthony Trollope


The tranquil atmosphere of the cathedral town of Barchester is shattered when a scandal breaks concerning the financial affairs of a Church-run almshouse for elderly men. In the ensuing furore, Septimus Harding, the almshouse’s well-meaning warden, finds himself pitted against his daughter’s suitor Dr John Bold, a zealous local reformer. Matters are not improved when Harding’s abrasive son-in law, Archdeacon Grantly, leaps into the fray to defend him against a campaign Bold begins in the national press. An affectionate and wittily satirical view of the workings of the Church of England, The Warden is also a subtle exploration of the rights and wrongs of moral crusades and, in its account of Harding’s intensely felt personal drama, a moving depiction of the private impact of public affairs.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Check out Google+ group video function via LifeHacker.com



Barrister Blog Skypecast No.5 with barrister and family law campaigner Belle Turner

This video is the fifth in what will be a series of Skypecasts on this blog. Belle Turner is a barrister, family law campaigner and former chair of the Young Barristers Committee. Please vote for her project aimed at giving legal advice to single mothers here (where you can also 'Like' her project through Facebook). If you would like to help with her project please email her at belle@belleturner.com.

WardblawG review of 'Law and Peace'


Very many thanks to Gavin Ward at WardblawG 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

With BabyBarista having won the battle for tenancy, one may have thought that he would take things a little easier without resorting to his wayward moral compass, perhaps with fewer dirty tactics capable of destroying careers and, potentially in TopFirst’s case, lives.

Laugh-out-loud from front to back, the book is a racing read, as with the first. When I read the first BabyBarista book I was under the impression that it was a real account of a pupil in chambers. Nevertheless, despite knowing that the second book was still a fictional account, I couldn’t help but questioning on every page if those events had actually taken place in one form or another. As The Lawyer Magazine commented several years ago, “If this is a fictional account it is genius”. Well, the same applies for Law & Peace.

From tales of playing drinking games in court (and I should point out that there is planking in court to come in a future book) to seriously corrupt litigation tactics and indeed crooked lawyers and barristers, Law & Peace covers themes which most legal writers have never approached.

Just as BabyBarista’s first experiences as a pupil were largely influenced by the principles set out in Sun Tzu’s Art of War, so are his actions in Law & Peace. Almost at every possible opportunity where the reasonable person would ask “what should I do next?”, BabyBarista seems to have a clear idea of the possible options and often chooses the most devious, although sometimes he doesn’t really have a choice because of certain characters e.g. SlipperySlope, BigMouth, TheBoss & co.

But it’s not all corrupt litigation: characters such as Old Ruin, “BabyB’s redemption”, demonstrate that there is plenty of good left in the practice of law, which is in stark contrast to SlipperySlope’s idea that barristers and lawyers all end up becoming the same crooked characters.

The description of the novel as a “Machiavellian romp through the legal world” is spot-on, with so many injections of innuendo, you’ll probably have to read the book a second time to get them all. With Tim Kevan also being very tech-savvy there are some amusing passages of barristers getting used to new technologies such as Twitter and smartphones, with a particularly hilarious take on the “sent from my iPhone/Blackberry wireless device” message on smartphones.

Also clearly moving in parts with a developing romance, the novel contains various references to leaving the law and going surfing. Maybe it’s just because I’ve left the long hours of legal practice myself that I liked these references in particular.

Mirroring other comments, perhaps one of the only minor criticisms I’d have is that a lot of the same themes from Law & Disorder are covered in Law & Peace. But I think that’s a good thing and is to be welcomed – if you’ve read one book, you’ll have to read the other. Indeed, as I still do, you’ll enjoy continuing to follow the blogging of BabyBarista, both on his blog itself and on Twitter.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New BabyBarista store!

For anyone who can't think of a gift for a lawyer friend of theirs, maybe consider getting a BabyBarista branded gift from the new BabyBarista Store featuring the wonderful cartoons by Alex Williams. The store currently includes a mug for £10, coasters for £4.50 and a pack of ten cards for £9. Postage is £6 for the first item and then £1.50 for each subsequent one. You can see all the items for sale hereOh, and for pupils feeling cheeky, there are mugs and T-shirts which you could consider for your pupilmaster with the caption "I was a BabyBarista...once!"

Weekend video: 'Best of Denny Crane'

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gadgets: in search of the paperless office...


One of the things that people seem to be increasingly talking and writing about is the paperless office. The idea that you can scan in all your documents and keep them in separate folders. Some law firms are already moving in this direction. But in the meantime, what do we do with all our huge personal piles of bills, receipts and the like. Tim Ferris, the author of the excellent The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich recommends the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 Deluxe Document Scanner. It scans double sided in a few seconds and is even small enough to take away on work trips. Does anyone have any other useful suggestions?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Barrister Blog Skypecast interview No.4 with barrister and writer Alex McBride





This video is the fourth in what will be a series of Skypecasts on this blog. Alex McBride is a barrister and writer of the excellent Defending the Guilty. You can read a review at The Guardian.

Book recommendation: 'For Esmé - with Love and Squalor' by J. D. Salinger


For Esmé With Love and Squalor includes two of Salinger's most famous and critically acclaimed stories, and helped to establish him as one of the contemporary literary greats. The title story recounts a Sergeant's meeting with a young girl before being sent into combat. When it was first published in The New Yorker in 1950 it was an immediate sensation and prompted a flood of readers' fan-letters.

'A Perfect Day for Bananafish' is the first of the author's stories to feature the Glass family, the loveable and idiosyncratic family who would appear in much of Salinger's later fiction. A haunting and unforgettable piece of writing, the story follows the eldest sibling, Seymour Glass, and his wife, Muriel, as they embark on an ill-fated honeymoon in Florida . . .

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Charon QC is publishing a novel noire online!

A big heads-up for an excellent new novel by top legal blogger Charon QC which he is publishing online called The Smoke That Thunders. There is a Prologue and four chapters already up along with Charon's dulcet tones reading an accompanying and very professional audio version.

Speaking at Taunton Literary Festival

For anyone who might be interested, I'll be reading from my two BabyBarista novels and talking about how they came about at the Taunton Literary Festival on 29 September at 11.30am at Queen's College in Taunton. Further details are here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Barrister Blog Skypecast interview No.3 with Naomi Cudmore, editor of Exmoor Magazine and communications consultant

This video is the third in what will be a series of Skypecasts on this blog. It is an interview with the editor of Exmoor Magazine and communications consultant Naomi Cudmore.  For more information on her design and editorial work which she offers, visit her website. If you would like to buy a copy of the excellent Exmoor Magazine just click on the link. You can also find it in around 140 outlets each quarter, the most recent of which is Waitrose in Wellington.

Speaking at Appledore Book festival

For anyone who might be interested, I'll be reading from my two BabyBarista novels and talking about how they came about at the Appledore Book Festival on 29 September from 2-3pm at St Mary's Hall in Appledore. Further details are here.

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Barrister Blog Skypecast interview no.2 with author and surfer Tom Anderson





This video is the second in what will be a series of Skypecasts on this blog. It is an interview with author and surfer Tom Anderson whose books include Riding the Magic Carpet, Chasing Dean and Grey Skies, Green Waves. You can buy his books on amazon.co.uk and his website is here

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Barrister Blog Skypecast interview no.1 with Queen's Counsel cartoonist Alex Williams




This video is the first in what will be a series of Skypecasts on this blog. It is an interview with top animator and cartoonist Alex Williams who draws the Queen's Counsel cartoons for The Times and 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. This October will see the publication of The Queen's Counsel Alternative Lawyers' Handbook which you can pre-order at amazon.co.ukAlex 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. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Getting images and even books such as the Bible copyright free

Okay, now this might seem like a geeky topic but if you're writing a blog or indeed anything for publication then sooner or later you're likely to stumble upon the problem of copyright. As for finding copyright-free images (such as the one in this post), a useful source is WikiMedia Commons although be careful to check to see if there are any specific conditions associated with each image. In terms of content, it might be a surprise to some but even quoting from ancient books such as the Bible can raise issues due to the fact that they are more recent translations. On that particular topic, I've found that the World English Bible appears to be copyright free and available for use without even needing to go to the trouble of attributing each time a quote is made.

The Naked Lawyer

Heads up for the a book entitled The Naked Lawyer by Chrissie Lightfoot, an entrepreneur turned solicitor turned entrepreneur and CEO of EntrepreneurLawyerThe book is a truly motivational marketing and sales book. It’s very readable and packed full of thoughts, ideas and modern cultural references. It also has the great benefit of someone approaching the law after having been in business beforehand and with the current shake-up of legal services comes at a particularly opportune moment. It's had some good reviews and ones that stand out include Professor Richard Susskind describing the book as "Sassy, feisty, upbeat, risque - required reading for all lawyers..." and Professor Stephen Mayson calling it "...the book I've always wanted to write. Unfortunately it wasn't written by me." You can buy all twelve volumes of the book for £96 here.