I just signed a letter that charts out the next four years of my life. Officially accepting a training contract from Bird & Bird entails completing my final year of uni, followed by the LPC and finally two years of training with the firm. It feels distinctly odd seeing it mapped out before me, no matter how pleasant it may seem. In the same way that a block of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream moulded into the form of an anatomically correct human foot would be as strange as it was appealing (the ice cream that is, not the foot). I am, of course, delighted to be working for my favourite firm of this summer’s placements and it also offers some financial security since they pay my LPC fees as well as providing a modest maintenance grant, much needed while starting out in London.
Although this site has never dedicated itself to the day with the same piratical passion that is displayed by others around the globe, International Talk Like A Pirate Day is on the approach. You can see it from the crow’s nest at any rate. With that in mind I offer you this training video that you might best prepare yourself for the vocal working that the day brings. Though their vocabulary may be limited, do not be deceived for the language of the pirate is as colourfully intricate as it foul. Ninjas, on the other hand, should probably sleep in.
With the expanded size of the new hard drive I had various ideas for how best to utilise it. My mind was made up when Microsoft emailed me to inform that a Release Candidate for Vista was now available should I wish to partake. I promptly downloaded it, burned a DVD and installed it. I’m giving it a few days to sink in before I comment on it, but for now I will say that there is much to like here but with several surprising changes to the user interface that may not be for the better.
Since their dates clashed with vac schemes I had already arranged, I was unable to accept an offer from Berwin Leighton Paisner. However, keen for me to still come, they instead offered three days of work experience with a training contract interview bundled in too. With their riverside offices easily accessible at London Bridge I was keen to accept. I spent the first two days in Competition, with an Australian supervisor who reminded me of Susan Kennedy from Neighbours. Unreasonably so, given that I haven’t watched more than thirty seconds of it at a time in the last three years. The final day was in Insurance/Reinsurance, very quiet with seemingly half the department off on holiday or otherwise absent. The interview itself was pretty intense, lasting around an hour, but I was pretty happy with how I was able to sell myself. Now I just sit tight until September when I’ll hear back (officially) from everyone and start making the tough decisions…
After receiving the email from British Expat as I wrote about last time, I checked out that photo over at morgueFile to discover it’s now by far the most popular of those I’ve submitted with around 1,500 views and nearly 400 downloads. Michelle contacted me to say she’s used it in digital artwork at her site (look in the “Art” section). I love seeing these photographs get around in uses that I’d never have imagined and it definitely makes the whole process infinitely more rewarding than for them to simply sit on my hard drive. Plus Romina seems rather taken with the idea of her face being a “Pic of the Week”.
Apologies for the lack of upates, but things have become increasingly more hectic as my first vacation scheme drew to a close. Beginning with the non-legal, last weekend my mother celebrated her 50th birthday, which involved having the extended family and various others over at ours, giving Kirsten the first opportunity to meet them. It all went remarkably well and she demonstrated a fine curry tolerance. She found four-year-old Sebastian particularly cute — but then who wouldn’t?
Returning to work on Monday, it was the week of our group presentation so we knuckled down and finished off the handout booklet, powerpoint slideshow and our speeches. Or so we thought. In Tuesday’s workshop, Diane explained that we had misinterpreted the brief and proceeded to “correct” us. The fact that the other group made exactly the same “mistake” implies that we interpreted perfectly well, it was just wrong. We could hardly argue so both groups spent the next stressful day reworking their material for the Partners on Thursday.
It’s impossible to tell how one will react upon walking into a room to offer a presentation to those who will be deciding your fate in a few short minutes (including the firm’s CEO). Remarkably, everyone seemed calm and it flowed magnificently. Although our group was the losing one, I was more than happy with our performance, particularly in answering questions at the end. Managing to make a room full of Partners erupt into laughter (for the right reasons) is an experience I won’t soon forget, and they certainly seemed impressed by my performance.
It was sad to end this stint since it’s been such an awesome bunch of people that genuinely clicked as a cohesive group. I fear it will be impossible to replicate in the next placement. Should we end up together, it could also make for an interesting training contract crowd as the majority of us will be starting ours at the same time. As a second year law student the firm cannot officially make me an offer yet, due to Law Society rules. Let’s just say that signs are positive that I may wish to be around in September to see what their letter says…
With my stint at Bird & Bird now over, we will shortly be resuming normal service under the usual title once more.
Of all the four Pubescent Morphollactic Ninjitsu Chelonions, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as they prefer to style themselves, Leonardo is quite my favourite.
-Stephen Fry, My Leonardo
My travelling companion on the commute to and from work has been Stephen Fry’s Paperweight. A collection of his early journalistic writings, reviewings and columnings (if it isn’t a word, it ought to be — the style of a column being so different to that of any other writing), it makes for perfect train reading as each entry is only a few pages long so that one may dip in and out at leisure. I actually purchased it several years ago but only read about half.
Yesterday what my supervisor Chris described as an “initiative test” involved heading over to the central Land Registry office to acquire some title information and plans. It was a nice stroll across Chancery Lane and through Lincoln’s Inn, reminding how pleasant this part of London can be. The building itself looked new but in keeping with its older surroundings. Having spent the better part of a year studying its inner workings, it was strange to finally find myself inside the central hub of this vast nexus of information. This is relative, of course, its true centre probably being a computer residing in a shed somewhere in the north of Shropshire, the precise location of which is tattooed on the inner thigh of the Chief Land Registrar himself so that upon his death it might be discovered by his successor.
The oddness was exacerbated by the fact inside everything looked clean and airy, everyone was very polite if a little bland, and everything seemed remarkably secure and efficient. In other words, nothing like a government department at all.
The closest pub to the office, The Melton Mowbray (endearing itself to me with the name alone), proudly declares itself a “World Cup Free Zone”. At opposite extremes this may mean they merely do not show the world cup on plasma screens of varying sizes themselves or that one can be beaten to death with a bar stool for merely mentioning it. I would suggest the happy middle ground would be ejection upon enunciating “England” with more than the prescribed two syllables that our proud country’s title demands.
The summer students, being a young and internationally varied bunch, take a somewhat different stance. So it was in yesterday’s game that Niki found herself supporting the wrong side. The fact she is Swedish may go some way to excusing her unfortunate misalignment, and in light of the draw it would be somewhat unfair to treat her dissidence as treason.
A workshop to prepare us for a group presentation we give to several partners at the end of the three weeks proved remarkably useful. I find few experiences quite so hellish as being video recorded and then forced to sit and watch it being replayed to me. Nevertheless Diane who led the seminar was able to provide some useful advice which will definitely improve my performance. She also asked whether I have had elocution lessons. It amused me, anyway.
In the early evening Kirsten and I saw Thank You For Smoking. A full review will hopefully arrive shortly, but for now suffice to say it’s the funniest satire of the year so far, if somewhat vacuous when considered as a whole, aside from its general message about freedom of choice. As a lawyer, I thoroughly enjoyed its stance on the art of argument, “That’s the beauty of argument, if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong.”
I hope those of you who went to Christ’s May Ball last night enjoyed themselves, as do those heading off to Peterhouse tonight. It was disappointing to relinquish my cheap ticket through having worked on the Downing Ball, but at least I suppose it shows that I took on the role solely for the satisfaction of a job well done. Yes, that must be it.
Having moved back to Croydon on Sunday, I started at Bird & Bird today. I had met most of the other summer students last week at Thursday’s training session, though I finally got to meet Niki. Although my interest in the firm stems largely from its IT/technology aspect, I am working in the Real Estate (that’s property) department. As it will be commandeering my life for the coming three weeks, that is largely what will be charted here during that time, though I will break away to discuss other issues from time to time. A confidentiality agreement naturally prevents me from revealing much juicy gossip regarding our clients, but you’ll still hear about my experience with the firm as a whole.
Kirsten also started at Merrill Lynch this morning, so I dropped her off (after a slight panic trying to find the office) and then headed on a single stop down the Central line to Chancery Lane. As a medium sized law firm, Bird & Bird’s Fetter Lane offices are decent but largely unremarkable. Despite their size they are a major global player due to the fact they only open new offices where there is a large market for their services, particularly in all the key European regions. Nevertheless, its London office remains by far the largest.
Introductory talks consisted of several presentations that were largely dull but necessary. The firm’s structure is a little different that most in that as well as being split up into several legal practice areas, it is also split into service sectors that cater towards the specific sort of clients that it aims to attract. Working primarily with people in fields like IT and media means that they can provide a full range of services that are tailored to these sorts of clients. They claim not to try to be everything to everyone. It seems to me that they instead try to be everything to certain people, an intelligent approach that appears to be serving them well.
I don’t feel that I’ve had quite long enough to unwind post-exams before diving back into work again, but others are arriving directly after completing the GDL too, so I can hardly complain. Still, I rather envy most of you who are, no doubt, lounging around, basking in the warm glow of a Pimms-and-champagne-fuelled May Week. Your uppance, I am assured, will come.
My laptop now sports only 25 letters, the M key apparently deciding that being attached to the rest was too “mainstream”. Ironically the breakage happened while I was actually legitimately working. Sliding a folder, it must have caught the underneath of the key and tore it right off, snapping one of its plastic legs in the process. Luke informs me that at least it’s only the 14th most commonly used letter, although was somewhat more helpful in providing an alternate keyboard for me to use for the moment, along with an interesting USB-to-PS/2 gizmo. In related news, a new version of Das Keyboard is out, looking identical but now boasting quality keys that will rival the best on the market. Its sleek, unmarked keys certainly bring a whole new meaning to the word minimalism.
Internet fraud is a nasty thing, and while my eBay experiences have been mostly smooth (hassle-free refunds for a few misrepresented items), the same cannot be said for everyone. A unique method of revenge followed the alleged sale of a defective laptop by Amir. The unwitting buyer claims his requests for refunds were refused so he proceeded to extract the contents of the machine’s hard drive and has produced a website, written in the first person, describing the sale of the laptop. Let us say it features material of a delicate nature. While the authenticity of his claims cannot be verified, the hilarious results have been featured in several newspapers already.
Meanwhile in Louisiana the horrendous Jack Thompson-penned game bill has received approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee and will go forward for debate. Few gamers would suggest that violent videogames ought to be played by young children but applying the same standards to seven and seventeen-year-olds is absurd. Having discussed it with Stephen (as both a parent and a lawyer practicing out there), we concluded the bill will have little effect on those it aims to protect as their games are purchased either online or by uninformed parents who seemingly refuse to inform themselves. It is, he argues, a First Amendment violation. Until those parents learn to say “no” to their whining brats, I don’t foresee an immediate solution.
With two exams down and three to go, it does not yet feel like “almost halfway through”. Nevertheless, a few days’ respite is welcome before tackling the big two, Land and Contract. They have gone reasonably so far, which is to say they could have been far worse. When it comes to predicting tripos marks, I find it’s virtually impossible, so I shan’t try to guess.
Sparkie has completed his list of 28 procrastination techniques, which we mentioned previously. He considers it more of a “don’t do” list, with three items inspired by this very site. Worryingly, many of them sound far too familiar and I have engaged in the entire top six over the last few weeks.
Popular torrent site ThePirateBay.org, much loved for its humourous public derision of legal threats it receives, is rumoured to have been raided and shut down, although this may well be a hoax as a similar story was posted exactly a year ago when their servers were taken down for maintainance. Corroborating articles would suggest otherwise. It will undoubtedly provide much publicity for the newly established political party which cannot hurt.
In todays “things to browse and watch” category, I was recently directed to the “Animusic” Pipe Dream video. While I wouldn’t really consider buying their DVDs, the idea is interesting and certainly well-executed. For fear of overdoing it, I shall not dwell on the release of yet another Superman trailer, but suffice to say it exists in our reality.
I had hoped to wish everyone luck before exams commenced, but what with revision and pre-exam stress, it didn’t quite happen. Nevertheless, good luck with the rest!
I’d like to raise a glass to every member of The Christmas Leprechaun Appeciation Society who voted that we dine on Wednesday. Due to circumstances utterly beyond College’s control, the first night of Christmas Formal that had been scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled at the last minute due to a gas leak. We, on the other hand, had chosen well. Replete in the ever-fashionable amalgamation formal attire, gowns and obligatory santa hats, the Hall teemed with students intent on achieving a suitable level of inebriated festive cheer. Charlotte was looking particularly alluring, having ditched the traditional wear entirely in favour of a very festive, very short outfit that was very reminscent of Michelle Monaghan in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I’m not allowed to tell you where she got it from.
On Thursday the careers service held a Law Fair at the University Centre which was filled with firms vying for our favour and, therefore, assualting us with their respective goody bags before we could be tempted away by some other firm’s alluring soul-sucking branded merchandise. Staggering back with several bags brimming with brochures and application forms (my reasons for attending weren’t purely mercenary), I dumped them in my room and surveyed the afternoon’s takings. Although I’m now openly biased, Linklaters came out on top in first impressions. Leona (who was at the dinner a few weeks back) stuffed the bag nicely, including a Linklaters lip balm for Kirsten since I figured she’d detest the very idea of it being branded by lawyers. Turns out I was right. After commenting off-hand that the Post-it indexing tabs were very useful for statute books, Allen & Overy proceeded to give me four packets along with a stressball (something tells me unfortunately the latter will be the more useful).
Having had time to closely inspect the bounty, here’s the run-down and specific category awards. The award for “Best Pen” goes to Weil, Gotshal & Manges for a kaleidoscopic glowing device that I cannot take to lectures else I’ll be too distracted by the pretty lights. And yet it manages to remain sophisticated despite the fact it occassionally glows pink. The runners up were Skadden for an incredibly useful pen that incorporates both a highlighter and a dispenser for the aforementioned Post-it index tabs. Unfortunately it’s a hideous bright yellow. I’m sure Yvonne would have loved it. The “Classiest Standard Pen” category is open to those pens sans gimmick, letting their style speak for itself. Freshfields plucked this category with a gorgeous, heavy black and silver number. “Best Gadget” was interestingly fought. Travers Smith would have taken it with their auto-opening calendar/calculater if only I hadn’t gotten exactly the same device from someone else at a Fresher’s fair last year. Nevertheless it was useful since the battery on the old one has just run out, so now I have a nice shiny new one to replace it. SJ Berwin came out on top with a device that wasn’t just cool, but genuinely useful, providing a universal phone charger with a set of adapters to fit any mobile phone currently on the market. Not a bad haul for an hour’s work…
Finally, if anyone remembers thrusting a Santa hat on my head in bar on Wednesday, no doubt with the sole intention of crushing my hair, then let me know because I’m quite certain I didn’t buy the one that ended up in my room. Unfortunately Kirsten stole it before she left so I can’t return it. Just send me the bill.
Last night was the Cambridge University Law Society‘s Annual Ball, one of the highlights of the calendar because of the frankly ridiculous sponsorship it attracts. This year’s theme was “Cabaret” and it was being organised by last year’s Downing Ball president, Charlotte F. In fact this was one of the nights when Downing’s dominance becomes painfully obvious with Nick doing the rounds as CULS President and Carlo as one the first year reps. In an unforgivable move for a lawyer, I discovered that I’d somehow neglected to bring any bow ties with me this term. Fortunately TomTom ably stepped into the breach offering me not just a tie but a choice of colours. We actually arrived at Chilford Hall very early due to Kirstin’s (you’re going to have to start distinguishing between CompSci Kirsten and lawyer Kirstin, I’m afraid) overly enthusiastic taxi timings. The ride up was certainly much more comfortable than queuing in the cold for an overpacked draughty bus like last year. A champagne reception awaited us followed by the prerequisite three course meal (with complimentary masks) and then several hours of dancing with a swing band and the inevitable declined into cheese. The food was decent but not particularly noteworthy it must be said, aside from the profiteroles and the wine (which was good for Merlot).
With tales of last year’s excesses spreading swiftly, this year we were inundated with a large contingent of non-lawyers who all seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly. Lucy and Liza came along, as well as an impressive number of NatScis, Ravi nabbing a spare ticket at the third years’ table. The Globalist contingent of lawyers was also out in force. Late in the evening I swapped numbers with a rather wasted Dawson whom I assume accompanied the Pembroke lawyers and seemed to have been making good use of the ample amounts of freely flowing booze (albeit in slightly less debaucherous quantities than last year). On the downside there was a distinct lack of a vodka luge or chocolate fountain (although that’s arguably a good thing since it meant no chocolate to clean out of my suit this morning…) but there was a full cold breakfast of Nadia’s-supplied pastries at around midnight which kept everyone full and content. The addition of two scantily clad dancing girls to accompany the jazz band during the reception was a good “themed” move. I’m considering hiring a some for my room. You know, for special occassions.
Even Ravi was eventually forced to concede at about 2am, “I have to admit you lawyers do know how to have fun.” That we do.