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Blogs

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Blog Name: Jamie's blog

Clifford Chance came *this* close to having to dress vac schemers like hipsters
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31 March 2015

Clifford Chance is producing hoodies which are colour-coded to show who has a training contract. However students came close to arguably an even worse fate: having to dress like hipsters.

Nine different designs by students at Kingston University were modelled at a CC fashion show on Red Nose Day and put on the firm's grad rec facebook page. It was announced that the design which won the most votes at the fashion show and most 'likes' on facebook would be "worn by our Clifford Chance lawyers of the future".

Introducing the winning Diffusion and Off The Shelf collections:




With 356 'likes', Marjade Roniet's caste system clothing was the clear winner on facebook, with votes from mum ("not to sound bias, but I love my daughter's design") and a suspicously large contingent of fans from, improbably, Nassau in the Bahamas. It's not clear how many actual students who might secure a CC vac scheme participated, but those who didn't bother will rightly pay for their apathy when they end up looking like the crew of the Enterprise.


"Someone find them something to do"
 

Students with training contract offers will be able to strut around campus with their heads held high in black hoodies, winning high fives from fellow 'blacksters' and jealous glances from everyone else. Meanwhile, those without quite as much foot in the door will be identifiable thanks to their different shades of jumper. Students in their penultimate year at uni who score a CC vac scheme will be given a maroon hoodie, students who got on the firm's "Intelligent Aid" vac scheme (by answering an essay question) will be in navy and it will be easy to spot the first year students in grey and chant "fresh fish, fresh fish" at them and bet which one will cry first.

It means graduate recruitment teams at other firms missed the perfect opportunity to send the number of applicants for Clifford Chance vac schemes plummeting. They should have been voting like crazy for the design which came last, with only five 'likes'. Check out this beauty:



Labouring under the misapprehension that the Magic Circle is a cereal cafe in Dalston, the designer gives us a glimpse of a beautiful alternate reality in which vac schemers rock up to Canary Wharf wearing halfmast slacks and fisherman beards. Dismounting their fixie bikes, they stride into the office in their oversized, canary yellow cableknit sweaters, decorated with a tyre-tread pattern which makes them look like they've been run over. If only Freshfields had known, it could have sent the next generation of CC lawyers to sweat through the working day feeling like roadkill and looking like rejects from Hot Chip. How was this opportunity missed.

CC did select another winning design, though, possibly to give people an alternative to aggressively hierachical casual wear:



It comes emblazoned with a mangled, 8-bit version of 'CC'. Minecraft is so hot right now.
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In 2010 an attorney made a interesting point by voicemail
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31 March 2015

It is disheartening how far a lawyer can get on aggression. For most, going full Clarkson on the other side is reserved to that one time they were called up during the Christmas party and eight Margaritas produced Dutch courage akin to roid rage. But while they may be rare, everyone knows a lawyer who's made screaming himself puce a standard negotiating tactic. He flips from pleasant to bellicose in a heartbeat, leaving seasoned opponents discombobulated, reeling and weakened. They concede a point just because it is such an unpleasant shock to be on the receiving end of a screaming weapon's spittle.

I think this guy could be one of those weapons, although it's not immedately clear what point he's trying to win.




Maybe it was just going towards creating a general atmosphere of terror. Or maybe enlightening the other side that they were turds was an aberration. The judge seemed to think so.


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Lawyer proposes 'shoot all gays' law
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27 March 2015

A lawyer in California has proposed a law that homosexual people must be shot.

Disturbed attorney Matt McLaughlin paid $200 to file his "Sodomite Suppression Act" with the state's Department of Justice. The green ink marvel explains that God "commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction" the "monstrous evil" and "abominable crime against nature" known as "buggery, called also sodomy".

Because everyone will be killed by "God's just wrath" for the "folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst", McLaughlin's act decrees that anyone who "willingly touches another person of the same gender for sexual gratification" must be "put to death by bullets to the head". Or, in case the bullets run out, "by any other convenient method".

    McLaughlin prefers the company of manly men

Building on the mad work of Walter Kubitz, the act also imposes a $1 million fine, 10 year prison term and/or exile from Cali for anyone who produces "sodomistic propoganda", or promotes it, but not if you just think about it because otherwise McLaughlin would presumably have to hand himself over to the authorities.

Because McLaughlin has been thinking carefully and constantly about gay sex for a long time, he covers all the angles. He specifies that citizens will be allowed to shoot gays if the state doesn't begin the cull within a year. In a canny bit of future-proofing, he forbids judges from ruling on his act's validity if they are homosexual. And he calls for a copy of the statute to be sellotaped to every classroom wall, because of course it isn't a utopia unless the childrens' butterfly fingerpaintings appear alongside a warning that God will burn the world and kill them all unless people who love each other are shot.

Dissemination of McLaughlin's foaming cup of hate is the price of democracy in California, where the attorney general is required to circulate citizens' proposed acts for signature-gathering. If 365,000 people turn out to be Mel Gibson and add their names, the act is supposed to be put to a state-wide ballot where the public can vote on making it law.

However, the Sodomite Suppression Act is unlikely to get that far. Not only is 365k a high bar, but the Supreme Court can stop measures that violate California's constitution from reaching the ballot stage. McLaughlin should also be worried about community activist Charlotte Laws' plans to file the "Intolerant Jackass Act". It's a more worthy proposal which would require the attorney to undertake sensitivity training for a year and donate $5,000 to a pro-homosexual charity.
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Why lawyers hate Street View
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26 March 2015

Themis Lawyers boasts that it is a "leading law firm in Manchester", and who could doubt it? Just look at its office.


   

Over six stories, modern, views over water, blue underlighting. Them really is lawyers. Plus "all enquiries and advice is [sic] provided by fully qualified, high calibre solicitors". But they need to start badgering Google, because Street View doesn't seem to be reflecting reality.

     

Thanks to the reader who alerted RollOnFriday to Google's misrepresentation. If you come across a law firm equivalent of the Wizard of Oz, or one that's into cloning, or a bit bonkers, do tip off RoF.

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The "breathtaking" behaviour of the Gibson Dunn partner who deliberately misled court
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25 March 2015

A judge has ruled that a Gibson Dunn partner deliberately misled the court, opening the lawyer up to possible criminal charges and the prospect of being struck off. Gibson Dunn has already suspended partner Peter Gray and removed his profile from its website.

Gray was instructed by the government of Djibouti in its long-running feud with opposition leader Abdourahman Boreh. Boreh, a wealthy businessman, was sentenced by the Djibouti courts in 2010 to 15 years in prison for ordering a grenade strike on a Djibouti supermarket in March 2009, and now lives in exile in Belgravia. The government's terrorism case hinged on phone calls which Boreh made on 5 March, the day after the grenade attack. Boreh was recorded saying, "last night the act was completed in the first district" and "the people heard it and it had a deep resonance". Although Boreh insisted that he had been talking about handing out anti-government leaflets, the date of the calls incriminated him sufficiently for Djibouti prosecutors to be able to secure a conviction.

Gray, acting for the Djibouti government, used the same evidence to obtain a $100 million freezing order against Boreh's assets from Mr Justice Flaux in September 2013.

There was just one problem. In August 2013, a month earlier, a Gibson Dunn associate in Paris decided to check the call logs of the intercepted conversations. Deborah Ngo Yogo noticed that the calls were dated 4 March, not 5 March. Which meant that they took place the day before the grenade attack, not after, with the result that they couldn't possibly have caught Boreh discussing the aftermath of the attacks as claimed. Yogo emailed her discovery to Sara Merchant, another Gibson Dunn associate in Gray's team. Merchant sent the startling evidence on to Gray, saying, "unless I am missing something, this would be a very large discrepancy". Gray replied thanking Yogo (who is now at Shearman & Sterling), saying, "Many people would not have checked and disaster would most certainly have followed".

But instead of informing the court that the key basis on which the freezing order was being pursued was fatally flawed, the 39-year-old partner told his team, "we can get away with the date error". Gray said that he was "going to fudge the error of the date, it doesn't affect the underlying evidence". The freezing order was duly granted.

In an unpleasant development, Gray than set about using Flaux's judgment in submissions to Interpol and other law enforcement agencies in an effort to get Boreh extradited to Dubai. Not for a retrial on the basis that the incorrect date meant that Boreh's conviction was unsafe, but so he could be delivered into the hands of Djibouti's security forces and locked in a prison cell for, in all likelihood, the rest of his life. In his submissions Gray wrote that "an English Court has already held that there is at least a good arguable case that Mr Boreh committed the crimes on which he is accused". A flabbergasted Flaux was none too happy at being roped into Gray's attempts to deport Boreh, calling his use of his judgment "thoroughly improper" given that it had been obtained by Gray "knowingly misleading" the court as to the date of the calls.

Gray also contacted US Homeland Security, which only got involved because of Boreh's alleged terrorism. Despite being aware of the correct date of the calls implicating Boreh, Gray emailed it the wrongly-dated transcripts. Gray claimed this was "inadvertant". In his judgment delivered this week in which he overturned the freezing order made against Boreh, Flaux disagreed, saying, "it seems to me more likely that his email was continuing the strategy of concealing that the conviction and the evidence in support of it were unsafe".

But the cover-up wasn't perfect. While Homeland Security got the shaky evidence, the date was corrected in the Interpol extradition request. Not in the confession of an alleged accomplice which formed the main substance of the request, where the date remained incorrect, but buried in a list in a section headed Telephone Interception Evidence where, Flaux said, "it was left to the diligent reader to glean the inconsistency".

However, Boreh's solicitor Byrne & Partners did glean the inconsistency, in September 2014, and wrote to Gray about what it had spotted. It pointed out that as the transcripts were misdated, the court had been misled and Djibouti's case was unsustainable. Gray said on the stand that he took the letter "seriously", though emails he sent counsel at the time in which he dismissed Byrne & Partners' points as "bollocks" and "a storm in a teacup" suggest he was hoping the issue would just go away.

It didn't. Boreh pursued an application to overturn the freezing order, which eventually lead to victory for him and a potentially career-ruining judgment for Gray in the Commercial Court.

  Boreh wearing his favourite victory vase

Flaux said that Gray had been given ample opportunities to come clean. He should have used Bryne & Partners' enquiry as a chance to admit that he'd known the date of the transcripts was bogus before the freezing order was granted, "which is what it seems to me any honest solicitor conscious of his duties to the court would have done". Instead Gray embarked upon a "descent into what became even more evasive conduct".

Flaux cited Gray's slippery response to Byrne & Partners' letter and his defence of it on the stand as "acceptably evasive" as prime examples. That ingenious phrase, an "attempt by an English solicitor and partner in a City firm to justify a positively misleading letter to the other side's solicitors" was, said Flaux, "breathtaking".

It wasn't the only one of Gray's missteps. In November 2014, with no sign that Byrne & Partners was going to stop asking Gray questions about the dodgy date (Gray was still telling counsel it was "a non-point"), Gray's underlings asked the partner if they should sift through the emails in the matter to work out how they managed to put the wrong dates in the freeezing order application. Gray emailed back within minutes, sounding somewhat panicked: "This is a waste of time. Please do not do that. All you are likely to find is that on date X we realised the error, addressed it and moved on. Is that something you think it is appropriate to admit to the court? Would you like me to publically apportion blame on other lawyers?"

It was, said Justice Flaux, a "disgraceful" email. Not only was Gray burying the truth, he had made a "wholly wrong" attempt to suggest that other lawyers were also to blame,"when he knew he was the only English solicitor" who sat through the September 2013 freezing order hearing "knowing the full implications of the misdating issue".

  Gray

Gray's cover-up really started to unravel in mid-November 2014 after Flaux "forced him to come clean" when he ordered Gibson Dunn to file an affadavit setting out whether any of its lawyers knew at the time of the freezing order in September 2013 that the date of the call transcripts was bogus. And it seems Gray realised it. He texted a member of his team: "Obviously I will have to fall on my sword re being told about the date discrepancy and take the heat for it". Though in another text, to counsel, he pleaded ignorance: "It turns out I was told about the error in August. I completely forgot about it, in the midst of so much. However I can see I will be accused of all kinds of things."

And he was, although his excuse that he'd merely suffered a memory lapse didn't wash. Flaux, noting that he recognised the "seriousness of the allegations" against Gray and the "implications for him", said that in his view the lawyer knew full well that the freezing order was being made on a false basis and therefore concluded that Gray "did deliberately mislead the court".

Though Gray didn't mislead the Djibouti government, who Flaux said "are not blameless ingénues here". In fact the judge was "extremely sceptical" of its evidence, too. Not least because, after the error in the transcript dates came to light, the Djibouti state provided Gibson Dunn with photos of an unexploded grenade in a government building which it said was evidence of another terrorist attack. It said the pictures were taken on 3 March, and therefore lined up with Boreh's genuine call times. However Gibson Dunn spotted from the photos' metadata that they were actually taken a month later. Flaux called Djibouti's efforts "pretty desperate".

But Djibouti will probably suffer less than Gray. Gibson Dunn has already removed his profile from its website. In a statement provided to RollOnFriday the firm said, "We are very disappointed that the conduct of our Dubai-based partner, Peter Gray, fell far below the standard which the Court rightly expects of all counsel. We have apologized to the Court for these shortcomings. The Firm had already suspended Mr. Gray pending further inquiry."

It added, "It is important to note that the allegations of misleading the Court were made only against Mr. Gray and not against any other partners or employees of the Firm. We will continue to represent the Government of Djibouti in pursuing its claims in this matter".

Gray now faces the possibility of criminal charges and being struck off.
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This firm has the worst profile photos of staff, and the biggest
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19 March 2015

Most law firm websites are pretty dry. Some might even be described as dull. A handful are bonkers. But very few are so dull they're bonkers. So well done to Jaswal Johnston LLP.

By forbidding frivolous colour, hedonistic cropping and fancy resizing it has created a parade of absolutely enormous, rather unsettling mugshots of its staff.

By way of contrast, here's how this week's Glamorous Solicitor appears on his website:



Now here's how Sandeep Jaswal, Managing Partner of Jaswal Johnston, appears on his:



Blimey. After scrolling down for about two minutes to get to the bottom of Jaswal's face, there's another four screens of his body.

Possibly because he was told his picture would be a lot smaller than Jaswal's, the other Managing Partner just looks bored and a little annoyed:



But from then on it's massive portrait after massive portrait, with each poor staff member captured in unsparing detail by (presumably) Jaswal's neice, who heard that black and white photography was classy but nothing about standing back a bit.

Here's Peter from accounts, who is humongous and still has plenty of headroom:



And here's Lucy, who is either marginally over-exposed or standing one yard away from the surface of the sun:



This blog isn't wide enough to do Jaswal Johnston LLP's enormo-pics justice, so pay a visit if you want colleagues to think you routinely zoom in on photos of strangers.
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Partner's thoughts about obscene mug net him amazing prize
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19 March 2015

Browne Jacobson partner Alex Watt has won this week's Entertaining Legal Briefing Award.

In truth, it's the only Entertaining Legal Briefing Award. The entertainment level of legal briefings has been so low that this is the first time anyone has ever won it, ever since the first legal briefing 15,000 years ago when Ug advised Gruk not to drive his dinosaur bones car through a tar pit. But Watt has ended the profession's losing streak with this:



It was a compelling submission which immediately grabbed the judges' attention thanks to the prospect of norty words.

Watt begins by writing how a Booking.com advert which used the phrase “look at the booking view. This is exactly what you booking needed” outraged sensitive types who complained that 'booking' was "a substitute for a commonly used expletive". Unfortunately Watt doesn't state the commonly used expletive and while we can all guess what it is, we were promised **strong language**, darn it, not strong language in our minds.

"The ASA found that the double-entendre was contextual and humorous," writes Watt, "and, in that context, the ad was not offensive". Too right it's not offensive. Watt is in danger of losing his grip on the career-making Entertaining Legal Briefing Award.

Luckily he has an Anglo-Saxon classic up his sleeve:



Bingo. Writing for prospective clients about a mug with what is widely considered the most offensive word in the English language written on it puts Watt way out in front*. The other competitors - Nabarro's Christopher Stanwell & Tim Stansfield for the light-hearted "Local authorities can rely on the Aarhus costs cap protection (but for a limited time only?)" and Linklaters' Deepak Sitlani & Hannah Patterson for the arousing "Derivatives: EMIR Update" - didn't stand a chance.

Watt's win is appropriate, too, given the entirely coincidental form that the Entertaining Legal Briefing Award trophy takes.



Alex, this wonderful prize is in the post. Apologies if you get into trouble unwrapping it.

*though he's rather more restrained than the ASA was in its note.
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Epic court battle between incredulous judge and "Harry Potter" lawyer
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17 March 2015

Readers may remember Alan Blacker, better known as Dr The Right Honourable The Lord Harley of Counsel of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, from last year, when he got told off for appearing in court decorated with medals.



Judge Morgan told Sir Blacker of Alan that if he wanted to look like something out of Harry Potter he could "forget coming into this court ever again", thrusting the lawyer and his many titles into the media spotlight. Now a forum dedicated to monitoring all things Lord Harley called LawBytes has got hold of the transcript of the conversation between Blacker and Judge Morgan. It describes a titanic struggle between the two titled men which is reminiscent of nothing less than the battle between a certain magical, lucrative orphan and the forces of evil, if the battle has been much more awkward, in court and with plus-sized actors.

The whole thing came out of nowhere. Lord Blacker's case had finished and he was packing up his things (files, cane, heraldic shield), when suddenly Judge Morgan piped up like Columbo with just one more thing:


Alan Blacker and the Philanthropist's Ribbon





Not a good start for our young hero.


Alan Blacker and the Half-Real Thompson






You're at a conference, you nip outside for a sandwich and you meet someone drinking White Lightning who's wet himself and claims to be Lord Chief Justice Thompson. He grabs you be the collar and whispers in your ear, "You can wear medals anywhere you like!", then staggers across the road and falls over a railing. Why wouldn't you believe him?


Alan Blacker and the Chambers of Secrets






His Lordship isn't going down without a fight. Unfortunately Judge Morgan has the bit between his teeth, and the bit is Lord Harley's glittering CV.


Alan Blacker and the Goblet of Eire






The only person who knows whether Irish Earldoms are actually a thing won't say in case he gets beaten up by republicans or loyalists, and everyone else is too nervous to guess. Which means linking his legitimacy to them is a superb move by Lord Blacker. But just as he rises with his arms aloft and begins to release his topknot in celebration...


Alan Blacker and the Deathly Minute





And now it gets ugly. Judge Morgan even drags in the other side's poor barrister to help him give Lord Blacker a kicking.


Alan Blacker and the Order of the Smackdown












Dobby should never have told Master Lord Blacker to take that case. Bad, stupid Dobby.
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Clyde & Co chainsaw massacre
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11 March 2015

A source at Clyde & Co's Guildford office thinks someone is "taking 50 shades a bit far", reporting that the postroom has e-mailed staff "regarding an unnamed package containing a chainsaw".

    "Honey, I'm homicidal"

There's always one. At Pinsents it's the person who ordered a rubber deer mask. At Burges Salmon it's the one who got a Michael Buble pillow. And at Allen & Overy it's the one who probably isn't there anymore.
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Typo of the Week
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10 March 2015

Essex Court Chambers got a smart new sign the other day:



The fabulous typo, tweeted by literary agent Oliver Munson to law blog Legal Cheek, appears just around the corner from RoF Towers. I nipped over to see if they'd fixed it. The answer is sort of.



So now Essex Court Chambers doesn't advertise barristers, but at least it doesn't advertise "bappisters", either. Instead it's got a trendy minimalist mystery sign.

Keen to find out if they'd experienced a surge in bap-related litigation work, I asked a receptionist if anyone had tried to order baps recently. She said "Not that I know of, no".

Then I got back to the office and found that, for the first time ever, we'd received an email meant for Hatfield-based caterer Roll-on-Friday, placing an order for 12 sandwiches and fruit.

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