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Our new brochure

Please feel to share on Twitter or Facebook. We should like our outreach to be as wide as possible, including law firms, law centres, CABx, law schools and academics; as well as of course members of society who are interested in how law and regulation affect our society.

To download our new brochure click here.


Privatising the blood bank and NHS, G4s and A4e fiascos.. ENOUGH!

This has got to be the most putrid, sick, incompetent Government. Thanks also to the LibDems for selling the NHS down the river, at the expense of Lords reform which they never got.

bwah bwah bwah

What is justice if people don't understand it, and can't access it? The Goldsmiths 'Accessing Social Justice in Deprived Communities' Report 2012

This research was carried out at Goldsmiths, University of London, with funding from the Leverhulme Trust. The research team would like to express their appreciation of this funding that made the research possible. 

For further details please contact: Marjorie Mayo, or Maria Dumas, 

A copy of the full report, Accessing Social Justice in Deprived Communities, including an executive summary can be downloaded from: (click here)

(c) Goldsmiths, University of London 2012.

[This is a shortened version of the executive summary especially for this blogpost.]


The research for this report has been undertaken at a critical time for Law Centres. When the research started, the previous government was promoting public sector modernisation with more marketised approaches to the provision of legal aid. By the time that the research was being concluded, these pressures were being increased even further – the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Bill was proposing to reduce the scope of Legal Aid from key aspects of employment, welfare benefits, debt, aspects of housing law, immigration and family law, along with legal aid for school exclusions, clinical negligence and personal injury cases. This would have serious consequences for the funding of Law Centres that provide such services. And the consequences would be devastating for those whom Law Centres serve, people in disadvantaged communities, who would be unable to access legal services by any other means.

Some Law Centres have also been facing cuts in funding from local authorities and other funders. As a result of all these pressures an estimated third of Law Centres are under serious threat of closure – at the very time that the number of people needing legal advice services has been increasing as a result of a combination of factors including high levels of unemployment, debt, public expenditure cuts and welfare reforms.

So how have Law Centres been coping with these increasing challenges? How have they been managing the pressures and the tensions – meeting the requirements of funding regimes that don’t fit with their clients’ needs, whilst holding on to their ethos and values, providing access to justice for all?



The challenges from public service modernisation reforms

  • The research found that New Labour reforms were believed to have:
  • Underfunded Law Centres’ work with clients
  • Put additional pressures on management systems and management committees
  • Reduced the scope for public legal education
  • Reduced the time available for outreach and community work
  • Undermined Law Centres’ wider preventative and policy work (including taking test cases)

For Law Centre staff, there have been tensions as a result, holding onto professional values and identities whilst operating effectively in this more ‘business-like’ context. The research highlighted the importance to staff of:

  • Giving each client the time they really needed whilst meeting targets for numbers of clients seen and cases closed
  • Holding onto collaborative ways of working whilst managing competitive tendering processes effectively
  • Working with increasing numbers of volunteers.


This research explored these questions. The team was based at Goldsmiths, University of London and independently funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The researchers carried out a survey of 107 staff and volunteers from 25 different Law Centres in England. In addition 112 interviews were carried out – exploring the views of local authorities, advice agencies and other legal aid providers as well as the views of Law Centre staff and volunteers.



There was widespread evidence of demoralisation as staff struggled to hold onto the Law Centres’ ethos, whilst becoming more business-like in the ways in which they operated. This was often exacerbated by lack of security, funding problems and the threat of further significant changes to Legal Aid. Several Law Centres had closed from lack of funding during the research and some of those interviewed were in the process of leaving their jobs in the Law Centres that remained, because of the pressures they were experiencing.

Despite the multiple challenges faced by Law Centres and their staff, the research encountered impressive levels of commitment. Many staff members have been working long hours and contributing unpaid overtime in order to keep services operating effectively for their clients – because they have been so committed to the importance of providing access to justice in disadvantaged communities.

The research also found positive examples of collaboration between Law Centres, local authorities and other agencies, where partnerships had formed to deliver joined up advices services and meet current challenges together. This type of strategy had multiple benefits including better mapping and targeting of provision, the ability to jointly attract funding, delivering complementary services more cost effectively, facilitating cross referrals and offering better promotion of services.


Law Centres have been developing strategies in response to current challenges and exploring ways of maintaining services. These include:

  • Charging some clients (although very few clients would be likely to be able to contribute significantly, especially if they were on benefits)
  • Setting up trading arms, to cross subside legal aid work (although it could be challenging to compete with private firms for business in the current economic climate)
  • Undertaking ‘no win, no fee’ work (although this might become seen as ‘ambulance chasing’)

These types of responses were being considered although each had its potential problems and limitations.

Particularly promising responses included the development of collaborative rather than competitive approaches, working with other advice agencies in partnership, along with local authorities, to provide a seamless service for clients, across a particular area, including in some instances the use of telephone and web based advice systems.


In summary, the research confirmed the value of Law Centres as well as the values of those who worked and volunteered within them. There was strong agreement on this across the spectrum by those who were interviewed, including local authority councillors and officers, solicitors in private practice providing pro bono legal advice and staff from a range of other advice agencies. As an advice worker concluded ‘I really don’t know what we’ll do if they (the Law Centre) don’t survive’. ‘Save our Law Centres, they are crucial’. What was clear from the interviews was the fundamental role that Law Centres can play, underpinning and supporting the work of individuals, communities and other agencies.

Despite their efforts to hone their business skills, develop new forms of income generation and attract new sources of funding and volunteers, Law Centres also need sustainable funding from public resources.

This research was carried out at Goldsmiths, University of London, with funding from the Leverhulme Trust. The research team would like to express their appreciation of this funding that made the research possible.

For further details please contact: Marjorie Mayo, or Maria Dumas,

A copy of the full report, Accessing Social Justice in Deprived Communities, including an executive summary can be downloaded from:



[Thank you very much to Matt Scott, a Community Researcher at Goldsmiths, for the information contained in this executive summary.]

Legal Awareness Society Competition: The best verbal reasoning question

The aim of this competition to select the best verbal reasoning question.

Winners of this competition will be sent a copy of this book which I will pay for personally. Gary and David (authors) have nothing to do with the idea or implementation of this competition. Also, the winning answers will be put into the databank of questions of the Legal Recruit platform, an independent website for law students to practice online verbal reasoning skills. This platform is not affiliated with any other entity (including law firms or law education providers.)









(Ignore the “Look Inside”)


The English Legal System 2012 – 2013

Gary Slapper is Professor of Law, and Director of the Centre for Law, at The Open University, and writes a legal column for The Times. David Kelly was Principal Lecturer in Law at Staffordshire University.

Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System explains and critically assesses how our law is made and applied. Annually updated, this authoritative textbook clearly describes the legal rules of England and Wales and their collective influence as a sociocultural institution.

This latest edition of The English Legal System presents and analyses changes made to the legal system by the coalition government, and digests recent legislation and case law. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, the Crime and Security Act 2010, the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, new European law, and the latest decisions of the Supreme Court are all incorporated into the text, and this edition also digests recent research on the work of juries and the criminal courts, and the 2011 changes to the regulation of, and Government contributions towards, legal services.

Key learning features include:

  • a clear and logical structure with short, manageable, well-structured individual chapters;
  • useful chapter summaries which act as a good check point for students;
  • sources for further reading and suggested websites at the end of each chapter to point students towards further learning pathways;
  • an online skills network including how tos, practical examples, tips, advice and interactive examples of English law in action.

Relied upon by generations of students, Slapper and Kelly’s The English Legal System is a permanent fixture in this ever evolving subject.

Competition rules

1. The subject of the verbal reasoning question must be in one of 15 subject areas:  biology, business, economics, education, engineering, environment, geography, geology, health and safety, human relations, medicine, modern languages, physics, technology, and transport.

2. The passage must be written in perfect English, using correct spelling and grammar, and contain sentences of reasonable length. It must not have any political nature, nor potentially or actually offend any laws of the UK.

3. The passage should be around 130 words, and be followed by two statements. These statements should either be clearly true, clearly false, or neither clearly true nor clearly false. A definite answer should be produced for each of the two statements, with an uncontroversial explanation as to the answer.

4. An individual can make more than competition entry. However, all passages and pair of questions/answers should be consistent with rules 1-3 above.

5. By entering this competition, you agree to the questions/answers being used, if it is correctly set,  on the online Legal Recruit platform; and you also share copyright for the material with Legal Recruit.

6. The judge’s decision is final. This competition will conclude 5 pm June 30 2012. Entries must be made by email to


It's all in the communication












A few weeks ago, I decided to complete an informal survey of blogs which my timeline regularly reads.  This was never intended to be a competition, and the findings below are supposed to celebrate your responses. They are not in any particular order, reflecting the ‘popularity’ of bloggers. Forty people responded, and it was interesting to see how you responded. Our blogroll of the BPP Legal Awareness Society on the Legal Aware blog is meant to be a celebration of all blogs, as we appreciate all the effort that’s put in by all legal bloggers here in the UK, many of whom never get any recognition.

Communication recently has become very important in the legal world because of campaigning. For example, in the discussions over #LASPO, @nearlylegal has encouraged involvement over housing amendments in the Bill before parliament. Blogging is a brilliant way for all members of our legal community to get their point across, from law students, to Professors/Readers, and even to QCs. For example, the UK Human Rights Blog is written by members of 1 Crown Office Row barristers’ chambers. David Hart QC recently considered why we need an international environmental court in a blogpost which centred around the ‘Erika Disaster’.  The article considers the thorny issue plaguing much of the legal blogging community – what jurisdiction takes charge of dealing with the matter? Hart opines that, “The problem, as often with international environmental issues, particularly criminal ones, is the jurisdiction for the offence charged – can, in this instance, the French prosecute this crime, even though someone  can also do do so somewhere else?”

Communication can be used by different parties to get their point across, often in heated contexts. In the well-respected blog, recently celebrated in the longlist for the Orwell Award 2012 [blog category], “Beneath the Wig” considered in a thought-provoking blogpost latterly ‘the standard police defence'; @_millymoo observes that, “The police service has to start to recognise that while we are grateful for the protection they offer, that protection does not mean we are not allowed to question when they act beyond the bounds of what they are charged to do.” Public attitudes were considered in a different context on the “Coppola Comment” blog, where the theme was how the author (@Frances_Coppola) had increasingly discovered ‘two groups of people': “I’ve been aware for some time that there seem to be two distinct groups of people in the world of politics and economics, who see the world in fundamentally different ways and don’t really understand each other. It’s as if one group are landlings, only secure when they have hard land under their feet and terrified of drowning in deep water, and the other group are sea creatures, happy floating in an unstructured, boundary-less medium but parched and shrivelled on dry land.”

There’s no doubt that the mechanisms of communication, certainly in the legal world, could be improved? For example, well-known @legalbizzle recently contributed an intriguing explanation of “the language of contract negotiations”: “Sometimes everybody knows what you mean. The phrase “With respect…” is universally understood to mean its precise opposite, and “I’m not being funny, but…” invariably means “I am about to say something racist”. But law has its own secret language, opaque even to its practitioners on occasion. It’s not just the Latin and the tortured circumlocutions; even the most innocent phrases have hidden meanings.”

A frustration of people simply not communicating with one another is often a theme of UK blogs. Indeed, sometimes blogposts converge on the notion that valuable lessons can be learnt from comparative analysis of jurisdictions. For example, @carlgardner recently examined the application of the ‘written constitution’ to the UK socio-political-legal culture: Carl provides that, “So this case should serve as a warning to us from across the Atlantic. In particular, it’s a warning to those of us in Britain who count ourselves as on the social democratic side of politics and who believe the state can actively do good. Some people argue for a written constitution here, or for elements of a written constitution, such as a British version of the First Amendment. But any such move would inevitably give conservative forces greater power to block, by litigation, socially progressive legislation. Anyone who counts themselves liberal should pause to think how relatively easy it has been for Parliament to bring in civil partnerships, and will be for it to bring in gay marriage, as compared with the agonies the issue causes in America.”

An irreverent ‘@LegalCheekblogpost has had its own look at the importance of communication in an excellent series of posts recently focussed on marketing. They recently brought news of a tie-up between Ashurst and Australian law firm Blake Dawson. Branding and marketing has become an expensive pre-occupation of some in the legal world wishing to communicate more effectively: “Colleagues of Maxwell then reveal how much they’re looking forward to a wonderful future that will in no way see them go from being a major Australian firm to a distant neo-colonial outpost of a London firm. Needless to say, the footage doesn’t recall in any way the hostage video genre, instead producing an overall effect that is both extremely natural and genuine – as you can see for yourself below.”

Intra-organisational communications within corporate cultures have recently grown in recognition. For example, @kilroyt considered the possible value in HR specialists and lawyers talking to each other: “Maybe this idea of lawyers going into HR makes sense for employment law specialists. But for others? I led HR for 2 months last year and I can tell you good intentions and common sense aren’t enough. If I ask you whether Learning & Development should be grouped with Organisation & Staffing, what’s the answer? Everything is specialised nowadays. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “I’m a smart lawyer. How hard can it be?” I devoted a lot of those 2 months to hiring an excellent, professional HR leader to replace me.”

Of course,  the problem may not be as bad as all that, and law firms don’t need to spend millions to trying to ‘communicate better’. @MagicCircleMinx came up with her own hit-list recently of how the ‘trainee experience’ could be improved at an instant virtually: “At the request of some bods in human resources, I’ve been asked to come up with some thoughts on how and in what way I would improve the trainee solicitor experience. This is what I’ve got so far…

1. George Clooney as a supervisor.

2. Freedom to choose the clients I work for and my hours.

3. Free designer shoes, nutritious meals delivered to my flat and a cleaner.

4. A duvet day once a month. No questions asked.

5. And a secretary who is happy to do “trainee work.”

*deletes the above* *goes back to the drawing board* *stares at a blank page*”

Review – "Brains: The mind as matter", Wellcome Trust

29 March – 17 June 2012

Wellcome Trust, 183 Euston Road, London. NW1.

My first love is cognitive neuroscience. It was with enormous pleasure that I went to look around the ‘Brains: The Mind as Matter’ exhibition at the Wellcome Trust this afternoon on my own. The Wellcome Trust in fact funded my Ph.D. at Cambridge in 1997 – 2000 on the early detection of frontal lobe dementia, after I obtained the second highest mark on the class list in neuroscience at Cambridge in finals in 1996.

For me the Wellcome Trust is very easy to get to from Primrose Hill. Its opening hours are here. I had a very relaxing   dish of wild rice accompanied by traditional lemonade at the café run by Peyton and Byrne.

I found the staff in the Blackwells bookshop very helpful as I managed to locate ‘Zero degrees of empathy’, indeed hand-signed by Prof Simon Baron-Cohen, my first ever supervisor at Cambridge, a world expert on autism and Asperger spectrum disorders and theory of mind, amongst various other neuroscientific topics such as synaesthesia. Some other classics of mine were to be found in that bookshop, including the seminal ‘Advice for a young investigator’ by Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

I asked Steve, one of the exhibition helpers, how many neurones he thought the human brain had. As a philosophy graduate, his estimate of 100 billion was pretty impressive – the figure is apparently 1000 million. We then discussed why the human brain should have quite so many neurones, when so many of the functions of the brain were done by animals such as their fly in more primitive organs (such as the eye). We discussed how the answer was probably was to do with humans perceive the mental states of others, and how humans are able to integrate information from the senses with planning , strategy, personality and emotions in a coherent manner. I feel that Simon would have been proud of Steve’s answer. I feel Simon also would have been particularly proud of the fact that Steve admired the contribution which Simon had made in putting raising the awareness of autism and Asperger spectrum disorders. Our conversation, given Steve’s background, necessarily came onto the philosophy of mind, as we discussed how our conceptualisation of the mind or brain had changed with time. How the relative importance of information from the body’s organs had been perceived differently with the progress of time, and indeed whether ‘modularity of mind’ existed (as reflected in the historic rise of phrenology) or whether the notion of distributed neuronal networks was a more realistic approach. Whatever functional architecture one decides upon for the human brain, possibly the greatest achievement of contemporary neuroscience has been to realise that the social brain is necessary for communities to function, and if, how or why we have a social brain designed differently from other animals present tough challenges for us as a society.

The exhibition itself was beautiful. The photographs of the brain donors were beautifully presented. The 3-D etching of a brain onto a glass block ‘My soul’ by Katharine Dawson, was simply magnificent. This consists of a laser-etched lead crystal glass formation in the shape of a brain, and was created using the artist’s own MRI scan.

I particularly enjoyed the functional neuroimaging of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” in live time – though listening to the music itself with headphones while watching the different colours of the brain activations was rather mesmerising! I particularly liked the efforts the curators had made in reflecting the comparative anatomy of the brain across species,  e.g. brain models of species ranging from alligator to dog, though perhaps the neuroscientific advisors of the exhibition failed to point out perhaps that ‘size isn’t everything’ when it comes to the power of the brain (that’s why all the elegance in measuring the size of parts of the brain might be misplaced given the inevitable amount of neuronal redundancy there might be).

Above all, the exhibition succeeded in making the viewer question what he or she thought about this most enigmatic of all organs, and I felt it was quite fitting that we were left with an air of confusion epitomised by this cinema poster ‘Change of Mind’ featuring Leslie Nielsen.

But that of course would not be the first time that output from the Wellcome Trust had turned your perception of our living world upside down..!

Welcome to the BPP Legal Awareness Society!

The BPP Legal Awareness Society is part of a vibrant community of student societies at BPP, which any student of BPP can join.

Non-members of BPP are warmly invited to keep in touch with the Society’s activities through its lively Twitter thread, along with its blog which is kept up-to-date by a number of members of the society. Zerbakht is the Society’s officer for corporate news content on the blog.

It is a separate entity from BPP, however its members feel it reflects the lively spirit and commitment to high standards of BPP. The mission of the society statement is: “Putting law at the heart of business“. This explains that we wish to explain to students, and the public at large, why an understanding of the law is pivotal to an understanding of business and the rest of society.

It holds regular meetings at BPP Law School Holborn (Sam is in charge of our events). Future guest speakers, in the near future, including a partner in English employment law, an expert in social media and the law, and a member of a leading ABS in England. All students across the wide range of BPP-taught disciplines are invited to attend. We also hope to have a greater outreach – whilst the Twitter thread has been going for some time, we’ll soon be publishing regular podcasts. Katie-Claire is the Society’s Officer in charge of that project. Gizem (the Society’s Corporate Liaison Officer) will be promoting good relationships with City firms, where many BPP law students end up completing their training contract at least.

We have a new logo. It’s a lion, to reflect our shared values with the place where we study. However. it’s distinct. The image represents the student body, which is friendly, intelligent, energetic, young, resourceful and focused.

If you’re a past, current, or future member of BPP, you can join here.  We should especially like to hear from you if you’re at an early stage in (or about to start) an undergraduate degree course, but considering a career in business, law or finance.

Tonight's meeting of the BPP Legal Awareness Society: the Facebook IPO

After an introduction to the importance of the IPO in corporate finance, and where the IPO is likely to feature in the legal curriculum, we discussed this evening how social media sites have been involved in initial public offerings. Specifically, we considered the media reaction to the IPO of Facebook earlier this year. The meeting was well attended, and members of the BPP Legal Awareness Society were reminded to read about the legal aspects of the flotation/IPO prior to mentioning it on any application form for training contracts or vacation scheme placements.

The handout of the presentation is here: Facebook IPO.




Handout for this evening's meeting on psychometric tests

In the meeting it was made very clear that ‘Legal Recruit’ is a platform with plenty of free material including factsheets, a book, a practice verbal reasoning test and videos, and is entirely independent of BPP.  Current members of the BPP Legal Awareness Society, one of the most popular societies at BPP, were pleased to learn about this initiative which had grown entirely out of the activities of students within the Society. It is not a BPP product.

In this handout (download Presentation on the online verbal reasoning test), you’ll see numerous worked examples. Try to work out for yourself, before you ‘reveal’ the answers, why the statements are either ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘cannot say’. They are not real or actual SHL questions, but the format and style of the questions are similar to what you might see in a real online verbal reasoning test as provided by SHL on behalf of a number of legal recruitment departments. However, these questions and answers provided cannot be taken as any official training for these tests, and should be used entirely voluntarily  by students on a personal basis. They are copyright of the BPP Legal Awareness Society.


LegalAware blog survey


I’ve now concluded my LegalAware blog survey. I wished to have a rough inkling of which blogs are widely read already. I used as the basis for this survey my current blogroll which can be viewed on the left-hand column of this website.

About 40 individuals replied to it.

Respondents were invited to indicate blogs which they had read. There was no limit on the number of choices which could be made, and respondents were told that all data would be anonymous, private and confidential.

Rather than do a list of any description, I’ll be using the findings of the survey as the basis of writing a contemporary synthesis of challenging posts, written by individuals that you reported being already aware of.

I will also, however, be making copious reference to links from legal/society blogs you may be unaware of, including more ‘niche’ blogs.

I won’t be giving an indication of which blogs are perceived as more widely read. I hope that the spirit of mutual collaboration and encouragement will lead some blogs to be more widely read in what I feel to be an exciting genre for legal journalism.

Please feel free to either tweet me openly or DM me with any blogs which you feel have escaped my attention. This is not about ‘picking winners’, but encouraging each other.

I hope to begin my series of posts soon, but I have been busy with my LPC course myself at BPP, which I enjoy greatly (but which is also rather time-consuming).

The BPP Legal Awareness Society, for all BPP students, is proud of its core value of inclusivity and accessibility, and the discussion about all relevant blogs I hope will reflect this. All the discussion will be positive, but will not include blogs which have already asked to be not included.

After the publication of this series of posts, the background findings from this survey will be immediately deleted.

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