Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Recommendation: Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future

Tomorrow's Lawyers predicts fundamental and irreversible changes in the world of law. For Richard Susskind, best-selling author of The End of Lawyers?, the future of legal service will be neither Grisham nor Rumpole. Instead, it will be a world of virtual courts, Internet-based global legal businesses, online document production, commoditized service, legal process outsourcing, and web-based simulated practice. Legal markets will be liberalized, with new jobs for lawyers and new employers too. This book is a definitive guide to this future - for young and aspiring lawyers, and for all who want to modernize our legal and justice systems. It introduces the new legal landscape and offers practical guidance for those who intend to build careers and businesses in law. Tomorrow's Lawyers is divided into three parts. The first is an updated restatement of Richard Susskind's views on the future of legal services, as laid out in his previous bestselling works, The Future of Law, Transforming the Law, and The End of Lawyers?. He identifies the key drivers of change, such as the economic downturn, and considers how these will impact on the legal marketplace. In the second part, Susskind sketches out the new legal landscape as he predicts it, including the changing role of law firms, and in-house lawyers, and the coming of virtual hearings and online dispute resolution. The third part focuses on the prospects for aspiring lawyers, predicting what new jobs and new employers there will be, and equipping prospective lawyers with penetrating questions to put to their current and future employers. This is the essential introduction to the future of law for those who want to succeed in the rapidly changing legal landscape.

Available from Amazon

Friday, August 23, 2013

North Devon Conservative candidate Peter Heaton-Jones takes up the fight against the Atlantic Array!

So pleased to see that North Devon Conservative candidate Peter Heaton-Jones has taken up the fight against the Atlantic Array. You can read the full story in the North Devon Journal. Don't forget to register your view on the Atlantic Array. See AboutBraunton for more details.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Can We Do More to Help Asbestos Sufferers in this Country?

Brought to you by our friends at Spencers Solicitors

The Mesothelioma Bill is now under consideration from the House of Commons and, once officially passed, will allow asbestos sufferers to claim for compensation - even if the body responsible for exposing the individual to the cancerous microfibers cannot be traced.

It’s a positive move but, for me, the minutia of the Bill has triggered a series of concerns - which echo those highlighted by Labour’s Lord McKenzie:
  1. The compensation level for those claiming against untraceable bodies is insufficient
  2. Not every type of asbestos-related disease is covered by the Bill
  3. The Bill only applies to those diagnosed after July 2012
The first point refers to the 70% cap on compensation detailed within the Bill - for sufferers who have no means of claiming against an actual organisation responsible for their disease (usually because the organisation has dissolved).

On what grounds should one person living with exactly the same disease deserve less compensation than another (up to a third less)?

The Bill exclusively applies to those suffering from diffuse mesothelioma and any ‘long-tail’ diseases are not covered.

Again, why the inconsistency?

The final point makes the least sense to me. There is a ‘cut-off’ date which excludes thousands of genuine sufferers who need (and deserve) the compensation, just as much as somebody receiving an unfortunate diagnosis say, tomorrow.

I welcome any shift towards more accessible justice but if the Bill is truly to be hailed as a ‘major step forward’, it ought to completely rectify the injustice of neglected asbestos victims in this country.

Many share this view, as The Justice for Asbestos Campaign calls for members of the public to sign the petition urging for the bill to be amended.

A Lesson from Down Under
Just over a month ago, a statement from the government’s Committee on Carcinogenicity suggested that children are more susceptible to developing mesothelioma than adults. This gives us cause to zoom further into the picture and focus on the ongoing issue of asbestos in British schools.

We know that 75% of British schools still contain cancerous asbestos fibres, yet the government has no widespread removal plan in place - instead, the policy is to ‘manage’ asbestos materials.

Contrastingly, Australia’s government passed an Asbestos Safety and Eradication Bill in June. An agency has been formed and is now tasked with investigating asbestos in schools. Following its thorough investigation, the agency will be responsible for orchestrating a nationwide eradication process.

This focus on reducing exposure to asbestos ought to be praised. Meanwhile, the UK could be accused on paying far too much attention to what is seemingly an inadequate Mesothelioma Bill.

My view is that we need to at least iron out the three flaws in the Bill discussed earlier and work on a long-term prevention scheme (like Australia) in the meantime.

What do you think? Outline your thoughts in the comments and let’s generate some further online insight for this topic.

Also, please share this post to help raise awareness and we might just influence the government to take inspiration from Down Under.

About the author
Emma Melia is a Solicitor and lead litigator within Spencers Solicitors catastrophic injury team.  Emma has over 16 years extensive experience with major injury cases achieving a number of settlements in excess of 2 million pounds involving traumatic brain and spinal injuries.

Book Recommendation: The Shawshank Redemption

A Stephen King novel telling of unfair imprisonment and escape.

Available from Amazon

Friday, August 16, 2013

John Hagan of DPP Law: Law Society’s Fight Against Insurers Warrants Industry-Wide Backing

Brought to you by our friends at DPP Law

The following is an article by John Hagan of DPP Law. Note that the opinions in this blog represent those of the author and do not represent those of either Tim Kevan or of any other writers on this blog

Following a car accident, the insurer of the guilty party often calls the victim directly and offers them an early settlement. The Law Society has revealed that, on average, anybody who refuses this ‘deal’ goes on to secure two-to-three times the offered amount in compensation.
As a collective, I feel it is imperative for the legal sector to support the Law Society in raising awareness of this issue and help to educate the British public on the risks of early settlements.

The Law Society’s campaign, Don’t Get Mugged, takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to highlighting the agenda behind insurers contacting injured people soon after their accident. The agenda is clear – to save time and money (mainly the latter).

An early settlement is pitched to an accident victim as a convenient alternative to fighting for compensation through the recommended legal channels.

The reality is that those who accept such an offer will be accepting a dramatic under-settlement. The agreed amount is unlikely to justify the extent of their injuries and could even leave them struggling to afford long-term care.

Without an experienced accident claims solicitor at hand to judge the figure as sufficient enough for the individual and their new set of circumstances, the ball is truly in the insurer’s court.

Therefore, I feel the Law Society’s light-hearted campaign is absolutely necessary. It is not a direct attack on insurers but instead shines a big spotlight on what is a practice bordering on unethicality.

Don’t Get Mugged campaign comes under (anticipated) fire
Otto Thoresen, director general for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), recently called for an end to the campaign in a letter to Law Society president, Nick Fluck.
Within the letter, he referred to Don’t Get Mugged as ‘a gross error of judgment’ and that it represents ‘little more than public name-calling’.

I’d argue that, if Nick Fluck wanted to, he could have launched the campaign from a much harsher angle and whereas ABI may view the light-hearted approach as ‘name-calling’, I view it as a diluted way of underlining something extremely serious.

Fluck responded to Thoresen the following day:

“I trust you will understand that for the reasons above we do not consider the campaign to be a gross error of judgement but, rather, that it communicates an important ongoing message to consumers. I have no plans to abandon it.”

It is good to see the president holding his ground here and it was also nice to see he offered to discuss the issue with ABI directly.

At face value, the Don’t Get Mugged campaign may seem propagandistic but it is simply an effort to prompt what is an important debate – one which will hopefully see accident victims become unexposed to under-settlements ever again.

Where do you stand on this? Place your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.

About the AuthorJohn Hagan is partner and Head of the Litigation department at DPP Law. APIL accredited, he regularly deals with the more complex cases and enjoys nationwide repute for his much sought after legal expertise. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Article on holiday claims

I've written an article for Bartletts Solicitors on holiday claims. You can read the article here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What candidates need to know about jobs in the legal industry

Brought to you by our friends at Roberts Jackson Solicitors

Whether you are looking to start a legal career or switch roles after working in the industry for a few years, having a clear understanding of what law firms look for as they recruit can help you to land the right job role in the right organisation.

What entry level jobs are most available?
Paralegal and administrative training roles are the most needed and popular within the industry.
Legal administrator positions are ideal for those looking to start careers in law. The roles allow you to build up experience in the field, while giving you the opportunity to learn and develop as you support other staff.
Meanwhile, paralegal roles are best if you already have relevant legal education and an understanding of the law and legal system. Some firms won't necessarily require any qualifications, while many do expect candidates to have previous experience working in a law firm. Top salaries for paralegals can reach up to £70,000, so it is a strong legal career path to consider.

Do many legal firms offer career progression?

Legal firms tend to offer development programs and promotions to committed, hardworking professionals, with seniority, partnerships and management positions available. There are often also training opportunities for administrative staff, allowing you to move up to a fee earner role once you have built up the knowledge and skills required.

Ongoing in-house training can sometimes be available to all staff at law firms so that you are able to keep up-to-date with legislation. This can help you to maintain a strong level of legal knowledge, which can prove useful as you move up the career ladder.

Are there plenty of non-entry level vacancies?

During periods of expansion, law firms not only want to hire entry level roles but also look out for lateral hires.

In light of recent legal changes such as LAPSO, where a number of organisations have closed down, there are an increased number of RTA and PI lawyers looking to retrain. With excellent transferable skills accompanied by a strong level of education and experience, growing law firms will often look to make these lateral hires and also recruit professionals with relevant legal knowledge.

What skills are the most valuable to legal firms?

Law firms are businesses, so you should always look to showcase your business acumen during interviews. Being professional and responsible is also key, while a good dose of common sense is essential.
Many organisations focus on a specific area of law, so will always look for candidates with a strong level of knowledge or interest in that field, accompanied by a willingness to learn. Sophie Clark, head of PR at Roberts Jackson, said: "As Roberts Jackson specialises in the niche areas of industrial disease and clinical negligence, we tend to look for candidates with relevant experience or who have studied appropriate electives during university in order to gauge whether or not an applicant is genuinely enthused by our legal area."

Starting your job search
With this valuable insight into what to expect from the legal jobs market as well as the skills, experience and knowledge required from candidates, you can start an informed search for a job in the legal sector. Now, it is imperative that you update your CV and think carefully about your interview techniques to help you land any strong roles that you unearth during your jobs search.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Recommendation: 101 Ways to Leave the Law

101 Ways to Leave the Law is a new collection of cartoons from Alex Steuart Williams, cartoonist, animator and author of The Times’ weekly cartoon strip, Queen’s Counsel. This latest book is a funny, subversive take on every lawyer’s secret fantasy – dumping the law for a new life. And what’s the best way to do that? Why not tell the judge what you really thought of his ruling? Or explain to your client how his fees are really spent? Or why not draft a document in plain English that people really could read, and even understand? Writing an email – why not send the unedited version? Or how much can you ‘dress down’ on ‘be casual’ Fridays? For every lawyer who’s ever wanted to ditch their career and run away (and that’s most of them) this book is a passport to a guaranteed stylish exit. Alex Steuart Williams is a former barrister turned cartoonist and feature film animator, whose movie credits include Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Lion King and Robots.

Available from Amazon

Friday, August 9, 2013

Article on claims for sporting injuries

I've written an article for Bartletts Solicitors on claims for sporting injuries. You can read the article here.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Article on the long term problems of the government's reforms to legal services

I've written an article for Bartletts Solicitors suggesting that the various government reforms to legal services are storing up problems for the future. You can read the article here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Book Recommendation: Portrait Of A Judge

What does an elderly judge do when he is confronted by a man who wants to kill him for a death sentence he had given out years before?

Available from Amazon