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Blog Name: Matthew's blog

Lunch with a futurologist
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16 June 2015
I had lunch with the futurologist Richard Watson yesterday. He lectures at London Business School, has written a number of books and advises governments, large corporations etc. on what is likely to happen to the world over the coming years. He's a phenomenon, and very charming. And I bought lunch, so in return he told me what should be worrying young lawyers.

The answer is pretty much everything.

Absolutely everyone should be worried about the economy. The global systems are all too complicated and interlinked, if a couple of them fail there's a real possibility of the whole thing crashing. If Greece defaults there's a risk of a chain reaction across a number of countries that could plunge the world into chaos. Richard's advice was to get a New Zealand passport, buy agricultural land with a decent fresh water supply and stock up on expensive wine. Because if all else fails at least you can drink it.

We should all be very worried about Russia, more so than China. Nations tend to be identified by specific characteristics, Russia's is loss of empire. Putin's trying to get it back and the West isn't doing enough to stop him.

Assuming the global powers manage to keep a lid on the above and the world doesn't disappear up its fundament, then we need to be worried about the rise of artificial intelligence. A few centuries ago unskilled workers found themselves replaced by technology. Then semi-skilled workers started to be hit, from the spinning jenny through to voice recognition software. Human intelligence has probably reached its peak, and advances in technology will now impact on skilled workers. At the moment legions of young lawyers earn their corn by trawling through documents to identify potential issues. This will be done by a computer program. Lawyers will still be needed but far fewer of them.

The result of this will be widespread unemployment and an impossible burden on the state. We are already seeing it in some countries. Spain has around 25% unemployment, rising to 50% amongst young people. It copes with this without civil unrest because it is Catholic and Southern European - families are sufficiently close that if a young person is struggling there's generally a mother or grandmother in the mix who can provide a roof, food, help. That's not the same in the UK.


On the upside, a whole generation of younger people are not particularly interested in material wealth and are yearning for greater altruism, less of a disparity between the haves and the have-nots, and something that might fix this sorry mess. Hurrah! Although the things which make us happy tend not to be very good for GDP. Boo.

In short, volatility will pose the greatest problems in the future, and agility is the answer. I'm off down to the New Zealand High Commission.

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Former bouncer banned from court after calling lawyer a "lying slag"
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05 June 2015
A former nightclub bouncer has been barred from appearing in court after unleashing a volley of abuse on lawyers and court officers.

Nigel Baggaley, who has served time for a variety of offences, has gone by a number of names including Nigel Quinlan and Fukula (which he explained stood for "fuck you local authority"). He has now stopped working the doors in favour of being a professional McKenzie Friend - a non-lawyer who assists litigants in person. He has an unusual approach to litigation, which has variously included:

  • asking a legal executive "who the fuck do you think you are?" and calling her a "fucking lying slag";
  • refering to her receptionist as a "fucking lying bitch";
  • Facing up to a barrister in a court corridor; and
  • Calling the chairman of the bench "pathetic".

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, held that Baggaley's behaviour had been sufficiently disgraceful to warrant an order prohibiting him from appearing as a McKenzie Friend indefinitely. He added that the "court corridor is not the entrance to a nightclub".

  That cross examination looks casual, you nonce

When the Gazette broke this story, someone purporting to be Baggaley went on to the site to claim that he was delighted with the publicity, he had enjoyed his time in court, he despises lawyers and he is considerably richer than you.

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Best. Judgment. Ever.
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29 May 2015
Huge thanks to the Canadian reader who sent in an absolute peach of a tribunal decision.

A lawyer is appealing the revocation of his licence for unbecoming conduct and is seeking a massive amount of costs. He is obviously at the end of his wick. But calling the Law Society of Upper Canada an accessory to murder and sending it a video of a cat playing dead is a bit steep. And his has a particularly fine turn of phrase in his correspondence:


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DWF lawyer in the running to win Britain's Got Talent
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28 May 2015
An assistant in DWF's Birmingham office has reached the semi-finals of Britain's Got Talent.

By day James Neale is an insurance lawyer. By night he is a quarter of popular music ensemble The Neales, along with his two brothers and his dad.

I know as much about popular culture as the next man. Providing the next man is David Cameron. I had heard of the show but never watched it, until directed to The Neales' audition. They make a fantastic sound. They are in tonight's live semi-final and will be hoping for a place in the Grand Final on Sunday in front of the Royal Family.

    James does his thing

The audience can ring in and vote for them. I really hope they do, even at the cost of having to support Simon Cowell's awful, mawkish, money-making vehicle. The soaring strings that accompany the story of the journey that has led to this day, the tears in the audience, the cheeky Geordie chappies introducing the act, little homilies from the likes of Amanda Holden. "Things happen in life to make you live life better". A more streetwise colleague tells me that she probably said that to Les Dennis.

But I digress. The show may be a car crash but the act is superb. Up until now the closest the legal profession has ever come to victory in this competition is Susan Boyle, who does a fair impression of Mark Stephens in drag:

    You never see them in the same room

So do your bit for and get voting. If only to prevent it being won by a dog that clears up its own poo or whatever is currently delighting the great British public.

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Exclusive: Freshfields' trainees advised to talk to their teddy bears
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15 May 2015
University students who have been offered training contracts at Freshfields have been sharing their revision tips with each other.

Most are fairly standard and sensible - revising in short bursts, taking plenty of breaks etc. Although I liked the commitment shown by one student who won't tear herself away from her books even to attend to her personal hygiene:


But the standout suggestion was this, from a grown woman at the LSE, who admits that she talks to her stuffed animals:


    If you'd turn to page 214 of your Chitty on Contract...

Andrew Austin, Freshfields' Trainee Recruitment Partner, said "we thought it would be good to pass on tips from students who have done their exams to those who are doing their exams now. Personally I didn't talk to inanimate objects, including teddy bears, when I was revising, but when I was preparing for job interviews I sometimes tried out my thoughts on 'why law' or 'why Freshfields' on friends and family. Lucky them! Whatever works, I say!"

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BBC Assistant Political Editor calls Nigel Farage a ladypart
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14 May 2015
Blooper of the year goes to Norman Smith of the BBC, who found himself slightly tongue-tied this morning when he was describing Nigel Farage's personality cult:

Many a true word etc etc...

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The best pisco sours in London
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14 May 2015
I am very fortunate in that I eat out a lot. Generally at the same places, and generally I don't bother to review them (other than on the incredibly rare occasion that I find myself in an absolute, howling dog of a restaurant).

But last weekend I had such a superb blow out at the Peruvian restaurant Pachamama that I have to spread the word. It's in a tardis-like basement in Marylebone, blink and you'd miss the entrance. The interior is full of mismatched lights and pot plants and could be mistaken for a student pad. The natural habitat for many of the customers - there are lots of hats, tats, beards and piercings. Which didn't auger well for someone such as myself who is as crusty as a month-old loaf of Hovis.

But the food was outstanding. Dishes are to share, we were told to order about three each. We had six. It tasted even better than it looked, and it looked phenomenal:


Stand out for me was crispy belly of lamb with an arse-burning amount of jalapeno, slow cooked rib of pork with white asparagus and fried aubergine with smoked yoghurt. Four of us sampled pretty much everything on the menu and didn't have a single duff dish. And a shout out to our waiter Fabien, who was outstandingly knowledgable, helpful and unflappable despite racing around like a chimp on speed.

Go for cocktails rather than wine. We had gin martinis made with macerated capers rather than olives before dinner, lots of pisco sours during, and some fantastic old fashioned infused with the smoke of some amazonian wood after.

Probably more of a dinner place than a lunch place, it's very noisy, they turn tables, the bar gets very full very quickly. Go anyway.
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The evolution of Charlie's Angels
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07 May 2015
Charlie's Angels is clearly being remade for the Australian market.

The original:


The remake:


And now, Charlie's Angels - Lawyers Chambers on Riley Street:


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Exclusive: McClure Naismith accounts three months overdue
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01 May 2015
Scottish firm McClure Naismith has yet to file its 2014 accounts - despite the fact that they were due at the end of January. And it has refused to explain the reason for the three month delay.

A spokeswoman told RollOnFriday that notes pertaining to liablities in the previous year's accounts had "no bearing" on the delay, and "the 2014 accounts will be issued very soon". She wouldn't provide any further comment.

It seems extraordinary for a fairly sizeable firm - it has 29 partners - to be so remiss. As it stands the firm is probably on the hook for a late filing fee, which I daresay won't trouble it too much. But failure to file accounts can a be a criminal offence resulting in fines being imposed on directors personally. Why would McClures put itself in this position?

    Bad McClures! Naughty!

The firm first published its profits in 2013, when the Scotsman noted that they had fallen for the second year in a row. The firm's Chairman commented at the time that "we had hoped that turnover would have grown by more than it did and probably hadn’t cut our cloth in terms of costs as appropriately as we could have".

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Uncomfortable lawyer of the week
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01 May 2015
Thanks to the reader who sent in a YouTube clip of two associates from Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

Steven Murray and Priya Tromans have clearly been forced by their marketing department to do the three minute pitch of the firm's school fee recovery services. It is fair to say that neither would make a career treading the boards - both look like they would sooner be sticking pins in their eyes than facing a camera. But Murray is the more terrified of the two. He stares, unblinking, like a rabbit in the headlights, occasionally closing his eyes in silent prayer that the whole, awful ordeal might soon be over. Poor chap.


Here's the clip in all its glory:

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