Archive for October, 2012

Book Recommendation: The Racketeer by John Grisham

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of the USA only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett just became number five.

His body was found in the small basement of a lakeside cabin he had built himself and frequently used on weekends. When he did not show up for a trial on Monday morning, his law clerks panicked, called the FBI, and in due course the agents found the crime scene. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies – Judge Fawcett and his young secretary.

I did not know Judge Fawcett, but I know who killed him, and why.

I am a lawyer, and I am in prison.

It’s a long story.

Available from Amazon

October 31, 2012 · babybarista · Comments Closed
Posted in: books

How to spot a bad barrister

“I’ve never been quite sure what makes a good barrister,” said TheBusker. “But there’s one thing that’s never hard to spot – and that’s a bad one.”

“Shame that solicitors or their clients don’t often realise,” said BusyBody.

“That’s because solicitors rarely attend court and clients usually know no better,” said TheVamp.

“Yes, it’s often hard to put your finger on it but you certainly know it when you see it,” said HeadofChambers.

“Jumping up and down and interrupting,” said OldSmoothie.

“Misleading the judge as to what’s been said outside of court,” said UpTights.

“Trying to bring in evidence by the back door,” said Teflon.

“Or worse still, failing to understand the difference between making submissions and giving evidence,” said UpTights.

“Asking vague and open questions in cross-examination,” said TheCreep.

“Bullying in the robing room,” said OldRuin. “It always indicates a lack of confidence in my view.”

“Taking courtroom jibes personally is the clearest indication of a bad barrister,” said OldSmoothie.

“Lack of preparation,” said TheCreep.

“Although over preparation and fifty page skeleton arguments in small cases can be equally counter-productive,” said TheVamp.

“Getting angry with a judge isn’t great,” said BusyBody.

“Nor is snapping at your client or leading your own witnesses,” said OldSmoothie.

“For what it’s worth,” said OldRuin, “in my experience bad barristers are a rare breed who don’t usually last very long at the Bar. Even if they’re not found out by their solicitors, they’re given such a hard time by their opponent and the judge that eventually they just move onto something which makes them less unhappy.”

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister written by Tim Kevan whose new novel is Law and Peace. For more information and to read past posts visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

October 30, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Book recommendations: ‘Famous Trials’ e-books edited by Alex McBride

I’m a huge fan of Alex McBride’s excellent Defending the Guilty and when I heard that he had edited a series of e-books from Penguin I looked forward to seeing them. They certainly don’t disappoint. The series is published by Penguin entitled ‘Famous Trials’ and come in three volumes: Unwanted-Spouses, Escapes and Thrill Killers. Each of them tells the story of two particular trials in which the human drama and tragedy reads very much like a book of high quality crime fiction. The series itself first appeared in 1941 and some of the trials were subsequently selected and introduced for a single volume by John Mortimer himself no less. In these new volumes Alex McBride has also added excellent introductions to all three books and it does leave the question hanging as to whether perhaps he is about to start a new series covering more recent trials? I’d highly recommend these books which are really well written, gripping and also snappy enough to finish in a long commute. The books will be available from 29th November priced at £1.99 each.

October 30, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Monday morning with Alex Williams’ cartoons, 29th October 2012


This cartoon is by Alex Williams who draws the Queen’s Counsel cartoons for The Times and in numerous books including Lawyers Uncovered. He also does the cartoons for BabyBarista and has had two more excellent books published recently: 101 Ways to Leave the Law and 101 Uses for a Useless Banker. He offers almost all of his cartoons for sale at £120 for originals and £40 for copies and they can be obtained from this email info@qccartoon.com.

October 29, 2012 · babybarista · Comments Closed
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Sponsored post: Annuities aren’t the only option

Many people have lost faith in pensions. They have done so largely the income that can be derived from them is poor and they are faced with a gamble with annuity providers over how long they will live to enjoy the income they are receiving in lieu of the pension fund given up. This statement is true to some extent but it does not take into account that an annuity is only one option for pension income. The other common option is income drawdown. Income drawdown allows for a fund to remain invested while income is received. This has the benefit of the retiree retaining control over the longevity of the fund; on their death it can be passed to a dependent rather than to the coffers of the annuity provider. The situation is further improved where retirees have £20,000 guaranteed income from other sources. In this instance the entire pension fund is available as capital for the pension fund owner to use as they wish rather than being restricted to 25% tax free lump sum and the balance as income.

This blog was written by Andrew Neligan, a Chartered Financial Planner who helps legal professionals achieve their lifestyle goals.

October 29, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Sponsored post: Would you turn away free money with no catch?

This is what people are doing every day by ignoring pensions as an option to boost their retirement savings. Admittedly, pensions have had a tough time recently; the Government have messed around with them so much very few people understand the rules, the 2007/8 stock market crash still looms large in people’s memories and current annuity rates are at historic lows. But this ignores the free money I was referring to. Free money that is paid by the Government as well! This free money is in the form of tax relief which is applied at 20% to all contributions. Higher and additional rate tax payers can then re-claim the 40% and 50% income tax paid via their tax return. The benefit of this tax relief is increased through compound interest; growth on growth received each year. For example, basic rate tax relief on a £50,000 contribution would be £10,000. This £10,000 alone would grow by £6,289 in ten years assuming a growth rate of 5% a year. So, £16,289 you would not have by ignoring pensions.

This blog was written by Andrew Neligan, a Chartered Financial Planner who helps legal professionals achieve their lifestyle goals.

October 29, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Weekend Video: Tom Hodgkinson on 5 x 15

October 27, 2012 · babybarista · Comments Closed
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The legal money tree

“I’ve got to go to court today to hand in a consent order simply because the judge has insisted on our attendance,” moaned one of the pupils today.

“What’s your problem with that?” said TheVamp.

“Is this really what all my hard work at university and beyond has come to? A train journey to Chatham for a five minute hearing in front of a grumpy judge before getting back on the train in time for lunch.”

“And how much are you getting paid for this little jaunt?” asked BusyBody.

“Three hundred pounds,” said the pupil.

“Which for a five minute hearing makes, er, three thousand six hundred pounds an hour,” said OldSmoothie. “Not bad for someone who’s not even fully qualified.”

“Yes, but, the train journey…” quibbled the pupil.

“What? The train journey in which you can do a couple of sets of papers and bill out a few more hundred pounds?” said Teflon.

“Well, when you put it like that…” said the pupil losing heart.

“Young man,” said HeadClerk. “Let me tell you how it is.” The pupil was suddenly all deference as the most important person in chambers stepped up.

“Whatever they told you at your oh so ancient university, money really does grow on trees. In fact you’ll find a money tree growing in each and every county court in the country with a big signpost mentioning consent orders among many other things. Cases where, on the whole, your only real obligation is to turn up, look smart and pick the fifty pound notes from the tree one at a time.”

“Oh,” said the pupil.

“So don’t let me ever hear you complain about having to go and earn the easiest money in the world ever again,” he said.

“No,” said the pupil.

“My favourite’s always an infant settlement,” said TheCreep. “I’ve never had a judge yet re-open a settlement on which counsel has advised acceptance.”

“But surely the best of all is a last minute settlement,” said TheVamp. “I had one last week where the brief fee had been agreed at three thousand pounds and I was intending to start preparing the evening before. Hadn’t even opened the papers. Then an email arrived saying case settled and my fee to be paid in full.”

“And your celebratory meal in the Savoy the next day was clear evidence that there is such a thing as a free lunch,” said HeadClerk with a smile.

BabyBarista is a fictional account of a junior barrister written by Tim Kevan whose new novel is Law and Peace. For more information and to read past posts visit babybarista.com. Cartoons by Alex Williams, author of 101 Ways to Leave the Law.

October 25, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Rowan Atkinson defending freedom of speech

October 24, 2012 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
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Book Recommendation: Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System

Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System explains and critically assesses how our law is made and applied. Annually updated, this authoritative textbook clearly describes the legal rules of England and Wales and their collective influence as a sociocultural institution.

This latest edition of The English Legal System presents and analyses changes made to the legal system by the coalition government, and digests recent legislation and case law. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, the Crime and Security Act 2010, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, new European law, and the latest decisions of the Supreme Court are all incorporated into the text, and this edition also digests recent research on the work of juries and the criminal courts, and the 2011 changes to the regulation of, and Government contributions towards, legal services.

Key learning features include:

a clear and logical structure with short, manageable, well-structured individual chapters;

useful chapter summaries which act as a good check point for students;

sources for further reading and suggested websites at the end of each chapter to point students towards further learning pathways;

an online skills network including how tos, practical examples, tips, advice and interactive examples of English law in action.

Relied upon by generations of students, Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System is a permanent fixture in this ever evolving subject.

Available from Amazon

October 24, 2012 · babybarista · Comments Closed
Posted in: books