8 May 2007
The Lawyer's Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week's blogs. If you want to direct us to useful links, email webweek@ thelawyer. com.
Web week gives thanks to Vision-News-Salisbury this week. With the decline in litigation hitting hard, Web Week was delighted to find this local news outlet featuring men in wigs speaking out.
At www.vision-news.tv you can hear Judge Cutler, the secretary of the Council of HM Circuit Judges, having a real rant against the Government's interference in the judicial system: "We are very concerned as judges to be put in the same ministry as prisons and sentencing policy. Another 1,000 years has gone past and the Lord Chancellor's been effectively abolished and suddenly we've got a European system of justice, which many judges in this country are not at ease with."
Judge Cutler is not a fan of the newfangled Ministry of Justice: "When a judge sends someone to prison, he or she must do that without any consequence about whether prisons are overcrowded or not. We must impose a sentence, which we feel is right in the circumstances."
And he's not a fan of most of Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer's decisions: "Judges feel an attack on the jury system. One is worried about reforms in parliament that have led to incarceration without charge and that's where the habeas corpus used to play such an important part.
"There's more and more arguments between politicians and judges, which I don't think is helpful. Politicians and judges should work together to give the country the criminal justice system it deserves. "Sadly there are some elements, which seem to want to undermine it. It's almost an element of control. Judges have control on certain decisions. Politicians don't like the judicial decisions and so the politicians are seeking to undermine that control."
Solicitors and working parents Joanna Lyons and Alison Spicer have created a new website designed to provide a discussion forum for lawyers having to balance their working and family lives. The site, www.lawyerswithkids.com, provides weekly news stories, problem pages, discussion forums and a blog.
Spicer, who qualified as a commercial property lawyer at Nabarro Nathanson (as was) explains her reasons for launching the site: "When my children were babies, I found it hard to continue to work as a solicitor, even part-time, while being the primary carer for my children. I took a break from my career, but then felt isolated from my former colleagues, and from other lawyers in a similar situation. I would have liked to be able to contact other parents to seek advice, and to get help in finding part-time work when I was ready to return."
But one of the first people to post is a frustrated dad: "I feel like I'm missing out. Why is it that dads are expected to work all hours while mums get all the flexibility?"I work for a large commercial firm, which has a very long-hours culture. I am in line for partnership and have a lot of responsibility. However, since having my daughter last year I feel like I'm really missing out. Whilst my wife and her friends spend time at home going to toddler groups I am stuck in the office working all hours. I would like the chance to work flexibly too but it's just not done at my level and would destroy my chances of partnership. Help."
Unfortunately it doesn't look good for Dad. One responds: "I think you've just got to decide what you want ultimately. If you make partner it'll be just the same workload if not more."
While another thinks he might as well chuck in the towel: "You could consider changing direction and going to a smaller firm where there was less pressure."
But a third respondent sheds a ray of optimism: "Why not just ask and see what response you get. Flexibility has got to work for men as well as women. I now work one and a half days from home and it works really well."