Month: June 2014

First legal job…

The next stage of my legal career begins on Monday. Having survived my GDL exams (seven 3-hour exams in 11 days, oh what fun we had), I start my job as a paralegal in a small high-street solicitor’s firm.

Several concerns spring to mind:

  1. How does one acquire clients? At least I’m doing Wills and probate, and a Will is something every adult should have. You can’t say the same about divorces, or personal injury.
  2. Am I going to gain weight or lose weight? In my current job, people bring in cake nearly every day. And cake is there to be eaten. I’ve gone from a size 8 to a size 10. I really don’t want to get any bigger… (Like Oscar Wilde, I can resist everything except temptation.)
  3. How much of an advantage would be a knowledge of Islamic law be? And how long would it take to acquire one?
  4. Am I going to break my neck before the end of my first week? Unfashionable flat shoes notwithstanding, I know where my desk is going to be, and it’s right at the top of the building up an extremely steep staircase.
  5. Why is it that it’s nearly impossible to find a smart blouse suitable for work nowadays? That is, one that doesn’t look as if it is more appropriately worn on a beach somewhere. I nearly ended up in the school uniform department.

We shall see…

Review: Waxwork, by Peter Lovesey

Waxwork, by Peter Lovesey

Waxwork, by Peter Lovesey

This is one of the Sergeant Cribb series of detective stories set in the late nineteenth century, and in it, Sergeant Cribb is asked to investigate an investigation. Mrs Miriam Cromer has already confessed to the murder of her husband’s assistant (with cyanide, available on the premises as her husband is a photographer), and the trial is over. The hangman is on his way.

But then… doubts are raised regarding the validity of the confession. Did she really do it, or is she covering for someone else? The Home Office wants to know.

Sergeant Cribb – a far more efficient investigator than the policeman who conducted the original investigation – soon turns up some disturbing facts which cast doubt on the confession in all sorts of ways. There are inconsistencies in people’s stories, and what is the truth?

When Mr Cromer’s alibi for the time of the murder is broken and he attempts to flee to France, it seems that the confession was false, and Mrs Cromer was only trying to protect her husband (why?). But in order to extradite Mr Cromer from France, it will be necessary to pardon Mrs Cromer in order to charge him…

And that, for me, is the best part. The doctrine of Autrefois Convict (already convicted) which, together with Autrefois Acquit (already acquitted) is known as Double Jeopardy. A person cannot be retried for the same crime, on the same facts, if they have already been tried and either acquitted or convicted (unless by the request of the defence). So if Mrs Cromer is pardoned, and it subsequently comes out that Mr Cromer cannot have committed the crime because he has an alibi, what then? Even if it becomes obvious that Mrs Cromer really did do it, she can’t be tried again and will get away scot-free.

This is the plan that Mr Cromer, Mrs Cromer, and their solicitor (Mr Allingham) had hatched between them. Mrs Cromer was to confess then be pardoned in order for the police (carefully fed the facts to lead them up the garden path) to arrest Mr Cromer. Mr Allingham would then come forward with the alibi to free Mr Cromer. And even if the police knew that Mrs Cromer was really guilty, they would be able to do nothing about it.

The plan only comes to pieces when Mrs Cromer attempts to leave her husband carrying the can so that he will be hanged and she can marry Mr Allingham. Sergeant Cribb, who has uncovered the fact that the unfortunate photography assistant was not Mrs Cromer’s first murder, but her second, confronts the pair of them with this knowledge. Mr Allingham abandons the plan, refusing to go along with Mrs Cromer’s amendment, and confirming Mr Cromer’s alibi immediately, so that there is no need to pardon Mrs Cromer so that Mr Cromer can be extradited from France.

This is a very short book, and although the reader learns the facts at the same time as Sergeant Cribb, the twist at the end still comes as a surprise.

Another reason to love Law: Case law in emoticons

Just when I thought studying law could not possibly be any more fun (the high point of my week being a 3-hour Land Law exam [OK, that was a lie…]) what should cross my screen but…

Case law in emoticons!

I have to admit, I am a late adopter of emoticons. I tend to communicate information, not emotions – I’ve just about got to grips with the use of clots of punctuation to form little smiley faces. But case law in emoticons (@emoticoncaselaw on Twitter) is definitely a reason to figure out how to do little picture icon thingies.

To take the case of Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company [1892] EWCA Civ 1, which is a stirring tale of influenza, Big Pharma, advertising, money, lies, and the devotion of a solicitor-husband. The official citation: [1892] EWCA Civ 1 hardly does justice to the drama and excitement of the case.

A silent film conveys the pathos of Mrs Carlill’s situation much better – but requires a cast of actors and an orchestra (somewhat problematic, especially in a law exam).

Emoticons, however, combine narrative and efficiency in one neat package:
@emoticoncaselaw: 📰😰💨😄😰📝💷💨😰😡#emotilawcontract

And what’s more, you can do it with felt tips.

I shall borrow my husband’s pens in time for Public, Contract and Tort exams next week. 😀