Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Third in my new series of humourous legal posts

Heads-up for the third in my new series of humourous legal posts that I have started writing for a firm of solicitors. You can read it here.

This post is brought to you by my friends at Bartletts Solicitors.

Book recommendation: '21st Century Solicitor' by Steve Weiner


"[A] tome of exceptional clarity...Weiner's book is sensible and down-to-earth. Few would disagree with his premise that to succeed, today's lawyer has to be more than merely technically proficient and Weiner ably distils the ways that a junior lawyer can make a difference.Alex WadeThe TimesThursday December 15, 2011There is no doubt in my mind that if you want to learn how to communicate effectively, increase your personal brand and commerciality to impress your colleagues, then you should take the time to read this bookWhile there is no manual, 21st Century Solicitor does a lot to bridge the gap so that paralegals, trainee solicitors and newly qualifieds can rest assured that not only are they making an impression, but that it is the right one and one that will be remembered for the right reasons. It is safe to say that this book is a must read for anyone working as a paralegal, trainee solicitor or newly qualified (and quite possibly could educate a few people who are already qualified)." -- Sarah Bolt, Junior Lawyers Division executive committee member, Junior Lawyers Division Blog



Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Second in my new series of humourous legal posts

Heads-up for the second in my new series of humourous legal posts that I have started writing for a firm of solicitors. You can read it here.

This post is brought to you by my friends at Bartletts Solicitors.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Law and Peace is on special offer for the Jubilee at just £1.19!

My latest novel Law and Peace has been chosen for special offer on the Kindle for the Jubilee. Get it now for just £1.19 here!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Save money by making your own cards


I'm always sending people cards be they thank yous, bookplates or celebrations. If you're like me and want to save some cash then an easy way is simply to get an A4 piece of card, fold it in half and stick a photo on it. If that's up your street, then the following links might help.
Card x 100 @ £10.93
Envelopes x 100 @ £6.2   
Glue @ 1.75
Envelopes x 100 £6.27  
Photos x 100 @ £14.99 (though there is a special offer for new users giving 60 free prints)
Total: £33.94 for 100 cards or under 34p per A5 card (before special offers)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My new series of humourous legal posts

Heads-up for the first in a new series of humourous legal posts that I have started writing for a firm of solicitors. The subject is Claiming Compensation From A Supermarket For Slipping.

This post is brought to you by my friends at Bartletts Solicitors.

Rob Casserley, Kenton Cool, Becky Bellworthy and Matthew Dieumegard-Thornton on Everest

Many congratulations to British climber and my good friend Dr Rob Casserley who has just summited Everest for an incredible eighth time. He was guiding, among others, Becky Bellworthy, aged 20, who became the youngest British female to summit Everest and Matthew Dieumegard-Thornton, aged 22 who also successfully reached the top of the world. Currently en route (having reached camp 4) is Kenton Cool who is aiming to summit for the tenth time. He will also be fulfilling an epic Olympic pledge by caryying an Olympic gold medial which belonged to Arthur Wakefield who was part of the 1922 Everest expedition who were awarded the medals in the 1924 Olympics. You can read more about the pledge here. Please tweet your support for @KentonCool. The picture, above, was taken by me just below Kala Patar in 2010 on a trip to Base Camp with Rob. As an aside, Arthur Wakefield went to Sedbergh School in the Yorkshire Dales where I shall be giving the prize-giving speech a week on Saturday.

Book recommendation: 'The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall' by Paul Torday


"It's a novel that should enhance his reputation for excellent, ingenious writing" -- Tina Jackson, Metro

"More intriguing is the skein of darkness that, in common with much of Torday's fiction, runs discretely through the story - one sequence is sufficently macabre as to recall the work of a young McEwan." -- Jonathan Barnes Literary Review

"This is a novel about decay and destruction, but bracingly unsentimental and surprisingly moving." -- Kate Saunders, The Guardian

"A gloriously enjoyable wallow of a read." -- John Harding, Daily Mail


Available from Amazon.co.uk

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Are law firms coming up smelling of roses?

Brought to you by our friends at Colemans-ctts Solicitors

Is consolidation under a single brand the way forward for small law firms? It worked for florists with Interflora, why not the local solicitors practice? For some firms it’ll work, but I can’t help feel sorry for are those seemingly eager to discard their history and identity because they can’t see an alternative. I found it quite disconcerting when a firm local to me - “X and Co. est. 1800 and something” - cast aside the brand they had sustained for many years and rebranded entirely under one of the popular schemes.

Will it make members of the public more likely to use them next time they come to sell their house, need a will or divorce? Possibly - and giving people greater access to legal services is a good thing. But these schemes live and die by their brand positioning which is exactly what these firms have given up. So will this ‘Interflora’ method succeed? The problem is lawyers and florists are different. The level of trust and security needed when deciding who will be your florist and who will be your solicitor is slightly different! One brand currently on a big marketing push has had a few goes creating an identity the general public can trust. It’s their second or third bite of the cherry now and I’m not sure how many more attempts they are going to be given.

Steven Astley is a Senior Associate at Colemans-ctts Solicitors, working in the personal injury department. 

Talk at Pickwell Manor, North Devon on Transition Towns by Rob Hopkins and Frances Northup

Heads up for a talk by Rob Hopkins, Founder of the Transition Movement, and Frances Northrup of Transition Town Totnes. Transition Towns have been founded on the basis that our current lifestyle depends on us using a level of resources, such as oil, at a pace which is completely unsustainable for our planet and local environment. Transition Town Totnes is a dynamic, community led response to this challenge that is strengthening the local economy, reducing the cost of living and preparing for a future with less oil and a changing climate. Transition now has over 30 projects up and running in and around Totnes helping to explore and develop ways we can change from our energy-hungry ways of living. It has also sparked a global movement, occupying a surprising limelight as one of the mostwatched  community projects. Transition Towns: Can Totnes change the world? You can hear more about the thinking behind Transition Towns and ask questions of the founders  of it at Pickwell Manor on Thursday 24th May at 8.00pm. A pay bar will be open from 7.30pm. This is an open event, free of charge, but as places are limited the organisers ask that you email info@pickwellmanor.co.uk or phone 01271 890110 to reserve yourself a place and also to say if you'd like to join their mailing list. The talk is organised by an informal collective of local people in Braunton, Georgeham, Croyde and surrounding areas interested in sharing ideas about community and environmental sustainability in the North Devon region.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book recommendation: 'I Have to Move My Car: Tales of Unpersuasive Advocates and Injudicious Judges' by Lord Pannick


"There are law books about constructive trusts, the Perpetuities and Accumulations Act 1964 and the rule in Foss v Harbottle. This is not one of them. David Pannick QC has always been much more interested in unpersuasive advocates and injudicious judges. In this collection of his fortnightly columns from The Times, David Pannick passes judgement on advocates who tell judges that their closing submissions to the jury will not take long because 'I would like to move my car before 5 o'clock; and he sentences judges who claim to have invisible dwarf friends sitting with them on the Bench, who order the parties to 'stay loose - as a goose', and who signal their rejection of an advocate's argument by flushing a miniature toilet on the bench. In making his submissions, David Pannick QC will entertain and inform you about judges, lawyers, legal entertainment and unusual litigation."

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Person of the Week: Cartoonist Alex Williams


Occupation: Animator and Queen's Counsel and BabyBarista cartoonist

1. Briefly describe what your job involves.
I draw the weekly cartoon strip "Queen's Counsel" which appears each Thursday in the law pages of The Times. My wife is a solicitor and as my deadline approaches I harrass her for ideas, insisting that it has been weeks since she wrote anything funny for me. She replies that the only funny jokes I do are her ideas, and frankly why don't I do some work for a change? Eventually I draw something, scan it, paint it in Photoshop, and send it to The Times, hoping that this week I don't get fired. I also work on animated movies, breathing life into digital characters, which is a lot of fun. I spent 10 years in Los Angeles stuck in traffic and working for various studios, but nowadays London's Soho is a world-class centre for animation and visual effects work, which is the main reason I moved back home.

2. What do you like about your work?
Working on movies can be huge fun, especially if you have the sense that the picture will be a hit. My first ever film job was on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and I vividly recall the feeling of being on something that was destined to be a sensation - we could just smell it. That kind of certainty is rare, but more recently I worked on the last 3 Harry Potter films which are about as close as you can get to a box office sure-thing. Cartoon strips are a quieter pleasure, but the work is much more personal and in some ways more rewarding.

3. What would be your dream job?
Directing films is about the best job going. I have done a little of it and more would be greatly appreciated. There is nothing quite like watching a movie come together with a team you love to work with. Writing books is fun too but the economics of publishing are profoundly depressing.

4. What are your favourite things beyond work?
Hmm...that's a tough one. I work all the time, but mainly because I love what I do. So I suppose if you do what you love then that becomes your favourite thing. I don't have hobbies as such. I do have a bit of Wikipedia addiction however which brings out my repressed monkish tendencies, writing long biographies of obscure dead people, which no-one reads.

5. What are your favourite books and films?
My favourite books are the ones which have had the most profound influence on my thinking, though not necessarily the best read. In no particular order: The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins - a book that makes you feel brainy just by reading it. God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens - the finest and most clear expression of the case for the non-existence of a deity. Free to Choose by Milton Friedman - Adam Smith for dummies. As for films, I love the old Sergio Leone westerns - A Fistful of Dollars and all the others. Marvellous fun. And pretty much anything by Ridley Scott.

6. What changes would you like to see in the law?
I was a barrister 20 years ago but my legal skills are pretty feeble these days, so I dare not presume any great insight into legal reform. But as a member of the 4th estate I would say we could do a lot for Freedom of Speech if we binned our libel laws, or at least made them less chilling in their effects. I'm an admirer of the US constitution, and the case for free speech seems as unassailable now as it was in the 18th century.

7. What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers?
The best thing I did as a baby barrister was join the Free Representation Unit. Real cases for real clients; proper courtroom experience and the chance to make your mistakes early - and out of sight of your pupil master. And, best of all, a sense of putting your legal training to good practical use. Also, enjoy the Inns of Court dinners. Everyone rolls their eyes at having to dine in hall but the dinners can be huge fun; the booze flows freely and where else do you get to take snuff from a Queen Anne silver snuffbox in the Hogwarts Dining Hall?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book recommendation: 'Theodore Boone: The Accused' by John Grisham


"Theodore Boone is the thirteen year old who knows more about the law than most adult lawyers. He certainly never expected to be the victim of crime himself. But then his bike is vandalised, he's attacked while doing his homework and, worst of all, framed for a robbery. When stolen computer equipment turns up in Theo's school locker, the police start leaning on him hard. And he is the only suspect. What if he is found guilty? What about his dreams of becoming a lawyer? In a race against time, aided by his renegade uncle, Ike, Theo must find the real felon and reveal the true motivation behind the crimes of which he stands accused."

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Person of the Week: Charon QC


Name: Charon QC

1. Briefly describe what your job involves.
I used to have a real job for thirty odd years. I taught law, founded a law school with others and then went into the online world for law courses, multi-media et al: Unfortunately before its time. Early adopters do not a summer or business make. While I invented ‘Charon QC’ back in 2002 to comment sardonically on the legal issues of the day, it was 2006 before I started the blog to chuck metaphorical bog rolls onto the legal pitch with commentary, analysis, parody and podcasts. In the early 1990s, at a conference, a respected law professor described me as the ‘most dangerous man in legal education’. This was not an ad hominem attack. It was an observation that the private sector would soon invade into the ivory towered world of the traditional universities and compete. He was right. We did. Now I don’t have a real job. I live a simple, non-material, mildly reclusive life with few personal possessions to clutter what is left of my mind. Blogging keeps me vaguely sane or insane depending on the perspective of the reader who reads my blog.

2. What do you like about your work?
I don’t regard it as work, of course, but I enjoy assessing critically the development of our laws across many fields and observing on the legal human condition. I particularly enjoy doing podcasts with lawyers. If I wish to be particularly acerbic, I use my fictional character Dr Erasmus Strangelove (pronounced Strangle ov) who is now senior partner of Muttley Dastardly LLP after the tragi-comedic death of former managing partner Matt Muttley who plunged to his death from his fifth floor control centre while demonstrating how tough the glass walls were to a group of Triple A rated bankers.

3. What would be your dream job?
An artist. Artists create. Artists observe closely and see - they do not merely look. ( A trait useful, of course, to lawyers). The headmaster at the detention centre I went to in Scotland (The headmaster was called ‘Warden’) told me there was no money in art when I expressed an interest in art as a career. How wrong he was. Good old Damien Hirst cracked it. I was then trained for a career at the Foreign & Commonwealth office or its murky subsidiary - the role of many public schools in the last days of empire to provide fodder for fading colonial governance, the military or agriculture? Fortunately, I escaped and went into law teaching.

4. What are your favourite things beyond work?
Talking with, not to or at, people. I enjoy an increasingly wide range of interests as I get older: Art, Italian opera, politics, documentaries, gardens (even though I do not have a garden), ducks who text or send tweets to me and chess. Google is most useful. I hope that I will find more things to be interested in as I head towards the River Styx and ferry myself across. I won’t need to pay the ferryman - so there are some consolations in death! I enjoy painting and creating nonsense with my F*ckArt and parodic writing (Well....you did ask!)

5. What are your favourite books and films?
I have no interest whatsoever in ‘Top 10 lists’, ‘Favourites’ or prizes - hence my critical observations about The Orwell Prize et al where people self-submit. It is, for me, invidious to make comparisons or have favourites with those who create the substance of art, literature and music which enrich our lives. I have eclectic tastes. I am happy, however, to say that my favourite film is The Godfather. One of my wives, unbeknown to me, had arranged for the band to play The Godfather theme when I walked to the microphone to deliver my groom’s speech at our wedding. We are still good friends to this day, despite divorce. I can reveal that my favourite season is Winter. I delight in grey rainy, windy, stormy days by the sea or river.

6. What changes would you like to see in the law?
Easy - the thoughtful, considered, properly funded, development of our Human Rights laws to create a better society. That covers most legal development. There is more to law than practice in The City - thankfully.

7. What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers?   
The Rule of Law is a fascinating and vital part of our society. We live by laws and lawyers play an important part in the application of the Rule of law. You donʼt need to have the beautiful mind of a Nobel prize winning scientist to be a good lawyer - academic or practitioner. Laws are man made. Some are flawed, others not. What is needed is a reasonable intellect, hard work, attention to detail, the desire to work on behalf of and represent others and the ability to think things through logically. A career in the law, with all the variety on offer, will be rewarding. As a student, provided you are fully aware of the statistical and practical aspects of getting a job in the present market - if you want to do something valuable as part of our society - go for it. I retain to this day a deep interest in the law. I shall keep buggering on, as Churchill advised, ever optimistic that many lawyers, academics and practitioners, will make a modest contribution to a decent society. And... on that note...I continue to have fun from the law....and Iʼm orf......

PS. I donʼt blog anonymously. I am pseudonymous...and sometimes it pleases me to be Hieronymus. Iʼm not interested in ʻmeʼ or who I am. I havenʼt been for most of my life. That is why I donʼt refer to or promote myself under my own name. Tim Kevan is a good friend of mine. I enjoy his books and Babybarista blog. I donʼt usually do interviews - but pleased to do so for Tim.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

'Surfing Tropical Beats' by Sam Bleakley - Surf adventure with soul

A big heads up for a really incredible new book by top surfer and writer Sam Bleakley and the very talented surf photographer J.S.Callahan called Surfing Tropical Beats. It follows on from their excellent Surfing Brilliant Corners and takes them on more extreme surf adventures where the journey is just as important as the destination. In this book, they visit Gabon, India, Vietnam, Algeria and China. But it is their visits to Haiti both before and after the quake which perhaps best sum up what this book is about. It's about travel, it's about the environment and it's most definitely about waves. But above all it's about the human condition and in particular how the journeys to the highest mountains (or in this case the remotest waves) always take you through the deepest valleys. How pain, suffering and redemption can bring us closer both to one another and also to something greater than ourselves. Something which some of us may call God and others simply a higher power. All of which is written with the lightness of touch that reflects not only Sam's love of longboarding but of jazz, both of which infuse every page. A fantastic book which  journeys into the heart of darkness where the music, the waves and above all the people give us hope. You can buy it at amazon.co.uk.

Personal Injury Brief Update Law Journal – over 600 articles now online!

For almost seven years now I've been running the Personal Injury Brief Update Law Journal which is written by over fifty barristers and other experts and has about ten new articles a month. The main Journal is subscription with a single price for the whole office and you can also sign up for a free newsletter which has monthly summaries of the important cases which might affect a personal injury practice. It's written by practitioners for practitioners and over the years has accumulated over 600 articles, all of which are available online. It also has a specialist credit hire section with over forty articles on the subject and as part of this we're giving access to subscribers to the new edition of Kevan and Ellis on Credit Hire as it is published chapter by chapter. To take a look, click here. If you know anyone else who might be interested, please do forward the link. Very many thanks, Tim Kevan

Book recommendation: 'Cook on Costs 2012'


""Cook on Costs" is well established as a practical, friendly guide providing clear and straightforward explanations of every aspect (except criminal costs) of the remuneration of solicitors and barristers for every level of reader. "Cook on Costs 2012" aims to explain as well as to inform, whilst being a practical guide through the complexities of all aspects of the costs of contentious and non-contentious legal business. No one who wishes to understand the principles and practice of legal costs should be without a copy."

Available from Amazon.co.uk