Soccer hooligans

Ed. note: This new column is about sports and the law. You can read the introductory installment here.

Hardly was I surprised that the Democratic National Convention took up most of my attention last night. I saw it approach from Monday last and should have surely set aside time to write the flowery and horrible introductions that I am known for around these parts. Alas, I did nothing of the sort. I neither plumbed the depths of my own sick psyche nor hit up Mama Juggs for a blast from my past. I couldn’t even be bothered to make up something really dumb to open this column. Consider yourself lucky.

Instead, because of my devotion to and obsession with watching Joe Biden’s hair plugs gently sway, this week’s installment is a lean one. Consider the previous editions the bloated, corpulent Vegas Elvis, and consider the one you’re currently reading as the young, join-the-Army, good-looking dynamo Elvis. Or something.

Let us converse about sports, shall we?

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It takes a while to get over squandering an empire. As our habit of placing the prefix “Great” before “Britain” suggests, we’re still not quite there yet. But deep down we know we blew it. The evidence is everywhere: from our dentists, who don’t really know what they’re doing anymore, to our universities, which are crumbling, just like our schools, hospitals, and public transport.

Somehow, though, the U.K’s legal system has avoided being dragged into this spiral of decline. Yes, we’re still good at law — so good, in fact, that London is the top destination in the world for international companies to settle disputes, and English law the most popular among international in-house counsel (40% use it, with just 14% opting for New York law). And, in spite of the relatively tiny size of the British domestic legal market, our law firms manage to give yours a run for their money, with the Magic Circle quartet of Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Freshfields and A&O outdoing most of their U.S. rivals in terms of turnover and profits.

Doubtless part of this success stems from the fact that Britain is the home of the Common Law, which, unless some joker on Wikipedia is deceiving me, was invented around the 1150s by King Henry II. And as we saw during the April nuptials between Prince William and his bride Kate, our “Ye Olde Ingland” nostalgia sells very nicely to foreigners….

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