On a wig and a prayer: the pros and cons of courtly costume

Now that courts are becoming more transparent and even allowing in the TV cameras, how important is it that all the barristers in open court should ‘look the part’ by wearing wigs and gowns? People have certain expectations about what goes on in court. Sometimes, as explored in my earlier post on this blog, those. Read more

Bang to rites: everything you ever wanted to know about gavels but were afraid to ask

‘Sharp is the moment in which the head of the gavel strikes against the wooden surface and generates the sound of division between past and future…’ So declares Lorenzo Benedetti in his preface to Diego Tonus’s fascinating, eccentric and hilariously comprehensive study of gavels, The Presidents’ Hammers. Explaining their use as theatrical demonstration of finality,. Read more

Cameras in court – transparency in the eye of a lens?

From TV documentary to feature film, courtroom drama has been flavour of the season. But how effective is the camera lens in promoting transparency and public legal education? The Lord Chief Justice has recently added his voice to the many calls for more open justice, urging his fellow judges ‘to lift the veil a little. Read more

The Science of Searching

How the Bloomsbury Professional Online Law Library uses the same logic as leading websites to boost your power to research, quickly and precisely. How you gather or harvest the latest legal information probably depends on which products you are used to using. Every law firm has both a physical and an electronic library, with crucial. Read more

Divorce – the other side of the law court – the couple and family

The recent publicity generated by the Supreme Court judgment in the Owens v Owens case; where Mrs Owens was not permitted the divorce from her husband that she had been hoping for (the couple had not been living together for six years and Mrs Owens had developed a new relationship), following a gruelling contest trying. Read more

Judges on social media: being ‘friendly’ is great, but is it judicious?

Judges in England and Wales are more or less forbidden to engage on social media, and if any do so they are almost invisible to the public gaze. But in the United States the position is markedly different. Judges are active on Twitter and many also have a Facebook account, which they see as a. Read more

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Legal Helplines: Threat or Opportunity?

The idea of free legal advice will likely inspire many different images in the minds of population at large. One would expect that most lawyers offering public services would be likely to encourage people to seek an initial discussion with them or another qualified specialist, in person, with a view to using their services, as. Read more

How Legal Professionals Can Avoid Information Overload

  If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which way you go. The advice of the Cheshire Cat to Alice, in Alice in Wonderland, is also applicable in the context of legal research. But it is hard to stay focused on your research question today when you are awash. Read more

Why Quizzes are working to attract browsers to websites

The idea of a quiz may seem like a superficial thing. A bit of frivolity to pass the time perhaps. But in the competitive landscape of web and digital, they have come to represent a powerful type of online engagement that has gone beyond the idea of using social media to merely entertain. In fact,. Read more

Judges on Twitter: some other common law jurisdictions

During a high profile criminal trial in Canada some years ago, the trial judge discovered that someone had created a fake Twitter account in his name. Reporters covering the trial began following the account. This starkly illustrates one of the risks of judges on social media. In that case the judge said he was ‘flabbergasted’. Read more

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