Plus ca change

In the week that the “iconoclastic” (according to Legal Business ) Professor Nigel Savage announces his pending retirement as President of the University of Law, it is interesting to reflect on the words of another senior vocational provider, commenting on the need to develop a more effective system of blended learning between the classroom and the office for the training of would-be solicitors:

…. a reform in this direction will eventually be forced upon the profession by the growing complexity of the law and the absurdity of spending many thousands a year on an official system of legal education which is debarred by out-of-date restrictions from giving of its best.

Sounds familiar? But the rub is the quote’s not from one of Nigel’s competitors at Kaplan or BPP, or any other current LPC provider, it was said by Dr G.R.Y. (Geoffrey) Radcliffe, Principal of the Law Society’s School of Law and Fellow of New College, Oxford in July 1939 during his Presidential address to the Society of Public Teachers of Law. Moreover, it referred to an even earlier proposal of the Cardiff Law Society that the (then) five year period of articles should be organised on what we might today call a sandwich model, layering sequential ten month blocks at law school, with 15 month blocks in the office. No disrespect to much that Nigel Savage has achieved, but given that 75 years on we are still engaged in variations of the same debate, how do we define iconoclasm in legal education? And when we’ve worked that out, could someone please tell the journos at Legal Business?

The Bottom Line: brought to your desktop every day!

An advertising puff for SOS Connect in Legal Futures recently trumpets the value of its software to a newly merged provincial law firm. Apparently, one of the virtues of the system is that it can be set up automatically to send  ‘performance v budget’ figures to each fee-earner on system start-up. Now I’ve no reason to suspect the firm in question isn’t a lovely place to work, full of commmitted lawyers doing a great job. And I’m sure they’re by no means the first to come up with this idea. But I have to say it would never have occurred to me that something as simple as this could be such a great way to build a culture of “healthy rivalry and competition” (to quote from SOS’s copy). Or that such a culture was necessarily so important to a law firm. I’d be far too bothered that it might encourage fee-earners to objectify clients and regard them as just the next pay cheque, and rather worried about the effect on an underperforming colleague of being confronted by his disappearing bonus/non-promotion/ pending P45 everytime he switches on his PC. But then this is clearly why I’m not part of the cut and thrust of modern practice 😉

Exam grading at law school

At this time of year I think we should do our utmost to reassure students of the rigour of university assessment procedures. This short film from those nice people at LSU in the good old U.S. of A. explains all. If you are about to sit your exams, hEaD Space wishes you the very best of luck!

Clive James on the REF

For those of you, like me, who missed it, catch while you can Clive James’s comments on the plans to measure impact as part of the new Research Excellence Framework on Radio 4’s A Point of View: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00p34yw/A_Point_of_View_04_12_2009/

En route he also makes some suitably Jamesian comments about those bankers (again) and Nicolas Cage’s recent financial misjudgment. What more could you ask: three of my favourite targets in just 10 minutes. This is why radio is so wonderful! Thanks to Tracey for sending me the link.

Law student 1: robber 0

If you are ever tempted to try and separate a law student from their notes, think again…. First year law student Alex Botsios was willing to give up his cash and guitars to an intruder, but when the would-be robber tried to make off with his laptop containing four months worth of casenotes from his degree at Arizona State University, Botsios brought new meaning to the phrase law in action. He floored the baseball bat-wielding intruder who was then acccompanied by the police to hospital for treatment before being charged with armed robbery and kidnapping. The full story comes courtesy of KTAR radio in Phoenix, Arizona – linked here.

Pardon?

OK so its not got anything to do with legal education as such but I couldn’t resist. The Lawyer (again) had a wonderful piece today on the fact that the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks has prepared a glossary of clerking slang. As its not 1st April I am assuming it is the real thing! For those of you who thought most legal language was a bit obscure, trust me, this is in a league of its own.

If you wander across to my old friend John Flood’s blawg you will find various snippets about this extraordinarily idiosyncratic part of the English legal system, as John pretty much cut his teeth as a researcher on the subject of barristers clerks rather longer ago than he might care to admit. I do know we’ve shared one or two “frighteners” over the years. but I wonder if he knows what a “Dionne Warwick” is? Watch this space…. My personal favourite is the definition of a “fox hole”: “area beneath desk where telephone calls can take place peacefully”. Now that really is what I call a bad day at the office.