Thursday, 28 October 2010

60th Session of Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance--Examining Nuclear Financial Structures -- Covered Bonds and Business Plans

Dear All,

We have arrived at another anniversary of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance. This 60th session will bring us to examine the new risk symmetries of the post-credit crisis world.  First up will be a reading of Marco D'ercole's LLM Corporate Finance Law Dissertation on "Covered Bonds in Europe." This paper won the Watheqaa Prize for the best dissertation in 2010.  It is a remarkable piece of sophisticated legal analysis of an important segment of the asset-backed markets. Bravo Marco!  

We will also begin to investigate and philosophize on a rather prevalent but critical document in the legal and financial system, which for some reason "social scientists" of the grande ecole type have completely ignored--i.e. the innocent seed of "capitalism" called the business plan.  Nobody theorizes about the philosophical foundations of "business plans" because, I suspect, social scientists are no good at writing them and because a serious business plan is not merely an ETHYMEME in the Aristotelian sense of a persuasive argument as a short-form syllogism but it is also a positive link to the great market cycles and the individuated whims of discretionary spend-investment of a ruthless global tribe sharing common valuation models and measurement.  In other words, the creation of business plans allows one to enter the vestibule of "capitalism" which is a highly accelerated and dangerous field of material creativity.  Another way to view business plans is that they are the artefacts of market nuclei--if they are successful, they create both the leisurely wealth ("otium cum dignitatis") and the pollutive systemic limits of "our world."  As Van Nordstrom said, "the essential engine of global pollution is man's inherent creativity in the Noos-sphere." The catalyst in the Noos-sphere is the business plan.

An hour on covered bonds and an hour on business plan to sharpen the mind.

At about 8’o clock we will head towards the Italian restaurant called Zizzi, at Wigmore Street where we have made a preliminary reservation for a big table. Pls RSPV if you would like to join us at this restaurant so that we make the necessary arrangements to accommodate everyone.


Rezi and Joe  


Difference Between Men and Women

(thanks to susonna)
Following our workshop on diversity recently, I've been introduced to interesting research on women and medicine which has tremendous utility for law.

Paul Coombes and Helena Cronin were members of the oversight steering group for the Royal College of Physicians on its project on the future of women in medicine. The project analyzed data from NHS workforce statistics as well as various forms of entry statistics. The full report is available here.

In a short summary article Paul Coombes drew out some the significant findings. Rather like law, the numbers of women entering now form the majority of entrants and by 2017 women will constitute the majority of the medical profession. Yet there are dramatic differences in the selection of specialties by men and women which can be explained by work characteristics and patterns.

Coombes notes
Two areas of systematic difference stand out from the latest research:
1. Women doctors’ comparative preference, on average, for working in specialties that offer a relatively greater amount of patient interaction and/or more ‘plan-able’ working hours.
2. The far greater preference of women doctors, compared with men, for part-time or other forms of flexible working.
For example, as the internal characteristics of the specialties change so does their attractiveness to women. Hence, as anaesthetics has become more shift-based and less open-ended with more predictable working patterns, there has been a rise in women trainees.

The differences are also found across other health systems and is not merely a function of the NHS funding model.

It is now possible to predict how women's working practices are formed and will change. It will be interesting to see how analogous predictions play out in the legal profession.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Bankruptcy Pays!

(Thanks to Business Insider)

The American Lawyer reported today that billings for professional services in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy broke the $1 billion mark. You can see the filings here. And to think that bankruptcy practice was once considered a legal backwater by most mainstream law firms.

I've been following this because some years ago I interviewed Harvey Miller (the lead lawyer on Lehman) for a research project and he always impressed me. Rather like some other lawyers of his generation I know, his career shows no sign of stopping. And he is ready to take on new challenges at any stage. I also secretly enjoy the war stories told about Harvey and I know I wouldn't like to be on his wrong side.

I am currently reading Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System---and Themselves. He cleverly details how the interlocking systems of banking and regulation could not but intensify the problems inherent in the financial world. In many ways Lehman was a symptom not a cause but the ramifications are still being felt.

We know this  in the UK as we've just had our government's Comprehensive Spending Review that will cut government spending by anywhere between 25% to 40%. Mind you the banking sector seems to be doing well now.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

59th session of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance

Dear All,


You are welcomed to join us for the 59th session of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance, this Friday, 22 October 2010, from 6.00 to 8.00pm, in room 5.16, 309 Regent Street (University of Westminster).


We will continue with a close reading of Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric (available at Last week, we asked how could Aristotle believe that forensic arguments are such that the "true and approximately true are apprehended by the same faculty"? Here we will link our investigation to the indeterminability of the law (Dr. Laura Niada's favourite transform) which in turn shall be aligned to Knopf's convergent, definitely divergent and indefinitely divergent infinities.  Our goal is to understand the use of the potential infinitudes (the truth) behind Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric.  More shall be said about Aristotle's long lost invention, the "enthymeme" and the schema of unconsciously powerful arguments.

These types of rhetoric arguments find their way in the current discourse, (e.g. yesterday’s New York Times opinion by Judith Lichtenberg “
Is Pure Altruism Possible?” accessible at

At about 8 o’clock, depending on whether we feel for local, mediterranean, oriental or other exotic food we will explore the area for a nice place to enjoy each other’s company.


Rezi and Joe


So You Want to Go to Law School

(h/t to Legal Blog Watch)

It's American but it applies elsewhere....

I especially like the statement by the lawyer to the woman (at 3.38), 
"I do not like my Blackberry. I would like to torture it until it begs me to kill it. Do you know I am required to check my Blackberry every 6 hours 24 hours a day...."


Monday, 18 October 2010

Solicitors Regulation Authority Balks at Separate City Regulator

Top-hatted city gents in discussion outside the Westminster Bank in the City of London, 1931 
(FoxPhotos/Getty Images)

The Smedley Report last year recommended to the Solicitors Regulation Authority that it needed a specialist division to regulate large corporate law firms. The SRA gave every appearance of agreeing. Then the Hunt Review stepped in and endorsed the idea.

Unfortunately the SRA has balked at this and instead appointed an ex-Linklaters lawyer as Solicitors Regulation Authority's Chief Adviser on City law firms. The SRA news release describes the role
It is planned for Eastwell to act as a "bridgehead" between the SRA and City law firms, something that takes on added importance with the approach of multidisciplinary practices (MDPs) and alternative business structures (ABSs).
Quite why the SRA has wimped out this way is unclear. Maybe it couldn't stomach the idea that it wasn't fully competent to regulate large law firms. I doubt this half-way house will satisfy the City firms.

It does leave it open now for the large law firms to think about forming their own regulator. There is nothing to prevent them from doing so. Three years ago the City of London Solicitors Law Society hived itself off from the livery company. And the CLLS now engages in much regulatory activity. This could be the moment.

Time will tell.

The City Today


Friday, 15 October 2010

Will There Be Diversity in the Legal Profession?

The Westminster-Legal Services Board workshop on diversity was a great success. Around 100 people attended the presentation of the new research commissioned by the Legal Services Board. The workshop was organized by the Law School's Centre for the Legal Profession and Legal Services. You can download the full report and summary from here.

Researchers Liz Duff and Lisa Webley from Westminster, Daniel Muzio and Jennifer Tomlinson from Leeds, Hilary Sommerlad from Leicester, and Anna Zimdars from Manchester presented in-depth, qualitative research that illustrated people's feelings about discrimination and diversity in the legal profession. It wasn't too depressing as Chris Kenny, CEO of the LSB, showed that trends were improving--it's just that we need to know more why the profession hasn't fully come to terms with the problems.

The presentation was followed by a discussion panel composed of David Pittaway QC of the Bar Council, Stephen Ward of the Law Society, Crispin Passmore of the LSB, and Andy Boon of the Law School.

Neil Rose reported on the research and conference at Legal Futures. He noted:
Launching the London conference, LSB chief executive Chris Kenny said diversity was a key LSB objective. “We believe passionately that unless you’ve got a diverse profession, a profession that looks like the society which it serves, actually you probably won’t have a fully effective profession either.”
Crispin Passmore, strategy director for the LSB, also wrote in the Guardian:
The LSB is working to increase transparency about the makeup of the legal workforce. We're considering requiring law firms and chambers to publish and report the findings of regular surveys of their workforces in order to shine a light on the diversity of the profession. Some law businesses will already reflect their local community. Others will rightly take credit for improving diversity.
 It's clear more work needs to be done in this area.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

58th Session of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance

Dear All,

We would like to invite you for another engaging session of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance, this Friday, 15 October 2010, from 6.00 to 8.00pm, in room 5.16, 309 Regent Street (University of Westminster).


We will read Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric (available at and consider the art of persuasion from a hypno-unconscious communication system perspective. Consider why is it that certain individuals are able to control situations with their voice, their posture and gestures.  Aristotle's genius was to establish whole fields of knowledge.  Rhetoric is a technical art, skill, useful and dangerous in the wrong hands.  In this work, Aristotle publishes a scientific account of rhetoric with little warning of its potential for abuse.

 The Art of Rhetoric was a required element in the classical tradition for over 2,300 years. It fell out of the compulsory curriculum in England in the early 20th century.  That was a mistake.  If you read Aristotle, you will get smarter and maybe even wiser.

Thereafter, at 8 o’clock we will head towards Vapiano (19-21 Great Portland Street, W1W 8QB) where we can test our skills of rhetoric into finding a good table and have a nice Friday evening.

Rezi and Joe 


Monday, 11 October 2010

Diversity Workshop at Westminster on October 13

(Thanks to New Yorker)

I am sure we won't have this problem on Wednesday at the Diversity Workshop. Find the details here. You are all welcome.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Diversity Workshop at Westminster 13 October--You Are Invited

A while back I wrote about my colleagues' research project on diversity in the legal profession for the Legal Services Board (LSB). At last that research is completed. A multi-faceted team from the Universities of Westminster, Leeds, and Leicester have submitted their report to the LSB.

We, at Westminster, are holding a seminar/workshop for the launch of the report. Here's a brief clip of what to expect:
The seminar is being held to launch a new research report commissioned by the Legal Services Board on diversity in the legal profession. There have been dramatic changes in the legal profession in the last 20 years. In 2008-09 women made up 46% of practising solicitors and 60% of entrants to the profession. For the Bar the figures were 34% (women barristers) and 50% (women entrants). In the case of black and minority ethnic lawyers there has been a 244% increase in their numbers in the ten years between 1996 and 2006. Despite these increases the legal profession is still dominated by white males. There is a greater division with white lawyers being over-represented in City law firms and at the Bar, while BME lawyers are found in greater numbers in smaller High Street law firms.

The research examines the causes for these differences, their persistence and what strategies are available to change cultures and expectations. Despite the implementation of procedures meant to neutralize discrimination, they are easily bypassed. Interviewers raise inappropriate questions about ethnicity, gender, and background. For those in the profession work was allocated unfairly and to question this was deprecated.

The biggest obstacle was the culture of informality that made it difficult for people to raise problems or question established ways of working. Moreover, racial stereotyping was pervasive.

Even though many law firms are trying hard to counter these inequities, the majority still abide by them.
(thanks to

On October 13 the University of Westminster and the Legal Services Board are hosting a workshop/seminar to launch the report and discuss it.

The research team--Liz Duff (Westminster), Daniel Muzio (Leeds), Hilary Sommerlad (Leicester), Jenny Tomlinson (Leeds), Lisa Webley (Westminster), along with Anna Zimdars (Manchester)--will present their findings.

This will be followed by a panel discussion and questions with David Pittaway QC (Bar Council), Pat Corcoran and Stephen Ward (Law Society), Crispin Passmore (Legal Services Board) and Andy Boon (Westminster). I will be moderating.

It should be a lively and intriguing time. You are all invited.

DATE: October 13
TIME: 1500--1800
PLACE: Fyvie Hall, University of Westminster, 309 Regent St, London W1B 2UW (Streetmap link)

(thanks to chrisjfry)


Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Future of Rights?

My friend, Conor Gearty at the LSE, has started an intriguing and fascinating new project called The Rights' Future. Here's Conor's opening gambit:

THE RIGHTs’ FUTURE explores the history, development and current success of the human rights ideal, with all the dangers and compromises that such success has brought.  It argues for a particular human rights story, one that rescues the radical activists and the egalitarians from the footnotes to which they are often relegated in the standard accounts.
Conor has his own take on human rights and intends to tell the story over a period of 20 weeks. Each Monday he will put up an essay on He is inviting anyone (and he means anyone) to comment, add, substract, or even disagree. At the end of this period, he will have told not only his story but those of others whose narratives will become interwoven with his.

You can hear more about this venture in Conor's own words here:


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

57th Session of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance Updated

Dear All,

We are happy to announce that the fifty-seventh session of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance will be held at the Latimer Conference Centre (for directions, see, with Joe leading a discussion from 6 to 7pm on "The Philosophical Foundations of Bounty-Hunting under the Dodd-Frank Act" followed by a dinner from 7 to 8pm.  In attendance will be about thirty candidates of the LLM Corporate Finance Law and two PhDs candidates.  You are welcome to attend the lecture and please RSVP to Rezi at for the dinner, which for guests will be a nominal charge of £15.  Please also note that there is an alumni networking lunch on Oct 9th at 1 to 2:30pm where former LLM students now working in banking and finance will join us.

The topic of discussion will be a continuation of Hohfeldian 'analytical jurisprudence' and Category Theory (see Conceptual Mathematics by Lawvere and Schanuel, 2009, 2ed) with application of such theories to the Whistleblower Incentives and Protection provisions (mainly sections 748 and 921-924) of the US Dodd-Frank Act 2010, also known as the "Bounty Hunting" provisions. You can access the US Dodd-Frank Act text by clicking here

We will investigate the structural features of bounty-hunting in regulatory gaming space in terms of the isomorphism of time, space, greed and fear. We will also ask whether the fundamental psychological unit of risk is non-invertible (and thus, implying an invariance) across a universal regulatory space amongst gaming agents pro se. This move in the development of theory is in response to James Waters' query in the 56th session as to whether Category Theory in social science and specifically, in its applications to financial economic phenomena could be improved with the addition of "combinatorics" and "numerics". Joe's initial response in the last session was to agree with Waters' suggestion that it was in "the combination of categories" that we can see the worth of category theory in terms of practical applications of the predictive sort to legal and financial phenomena. But this practical move would merely be an implementation of a much more fundamental and general position which still needs proof and justification. The prime motivation of Category Theory as applied to law and finance generally is to hunt down structures which are not simply analogous but literally in a rigorous sense, fundamentally the same across specialist discourses.  Our hunt is Parmenidean in the sense of recovering by force of simple structures arguments in favour of the One. In the simplest terms, we wish to find the structures of law and finance, since neither discourse is equipped or motivated to do this job for us, and our suspicion is that bounty-hunting not only offers radical rewards to particular whistleblowers but that it establishes a market nucleus that has the same structural properties that make investment banking so successful.

This fifty-seventh session of the Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance is the capstone of the introductory set of lectures for the LLM Corporate Finance Law programme, and the beginning of the Corporate Finance Law Executive Weekend which will include 18 hours of intensive instruction led by Professor Mark Watson-Gandy, module leader of Legal Aspects of Corporate Finance,  Florin Coseraru, Director of Barclays Capital & Fellow and Module Leader of Investment Banking, Dr. Dmitry Gololobov, Fellow of Corporate Criminal Law & Module Leader of Money Laundering and Corporate Fraud, Viktoria Baklanova, PhD Candidate in Law and Senior Director of Fitch, New York.

If you can't make it to the Friday session, you are most welcome to join us for the networking lunch on Saturday.

See you there!

Rezi and Joe