Sad...

Feb. 14th, 2007 02:38 pm
liadnan: (Default)

.. that someone died. But I don't quite buy The Times take on this story (via Charon QC). For a start, the clear implication of the article is that this was a case of suicide. Yet there seems no real proof of that, and Tate Modern seems an odd place to choose. Secondly, the article states that:

As a £55,000-a-year junior, he would frequently have been called on to work 16-hour days, seven days a week, for weeks on end to keep up with the firm’s relentless flow of multi-billion-pound deals.

In some departments he might certainly have been called upon to do that sometimes. But the article makes it appear that this is the norm, 52 weeks a year, across the magic circle and the next tier, across departments, and from what I understand from friends at such places, it isn't quite that bad (ETA: -in London, I wouldn't like to comment on New York). In particular, the guy worked in IP, not typically an area where such hours are at all regular.

Then the article goes on to talk about bonuses. This seems a bit of a non-sequitur. The current ranting about bonuses is not, so far as I understand it, about the (comparatively) small bonuses of junior MC solicitors but about the vastly more significant bonuses elsewhere in the City, traders and the like.

Finally, assuming for the moment that suicide is what this was, every suicide is a tragedy. There are thousands of them in the UK every year, particularly among young men: it's a tragedy which we have largely failed to address (though the rate is decreasing). Why does this one have a major article in The Times and a Standard headline? Because of his education and profession? Evidently his education and its cost are considered relevant to the article, as they are referred to: "Mr Courtney studied law on an open scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford, and spent a year at law school in London. He previously attended Durham School, which costs £4,000 a term". Because of the implied inference that he killed himself because his job was too stressful? Isn't it a bit soon, a few days after the event, to jump to that kind of conclusion? For the record, I do think many law firms make outrageous demands of their juniors (he was one year PQE). But to imply that this has caused someone to kill themselves seems a bit over the top at this stage.

I didn't know him, though I shan't be a bit surprised if I discover someone I know did. I'm sorry he's dead, the more so if he killed himself as a result of desparate unhappiness. But this article seems to be nothing more than a mass of speculation, including statistics of which I am doubtful, seeking to jump to conclusions about possible connections between someone's death and what I consider the real problem of the way we do business in the City, quite possibly having a negative effect on the possibility of a sensible debate on that problem. Frankly it reads like a Daily Mail article.

I don't work in that world, quite, though I have many friends and acquaintances who do. I'd be particularly interested to know what those of you who do or have think. I'd never understood FF to have a particularly bad reputation, for a start.

liadnan: (Default)

There is a certain joy to be found in drafting exquisitely polite pleadings to the effect that:

"You, the Claimants, are timewasting clowns.
And as for you, the so-called professional representatives, we think you ought to be putting your insurers on notice about possible wasted/indemnity costs orders and also worrying about our shiny new regulators on this one, you bunch of bonkers incompetent cretins. PS and WOP your counsel may have been called the year I was born but his drafting is embarrassingly awful and the opinion from him you so kindly disclosed is quite unbelievably crap, plus I looked him up and he has really silly sideburns."

liadnan: (Default)

To the Great Hall of the Royal Courts of Justice for the tenth anniversary of the Bar Pro Bono Unit, swarming with the great and the good. Loathe all members of this government as I may, and unimpressed with his Opinion on the Iraq War as I am, it is to Peter Goldsmith's credit that a year before the election that made him Lord Goldsmith, Attorney General, he was the moving spirit behind the foundation of the Unit.

I've done a fair amount of work for the Unit over the last few years: far, far less than the truly committed few but perhaps more than others. Since, somehow, private client express trusts, commercial offshore dealings, business partnerships and commercial land matters rarely qualify for the Unit's consideration most of it has been in my other, least important to me, area of practice: corporate insolvency and most often bankruptcy. Which I actually loathe as a practice area as Room TM101 is one of the most depressing places I have ever spent time and I can't avoid thinking "there but for the grace of God".

There can be benefits in doing PB work beyond the warm feeling in the soul and the karma points. Just once i a while a case worth taking all the way may turn up, often in the pigeonhole of someone who'd be far too junior to take it were it paid "at a proper fee". Plus there's the networking angle. But by and large I honestly think the motivation is from a desire to do good works. Or perhaps for some, a kind of unfocussed guilt for being in a well-paid profession. Most lawyers in this country have a passing interest in both the law as an academic discipline and the general concept of justice too, strange though that may seem, and doing PB work does fit in with that. Perhaps the legally most complex Opinion I have written this year was on a PB bankruptcy matter. Most of the work in my experience consists of explaining why, exactly, the client doesn't have a case -they have after all, by definition been refused Legal Aid for one reason or another, which is a bad start-, but there's a genuine benefit in doing that in itself.

Even so, it's good to be thanked, with free-flowing and tolerable wine and really quite impressive nibbles. Plus, since I tend to find the recent practice of hiring out the RCJ for private functions mildly irritating -somehow a tad inappropriate- at least for once it was (a) a charitable function connected with the law (b) to which I was invited. Not to mention the enthusiastic students and pupils, most of them women, who had volunteered to do the drink serving. One of them even asked me for my card, sadly she admitted it was so she could write in to ask to do a mini-pupillage (which isn't in my control, still when I pass her details on my colleague and I think she should take points for utter brazenness).

Couldn't quite see the point of having a quintet play in a notoriously enormous barn of a space though.

Always amused to watch certain legendary members of the senior judiciary, particularly those legendary for their socialising as well as their judgments, shmoozing around too. Evidently Lord Leg-Over still has it....

Time...

Oct. 25th, 2006 01:46 pm
liadnan: (Default)

Earlier I was in court asking, successfully, for an adjournment to the first available slot of sufficient time after 56 days: the clerk afterwards helpfully agreed to set it down immediately. "56 days" he said. "Well, that's 21st Dec. You can have 3rd Jan."

Where did 2006 go? Actually, while we're about it, where did 2005 go? My mental present tense remains in 2004. Mind you, I think I spent several years in 1983, and again in 1991.

liadnan: (Default)

V. good article by Daniel Davies on Comment is Free about the desirability of stasis. With particular reference to large public sector IT systems, but his points apply across the board:

"The phrase "The status quo is no longer an option" is reliably the leper's bell of the modern managerial idiot. It is almost always wrong. Like Status Quo, the status quo is often vastly underrated simply because it is unfashionable. The great thing about the status quo is that it is not any worse than the status quo. Surprisingly few proposals for "radical and far reaching reform" can actually beat this standard."

Comments also worth reading, including in particular DD:

"If anyone thinks I posted this purely in order to start a flamewar with BBC Micro owners, you are right. Face it, your games sucked. Your Dunlop and Fila trainers were crap too."

(It makes sense in context.)

liadnan: (Default)

About 90% of Chambers, plus the clerks, are rammed into the conference room with the tv. Despite the temptingly large amount of booze also there, I reckon if I leave now I should get most of the way home on my bike without running into any traffic at all.

Judging by the drumming on the ceiling (I am directly below the con room) something good has happened, but I'm not waiting around to find out what.

liadnan: (Default)

with Friday afternoons? It's not as though anyone actually does any work on them. Is it? We might as well all just sod off to the pub at lunchtime.

Even the LRB personals failed to lift my boredom this week. Ho hum. Someone amuse me.

Bah

May. 13th, 2006 03:00 pm
liadnan: (Default)

Bah. Drafting forty page affidavits is not my favourite way of spending a weekend... For a variety of reasons hiatus likely to continue at least until I return from the Avignon break...

Forwhy...?

Dec. 2nd, 2005 07:44 pm
liadnan: (Default)

It is a quarter to 8 on a Friday evening and I have a party to go to. Instead I am sitting in my office waiting for signatures of seven parties to some fourteen documents to be sent through on a Very Large Transaction.

This is only one of many reasons why I am a Proper Lawyer litigator in my real life.

Hot

Aug. 29th, 2005 11:36 am
liadnan: (Default)

There's a thing. Thought I'd check my email while I was in town for the morning buying some bits and pieces, and have discovered forwarded work emails in my inbox. Am debating whether to deal with them now, or leave them until next week... Ought to be a higher rate for working from the Cyclades I think.

liadnan: (Default)

Today I have:

  • Wandered around town;
  • watched the test match (hurrah);
  • wandered out to the castle islet at low tide;
  • sat on a gorgeous near-deserted beach and watched the sun go down;
  • and, err tried to work on a brief while watching Zorro

Still, can't have everything: pretty good day all round.

liadnan: (Default)

Quarter past midnight and I'm considering affidavits......

Sounds like the start of a rather dull and poorly scanned blues song. I have several of those at present.

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liadnan: (Default)
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