25 March, 2009

BVC provider query

I have just been asked the following by a friend, and would be interested in your opinions:

He has applied for the BVC and has offers from MMU, UWE and City.

He did his undergraduate at MMU.

He cannot decide between MMU and City. The course fees for MMU are c£9,500 and the course fees for City are £14,500. He has applied for an Inns scholarship but does not know if he will get it. He has to make his choice on BVC provider before he will know this information.

I told him that knowing what I do now, I would probably still choose MMU as it looks after its students more (for all its flaws). OTOH, City has a higher pass rate (though having seen a sample exam and heard about the teaching, I think it may be due to different exames) and he wants to avoid being 'just' MMU all the time.

Your views? City or MMU?

17 March, 2009

OLPAS 2009

Well, it would seem that it's the time of year when we all start complaining about how rubbish pupillages.com is - and with good cause.

This year, however, the site has been re-done which offers SO much more scope for comment.

Firstly, the good:

The ability to search by city/circuit is a very positive step. The old system of London/everywhere else showed the wonderfully London-centric view which ends with counsel trying to put forward the argument that his client would of course have time to drive from Manchester to Newcastle and back, in his lunch hour, because both are 'oop north' and therefore close to each other.

Ironically, this year I am applying to all non-OLPAS chambers in the order of application deadline rather than my approach last year which was to prioritise the North West, which makes this function less useful - but I will still give credit for it being there.

Secondly, the glitches:

I can only assume the 'search by deadline' date issue is a glitch. For those of you who haven't experimented with this one, let me explain it. I had assumed that 'search by deadline' would mean that if I typed in, say, 31 March, I would get all chambers with deadlines between today's date and 31 March. It turns out that isn't the case. When you type in a deadline, it will only give exact matches. Combine this with the loss of newsflash and it means that every week I'll be search the next 14 days using 14 separate searches. Again, I can only assume this is a glitch because who in their right mind would design this deliberately?

Thirdly, the bad:

Law minx and the comments on Andropov's page have covered this to a large extent but starting with no FAQ page and finishing with 'too many clicks'. The first is self explanatory, the second is that in order to see what is in a sub- sub- section, I have to click on it as the summary up front isn't detailed enough. I can see how having a long page time out on you is frustrating, but so is not being able to finish a page.

The other deeply annoying thing is how long the 'free text' boxes are. If you need 350 words for whatever it is they are asking about, I would suggest you probably need the skill of being concise. It also means that a pupillage committee has to spending longer reading waffle on forms meaning, ironically, they have less time to actually consider them.

I was surprised, last year to find out that pupillages.com doesn't charge for the service. That's commendable, but I wonder if it would be able to provide a better service were it to charge each applicant a small sum each year to use it - say £10. The sum isn't enough to put people off (even UCAS is £15) but would perhaps allow them to give better service.

11 March, 2009

Northern Ireland attacks

D Doyle has a very interesting post on the Northern Ireland Army attacks of last weekend. I recommend reading it. Here.