Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Returning from the wilderness

I have, it must confess, been somewhat lax in my blogging. Once term kicked in, I rarely found the time as things became more chaotic. Moving to the Big Smoke, the BVC's constant workload and generally trying to swim not sink means that I have failed to post.

And when I fail, I like to fail with flair.

So, now that the Christmas horror is upon us, I intend to return to this venture with renewed gusto, and hopefully some will carry on to the next term.

Since my last post, much has happened. In fact, the majority of the first term has slipped by with an alarming speed. There has been much rumbling in the criminal world too, and Labour's intended bills for the coming year will no doubt have attracted some attention to those interested. I will hopefully post on some of the highlights of the last few weeks that caught my eye n due course. I have also finished another mini, and will post up my idle ramblings shortly on mini's.

For now however, a few thoughts on the first term of the BVC...

Term 1 has been, for the most part, enjoyable. It is however, a mountain of work from week to week. I think it can perhaps best be described as 'relentless'. That is not to say that it isn't manageable, and spending a working week in the library means that it can more or less be done without eating into weekends or evenings. Unfortunately, I failed to be quite so organised after a few weeks, and soon slipped back into the student ways of slipping off for coffee (ahem, beer) at lunchtime with friends similarly inclined.

The abhorrent legal research in particular drove many to the early stages of alcoholism. For any pre-BVC students reading these ramblings, I should warn you now of the horrors of legal research. Being asked to produce the answer to a legal problem is, in itself, interesting. However, being forced to provide along with it upwards of 20 pages of "research trail" is mind numbing to say this least. What is this "research trail" I hear you cry? Is it a fun foray into the woods of knowledge? By calling it a trail, it sounds almost like a weekend activity for the under 12s at Butlins, complete with kendle mint cake, a compass that you won't use and green wellies half a size too big.

No such joy. It is, in short, cutting and pasting from the material you find. Worse still, proof of hardcopy research means that you have to copy verbatim text from hard sources, and edit to show that you can do so. Of course, photocopying the relevant passage and highlighting is not acceptable! It does not show the required editing. Apparently. Most infuriating of all, is the fact that the question is stolen wholesale from a real case. Many, like myself, quickly found the case and were therefore painfully aware that despite knowing the answer, the correct authority, and everything you need to answer the question, that you then had to spend several days slumped in front of the computer producing the trail of hell. Propped up on coffee, and gibbering slightly to myself, I did hand the answer in, complete with its research trail, loving crafted from a range of sources despite knowing the relevant ones within 10 minutes.

Adding salt to the wound, we were informed that we were to be the last year to suffer this task set by beelzebub himself. So, if this prediction comes true, then I state for the record that you are all lucky, lucky people.

Whilst mostly enjoyable, I have found the course incredibly frustrating. The questions often prevent thinking outside the box, the subjective nature of the marking of the oral skills can drive one to distraction, and the penchant for leaving students blundering in the dark is nothing short of infuriating. It is the last which is the most painful. On many occasions, we were tasked with something for advocacy and would then proceed to give it our (collective) best stab. We would then be criticised for having done X or Y wrong, and have it explained how it should be tackled. Often, we would have a lecture after the week's seminars explaining how our esteemed provided want said blunder to be approached or even a seminar in a separate skills subject covering it. The worst was the assessment. Required to edit a draft order for an interim injunction, I found myself fumbling inanely as to the best way of editing their provided version. My wild stab in the dark complete, I handed it in on time. The following day, we had a drafting seminar on how best to produce draft orders for interim injunction which was, most painfully of all, on almost an identical topic. This left myself, along with a fair few others, seething and ultimately left unable to do anything but await our fate in the marks apportioned for this with the assessment still a week away.

For now, I shall return to the laborious task of cleaning the detritus of a terms chaos. Negotiating the treacherous path from my desk to the kitchen is still of labyrinthine difficulty, and is a minefield of papers, cups of half drunk tea and notes that look like the inept scrawling of the insane.

Let the holiday begin.