28.12.11

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

23.12.11

Sponsored blog post: A commercial solicitor now needs to secure funding by Therese Wallin

The straining financial climate is being felt by most sectors, even those which are traditionally prosperous, such as commercial litigation. With companies’ limited financial resources, commercial solicitors may find themselves with fewer clients willing to engage in, what can be expensive and time-consuming, court litigation. Adding to an already difficult climate is the declining availability of Conditional Fee Arrangements. As such, access to justice can be a tricky path for some companies. Looking to gain from the present state of affairs investment firms are increasingly offering third-party funding. This funding alternative will partly alleviate any concerns of commercial lawyers who wish to proceed with cases where funding is lacking.

However, this also means that commercial solicitors will have an extra task on their hands before instructing a barrister on their client’s behalf. It will be necessary to convince investors of the strengths of cases. Moreover, most investors have a minimum threshold on claims’ worth for investment to be secured. Hence, commercial law lawyers may still see a decrease in their number of cases which. The funding gap may be partially filled by third-party investors, how much remains to be seen.

Therese Wallin is Content Editor at Contact Law (Thomson Reuters) and reflects here about some of the current ongoing issues affecting many in the UK. Therese has an LLB in Law and Human Rights and an LLM in Public International Law.

21.12.11

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

14.12.11

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

7.12.11

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

5.12.11

Sponsored blog post: Persistent need for criminal defence lawyers taking innovative and engaging approaches by Therese Wallin

Criminal defence lawyers face scores of demanding cases, amongst which are those where the client has assisted someone to end their life. English law does not sanction euthanasia or any other form of assisted suicide. Yet, solicitors and barristers specialised in criminal law have continuously sought to apply the law in novel manners. Many clients will have committed the act in the name of compassion. As such, their defence will seek to apply the law in new manners that take into account their client’s circumstances.

The lack of prosecution of such actions could, until last year, be explained by a gap in the law. However, the Director of Public Prosecutions has subsequently made it clear that assisting someone to die, regardless on what grounds, is a criminal offence. Within the near future a man severely handicapped, after suffering a stroke, will ask the High Court to grant a doctor, who helps him to die, the common law defence of necessity in order to escape being prosecuted for murder. Criminal defence lawyers will often explore new applications of the law and look for new ways to achieve their clients' wishes. This is only one of many such controversial issues.

Therese Wallin is Content Editor at Contact Law (Thomson Reuters) and reflects here about some of the current ongoing issues affecting many in the UK. Therese has an LLB in Law and Human Rights and an LLM in Public International Law.

30.11.11

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

29.11.11

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.

24.11.11

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”!

23.11.11

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

22.11.11

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?

16.11.11

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

9.11.11

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

2.11.11

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

27.10.11

Sponsored blog post: Understand the UK Family Law through Expert Solicitors


Money is the foremost cause of numerous family disputes. Conflicts over pensions and wills are highly widespread and a seasoned solicitor is capable of verifying the facts so as to decide who is lawfully qualified to the money. Every facet of the law plays a significant role in finding an appropriate solution quickly and in accordance with the family law of the United Kingdom.  

Getting familiar with the UK family law can be hard and complicated. However with the help of a prestigious solicitor firm, you can easily come through the judicial procedure and terms to comprehend the statute law that influences your case. Your solicitor will keep informing you about every step and develop a foolproof case to make sure that a quick settlement is accomplished.   

Irrespective of what type of family law you need to be helped with, a group of family law solicitors can provide professional and sensible counsel. A specialized arbitrator can play a crucial role when attempting to resolve a serious family dispute. If you’re encountering such a conflict, contact a legal brokerage firm of thousands of solicitors to rest assured that your case is being handled in a professional way and with your larger interests in mind. Searching the Internet can give you access to many experienced solicitors in the UK.

Sponsored blog post: Evaluating Litigation Lawyers in the Present Context of Business


If you are owner of a company or business concern, there are specific situations that may persuade you to look for some legal counsel from commercial litigation lawyers pertaining to particular matters involving your business enterprise. However, before hiring that ideal lawyer for your company, how will you ascertain that the one you are going to engage will be the superlative one for your business?   

Apparently, it is a challenging task since there are so many litigation lawyers available. Nevertheless, not all of them are experts in dealing with lawsuits relating to commercial litigation. Hence, you should invest some of your valuable time in searching and finding out the most excellent lawyers in the region. They must possess a high level of experience in managing and resolving lawsuits in connection with commercial litigations.

While embarking on the quest for the litigation lawyers who can cater to your needs, you must discover those legal agencies that offer assistance and support for specific issues concerning your type and area of business. You can take the help of other experts in the industry or may even resort to the Internet for an effective search online. As soon as you find a competent lawyer, you should arrange a lengthy personal session with him and try to assess his capability.

Sponsored blog post: Understand the UK Family Law through Expert Solicitors

Money is the foremost cause of numerous family disputes. Conflicts over pensions and wills are highly widespread and a seasoned solicitor is capable of verifying the facts so as to decide who is lawfully qualified to the money. Every facet of the law plays a significant role in finding an appropriate solution quickly and in accordance with the family law of the United Kingdom.  
Getting familiar with the UK family law can be hard and complicated. However with the help of a prestigious solicitor firm, you can easily come through the judicial procedure and terms to comprehend the statute law that influences your case. Your solicitor will keep informing you about every step and develop a foolproof case to make sure that a quick settlement is accomplished.   
Irrespective of what type of family law you need to be helped with, a group of family law solicitors can provide professional and sensible counsel. A specialized arbitrator can play a crucial role when attempting to resolve a serious family dispute. If you’re encountering such a conflict, contact a legal brokerage firm of thousands of solicitors to rest assured that your case is being handled in a professional way and with your larger interests in mind. Searching the Internet can give you access to many experienced solicitors in the UK.