That ain’t my bag baby

The other week whilst comparing LSC induced overdrafts with an opponent (think Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon competing about gory scars), an opponent piped up with some accounts advice: if you buy a Mulberry handbag every year you can claim it as an expense (perhaps she does more Local Authority work than me?). Obviously, she said, it has to be big enough for you to use for work. So that's gonna be about a month's mortgage then. I thought the Mulberry was the Mercedes of handbags, and that the ridiculous price was a reflection of durability, but apparently not.

Now, lovely as they are, I probably couldn't bring myself to spend many hundreds of smackers on a Mulberry, even if I had that much money sloshing around in the bottom of my not-real leather handbag. Which I don't (I have tuppence, three paperclips, a biro lid and a crushed rice cake, since you ask). But I do like a nice bag. And at present all my well used handbags are a bit "car boot chic".

So, although it is not usually my "bag", the offer of a sample bag from Julie Slater & Son, seemed like a far more economical way to achieve a modicum of bag respectability. My requirements: a bag that lawyer would be willing and able to take to court, to fit laptop and lever arch file. If it wasn't going to stand a chance of being useful / interesting to readers I wouldn't review it.

LogoThis week I took delivery of said bag. I am invited in the cover letter to find it is "chic, smart and stylish". I so find. The threshold for publication of a product review is therefore crossed.

If you are a Mulberry lady you probably won't want to read any further. But if you are a busy lawyer without a bottomless pit for a (Prada) wallet, you might want to take a look at Julie Slater's website.

The bag I received is a black and white overnight bag. It is made of oilcloth, with a monochrome circular pattern, and has a snazzy turquoise lining. It has carry handles and a removable shoulder strap and a zip pocket both on the inside and the outside. It has open pockets for pens and something larger, probably a phone. It has ample room to accommodate my laptop (mine is a mac air, but I think others would also fit), and a lever arch file.

The manufacturing quality is good and the shoulder strap is in fact far more comfortable than its appearance suggests (the strap and padding are both quite thin to they eye).

On the down side the hooped carry straps are not long enough to slip over a shoulder, so you need to carry it by your side or on the shoulder strap, and it is a bit fiddly to get a phone in and out of the bag whilst walking (iphone addicts beware) because either the handles get in the way of getting into the central compartment or you can't quite get your hand round to the zip on the external pocket. Because it does not have rigid sides it does tend to form an odd shape when something bulky and heavy is inside, but from a practical point of view a flexible outer is often a boon (so you can squeeze in just one more thing). Overnight Bag

Overall this is a smart, practical bag for day to day court work, and the £39 price tag is really excellent value for money. You don't have to worry about the guilt of deciding you don't much like it after all, or you fancy a different colour.

I will proudly wield my not-Mulberry at court henceforth. I don't intend to fill Pink Tape with product reviews, but I do genuinely think this is a really useful and brilliantly priced bit of practical kit. God knows we all need to keep down our overheads, since travel expenses, subscriptions and those textbooks we carry around in our bags do not come cheap.

The company also make a range of other larger and smaller bags, with different patterns and colours, and of other travel accessories. You can view them on the website.

 

 

Note: I have not been paid for this review, although I have received a free bag.

Book Review: Financial Remedies Under The Family Procedure Rules 2010 & The @eGlance Guide

Zoe SaundersThis review is a guest post written by  Zoe Saunders, barrister at St John’s Chambers, Bristol. Zoe has particular expertise in cohabitation disputes, including applications for financial provision for children and trusts of land issues, and financial remedies on divorce. You can also find Zoe on twitter (@ZASaunders).

Financial Remedies Under the Family Procedure Rules 2010 by Singer, Mostyn, Marks & Smith 

Financial RemediesThis is a really useful book for anyone who does what we must now call 'financial remedies' formerly known as ancillary relief. The commentary on each chapter is likely to continue to be useful long after one has gained familiarity with the overall structure of the news rules and for those who are not yet familiar with the new FPR they are a really helpful guide to the most important changes.

The book is clearly laid out with commentary on the relevant sections of the rules preceding the rules themselves. It is a neat volume which is much more portable than the red book. It is clearly aimed at practitioners but does manage to balance adequate explanation without being excessively detailed.

Purchase of the book (£95 from Class Legal) also gives you access to the www.familyprocedure.com website which contains the full text and updates. One minor quibble is that it would be useful to see exactly what has been updated without re-reading the whole section, but other than that it is a useful resource and means that you can access the text without the physical book, which can be handy for when other members of chambers borrow it without asking! In my view although expensive I think this book is a worthwhile purchase.

@eGlance

We also got access to the @eGlance site for which you can get a discounted 12month subscription on purchase of the book (£30 off the usual £85 cost).

@eGlance suffers from two major flaws - the first of which is that it is not Apple compatible, which in the brave new world of ipads seems to me to be a really fundamental error and one which I think the authors / publishers really should get a grip on as soon as possible. The second flaw it that the user-interface looks like something which was designed 20 years ago and hasn't been touched since.

In my view these two errors run the risk of putting off potential users, which would be a real shame, because once you get past the initial impression and start to actually use the software it is really pretty impressive. It has pretty much everything you could really ask for in a programme designed to help with anything from big money downwards. You can print off information and calculations and I suspect that it could become a really invaluable tool, if you can repress the urge to snigger every time you load it!

Both the Financial Remedies book and the @eGlance software can be purchased through Class Legal.