Blog & News

The Cookie Law – Politicians Don’t Understand the Internet

I’ve only recently done some reading up on the Cookie Law after seeing numerous “This site uses cookies; are you OK with that?” messages. Yes I know I’m late to the cookie smashing party but I’m going to weigh in anyway. It annoys me both as a site user and creator.

I know it’s only 2 seconds out of your day for every page but when you browse the internet as much as me it really starts to add up. I get to the stage where I just ignore the messages. This deprives the webmaster of valuable information (via tracking) and therefore hinders them in the improvement of their site. These cookie messages create such bad user experience and could actually be bad for EU business by deterring creative web companies from setting up here. They won’t like the idea of needing to ask the users permission before doing anything cool. They will probably just go to the US.

Also I’ve never met anyone who has actually cared that a website remembers they’ve been there, and tracks how long they stay. I mean what’s next? Signing a legal document before you go into a clothes shop so the staff can look at you, judge you clothing size and offer suggestions? I don’t see much difference between that situation and this one.

It seems to me that the people who came up with this law have zero knowledge of how the internet works. They seem to think that cookies cause awful privacy violations and consequently must be stopped. Zero thought seems to have been given to implementation and the amount of people it would impact.

Anyone who uses any sort of tracking software would seem to be in violation of this law. People are breaking the law just because they’re trying to improve their site. As long as there is a way for someone to opt out (if they want) I don’t see the problem. I really don’t see how it’s the job of website owners to educate everyone who comes to their site about cookies.

This lack of understanding also seems to be shown by American politicians with their SOPA Act too. Basically it would allow sites to be taken down without notice if it enables copyright infringement. So in theory if someone uploaded some content to a website, and the content was copyright protected, the entire website could be taken down without due process. Because it’s enabling copyright infringement.

But there’s so much sharing on the internet these days. Even this most simple of facts was overlooked by those behind SOPA. It appears they had zero understanding of the internet. I’d be surprised if they could master a printer let alone understand the practicalities behind the web. Those sort of people shouldn’t be making decisions about the internet.

Their thinking was just piracy = bad; a huge oversimplification. Privacy = good was the oversimplified thinking behind the Cookie Law. Although the cookie law is no way near as potentially damaging; it’s just really annoying.

Quite simply it’s really embarrassing for everyone involved when these laws are made by people who have zero experience of the web. As far as I can tell (granted that I’m not an expert this) very few experts were consulted.

I literally think a bunch of 13 year olds would do a better job at passing legislation in regards to online matters compared to current politicians. It’s not that the core ideas that are behind the Acts in question are poor – privacy is a good thing, but they way they are implemented is just awful.

This video does a better job of telling you what’s wrong with the Cookie Law than my ranting:

My Favourite Fictional Lawyers

I waste spend quite a bit of time watching American comedy, and in those shows there’s usually a lawyer character. So I came up with an idea for a pretty light hearted blog post – my favourite fictional comedy lawyers! Some of them you will definitely have heard of and others you will only know about if you’re a die hard fan of the show. We’ve also included a poll at the bottom of the page if you want to tell us who your favourite is.

no money down lawLionel Hutz

Lionel Hutz from The Simpsons is by far the most well known lawyer in this list. He first appeared in season two in the episode Bart Gets hit by a Car.

Hutz is pretty incompetent but despite this fact the Simpson family repeatedly hire him as their lawyer. It’s a good thing too; Lionel has so many classic lines. Here are just a few of them:

Hutz: Now don’t you worry Mrs. Simpson, I – uh-oh. We’ve drawn Judge Snyder.
Marge: Is that bad?
Hutz: Well, he’s kind of had it in for me, since I accidently ran over his dog. Actually, replace ‘accidently’ with ‘repeatedly’, and replace ‘dog’ with ‘son’.

Late Ms. Bouvier [video-will]: Now let’s get down to business…
Hutz [voice dubbed in]: To my executor, Lionel Hutz, I leave $50,000.
Marge: Mr. Hutz!!!
Hutz: You’d be surprised how often that works, you really would.

Hutz: And so, ladies and gentleman of the jury I rest my case.
Judge: Hmmm. Mr. Hutz, do you know that you’re not wearing any pants?
Hutz: DAAAA!! I move for a bad court thingy.
Judge: You mean a mistrial?
Hutz: Right!! That’s why you’re the judge and I’m the law-talking guy.
Judge: You mean the lawyer?
Hutz: Right.

Barry defending George in jailBarry Zuckerkorn

There are 3 hilarious lawyers in Arrested Development – Barry Zuckerkorn, Bob Loblaw and Wayne Jarvis. However Barry Zuckerkorn (played by Henry Winkler, yep – the Fonz!) is my personal favourite.

In similar style to The Simpsons Barry is very incompetent and defends the Bluth family on a number of issues throughout the show. He makes some pretty big blunders in every episode he features, like these:

Michael: We need to speak to you about getting a divorce for Gob.
Barry: Well, I got Michael out of his marriage, didn’t I?
(Smiles and holds up hand for high five)
Michael: Actually, she died.
Barry: You’re kidding me. I’ve been taking credit for that for years!

Barry: Unfortunately, it’s a private stock, so you cannot just buy up the shares unless someone is willing to sell.
Michael: Are you sure?
Barry: That’s what they said on “Ask Jeeves”.

Barry: The will is not here, the will is at my office next to the hot plate with the frayed wires. I didn’t, uh… (Muttering.)
Narrator: In fact, Barry had lost George Sr.’s will.
Barry: …how did I get here?

Harvey Birdman

Harvey Birdman is pretty hard to describe. It’s all about a law firm – Sebben & Sebben, which is full of superheros and characters from Hanna-Barbera (The Flintstones, Shaggy & Scooby and Secret Squirrel are just a few of those featured). Birdman is the main character; apparently he was tired of fighting crime and wanted a career in law instead. Harvey usually plays the role of a defence lawyer.

In one episode Harvey needs to defend himself against and old nemesis who is suing him for injuries caused during a fight from his superhero days.

Marshall Eriksen

Marshall Eriksen is from How I met your Mother and throughout the show we see him graduate from law school and move on to being a lawyer. He’s probably the only lawyer on the list who isn’t wildly incompetent! While his character doesn’t just revolve around him being a lawyer there are lots of funny moments which occur during his time at work.

The video to the left is a clip from one of the episodes – a law school band Marshall forms called The Funk, the Whole Funk and Nothing but the Funk (sorry about the poor quality).

Marshall also coined the phrase Lawyered which is used whenever he uses facts to disprove another persons argument, like this :

Barney: Statistically, men who have had at least one relationship with a prostitute, are 75% more likely to have success in future relationships.
Marshall: You made that up.
Barney: Withdrawn.
Marshall: Lawyered.

Other lawyers worthy of mention

Uncle Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly is from a show called It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He’s the uncle of one of Charlie Kelly; one of the main characters. He’s certainly the creepiest lawyer on this list. He doesn’t like his hands being photographed.

Gerald Broflovski

Also known as Kyle’s dad from South Park. There are several episodes where his legal career comes up. Like the Sexual Harassment Panda episode where everyone tries to sue the school.

The Bird Lawyer

Our second bird based lawyer. This time from Futurama; he appears in a few episodes when legal advice is needed. Unfortunately he’s not very good. I don’t actually know if that character has a name, so I’m just going to call him the bird lawyer.

All I know is that he is some sort of bird which has evolved to the stage where it can speak. And obtain a law degree. Also he sounds like he’s from Texas. Anyway the video to the right is him in action.

Judge Dredd should get an honorary mention. Although I do question the amount of legal training he’s received.

[poll id=”2″]

Mooting Tips & Advice

Mooting is a crucial bit of work experience for prospective barristers. A fantastic video on mooting from the College of Law. Some tips and advice on mooting including common errors that students make. There is also information on the structure of your arguments, enhancing argument clarity and communication with the judge.

This video is invaluable if you’re going to be having your first moot in the near future or even if you’ve got a good deal of experience already.

For more information on mooting check out the Learnmore mooting guide. The guide covers everything to do with mooting such as bundles, skeleton arguments, and public speaking.

Law Graduate Profile

Bangor Law School have given us permission to use some of their graduate profiles. We think this is useful in order to see the paths others have taken to get into the legal profession and the wide range of career options open to law graduates. Visit the Bangor University website to see the rest of the profiles. We will hopefully be adding to this page in the future with further graduate profiles from a range of universities. If you would like to contribute a profile please contact us.

David Darlington, LLB Law with Accounting and Financeuniversity law grad

“After leaving Bangor Law School I studied the Legal Practice Course at the College of Law, Chester. I was recently admitted as a Solicitor after completing my training contract with Stephensons Solicitors LLP, “a UK top 100 law firm, one of the largest, fastest growing and most successful solicitors in the north west” (Legal 500). I have been kept on with the firm and I am now working as a Criminal Solicitor. I am also fully accredited for the Police Station and I am on the firms’ 24 hour rota.

I would like to thank Bangor Law School for all the support that I received during my degree as I wouldn’t be where I am now without it.”

Tristan Koriya, LLB Law with Business Studies (2008 graduate)

“After completing an LLB in Law with Business Studies at Bangor Law School, I worked for the Cabinet Office as Acting Head of Communications for the Government I.T Profession. In 2009 I completed the Legal Practice Course at the Oxford Institute of Legal Practice before being appointed Head of Law at Roade Sports College in Northamptonshire. I also worked for Her Majesty’s Courts Service and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) prior to finishing my studies.

“I am currently doing a 2-year training contract with Wilson Browne Solicitors and Qualify next year hopefully! I strongly believe that without the support and guidance of the staff at Bangor Law School I simply would not have been able to secure such a good btraining contract.”

Paralegal Studies; A Trend for the Future?

paralegal careerThe University of Glamorgan have recently announced that they will be offering a degree in paralegal studies. The degree is “designed to provide you with a flexible, work-related learning experience that will equip you with the necessary skills to succeed in the legal sector”. The course is approved by the Chartered Institute for Legal Executives (CILEX) and successful completion can allow exemption from the level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice.

Because the course was developed along with CILEX it should be a great way for prospective paralegals to train. When it comes to employment the course could give you a real advantage over other applicants. A mixture of legal subjects and practical legal skills will be taught to students on the course. In this way it strikes me as being a kind of “paralegal LPC”.

One question you may ask is this: If you’re going to invest the time and money in a course to become a paralegal, (which doesn’t actually require a degree), why don’t you just invest that time and money into becoming a solicitor via the traditional route? Looking at the fees calculator on the page linked above it seems that it will be much cheaper than taking an LLB course. The course is done over 2 years (if done full time) and shouldn’t cost more than £5000 per year for UK students (less for Welsh students). And your chances of employment should be higher compared to a student who wants to be a solicitor and has just completed the LLB.

Also the required grades are much lower (160 UCAS points or relevant professional experience) which will mean that a legal education from university becomes much more accessible to some. What wouldn’t be ideal is if this sort of course became the norm, and indeed an unofficial requirement of paralegals.

Right now this seems like a great course. We all know how hard it is to get any job in the legal sector, and if you want to become a paralegal this would certainly help you. But what about the future? One day (hopefully!) the economy, and legal sector as a whole, will become more healthy. This should mean employment increases and therefore it won’t be as hard to become a paralegal as it is now. Would this decrease the usefulness of this course when that time comes? I think not. This seems like the sort of course that should be an investment for the future. Something that could help with career progression. Undoubtedly firms will see this course as a massive bonus. So rather than the course simply being something that’s required (like the LLB or GDL for solicitors), we should think of it as a nice bonus that will help in the future. Like a masters degree.

This is only speculation but it will be interesting to see how employers treat this course and what impact it will have on the way paralegals are employed. We certainly don’t want the paralegal role to be labelled “graduates only”, if this does happen then we can be sure that many other course providers will offer paralegal studies similar to this one.

Pannone Trainee Diary & Profile

Pannone have kindly allowed us to republish one of their graduate diaries. You can see the other trainee diaries here. There are 6 diaries in total; two testimonials from Pannone trainees who progressed from the position of paralegal to trainee and four Pannone trainees who have written a summary of their typical working day.

A day in the life of a Pannone Trainee

Richard Hill: Second Year Trainee, Pannone
Seats to Date: Dispute Resolution, Construction and Corporate
University: King’s College London
Degree and Class:  BA Hons 1(1)

8.45 am – I arrive at work, check my emails and see if anything urgent has come in that I should deal with immediately. I check my “to do” list and add any extra tasks that appear in my emails.  I grade my “to do” list in order of importance (on a scale of one to four with one being the most importance) so that I know which tasks to do first.

9.00 am – This morning I am drafting a third party legal charge for one of our clients who wishes to obtain a charge in order to secure the goods that they sell to a third party prior to them receiving payment for these goods.  I have had plenty of experience drafting such security and I am confident that I will get this done in around one hour.


10.00 am – Reminders that I have set up in my outlook calendar remind me that I need to perform winding up searches and check the filing histories of several companies.  It is important to check a company’s filing history and to do winding up searches on the day that a transaction is set to complete in order to ensure that there have been no last minute changes to the company that is being acquired.  There are no new filings for the companies and the winding up searches are clear, I therefore update the Partner leading the transaction of this, so that he knows that the transaction can proceed.

10.20 am – One of the partners in the Corporate Finance team asks me if I am able to assist on a transaction that is due to complete next week.  The completion of transactions is an important and interesting part of life in the Corporate team.  I need to prepare and agree with the other side a file containing all of the disclosures that are to be made by our client who is the seller in the transaction.  I log in to a data room that we have set up and start to work through the documents that the client has sent across and upload these to the data room so that the other side’s solicitors can see these documents.  It is important for me to make a note of any substantial issues raised by these documents and in particular to note any that relate to questions asked by the other side in the due diligence questionnaire.

12.45 pm – I move onto the next task on my ‘to do’ list which is to provide a company search on a company that will be giving security to one of our clients in the future.  These company searches are important in order to flag potential issues such as if the company has already given security to others or whether it does not have the powers needed to borrow or to give security.

1.00 pm – I go for an impromptu lunch with the partner with whom I share an office for a catch up and to replenish for the afternoon!

2.00 pm – I recommence the company search started before lunch.

2.45 pm – The company search is complete and I return this to the fee earner responsible for the file.  He asks me if I have capacity to help him on a file that I have previously assisted with.  As I have nothing urgent to do on my ‘to do list’ I say that I can help.  He asks me to telephone the client and obtain some share certificates that the client has hold of.  Upon receipt of these I am to arrange for new share certificates to be issued by the Company’s registrar.  I make the call and I then set a reminder in my Outlook calendar for three days time to ensure that I have received these certificates.

3.15 pm – I now have some internal training on how to use one of the IT systems that we use at Pannone.  This is an update session outlining new facilities to automatically check case and legislation references within documents in order to ensure that they are up to date.  The training sessions that we have are extremely useful and enable us to keep up to date with key issues in the law, develop a range of skills such as networking and improve our IT skills in order to ensure that we can do our work as efficiently as possible.

4.20 pm – I return from the training session to find a note from one of the partners requesting that I do some research into community interest companies, what they can and can not do and whether it is possible for them to convert into a public limited company.  Performing research into new areas of law that I have not studied before is one of the most interesting and challenging tasks as a Pannone trainee.  It enables you to expand your knowledge base and is fundamental to providing efficient and accurate information to clients.

5.45 pm – Pannone organise internal football matches every Tuesday.  Socialising with others at the firm is an important and enjoyable part of life as a Pannone trainee.  As I enjoy playing football I try and go to most of these Tuesday sessions, so I finish my work, meet up with some fellow players and head off to play (or try to play) some football.

If you are interested in applying for a training contract at Pannone please complete the online form. If you have any queries please email us at [email protected].

New Trainee Retention Rates & Analysis

Trainee retention rates have recently been published and actually look quite good. Slaughter and May have published a retention rate of 91% for its newly qualified solicitors. That’s 42 out of 46 trainees retained. The figure from their March intake was at 90%.

Ashurst also increased their retention rate from March. They retained 83% of NQ solicitors up from 78% after 24 out of 27 trainees who applied for solicitor roles were offered employment. SNR Denton’s retention rates were up even more – 83% up from 60%. They are retaining 24 of 29 qualifying trainees.

So the retention rates do seem to be getting better. This should make sense. After all there are 44.5 graduates applying for each trainee solicitor role as I looked at here. So the best of the best should be the only ones getting training contracts. Only people who really want the job and have the ability to be an amazing solicitor. After all the competition, all of  the applications and all of the assessments a firm should be pretty sure that they’ve got the right candidate.

And that’s how I first looked at the figures.

But then I thought about something else. Is the actual training contract just another stage of the interview? Do firms ever intend to keep 100% of their graduates? Or is it a situation where they NEED to eliminate one or two candidates because of budget requirements? I don’t know. But 100% retention rates seem rare, and that seems odd to be because of the intensive recruitment process.

Another way to read the situation is that the trainee retention IS a cost cutting measure. NQ solicitors will need to be paid much less than a senior solicitor or partner. Their wages may even be less than an experienced paralegal or legal assistant. So firms could be cutting several senior jobs and replacing them with NQ solicitors that they view as highly talented. Because of the competitiveness perhaps trainees would settle for a lower wage too?

They would be happy simply getting a job in law and making a respectable amount of money in the process. I’d feel pretty annoyed if I’d worked in a firm for several years, got made redundant, and then the firm keeps 100% of its trainees! However this is just speculation. I have no idea how firms will deal with this sort of process, or the transparency which is involved.

I also found it interesting that graduates resigned; 2 of Slaughter’s trainees resigned before qualification. I guess working in a big commercial firm isn’t for everyone, but they must have disliked it enough to make the 59k NQ salary not worth it!

Other retention rates should be released within the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see if the other firms repeat this upwards retention trend. But it is hard to know what to make of the numbers. Does the fact that we’re in a recession again mean the retention rate is likely to drop soon? Or was I right by saying that retaining more trainees could be saving firms more money overall?

Would love to hear what other people think.

Assessment Day Group Exercises & Interviews

Here is some great advice, hints and tips on what to expect from assessment days. This video is from Clifford Chance and goes into quite a bit of detail about some of the exercises, interviews, tests and overall process. It really tells you what firms are looking for during the whole interviews process so it’s really worth a watch. The video even mentions some specific questions that will be asked at the interview. Although they are taking about the Clifford Chance assessment day, the process with other firms should be very similar.

Law Student Jokes & Comedy

Not posted a video for a while, this one is more comedy based. I found this series entitled My Roommate the Law Student pretty funny and well worth a watch. I must admit I found myself doing quite a few of the things that Ben does while at university! Check it out.

If you want more law based lolz vote for your favourite fictional lawyer here!

Update – Site Progression, New Series & News

Site update

I think things are going well for We have had quite a few mentions on twitter and have even been referenced on university pages. This is very encouraging! But we’re still a young site and there’s much to do. Right now we’re working on a section with more barrister specific information and after that we plan to make some graduate profiles.

This will help students thinking about law at university get a clear picture of where they will be after they graduate. The only section of the site we’re having trouble with is this blog. I think my initial plan to just do anything legal based was a bit broad. So I seem to randomly be going from one subject to another. Athough stuff like law firm SEO does interest me, I don’t think it’s 100% relevant here. Maybe ill create a marketing blog in the future (I’ll be doing this – articles down for the time being). However I think some of our infographics have been great. So we will certainly be doing more of those in the future.

Now we will aim to focus on weekly legal news. Previously because so much time was going into making the site we didn’t really have time to keep up to date ourselves on recent legal developments! But now the content won’t be released as often as it was. The core site elements are in place. This means we can spend more time on this blog. So we hope to be commenting on the most recent legal developments weekly. We will either focus on the big stories or do a “News Round-up” like the one below.

Recently in the news

The Association of Graduate Recruiters reported that vacancies in law firms are likely to drop by 16.5% and 44.5 graduates applied for each trainee solicitor vacancy. We all know getting a training contract is going to be hard, but seeing the statistics like this makes very depressing reading. More LPC graduates will unfortunately be left with minimal chances of obtaining a training contract. I wonder how many LPC graduates are actually aware of the above figures? It was certainly a shock to me. Sometimes the pure desire to become a solicitor and achieve your life goals can get in the way of cold hard statistics…

Lord Neuberger presented his speech to the University of Birmingham Holdsworth club. In 2010 I had the privilege of seeing the presidential address by Lord Hope. There were similarities between the two speeches; both were about public judicial speaking with Lord Kilmuir being referenced in both.

Much of the media on the Lord Neuberger speech seemed to be a little sensationalist I thought. There were headlines using the words “slammed” and “criticised” in regards to Lord Neuberger mentioning the Lord Justice Stanley Burnton appearance on master-chef. Although Lord Neuberger didn’t seem to approve, he was referring to how Lord Kilmuir would react rather than putting forward his own opinion.  I just felt the media were too keen to go with a catchy headline on the matter. You can read the full speech yourself here.

I read an interesting story from The Basingstoke Gazette about a firm using Facebook to serve legal documents. They were served this way because of difficulties tracking down the wife of a client – she moved to Spain. However she was found on Facebook and permission was granted by the local court to deliver the relevant matrimonial documents via Facebook.

This seems like a logical step to take and should be more time & cost effective  for everyone involved. Obviously it should only be used in certain circumstances but I’m glad the courts are open to it.  As long as Facebook don’t add a “Serve” button next to “Poke”…