Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Hearsay revisited

After a lot of reading, head scratching and nibbling on a pen while wondering, I think I have Hearsay cracked. I admit that although I can now spot Hearsay from a distance, I can recognise it immediately, I can wax lyrical on it, I can entertain my friends with tales of Hearsay, I could write a 500 page text book on it, I am almost at the point that Hearsay is flowing through my finely tuned body.

I have read every book on the subject, I have spoken to academics, Judges, my Mum, I have watched DVD's on the subject, and it is no longer the mystery that it seemed.

One thing I just can't understand though, how did they ever get a hit record?

Thursday, 27 November 2008


This week, I have mostly been playing a witness in a Criminal trial for two pupils to battle it out and improve their advocacy, organised by Inner Temple.

The first trial was fascinating to me. I actually saw the things being taught in class put into use, and I took heaps of notes. Clever lines to use, how to present things, how to approach certain information.

The second trial I helped at, both pupils were blinding, and I would have been happy to have either represent me in a trial. I did wonder how I would ever get to where I am now to be as good as them, but hey ho, its all part of the process of education I suppose.

I do think that these training sessions should be compulsory for students to help out at. Not only did I gain yet another qualifying session, I also learned a lot, so double whammy for me.

If 50yr old Pupil did this training this week, I gotcha. Speaking to him afterwards, (admittedly it may not be him, but could have been judging by the grey hair and arthritic walk), we agreed that becoming a barrister is like jumping hurdles. As soon as you jump one, there is another one ahead to jump, and so it goes. GDL, BVC, Pupillage, Tenancy, successful career. It gets harder the older you get, which could be to do with the arthritis, or less get up and go, although it is tempered by maybe a greater drive to succeed. Who knows.

Anyway, I am in training for the 2012 100m hurdles.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


At the side of my blog you will notice the Feedjit Traffic Feed. I only put it there to see if anyone actually came to my blog. I had set up a traffic feed thingy previously which despite the comments I was receiving steadfastly told me that zero people visited, ever.

Imagine my surprise then at the variety of visitors. Yesterday, someone from the 'Central District' came looking for something. I know not what. I am intrigued. Where is the Central District? Is it near Birmingham, or is it one of the old USSR states? There seem to be so many. Fascinating.

Someone from Albania searching for info on the BVC. IS that for real?

Also Ireland seems to have found me in the last few days, as has the good old USofA. To be honest, I don't know if you can go to prison for breaking the GDL, but I guess your GDL is not the same as ours!

Most people tend to be searching something to do with the GDL or BVC.

Someone even searched for 'Overwhelmed by the BVC'. (Was that you again Bar Boy?)

If you visit, please feel free to email me. I did the GDL, so if you didn't get all of your questions answered, just email me. The address is up by Sid the Squirrel. The person wondering about being a mature student on the GDL, I did it. I can probably answer whatever your question may have been. I would love to help. I remember trying to find out stuff before I began the GDL, and BVC for that matter, and really struggled to find out what I wanted.

For the person searching for 'protracter', I suppose you didn't find what you were looking for. My post on 'Draughting' obviously caught your search, but if you can spell protractor correctly you would do better! Still, in the spirit of helpfulness, I have left you a picture at the top of this post.

So all you visitors, send me an email, post comments, slag me off, have a laugh. Just don't slip in, and slip out never to be heard of again.


Monday, 10 November 2008


The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, have a department that deals with business training. My illustrious Inn, Inner Temple, lay on a training session run by RADA to teach presentation, speech etc to young hopefuls. having blagged my way on the course as an old hopeful, it turned out that there were about 120 hopefuls of various ages, me not being the oldest!

Split into three sessions to teach us essential stuff, and it all looked promising.

Session 1, I was taught to say my name clearly. Essential for any pupillage interview apparently as if I am not clear they would sit wondering through the whole interview just who I was. Lets ignore the fact for one moment that the interview panel are not numbnuts, wouldn't they know who I was? Wouldn't they have written to me and invited me in for a chat? Wouldn't they have my cv in frot of them? Apparently not. They need me to say H.E.L.L.O....M.Y N.A.M.E...I.S....S.W.I.S.S......T.O.N.Y. Accompanied with a smile.

Session 2, and we did facial exercises, and lots of tongue twisters. This was actually the most fun part of the day. Quite a laugh, but I wonder just how useful it will be to me. When asked why I want to be a barrister I will be able to come out with some shite about the sixth sheiks sick sheep, or peter and his pickled pepper. Good stuff.

Session 3, I can honestly say I have no idea what it was about. Quite an eccentric guy who was pretty amusing, but I don't think anyone actually grasped what the heck he was on about or what relevence it had to anything, let alone making us better barristers. I do know that I was on my feet for over an hour and just wanted to sit down.

In its favour though, I did meet and speak to loads of other BVC'ers and found that Hearsay is unfathomable and nonsense, and that the course is alright.

I also believe that Inner temple, and full marks to them, are brilliant for laying on the activities that they do. I may not have gleaned a lot from this one, but have from others and will continue to do as many as I can.

I have been led to believe that Inner Temple is the best Inn for layong on educational activities. It has a Debating Society which I understand Middle has lost now and the others don't, and is the only one to hold the RADA sessions. (Maybe there is something in them not holding it!) I am sure others will be able to stick up for their Inns, but having picked Inner for a simple reason which has nothing at all to do with knowing what I was doing, luck seems to have favoured me. (As it did with BVC provider)

Anyway, just imagine me in a some demented way saying very slowly and very clearly, Hello, my name is Swiss..... Tony. Imagine the cheesy smile on my face. Would you give me a job? Nah.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


Before I began the GDL I was pretty confident that I wouldn't pass or get anywhere, based on a lifetime of not being particularly academic or achieveing much!

I began the first year (I did it distance learning because I run my own business which I needed to keep going) with a pretty slack attitude. It would be nice to pass but hey, lets see what happens.

I found that I did enjoy the course. That surprised me actually. Law became fascinating to me. I found the amount of work a pain, and I found that there were just too many things to cram into my little head, but I took the first years exams and passed.

That moment of illumination made me think seriously about the possibilities that lay ahead. I decided to be a Barrister rather than a solicitor. Nothing I could really put my finger on other than maybe a perception that Barrister was above Solicitor so I wanted to aim high. There were obviously other minor factors like not wanting to do a Training Contract for 2 years on crap money, when I could do one years pupillage on a decent wedge, etc.

Advocacy was something that I worried about. Standing up and speaking is not my favourite thing. I decided that I would deal with that and aim towards becoming a Barrister. It did help to have a direction to aim in.

The second years exams were so much better. Mainly because I had sorted out my exam technique, and because I had also realised that it was possible to pass.

Looking back at the GDL it was a hard slog. No other way to describe it. An immense amount of information to remember, and it was all academic. (Not my strong point) I would say that out of our group of 60 students, I was in the bottom 25%. No way was I ever going to excel at it.

I enrolled for the BVC and then panic set in. I was embarrased to tell people from the GDL that I was going for the BVC as we all knew that you had to be good, and quite frankly I was at best, below average.

I wondered just who was I trying to kid. No A levels, left home at 16, no professional qualifications, no nothing. I did have a wealth of experience both from work and Family Law which I felt would get me to the bar, but hang on, I am just not academic enough. Not bright enough. Not made from the right mould. Not the right background. Oh dear. My serious thought was that if I could do the GDL I could do the BVC, call myself a barrister and carry on running my business because I would never be offered a pupillage.

Scroll down to my posts before the BVC began and only part of my worry was exhibited!

But then the BVC began, and I have loved it. It is the most enjoyable course I have ever done. It is not academic, it is practical, and not what I expected.

I did as much research as I could before I began and the best I could find was that it is not like doing a law degree, but I found getting actual information on what the course does, how lessons work etc was difficult to find. I think Andropov the Great gave me the most information, but I was worried.

I have tried to go through the subjects as we do them to explain whats involved, and I will continue to do so, and hopefully I will continue to enjoy myself.

As for my realisation that standing up and speaking was not my strong point, you may have read my post on the LAMDA course, but I also joined my Inns Debating Society, and that has sorted the problem out. I now quite enjoy speaking to the class, and i thelps with quick thinking and thinking on your feet. I will do a post on Debating when I have something good to mention, but I have found it invaluable.

So thats that. The BVC is great

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


Draughting is easy peasy lemon squeazy. Admittedly I have done it for nigh on 30 years, so should be good at it by now (or out of work) but come on, it comes naturally.

I can sketch, draw to the finest quality on the back of fag packets (Actually I tried that once but the box is shiney and the pen wouldn't work properly), napkins (they fall apart and are naff to draught on), the finest parchment, cartridge paper, graph paper, plain paper, linen, tracing paper and even in the sand. I have drawn at A4, A3, A1, A0, even Double Elephant (Don't ask because I don't know). When I draw on computer (everyone does don't you know) I draw in infinity. Wow, Buzz Lightyear eat your heart out.

I have drawn sitting down, standing up, on my head, even in the Southern Hemisphere! And Wales too come to that! I can draw with pens, pencils, Rapidographs, even blood if I had to.

Drawing boards, T-squares, adjustable angles, protracters, stencils, sanitary fittings templates, Autocad, freehand, scales, compasses, rubbers, razor blades and even angle poise lamps, I am an expert. No one can touch Swiss on draughting.

Draughting is so easy that i am king of draughting. If it needs to be draughted, I am your man. I will be top of the class and get an outstanding with ease. I may even help my colleagues who judging by the way they hold a pen will really struggle with this.

Whats that Bar Boy? Drafting? Whats that then?

Blimey, whats this all about? Writing? Legal stuff? Drafting?

I bought a copy of Pleadings without Tears, and was crying by page 5! It clearly is not working as a book. Misrepresentation methinks! All my plans for coming top have come crashing down to reality.

Drafting? Now I have a dilemna. Hearsay is in my head. I got it in the end. If I let Drafting in, Hearsay will fall out. I know it happens. I have studied law stuff before and keeping more than one concept in your head just does not work.

Drafting? Bloody american spelling. Why can't we keep it draughting and then I would be good at it.


Thursday, 16 October 2008

Hearsay Evidence


This reminds me of the GDL, when they tell you to read something, you read it, and haven't got a darn clue what on earth it is all about. Funnily enough, it is the first thing on the course that hasn't seemed to be completely logical, clear and simple. (Other than Numpty in the class who is clearly simple)

Any statement made otherwise than by a person while giving oral evidence in the proceedings, which is tendered as evidence of the matters stated.”

OK, I understand that bit (I think), but you only need to read a further page, paragraph, sentence, or word, and it all goes to pot.


I think I would stand more chance of trying to understand how 5 kids on a TV pop show could make so much money out of so little talent.

I think I need to do a bit more investigation on the subject and hopefully report back when I know what I am talking about.


Friday, 10 October 2008

The Winders

I did read a very interesting tale about the 'Winders' on another blog, (Paranoid Pupil i think) describing the 'Winders' It is the Bankruptcy court dealing with winding up orders against companies. In a morning, always a Wednesday apparently, about 300 companies hit the skids.

This week I was observing. The High Court Judge deals with people's livelihoods in a very fast way. A certain amount of paperwork has to be submitted, in the correct order, and dealt with on the correct dates. The debtor serves a notice on the company, the application is advertised in the London Gazette, and a Certificate of Compliance with a list of creditors is sent to the court. The advert must be seven days or more after the service.

The court was packed with about 50 Junior Barristers with gowns and wigs. There were some members of the public who no doubt wanted to see the scumbags that owed them money declared dead and buried.

The clerk will call out, '56789 Dead Company Limited' Both parties, if they are there, rise. Usually there was just the one. 'I rise for the creditor and ask that if the paperwork is in order the usual order is given' The judge will check the paperwork (actually that had already been done so he had a series of ticks on a sheet) and said 'Yes, all in order, the usual order granted'

And that's the end of Dead Company Limited. Sum total, five seconds.

Half way through, with about 25% of cases not having the right paperwork, or the barrister making a complete tit of themselves in front of a gleeful audience, we got to '6789 Dead Scaffolding Company' The barrister rose, 'I rise for the creditor and ask that if the paperwork is in order the usual order is given'. The Judge began to say something but was interrupted by:

'NOOOOOOO....' Everyone looked round to see two of the biggest muscly men in history stood at the back demanding their day in court.

'Who are you?' asked the judge. 'We're Directors of the Scaffold Company and we don't wanna be wound up like. We managed to get the old bank manager to transfer £5000 this morning to clear the debt like'

The barrister looked a trifle concerned that the two guys would have words outside court if they didn't have their say, so he stumbled, muttered and tried to slide back into his chair.

'It aint our fault, the stoopid court froze the bank account so we cuddent pay the stoopid bill could we, but we done it today some'ow like'

The other director chipped in 'Yeah, our account is managed by the banking equivalent of Mr Bean'

Everyone looked at the judge. Possibly because these two guys looked as if they meant business and would beat up anyone who would disagree with them.

The judge looked up 'I am afraid that you will find that the whole British banking system is being run by the equivalent of Mr Bean!'

Judges, don't you just love 'em. Heart of gold he had, sense of humour, and top bloke.
The scaffold boys live to fight another day

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Doing the LAMDA

As part of my glorious Inn's educational activities, a session of Lamda had been organised. They have actually arranged various sessions, and as Bar Boy discovered a couple of weeks ago, the Advocacy session was brilliant, and so today I found that doing the Lamda was probably better!

Whilst I admit that I did feel slightly overdressed in my little outfit (as pictured), the only drawback I found was the the skirt was slightly too short.

The session is all about communication. It is run by the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), and had nothing to do with South American dancing with two hot chicks in my arms. I will admit to being a little dissapointed, but I didn't like to admit to my mistake, so gamely carried on.

We were divided into groups of 6 or 7, and following a heap load of relaxation exercises and facial gurning we each had a go at reading a few lines from Shakespeare, which was then praised and criticised in sometimes equal amounts! For some reason I was compared to Bottom! (Must have been the short skirt)

Then came the testing part. We had been asked to prepare a three minute speech which was listened to, picked apart, analysed, put back together, replayed, questioned, analysed again, and then applauded.

All in all, I did learn a massive amount about how to communicate effectively, how to project my voice, keep the audience interested, and generally not look stupid when speaking in public.

If anyone ever gets the chance to attend one of these events, go for it. It was brilliant.


Monday, 22 September 2008


So we have had lessons in the ancient art of negotiation. Some of the class nearly came to blows, and some came to mind blowingly awful settlements on behalf of the client.

Me? I settled in each of the 6 tasks in about a minute each. And came to the best settlements in the whole class. Therefore, I am worried. Am I the best negotiator since Inspector Frost or was I just lucky? I suspect the latter. I don't think that the Police will be calling on my to resolve hostage situations, or to talk desperate people down from tall buildings.

I read the case, assessed the points that were not agreed, and then decided what a fair settlement would be. Worked the discussion to the point that what I said was fair, so how could you refuse it. If you do refuse it you are an idiot. They accepted it, job done. in fact, I even pushed things to gain more than I thought was fair.

I wonder if my experience with Family Law negotiations has made it seem this simple, or my nagging doubt that I was just lucky and the proper assessed negotiation will be a different kettle of fish and I will lose out completely.

I assumed that there must be something on the course that I will be good at, but now that I may have found it I am suspicious.

I have read all the stuff I can find on negotiation and I have used one approach out of the five suggested. Compromising. (Possibly a little collaborating too). I have yet to try using competing, avoiding or accommodating.

So, other than being argumentative with people and being a complete bully in any discussions I have on a daily basis, such as negotiating the television for the evening rather than just accept that watching re-runs of Strictly Come Dancing is easiest for a quiet life, or insisting that I do not want sausages for dinner, but would prefer steak, and then negotiate a settlement that includes chips. Chips seems good to me whatever comes with it!

What to do? Any suggestions for good books to read, or methods of getting some practice that won't bring me close to divorce or losing all of my business clients and friends?


Monday, 15 September 2008

The Yoof of today

Waiting on the local train station this evening, I noticed a yoof speaking on his mobile.

'I know who he f***ing is and I will f***ing kill the little f***er. If he f***ing touches my f***ing bruvver I will f***ing kill him. I will defend my f***ing bruvver to the death.

'Nah mate, I can't tell you 'is f***ing name cos some bloke is ere listening and if 'e reads in the f***ing papers tomorrow that the little f***er is dead he will know it was f***ing me wot done it like'

'Yeah, thats f***ing right mate, I will nip 'ome and get me f***ing baseball bat and f***ing smash his head it. I will f***ing bury him I f***ing will.'

The surprising thing is that having listened to this little tirade, the part i found most disturbing was that he was going to kill him with a baseball bat and not a knife.

Obviously knife crime is on the wane. There will be a new law before Christmas banning people from walking about with sports equipment in public.

So if I read tomorrow that some f***er has had his head stoved in by an unknown assailant with a baseball bat, I won't be able to describe the yoof, remember that at 5.15 he was on Platform 4 and caught the train to the coast, all of which was caught by CCTV.

Yoof. Don't you just love 'em.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Big School

OK OK, so you all keep asking, 'What was it really like?'

Although 10 minutes late, I still had to join a queue for 'processing'. Checking Degree results (Or GDL in my case) to ensure that we had passed, checking that we had joined an Inn, and that was me processed.

All sorts of admin stuff, photos, locker keys, manuals, books and stuff.

Then a few lectures on how important attendance is, how we will be split into small groups, met by teachers and taken to our classes.

Further chat about attendance. The course content was run through and off for dinner.

Then another chat on attendance and it was nearly home time.

The next day we had a further reminder about attendance and we began Criminal stuff. It seems that we will be following a case from arrest through to sending the thieving scumbag to solitary confinement and being raped in the showers. Obviously he isn't guilty until proven guilty, but I have phoned ahead to Broadmoor to reserve him a place. I know he did it. I can tell.

So far it is all very interesting and completely new to me. I checked through the reading and preparation that I must get through before the next weekend and it is a heck of a lot more than I thought. Maybe I will need to reduce my working hours to cope. I may have winged the GDL, but I get the feeling that this will require a bit more devotion.

All in all, a good start. I enjoyed it, the class seem a decent bunch, nobody seems to be big headed or obnoxious, and once I get through the huge pile of preparation I have for the next weekends lesson I will try and work out a timetable for myself and a method of coping.

I have found though that although I am reading stuff it isn't sinking in. I see the words in the book but that's as far as they go at the moment. Looks like I may need to read things twice!

Now, what was it they said about attendance?


ps In the photo, I am in the back row between the two girlies. I have a compass in the heel of my Clarkes shoes and a spider in a matchbox in my pocket. Oh, its great being back at school

Friday, 29 August 2008

Class Numpty

Day One in the Big Learning House and its official, I am not the class Numpty.

(And I didn't cry once!)


Thursday, 28 August 2008

First day at school

Well this is it then. Tomorrow morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed I will board the train to the big city and see what entertainment my provider can lay on for me.

I am slightly worried about being the class numpty, crying my eyes out at the school gates, feigning a tummy ache and getting mummy to come and collect me, or pulling some girls pig tails so that I get expelled.

I don't think I was this worried the day before I joined the army!

If anyone else is starting the BVC tomorrow, and sees a little lost soul, on his own in the playground with nobody to talk to, take pity on me and come and hold my hand.

If you are blonde with long legs, then don't let go!

Make sure you tune in tomorrow to see how tough I was, how I kicked arse and didn't cry once.

Its all very strange today.


Friday, 15 August 2008

New Look

Hey, what do you think of the snazzy new look?

A certain BVC success that should be turning down pupillages because she had too many offers, but is instead selling funerals did it for me.

What a girl. Andropov the Great she is known by from now on.

Andropov, you forgot to tell me how to do those clever hyperlink things, because I would have put one in at this stage.


Just there in big bold letters.

(Did that do it?)

Just in case it didn't, check the link to the right of the screen to Androids Reminiscences.

She is a right clever girl don't you know.


Thursday, 14 August 2008


As all of you that know me, well, OK, so thats none of you, will know that I do not look anything like the dear old Julie, but looking for something suitable to demonstrate my current mindset of worried I came across this image, and what a girl she is. What a cracker.

My dad always fancied her, and now I can see why. Move over Dawn French, Julie's here.

Anyway, worried. yes, I undoubtedly am. Its this BVC business that got me all wobbly and fretting.

Hang on a mo, I need to get my thoughts back into order before continuing. That picture of Julie has me all a quiver.

Right, I am and have been for several weeks been uncertain about this BVC business. I am not sure that i am cut out for it really. The job of barrister I think I will be fine with. I have seen them at work, I have negotiated with them, been complimented by them at my sharp and quick thinking in court, had a couple of them on the run in court, (been thrashed a few times as well of course!), so the eventual job holds no fear, its just the next 2 years that has me uncertain.

Maybe despite all my blog reading I am unsure what the course is actually like. What are the classes like. Will I look a numpty?

The icing on the cake was my lovely provider, who seems better than Barmaids and Bar Boys already, has given me about 2500 multiple choice questions to get my grey matter thinking about law again. To remind me of the basics so that I can hit the ground running.

I started on Contract Law. I enjoyed that. I got good marks for it. I understood it all. So the first 10 questions. Offer and Acceptance. The Postal Rule. Easy peasy. I can do that standing on my head. offers, counter offers, silence, auctions, telex machines, Butler Machine Tool, Boots Pharmacutical, Hyde v Wrench, bring them on, I can do them in my sleep.


I am now too scared to try then next 10. I only have another 2490 questions to do and I am like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

Worst thing about it, I used my text books and still got 3/10!!!

If I thought I was worried before, I am in desperate need of a brain transplant.


Abandon all hope.

Crikey Moses.

The only good thing that has happened in the last 24 hours was finding that picture of Julie.


ps That wasn't thunder you heard earlier today, it was Dawn rolling over!

Friday, 18 July 2008

My day in court

Having realised that the more legal experience I can get the better it will help me in securing the ever elusive Puppilage, I have returned to my old game of attending court with people as a McKenzie Friend. (McKenzie v McKenzie, a lay adviser to accompany a litigant in person into court)

Without divulging too much information, on Monday I accompanied a guy to court who had not been dealing with his case very well. Not turning up for hearings wasn't the best approach. Anyway, he is trying to get to see his 18 month old son, but is accused of being a bit free and easy with his fists. No evidence supplied, just mums word, and in the world of the Family Courts thats usually enough to condemn him to a contact centre.

Contact Centres are usually, if not always, run by volunteers to ensure that the children are safe. This is done by supervising the parent who is accused of being violent. The child goes into a room, the parent (Oh for goodness sake, I will call him Dad) is allowed in under the supervision of an adult who will watch how they interact and who will hit the alarm button if dad starts thumping the little kids. The superviser is likely to be an 18 year old trainee social worker who thinks that the dad is a bit stressed and not behaving normally. (Oh I wonder why!). I think one of the things that upsets him a little is Mum turning up with the child being held in her boyfriends arms, while they call dad names and laugh at him.

Anyway, after a year in a contact centre, because Mum said that he said some nasty things to her and bent her finger back, he came close to moving on to a tad more than 3 hours a fortnight under supervision.

We arrived in court and a very smart and efficient looking Barrister came over and asked me if I was the dad. That would be funny if you knew what I looked like and how Patel would not fit the image. I said I was his Mckenzie friend (MF). He asked if I had any legal training, which is totally irrelevant as anyone can do this. I said 'Funny you should ask, I am starting the BVC next month'

When we got into court, Mr Barrister introduced the parties and said 'And this is fathers McKenzie friend, Swiss Tony who is beginning the BVC next month.

Judgy boy looked over his glasses at me, smiled and said 'Good luck with the BVC Swiss'

Oh, how I feel part of the Boys Club now. I am in. Accepted, One of the boys. I will expect invites to lunch with the judge next time.

The hearing opened, the hearing closed. Another 6 months due to a Psychiatric Assessment of the dad not being available.

Family Law stinks.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

I have been weighed, measured, and found to be just about average!

So the postie knocked on the door. Big padded envelope handed over. Postmark indicated it was from Uni.

Opened it up wondering why it was such a large envolope and discovered my research project had been returned. 5499 words on Health and Safety law in the Construction Industry. (We were allowed 5000 words plus 10%) Blow me down if I hadn't got a distinction for it. While my 'tutor' overseeing my efforts was the most laid back and easy going lecturer at Uni he hadn't marked it, so I was well chuffed with that.

Out came a further pile of papers. Scanning down the page, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass. All eight units done. All passed. I even got a distinction in Public Law which was nice, and a merit in the other two exams for this year. What let me down dismally though was the written assignments.

Now to the failed assignment. As it was just the one, and was between 35 and 40%, it has been compensated. I checked with the Uni and they said its fine, a pass is a pass. I can retake the assignment to get rid of the compensation, but if I fail it again I get one more shot, and if that fails I lose the whole lot. I did get 65 in the Equity and trusts exam, so I am sure I can do it, but do I want to risk it?

I checked with the Bar Council and they said its OK. I checked with the BVC provider and they said if the Bar Council are OK then they are happy, but get written confirmation from them first. trying to do that now.

But the big question is, do I redo the assignment? I hated Equity and trusts with a vengeance but just before the exam I read a book I bought on ebay which opened it up to me and I quite enjoyed it. It all made sense. So while I have time (oh yeah, as if), no other career pressures, and the will to get it right, should I put the whole GDL pass at risk and give it a go, or let sleeping dogs lie?

My overall mark was 58, with 60 being a Merit, which I assume is 2:1 land, so for a hard working old'un I think I did alright.

So undecided at the moment, but with the BVC starting in about 5 weeks time I can do it now, but would prefer to leave well alone providing it won't come back and bite me later on, perhaps at a pupillage interview, 'Oh, so you accepted a poor result and did nothing about it?' 'Didn't bother making that last bit of effort?', 'Sorry, we don't accept compensated passes'

Any views?

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Well thats done it now

Exams all done. I think I did alright but the proof is in the pudding as they say, even when it isn't a cookery exam.

Why is it always so hot and sunny on exam days?

Why do I keep thinking of little bits I forgot to write?

Why is revising so mind numbingly boring?

Apparently the new assignment I need to do will be with me in the next couple of weeks, so that will fill some time. Meanwhile, back to working 12 hour days again I suppose.


Thursday, 5 June 2008

My Great Seat of Learning

Reposed at my grand seat of learning I am trying to get all fired up for exams on Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday.

Its not easy is it. I can read it, understand it, read the next bit, understand that but forget the first, and so it goes on in a vicious cycle of cramming information in one end and it falling out the other.

This time next week it will all be over. Done and dusted. Pass or fail. Hired or fired.

I can then replace all of the books slotted into my great seat with new ones on far flung topics to do with the BVC. Or just the Beano.

Oh well.


Tuesday, 6 May 2008

GDL in 28 days

Have you seen those massive computer books telling you that it is easy to learn Visual Basic in 21 days, or Windows programming in 28 days?

Well, I have done the GDL in 28 days!

How is that possible I hear you ask. Piece of cake. Even better than that, each of the core subjects has been done in 24 hours!

Crikey Moses.

The Graduate Diploma in Law is a conversion course to take you from a degree in anything to a degree in law. I noticed that I think its Nottingham, if you do the LPC or BVC with them you automatically get the LLB to use after your name. If you haven't already get a degree like me, you can obtain a 'Certificate of Academic Standing' from either the Law Society or Bar Council to get you onto the course.

The GDL comprises Criminal law, Tort, Land, European, Public, Contract and Equity's and trusts. You also have to do a 5000 word research project.

How did I do it all in 28 days?

Distance learning. Not for the faint hearted (I have since discovered), and between September and June you attend 4 weekends covering 4 subjects in year 1 and 3 plus the project in year 2. Each weekend is 4 days with a day on each subject. So by a simple arithmetic calculation, 4 days on each subject multiplied by 7 subjects makes 28 days of lectures.

Each day of lectures is 6 hours, split into 4 sessions of an hour and a half, so each subject is completed in 24 hours!

Don't go thinking that anyone could sit through 24 hours in one stretch though! I often found that 3 hours into a lecture only 30 minutes had passed! Its a nightmare, cramming so much information into such a short space of time, and if you allow your concentration to wander just for a second, you are lost. After a day of lectures my brain hurts. After a weekend, it can no longer function. I am temporarily unable to speak, compose any thoughts, let alone undertake the 3 hour drive home!

I will admit, in addition to the lecture weekends a lot of research, reading, and writing assignments is required, and although they suggest 15 hours a week is needed, I don't think I ever did more than 3 a week. Now I am approaching the exams I will be spending every spare minute studying something or another, but essentially its not been a difficult road, albeit tiring, slightly interesting, and more than a little gutty.

Distance Learning is great with the social life, drinks, dinners, having a laugh, but on the downside, you are pretty much removed and detached from things. The lecturers have been excellent, offering their time to help selflessly, but I have only ever thought to approach them once or twice for help. (Maybe I should have done with Equity's and trusts!)

So there you have it, essentially a law degree in 28 days!

Now I must go and lie down. Its been a difficult weekend!

Thursday, 17 April 2008


There, I have said it now, Failure. Watching 'The Apprentice' with the idiots competing to work for Sir Alan, one of them couldn't bring himself to even say the word. I can.

Failure, Failure, Failure.

I have just failed an important assignment for Uni. It was an assessed assignment writing all about how some money left to an unincorporated Society would be dealt with. Clever as I am not, I spent most of my time writing about the range of options available to the courts in dealing with the wonga, instead of being specific about this particular wonga. I did include it, but obviously not well enough, so I failed.

Now I could complain that the lecturer was being particularly harsh, or that its important I passed and its not fair, but being a grown up I will take it on the chin and move on.

When I opened the envelope I must admit to a certain amount of shock and disbelief. I thought I had written a cracking piece of work, so when I saw 36%, I felt that perhaps I was looking at the wrong box, and a decent 60% would be written elsewhere. But alas, 36% was my mark.

Apparently the external board may lift it up a tad to 40%, which would be jolly decent of them, but couldn't my lecturer have done that? No, if its bad, then its bad. I can't get credit for rubbish can I.

So how do I feel? Foolish perhaps, annoyed certainly, mainly with myself, but shock and worry seem to loom large in my thoughts. I don't think I have ever failed a test before. Right from spelling tests at Juniyer Skool I have always hit the pass mark. In fact, practically everything I have ever done I hit the pass mark. Never really excel, so it must be a knack I have picked up over the years, assess what is needed, and do that, no more, no less, just whats needed. No point wasting effort getting more than is needed is there. Except, now I wish I had. Now I am annoyed with myself enough to have devised a punishing revision timetable that will leave nothing to chance in the exams.

I get to take a resit after the exams in June, and next time it will be a work of art. I will have to figure out how to make sure it is a work of art, but it will be. I know the maximum I will score for it will be 40%, but hey, if I hit the exams with plenty of knowledge I may still get a decent overall score. The assignment makes up 25% of the overall mark and must be a pass (40%)

Worry is in the mix too. I assume I can't get to the BVC without a full pass, I am sure its in the terms and conditions somewhere, worried that I have 1 last chance to get it right. Nothing in reserve now, its last chance saloon. Worried that I may look a bit silly. Ha, the others in the class will laugh, thinks he can be a barrister and he failed! Slightly worried that my other assessed assignment for Public Law, which I know to be a work of art may be rubbish too.

Looking at it in the cold light of dawn this morning (Fateful post came yesterday), I mainly feel pleased that failing is the spur I needed to really crack on and make this count. I wanted to make this years exams count anyway, but was still drifting towards them without much thought. Now I am fired up and enthusiastic.

Now I know I will pass.


Tuesday, 8 April 2008


To any aspiring barrister, 'mini's are supposed to be dreadfully important, and having done a few I thought I am reasonably well qualified to give an opinion.

My cunning plan to find where to go was quite simple, in that I purloined a copy of 'Prospects' from university which listed towards the back the top 50 mini-pupillage providers. You could try where I assume the same info will be found.

Each chambers is listed along with their specialisms. I highlighted 17 that were in the 2 fields I was interested in (note, was) and sent them a cv and covering letter.

A couple responded with a thanks but no thanks, and then a breakthrough, I was offered one. Then another, and another, until 6 came back offering a place. To a old git with boyish good looks this was a welcome confirmation that I wasn't wasting my time at least trying to become a barrister.

So I attended the first. Family Law. (Based on my previous 'extensive' experience.) You will be told that doing a mini will help you get a feel for the chambers, to see if you feel that you would fit in. I can't actually see how that happens, as only once did I manage to get past reception into the inner reaches. Was I impressed by the cubby holes they work in? No, but if they offered me a pupillage I would snap their hand off!

So I attended court on each of the 5 days, with 5 different barristers. One was a QC, and all of them were lovely welcoming and friendly people. Even the clerks, who seemed rushed off their feet doing a job which I didn't like the look of (hassled administration it seemed) were friendly and nice.

And what did I learn from my 5 days in court?

In true Catherine Tate style, I sat at the back of the court thinking 'I could do that' It wasn't rocket science, it wasn't impossible that only the chosen few could get to grips with, it was a good job, hard work, but achievable. Further confirmation that one day, my son, I will be a barrister.

One other thing I did learn was to make sure you have read all of the documents prior to arriving at court. It doesn't give a good impression frantically reading and taking notes all day.

You should always ask for a copy of the papers being used in court as it helps to follow proceedings if you can understand what they are doing.

My second mini was professional misconduct, contracts that had gone wrong etc. I quite enjoyed that, but learn one more very important lesson:

Whatever area of law you go into, once you know the law, the process of being a barrister is the same. You find your arguments, spot the other sides weaknesses, build your case around those.

I have also done what I had believed the worst of the worst areas, landlord/tenant stuff. (I hated Land law) Surprisingly, I enjoyed it so much I even contemplated trying to work in it. Have also done Personal Injury which was fab, and now I want to do that. Ideally, I would like to do a variety or areas, but realistically I suppose I will fall into one area and stick there.

Of all the mini's I have done, everybody without exception has been lovely, welcoming and friendly. I have no idea what any of the chambers are really like behind reception, so have no idea whether I would fit in or not.

On the whole, I enjoyed them all and can't wait to be complete my pupillage and start work in earnest.

I did speak to the person who I wrote to asking for a mini and asked him why he had chosen me. Gather round and listen carefully, this is important.

'He said that he gets hundreds of letters. Hundreds and hundreds. Most of them say, 'I have excellent grades, I enjoy playing football on saturdays, I want to be a barrister, can I have a mini-pupillage?' He discards those straight away. he is looking for something that stands out, that marks you as being someone with a talent for something that will benefit the chambers, or something that stands you out from the crowd. He couldn't actually remember what it was on mine that had stood out, but I don't exactly have a conventional background so it could have been one of a number of things!

Mini-pupillages, essential, good fun, enjoyable, tiring!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


Did I say that I was new to blogging and that it would come to me?

Well, I lost the blog. Whatever i tried I couldn't get back here to see what I had typed, or if anyone commented. Lo and behold 2 comments. Cricky Moses.

How did you know I had posted or even begun a blog? Its all a mystery to me.

Also my tried and tested password didn't seem to work either. Oh well, I think its sorted now.

Cheers Mr P, and Law Girl for finding me.

Well, the scholarship I didn't get, but it was very interesting attending the interview, and i think I took a lot of encouragement from it.

You see, from my lowly beginnings, brought up on the wrong side of the tracks, destined for a manual job and no big prospects, life took a new turn when I divorced and discovered that the legal aid solicitor my ex-wife used was a nincompoop and that I could draw swords and fight just as well as she could.

As an LIP I seemed to manage pretty well, and began to assist others until I wondered just how difficult would it be to qualify and do this properly.

Hence my new found career prospects ahead.

As mature student, and I mean mature, I have found it very interesting and quite good fun. Like being in the army, which I did for a while when I left school, it isn't fun while you are there doing it, but looking back its quite good fun really.

Never having attained a degree of any sort, I managed to wangle a certificate of Academic Standing from the Law Society to get onto the Graduate Diploma in law, which draws to a conclusion in 3 months. 2.5 months!

I was accepted into an Inn, and offered two places for the BVC, which again, is encouraging me to continue. I have done 4 minis, and I really do think that it is all acheivable.

Monday, 25 February 2008

First Steps

As a prospective candidate for the bar, I thought I would mark my journey from the first proper event in that path, the interview for a scholarship.

I suppose had I thought of doing the blog earlier, I could have started when I applied for the BVC last month, or applied for the GDL a year or so ago, or even perhaps when I thought of trying to become a barrister, last summer, or when my interest in law and studying began, although i can't for the life of me be certain when that was.

So here i am. I have the idea. I have the determination. I have some hope. (Quite a lot of hope actually, but thats another story). I love reading other blogs, and although I don't really know how to do this blogging thing, I suppose I will pick it up as I go along.

So here I am, fresh faced, eager and willing, with a target ahead of me which will bring be untold fortune and fame. Or maybe just a job as a barrister.

As blogs seem to be anonymous, I will start off that way, but should I be too worried about people knowing who i am? I don't think it is crucial, so i may lay myself bare to ridicule and derision, or perhaps impress certain people. (I know some of my school teachers would/should be impressed, but I was at school sooo long ago they are probably all dead by now.)

Anyway, I will see if this first post works, and if so, I will move onto a little history of how I managed to reach this far.