Friday, 26 November 2010

Representing Judges

(thanks to reuters)

Last night and this morning I've been to two fascinating seminars on visual and media representation of judges. For those of you who don't know who is the picture above, it's Jan Moors, a judge picked to oversee the trial of Geert Wilders, a right wing member of the Dutch parliament, for hate speech against Muslims. Moors commented on Wilders claim to remain silent and so was ejected from the case.

The first was a lecture by David Sugarman on "The Law Lords, Amnesty International and the Pinochet Case: What Happened and Why?"

Because of Lord Hoffman's failure to recuse himself in the appeal against Pinochet's extradition to Spain, as he was associated with the intervenor, Amnesty International, the House of Lords' decision to extradite was vacated and the appeal reheard. This was the first and last time the court took this decision.

The consequences for the judge, the court, Amnesty, the politicians, and the lawyers were profound. The House of Lords was converted into the Supreme Court some years later. Lord Hoffman resigned before the Supreme Court was formed.

Amnesty International had to account for its apparent move away from impartiality into the political scene.

Perhaps the greatest damage was to the use of law to hold to account former heads of state who commit crimes in their countries for which they believe they have immunity.

This morning it was Researching the Visual Culture of Law. How do we analyze visual data? What is the appropriate methodology?

There were a number of papers on judges that caught my attention, so let me focus on one.

Les Moran has been researching portraits of judges and how diversity is represented in them. (See also Images of Justice.) Taking two judges, Michael Kirby of Australia and Sir Terence Etherton of the UK, both of whom are gay, Moran shows how the ambiguity and ambivalence surrounding the personification of being gay is illustrated in the portraits and photographs of these two judges.

For example, Etherton has no official photograph on on the courts' website, but there is one of him on Birkbeck's website where he is a visiting professor. In the latter on the desk is a photograph (images within images) of him with his partner. It's discreet.

Michael Kirby, however, is a well-illustrated judge as his website demonstrates and doesn't hide the fact that he's gay. But he has inspired some interesting paintings. Take the one below:

(thanks to national portrait gallery, canberra)

Moran points out a number of interesting features: it's a group portrait not a single person; it's in landscape not portrait; most of the judges' faces are hidden except for Kirby (facing us) and two others in wigs.

When asked for permission to be included in the picture by the artist, Ralph Hiemans, the other High Court judges refused. The two others one sees are dead. Draw your own conclusions on that.


64th session of Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance (Friday 26 Nov, 6-8pm, Room 5.16, 309 Regent Street, University of Westminster)

Dear all,

As we circle in on truth, we tend to spiral out in fantasy.

All mathematical problems like objects in real life are essentially about the domestication of wild animals, the Absolute (infinity) being the wildest.

For the 64th session of Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance, we will examine a hypothetical matheme and attempt to step back from the indefinite infinitude to the secure but still dangerous edge of a definite infinity.  The title to the investigation is:

The Entropy of Law and Finance - Towards a Principle of Uncertainty as a Definite Infinity.

Entropy may be defined as "the measure of the number of arrangements that conform to some specific recognizable criterion" [Susskind 2008 @131] or simply "the hidden information".  We will see whether we can translate this matheme into law and finance. The argument runs: (1) the pricing function in finance is analogous to the legal judgment in law, with a phenomenological certainty at the time of pricing and judgment equivalent to an entropy of 0; (2) we hypothesize the principle of uncertainty for law and finance is in the form of:


Δ is “delta” or change
X is price
Y is the judgment, and
C is a constant.

So, ΔX is a form of “price risk” and ΔY is a form of “legal risk”. Because C is a constant, the higher the value of ΔX, the lower the value of ΔY and vice versa.

This form of the Principle of Uncertainty in Law and Finance may help us glean a first approximation of the concept of “risk event” e.g. “Eurozone Risk”, “Contagion Risk” and “Systemic Risk” and the “truth procedures” that instantiate chimeras of regulations in our politically and economically hijacked media narratives.  [For illustrations of “event” and “truth procedures”, see passim Badiou’s (2005) Being and Event, and for a view of infinitudes, his “Meditation Twenty-Six: The Concept of Quantity and the Impasse of Ontology” id @ 265-280.]  

"Why do we need a physics of law and finance? Because regulators and traders appear to unconsciously make Black Holes. The EURO is having a near-death experience." 25 

Afterwards, at around 8pm we will continue our exploration on the restaurants in the area.

Best regards,

Rezi & Joe


Thursday, 25 November 2010

My Alter Ego

(thanks to

We try to avoid silo thinking in the law school and occasionally stray into other activities. My colleagues--such as Guy Osborn--who study culture have a sympathetic understanding of this. So I thought I would tell a little about me.

Few know about the other life I lead. After all in Confucian terms--and Bruce Lee was a bit Confucian, wasn't he?--a wise man should be modest. I do read the I Ching. (And if you think this has nothing to do with law, then let me point you to Jack Balkin's [law, Yale] version.

I'm not claiming to be Bruce's reincarnation or anything like that. But I was in one movie with him. Unfortunately, it wasn't one of the originals, it was made in 1980 after the great man's death.

Fist of Fear, Touch of Death (or The Dragon and the Cobra) is about finding Bruce Lee's successor. It contains lots of early footage of Bruce plus other stuff.

If you go down the cast list at IMDb, you'll notice a character:

Annett Bronson   ...   ... The Jogger

John Flood   ...   ...   ...   Cyclone

Ron Harvey   ...   ...   .. Jasper Milktoast

You see, I'm not making it up. I'm neither at the bottom, nor is the company I'm keeping offensive.

The film, despite what you may think, received rave reviews, although my central role seems to have been inadvertently overlooked. Here's what Watch Kung Fu had to say
This “Brucesploitation” classic was billed as starring the “3 Greatest Masters! Bruce Lee, Fred Williamson, Ron Van Clief”. This is Brucesploitation at its finest (cheesiest) moment and unabashedly pure exploitation schlock. Oh, and yes, it is hysterically, unintentionally funny. Despite what many purists would consider a “disgrace” to the name of Bruce Lee, this film serves as more of a campy action packed tribute, with footage of Bruce artfully spliced into the mix.
They fill some blanks so the reader is not left in the dark
Clips from an old Chinese soap opera are re-dubbed to make Bruce’s “biography,” which then introduce a flashback-IN-a-flashback (got that?) about Bruce’s great-grandfather, who was apparently a samurai. The footage for this segment is taken from the “Invincible Super Chan” (a cult classic in its own right – wire tricks, a midget, and some guy with an abacus – yes, a true classic). Who knows what the writer was smoking when he wrote this, but if I had to guess, I would venture some of that golden triangle sticky icky icky (Thai Stick maybe?). No matter, the guy’s a B Movie genius.
You might pick up the implicit reference to Kurosowa's Rashimon, with the flashbacks within flashbacks and samurai in China.

Not all of us are equally gifted, but talent will out...somewhere. Needless to say I'm open to offers although Hollywood can be a drag at times.....

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Changing Face of Legal Process Outsourcing

(thanks to xsquare2)

The biggest media company in the world, Thomson Reuters, has bought the legal process outsourcer, Pangea3.

Jordan Furlong analyses the deal very carefully and demonstrates that this deal has the capability of changing the nature of the legal services market. (H/T to Peter Lederer) Is this to be the law firm of the future?

What astonished me is the list of firms contained within the Thomson Reuters stable. Jordan lays them out as follows:
  • WestLaw: Legal research, legislative and case law resources
  • West KM: Knowledge management services for lawyers
  • ProLaw: Law practice management software
  • Serengeti: Legal task management and workflow systems
  • Elite: Financial and practice management systems
  • FindLaw: Website development and online marketing
  • Hubbard One: Business development technology and solutions
  • Hildebrandt Baker Robbins: Law firm management and technology consulting
  • GRC Division: Governance, risk and compliance services
  • IP Services: Patent research and analysis, trademark research and protection
  • TrustLaw: Global hub for pro bono legal work
  • BAR-BRI: Bar training course
  • Pangea3: Legal process outsourcing services
No law firm can match the range of services on offer here, especially if they are combined in synergistic ways. And it comes close to my idea of Google becoming a law firm...sorry supplier of legal services. Who is going to match it?

One interesting aspect is that this could be the end of legal process outsourcing. Does that sound a little bizarre? Yes but what I mean is that LPOs have shown the way. Now they will become become components in the giant consulting firms--part of the service delivery chain, rather than being the service deliverer. Pure LPOs have served their purpose. A short but sweet life. It's their processes that are valuable not necessarily the companies themselves.

This then puts the new mega-LPOs on a different level and on a global level firms like Thomson Reuters are going to be hard to beat on price and quality. Watch out law firms....

PS. Disclaimer: I recently gave a talk for Hildebrandt Baker Robbins in London. Number 8 in the list.

PPS. The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 has now issued a discussion document on outsourcing.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

More on the Proposed Legal Education Review

Look what happens when you google legal education--Tony Soprano pops up! What are we coming to?

Following on from my previous post, there have been some interesting contributions around the blogosphere worth reading.

Richard Moorhead at Lawyer Watch warns us that there is very little evidence around and we are going to need proper research for this review to work. Amen to that.

Stephen Mayson in his paper--with which I agree in part--argues for removing the training contract. Why not? It's really a form of indentured servitude that lets the legal profession get recruits on the cheap and erects a barrier to entry.

And Charon QC has more links on this. It's going to run and run. And I have a feeling that it's not going to turn out the way the legal profession thinks it will. At some point the Law Society and the Bar Council will have to wake up to the fact they are not the only players in the game now--bit of a rude shock though.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Legal Regulators To Investigate Legal Education and Training--So What?

(thanks to
Legal Futures reports that the three main legal regulators--Solicitors Regulation Authority, Bar Standards Board, ILEX Professional Standards--are to "review" legal education and training. The aim is to calibrate legal education against the objectives in the Legal Services Act.

All in all, a laudable initiative.

I just wish that was all there was to it. I recently went to a symposium on the teaching of legal ethics in the UK where a disturbing subtext ran throughout. It is that law schools are producing too many law graduates for the legal services market. Both the Law Society and the Bar Council have been assiduously promoting this view.

Let me state my position: it's pernicious. The reasoning isn't difficult. In a variety of ways the legal profession has desperately clung to the idea of enforced closure as a way of maintaining its privileges. These having come under attack, rightly so, through the LSA and the enlightened oversight of the Legal Services Board, are no longer sustainable.

So, who else can be assigned the blame for the woes of the profession? The law schools are next on the list.

Law schools are on the whole part of the university system and have a range of values and ideals to pursue. But they aren't the servants of the legal profession. That is only one of their stakeholders.

In fact if the legal profession and its bodies engaged more fully with the academy we could have a real dialogue instead of one based on "evidence-lite soundbites" by profession leaders. The UK legal profession falls behind the US in this regard.

The academy doesn't produce too many graduates: the market isn't sufficiently liberalized to take them. Despite that, I think the regulators' review has the potential to engage all those concerned in legal education and the profession in a serious, thoroughgoing, rational investigation and debate.

At least I hope so.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

63rd Session of Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance (Friday 19 Nov, 6-8pm, Room 5.16, 309 Regent Street, University of Westminster)

Dear All,

Following from Joe's association of SWOT analysis with Duns Scotus, Fiona offered to engage us in a further exploration of this instrument for thinking by asking this question: Is the SWOT Analysis an emblem for our times or is it really perhaps trying to be an engram? (engram comes from field of neuro psychology/behaviourism - a physical brain change supposed to take place as a result of experience and to represent memories - Karl Lashley)

This prompts questions such as what is the relationship between experience and knowledge, nous and pathos, the one and the many? We can then bring into the frame some of Agamben's thoughts on the scholastic philosophers and particularly Duns Scotus. We shall start with an exploration of the emblem in Western culture from the 1977 work, Stanzas, and consider allegory in relation to evil, followed up by the more metaphysical account in The Coming Community of Singularity - Principium Individuationis - looking at two lovely terms: quodlibet (translated as 'whatever' which is good given we live in a 'whatever' culture) and Fiona’s favourite - 'haecceity' meaning 'thisness'.

Agamben writes, 'Whatever is the matheme of singularity, without which it is impossible to conceive either being or the individuation of singularity...Whatever is constituted not by the indifference of common nature with respect to singularities, but by the indifference of the common and the proper, of the genus and the species, of the essential and the accidental.' (18.9)

What’s matheme? According to Joe, mathemes are the type’s math signs and symbols which certain philosophes following Badiou are using in reacting or responding to the technical mathematical-scientific thinking occurring today. For example, in Badiou's "Logics of the World", Badiou takes his mathemes from set theory to some of the technical language of algebraic topology. This is rough going if one hasn't a familiarity with the basic hieroglyphs. But the point worth making is that the nuances and precision implied by mathematical tools looks much like the creations of modern poetry. Here sign and symbols form their own networks of meaningful worlds which we may or may not draw down into our own.

All of this obviously critical to an adequate engagement with the SWOT vehicle and not always taken into account. So, Emblem or Engram, any thoughts?

Further to an exploration of the ontological significance of SWOT incorporating the scholastic notions of haecceity (thisness) and quodlibet (whatever) we will consider the symbolic of the SWOT emblem as well as its diabolic (according to Giorgio Agamben). Friday night at Joe's for a date with the devil (really).

Afterwards we can head for one of the restaurants in the area, where we can combine good company with delicious food (Italian, Korean, Japanese, British etc whatever we feel like).

Best regards,

Rezi, Fiona, Joe


Friday, 12 November 2010

62d Session of Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance

Dear all,

For the 62nd session of Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance (Friday 12 Nov, 6-8pm, Room 5.16, 309 Regent Street, University of Westminster), we will hold our own "G-20 Conference" and ask:

What does the current currency (?) crisis mean to mere mortals? 

If we read the business and finance press, we see Ben S. Bernarke, the chairman of the US Fed very unusually arguing publicly for quantitative easing (QE2) [] while China, Brazil, Germany [] and South Korea [] vehemently against QE2.

So far as of Nov 11th, 2010, a dozen countries have responded to Ben's QE2 with quantitative tightening [see, the Asian biz-chicks on Bloomberg television accessed at 12 midnight London time.]

All of this talk leads to a symmetric race to the bottom, evidenced in the 1930's as "trade wars" [] and in the current G-20 as a "currency war" [].

This current period is trader's paradise because there is risk symmetry between Quantitative Easing (QE) and Quantitative Tightening (QT). QE is what the US does, and QT is what the rest of the world does to protect itself from QE.

This is a period characteristic of DICTATORIAL FINANCE where sovereign states are trying to preserve their status by pledging to protect their currencies (read here economies and way of life) but are being beaten continuously by the disciplining force of the financial markets.

To understand how far and how deep the nature of dictatorial finance has reached into the regulatory realm, we will begin reading the Dodd-Frank Act, Title II, entitled the "Orderly Liquidation Authority" [sections 201 to 217] which empowers the Authority basically to segregate and strip out the good assets of a financially active company in the US and place them in a Corporation controlled by an agency of the US government. This will be done without any constitutional right to bankruptcy and only with the minimal right to judicial review based on an "arbitrary and capricious" standard.

The entirety of the Dodd-Frank Act can be found at

For the afterwards dinner, we are currently indecisive about the restaurant choice but it will most likely be Korean in honour of the G-20.

Rezi & Joe


Friday, 5 November 2010

We Don't Need Legal Ethics in the UK!

(thanks to
Yesterday I went to a symposium on whether legal ethics should be part of the curriculum. It was organized by Tony King of Clifford Chance. To American readers this will seem a strange event as legal ethics is compulsory in US legal education.

I've lamented before about this gap. A year ago Kim Economides and Justine Rogers were asked by the Law Society to report what ethics training there should be. They concluded that it was an essential part but how it should be implemented was left open.

My colleague, Andy Boon, was asked to come up with ideas on how to take this next step. His draft report lays out some clear directions. He tackles the challenges of undergraduate legal education, issues of morality and law, and the profession's role in regulating the content of a "qualifying" law degree.

Support came from Chris Perrin, general counsel of Clifford Chance, and the City of London Law Society.

How or even whether anything will come of this is an open question. The Law Society, which is sponsoring this, isn't the most forward-thinking of professional organizations. For example, it does or sponsors very little research on the profession, unlike the Bar or the accountants. It's in danger of implementing ideas with little in the way  of evidence to back up what it proposes.

The Law Society supports a Joint Statement by the Bar Council and the Law Society on something they grandly call "The Foundations of Legal Knowledge". These foundations include:
i. Public Law, including Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Human Rights; 
ii. Law of the European Union; 
iii. Criminal Law; 
iv. Obligations including Contract, Restitution and Tort; 
v. Property Law; and 
vi. Equity and the Law of Trusts. 
If you were to enquire what research underpins this selection, you would find there is none. Most of it was put together by lawyers sitting around a table and dreaming up a list. Is it the right list? I've no idea.

Now that they are considering ethics as another foundation, the question is what gets dropped or abbreviated. I've argued they should thoroughly research this, especially in the light of the Legal Services Act changes coming through, and start from a blank slate. So far this has been met with utter incomprehension.

The most dismal aspect of this is that the legal profession hasn't come to terms with the fact that the academy controls the entry to the profession. Instead of being antagonistic they need to work with us. Ultimately they will be the losers, and in fact they don't have to be.

The answer is simple. Talk. Fortunately, some in the legal profession understand this and are willing to engage. Maybe we can convince the others....

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

61st Session of Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance

Dear All,

The 61st Session of Philosophical Foundations of Law and Finance (Friday, 5 Nov, 6-8pm, room 5.17, 309 Regent Street) will be devoted to:

Overcoming Information Asymmetry in Law and Finance

with simple illustrations from entrepreneurial business plans to more complex examples from securities prospectuses.  

A very sophisticated use of information asymmetry theory can be found in (Nov. 2010) where Beltram & Thomas argue that information asymmetry alone is sufficient to explain the credit crisis and to provide a criterion for judging the potential success or failure of proposed regulatory solutions to the credit crisis. Joe recommends all Corporate Finance Law and International Banking Law students read the article since it provides a particularly good review of the recent scholarly literature and shows how information asymmetry may be used in arguendo to reach surprisingly general results.  The article was spotted by Edmond Curtin. Many thanks, Edmond.

As part of our philosophical investigation we shall ask, "What are the assumptions underlying information asymmetry?"  One possible answer comes from the concept of "mutuality of information" based on the symmetric correlation of probabilities between information-communication systems. [See, Seth Lloyd (1996) “Causal Asymmetry from Statistics” in Physical Origins of Time Asymmetry edited by J.J. Halliwell, J. Perez-Mercader, and W.H. Zurek, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.] We will try to elucidate mutuality of information in relation to social phenomena and legal systems.  For example, the goal of Plato’s Laws was to attain “social amity" which could not be had unless there was a mutuality of information at every level of society.  [See, Plato's Laws, Book I.]

In class readings of Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric will continue on the forensic, epidetic and deliberate forms of enthymemes (available a

Afterwards if we feel for pan-Asian food and good company please join us for a nice dinner at Wagamama at 101a Wigmore StreetPlease RSPV so that we can arrange for reservations.

Rezi & Joe


Monday, 1 November 2010

Corporate Law....

Look, this is a really important distinction...

(Thanks to New Yorker)