United Kingdom / Great Britain

Down on your luck? Feel like cheering yourself up by, say, arresting a judge? Or perhaps you just fancy seizing a courtroom for the day? Well, the “Freeman-on-the-land” movement could be for you.

“Freemen” argue that the law can be circumvented by, for example, evoking an ancient text and then sending an affidavit to the Queen.

Here’s a clip of them in action (go to 4:21 for the hilarious pseudo-legal speech)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Letter from London: Pompous, Jargon-Addicted… Sound Familiar?”

* I guess it really doesn’t matter how much lawyers love Ron Paul if Biglaw firms keep emptying their seemingly overflowing coffers into Obama’s re-election campaign. [Washington Post]

* Congratulations to Yale Law School graduate Ronan Farrow, son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow. Ronan probably isn’t shallow and empty with no ideas and nothing interesting to say, since he’s just been named a 2012 Rhodes Scholar. [ABC News]

* National drinking age laws: keeping women from killing themselves or being murdered since the 1980s. Now where’s the study on how many people actually obey these laws? [USA Today]

* A Florida woman has disappeared after battling it out with her ex-fiancé over an engagement ring on The People’s Court. As if you needed another reason not to be seen on that show. [Daily Mail]

* According to a new law in England, water might be wet, but that doesn’t mean it’ll fix dehydration. Not elementary, my dear Watson, but “stupidity writ large.” [International Business Times]

* The fall of the Third Reich fourth tyke? Poor little Adolf Hitler’s parents have lost custody of yet another child thanks to the state of New Jersey. [New York Daily News]

* Happy American Censorship Day! Sign these petitions in celebration so you can keep your internet the way you like it — full of infringing and fabulous content. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* A prospective law student got married at Zuccotti Park this weekend. Best protest wedding ever? I guess the honeymoon ended after they were evicted. [The Stir]

* Before you waste your tears crying over how much your fantasy team sucks, you should probably check and see whether it’s even legal to play. [Legal Blitz]

* Chase is giving away over $3M in grants for small charities, so why not take a second and vote for our friends over at Ms. JD? [Chase Community Giving]

* Using free beer to lure criminals into an arrest trap should be a violation of your right against self-incrimination. They should at least be able to drink it before the cuffs go on. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Have you ever wondered why barristers wear black? Yeah, neither have I. [Futility Closet]

* The attorneys for Justin Bieber’s alleged baby mama, Mariah Yeater, have pulled out. Just like the Biebs should’ve done. Allegedly. [Improper]

* Regular twelve-step programs are for the uninspired. Here’s one that only true professionals will be able to survive. [Constitutional Daily]

We hope you’ve enjoyed following the Career Center’s Top Partners series through which we’ve recognized Biglaw partners from around the country who exemplify what it means to be an exceptional partner who associates are actually happy to work for. Thanks to all the readers who took the time to submit such glowing nominations and give some well-deserved recognition to the 60 partners highlighted in this series.

Today we conclude with the best partners in the smaller legal markets of Chicago, Dallas, and London. While the markets in which they work may be smaller, their firms are some of the biggest names in Biglaw: Winston & Strawn, Sidley Austin, Katten Muchin, K&L Gates, SNR Denton, and Latham & Watkins.

Let’s see who the final six partners are….

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As Europeans from the sun-dappled Mediterranean to the icy North Sea brace themselves for doomsday, I thought I’d ignore the wildfire-like turmoil sweeping my continent to write you a sweet little piece about the difference between British and American English.

The hook, as we say in the U.K. media, is the Economist’s recent ‘British Americanisation’ survey. As with most things produced by the Economist, it’s pretty dull, revealing, amongst other things, that some British people have started saying ‘vacation’ instead of ‘holiday’. Others have begun traitorously moving the stress on the word ‘controversy’ from the second to the first syllable. Crazy, eh?! But I know marginally more about linguistics than economics, so I’ll plough on.

Actually, I’m underselling this column. I’ve been wanting to write something ‘you say tomato, I say tomato’ for ages, because British people’s use of Americanisms is highly revealing — about them, about the U.K.’s relationship with America, about the continuing popularity of U.S. T.V. series on these shores….

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To qualify as a lawyer in the U.K., you first have to eat 12 dinners. Seriously. OK, it’s only barristers (British trial lawyers) who must meet this requirement. And they have to pass legal exams as well as eat. But the essence of my slightly sensationalised opening sentence is true: no dinners, no qualification.

Here’s what happens: students go to law school in the day, then every month or so go and eat a formal dinner at one of London’s inns of court (ancient clubs for trial lawyers). The medieval ritual has its roots in the pre-law school days when “sons of country gentlemen” from across Britain would come to lodge in the inns, attending lectures, taking part in mock courts, and dining together in the inns’ main halls (Harry Potter-style places that are famous for hosting Shakespeare’s original plays). Certain traditions are still followed, like toasting the Queen and refusing to shake hands with anyone (barristers are historically forbidden from shaking hands each other’s hands). But mainly it’s about getting drunk — on port, the U.K. establishment’s tipple of choice.

Why am I telling you about this? To give you a sense of port’s central role in the education of our young, as a primer for a story about the Oxford University Conservative association accidentally revealing its hate-filled Nazi soul at a recent “port and policy” night….

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It’s been a bad few days for the Church of England. First, it gets slammed for siding with the bankers, rather than the protesters, after its flagship venue, St Paul’s Cathedral, finds itself at the heart of Occupy London. Second, a change to the U.K.’s ancient royal succession laws strikes a blow for its great rival, Rome, as a ban on royal family members who marry Catholics taking the throne is lifted.

Beginning with the Occupy London controversy: the protesters’ original plan was to occupy St Paul’s neighbour, the London Stock Exchange, which nestles alongside the U.K. branch of O’Melveny & Myers on an adjoining square. But they were blocked by the police, forcing them instead to set up camp on the forecourt of the great cathedral (built from the ashes of the Great Fire of London in 1666). At first this seemed like a defeat, as the Church of England played victim, shutting the doors of St Paul’s to visitors for the first time since the Second World War on what it claimed were health and safety grounds.

Here’s what the encampment looked like:

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When Hitler came to power in January 1933, more than half of Berlin’s 3,400 lawyers were of Jewish origin. All of them, alongside the thousands of other Jews practising law throughout the rest of Germany, were forced to re-apply for admission to the national bar. At which point, only German-Jewish lawyers who had qualified before 1914, or who had fought at the front line in the First World War, were granted the right to continue in their profession. And in November 1938, even this select group was banned from practising. Many German-Jewish lawyers would subsequently be murdered in concentration camps. Others managed to flee to the U.S., where some, like the late Coudert Brothers lawyer Ernst Stiefel, eventually re-qualified as U.S. attorneys.

I learnt about Stiefel — who, before being admitted in the States, completed spells as a chauffeur, busboy, and dishwasher in New York, having undergone a period of internment as an “enemy alien” in the U.K. — from an excellent pamphlet produced by the German Federal Bar and the American Bar Association, “Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich,” that I happened upon last week in the reception room of the English Law Society’s office in Brussels. I was there to listen to the English legal representative body’s arguments against a proposal for a new single Europe-wide contract law, having spent the first part of the day listening to the E.U.’s arguments in favour of the plan.

At face value, a single European contract law is about exciting as, well, Brussels (imagine an Eiffel Tower-less Paris without the joie de vivre, or a diluted Euro-version of Washington, D.C.)….

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Old people are so cute. From the way they don’t understand how to use modern technology, to the way they cringe at the music of our times, it just makes you want to squeeze their wrinkly, little cheeks.

And old people in love? Well, that’s even cuter. So when we heard about a British couple in their mid-70s who had finally decided to tie the knot, it was a total cuteness overload. But all of the cuteness screeched to a halt when we found out that the loving couple’s special day had been ruined by allegedly over-amplified versions of ABBA songs.

This bride had no desire to be a “Dancing Queen,” and it wasn’t because she might’ve had to use a walker….

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Better as a redhead.

* You know you’re screwed when law school folks are coming after you. A University of Hawaii Law dean has jumped aboard the “sue Facebook for wiretapping” bandwagon. [The Republic]

* Walk like an Egyptian? Emory Law student, Ilan Grapel — who was detained by Egypt on espionage charges — may soon be released in an exchange with Israel. [NBC New York]

* Lindsay Lohan’s probation was revoked, and she’s facing up to a year in jail. Judge Sautner doesn’t like her, so here’s hoping that LiLo’s single and ready to mingle. [New York Daily News]

* Heather Mills is being sued by her hairdresser over $80K in unpaid bills. After getting $50M in her divorce, she can’t cry poverty — she wouldn’t have a leg left to stand on. [Daily Mail]

* Being sexy and using kinky props for a song entitled “S&M” aren’t options anymore, because David LaChapelle has settled his copyright suit against Rihanna. [Rolling Stone]

* Peter Mullen, executive partner during the M&A boom at Skadden Arps, RIP. [New York Times]

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