Tuesday, 25 August 2009

2 steps forward, 1 step back

Just as I thought that I was getting somewhere with the BVC Summer Spoiler (homework), I received an email informing me that there has been a change in the first Advocacy SGS. Funnily enough, it was one of homework's that I'd tackled and proudly ticked off my list on Sunday morning.

Evidence-in-Chief. Bugger, does that mean I have to be nice to the witness?

At present I'm working on an Opinion and I don't mind admitting that it's gruelling. Contract law just baffles me at times and I seem to go off at tangents and suddenly realise that I've missed out the most obvious point completely. I guess I'm up to about 3'500 words so far and still haven't ventured out of liability into remedies. I eagerly await getting to the Writing Skills class to hear "right how many of you idjuts went down the contract route before realising that it is really a negligence claim - oh just the one of you then".

I imagine that some/many of my classmates won't bother doing it, or much other homework come to that, but I thought that I'd better have a go seeing as the Opinion Writing exam is one of the first exams that we do in the second year. All of our Opinion Writing to date has been on civil law, I'm not sure whether or not we do any criminal Opinions, but it would make a nice change.

Legally Ginge has finally come out the closet, so to speak, and has published her first blog post. I've added LG's blog to my blogroll and recommend that you nip over to her place for a quick gossip.

Just as Bar-Os seemed to be on the mend from his cough, he's had a set back. At first it looked to be quite serious, he'd had a nosebleed which appeared to be coming from both nostrils (a sign that there is something untoward in his respiratory tract), but it hasn't re-occurred and it may now be that it was only one nostril, but the blood had smeared across to the other one. I took him out for a walk on Sunday and he immediately went across to the orchard looking for pears and it transpires that if none are to be found, he attempts to climb the tree in search of it's offerings. Me thinks that he has perhaps upset a wasp or two with his scrumping and they gave him what for up said nostril.

Living in the country is mostly very nice, but the insects can take over the place at times. This year has been particularly bad for wasps (or I suppose good if you happen to be a wasp!), and my house has also been invaded by spiders, loads of them in all shapes and sizes, David Bellamy would be in his element:-) . I haven't seen many hedgehogs this year, but there are plenty of squirrels about, which up until last year had disappeared from the village. I had a stable built last year and the swallows have been regularly inspecting the place, but none have taken up residence yet. Starlings seem to be making a come back this year and we also have some sparrows which seem to be constantly arguing with one another, to the point where I have to go outside and tell them to clear off.

As for pigeons, there are loads of them and they seem to spend their entire time copulating on my fence or performing ridiculous mating rituals around the garden. I used to be quite indifferent to them, but they are starting to piss me off with their seemingly insatiable appetite for nooky next to the window ("more tea vicar").

On a more serious note, I read with sadness and dismay the Nearly Legal article about the BVC student who sought judicial review following 2 failed assessment results, which resulted in her failing BVC. Most surprising was the appeal process and the difference in marking between the provider and the external marker, one of which failed the student, the other awarding a V.C. I must admit that the article has unnerved me, to the point where I'm now considering that it is probably not a good idea to choose Advanced Criminal Litigation as one of my options, simply because it's too easy for an examiner to take a personal dislike to a student and fail them. The written skills exams do not require the student to provide their name, so marking is blind, but the oral skills exams by their very nature do not offer such protection.

Although the student was eventually awarded her BVC, it took some doing to achieve justice and the whole process must have had very serious consequences on her career because it appears that this matter has rumbled on for 3 or more years. I am not certain whether her BVC will run from when she should have graduated (but for the fail), or whether it will run from the judicial review decision, but either way, 3 years is a long time to be waiting and must have proved very demoralising at times.

To think that we BVCers pay such vast amounts of money to our providers, I can't help but think that there needs to be some way of ensuring that this sort of thing doesn't happen on a regular basis. Perhaps it should be that all oral skills exams are marked only by independent examiners and double checked to ensure conformity? What do you think?

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Ooh you are awful, but...

As part of the Bar Vocational Course I have to fulfil 4 court visits and write a report on the cases that I see.

Today I went to the beautiful old Crown Court pictured above and those suppressed emotions re-emerged. I want to be a Criminal Barrister.

I know the money is rubbish, the hours of work expected are unreasonable, the criminal justice system is on its knees, job prospects are abysmal, but there's nothing quite like it. I was insanely jealous when the barristers swooshed past in their gowns, rushing from one hearing to another, overworked and underpaid. On the way home my mind was awash with the evidence that I'd heard, what was good, bad or indifferent about the advocates that I'd listened to and watched, how the judge dealt with that evidence and what the possible outcome of the case might be.

In hindsight, I should have spent the day at a County Court and those old passions would have remained submerged.

Perhaps there's a cure, a sort of Criminal Barristers to be Anonymous?

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Don't Panic Captain Mainwaring

In a month's time I will be back at school and the enormity of the Summer homework schedule has just sunk in. I've been ploughing through some Civil Litigation and Criminal Litigation homework, but there's just so much left to do. I have an Opinion to do, a Writing Skills workbook to fill in, some Drafting homework, preparation for the start of the Negotiation module and also preparation for the commencement of the Examination-in-Chief element of Advocacy (which I know nothing about at all). Oh, and I must also find time to spend a day in court and prepare a written report on the case. None of it looks easy, most of the subject matter is new, so I'll need to spend time researching unfamiliar areas of law.

Back in June it all looked achievable, but now in mid-August it's not going quite as planned.

Crikey! 8 exams, countless mocks, options, homework, revision for MCT...

One day I'll laugh about all of this, but right now I need chocolate.

Friday, 7 August 2009


I'm new to this game, pupillage applications that is, so I've nothing to compare this year's experience with. However, to my mind and I'm sure that many of you will disagree, I believe that the pursuance of so called 'fairness and transparency' that is being promulgated via the OLPAS PP system is actually making matters worse for aspirants.

From what's been said, there are Chambers out there who have already given 'the nod' to someone for a pupillage, but nevertheless go through the charade of posting a vacancy on the Pupillage Portal. How many people wasted precious applications on sets who had no intention of recruiting from the Portal applicants? How many people sat in interviews wondering why the committee didn't seem to want to interview them? And what about the Chambers that don't set out what they REALLY want. How many aspirants have turned up for interview at a 'mixed set' (according to the description offered via the Chambers website) hoping to pursue their dream of civil law, only to be told that in actual fact the set is 98% crime and that it is a criminal pupillage that they are offering?

The timing is very odd too. Most BVCers are up to their neck in Bar finals and have to spend precious time filling in applications, when they really don't have the time to do so, hence the last minute dash and somewhat inevitable crashing of the PP on the last day.

And why once a year? Why not all year round with pupillage vacancies appearing as and when?

We aren't mayflies you know!

It seems to me that the endless regulation actually makes matters worse. If a Chambers is hell bent on giving pupillage to a senior member's relative, so be it, it happens in other walks of life, why waste everyone's time and effort in pretending otherwise. I'd rather know beforehand. It's the same with the application criteria, it needs to be more up front. If a Chambers won't interview anyone without a first or a masters, or from oxbridge, just say so and be done with it, it would be far better to know beforehand.

I also believe that if Chambers were allowed more freedom to actually say what they want (or don't), it would be far easier for applicants to sort the wheat from the chaff and actually know where they stand before wasting applications on futile aspirations. Why so far in advance too, surely it makes sense for Chambers to recruit as and when they think a need will arise, rather than speculatively recruiting so far in advance?

And whilst I'm having a good old moan, a major problem encountered by Chambers and applicants alike is the sheer volume of applications received, why not reduce that by stipulating that only those enrolled on BVC may apply, surely that one single measure would reduce numbers quite significantly and give those who have taken the commitment of BVC a better chance, against those who are merely having a speculative punt.

Why isn't part of the BVC actually placing students in various Chambers for a proper insight into that given set, and providing a 'yes we like you, no you're not our cup of tea' feedback that may provide a springboard for application. I know that some Chambers offer mini-pupillages with an assessment element, but many just go through the motions of having someone following them around for a few days and make little effort to actually provide a proper insight into their Chambers

Now I've annoyed both you and myself, I must get back to Mr Blackstone's who is desperately trying to educate me on the ins and outs of the role of Prosecution Counsel; lovely!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

It's the simple things in life

Well, it's been a long time since I had 16 hands between my legs, but you will be pleased to know that it was a most enjoyable experience and one that I hadn't experienced for some considerable time. Bar-Os was a true gent and gave me a very pleasurable time indeed. You see bloggers, it's the simple things in life that make me smile the most. I stayed the distance despite my age and my thighs were only slightly bruised the following day and what's more, it brought a rosy glow to my cheeks.

I should perhaps, in the interests of decency, not that for one moment I assumed you would think any other of a very proper and ladylike Bar student of a certain age, who is wed to another who is not Bar-Os, but is Barman, point out that a horses height is measured in hands, hence the 16 hands, not that you were thinking any other of course, all of you being of an innocent disposition and such high minded individuals of immense intellectual capacity, in that such smut would never have even entered your thoughts, but just in case...