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?