Eclipse

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch February 2017. Legal Web Watch is a free email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

I am a long-time proponent of RSS but am aware that it is declining in visibility. Many sites large and small are not offering RSS feeds any more. What’s up?

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch February 2017. Legal Web Watch is a free email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

trade mark

In the previous issue of the Newsletter, Jordan Furlong highlighted how artificial intelligence and expert systems are being deployed in law firms, and will transform the legal industry. One implication of this is that law firms will be “marketing themselves as enterprises whose value and identities are independent of their lawyers”.

If you’re minded to follow Jordan’s advice and focus your marketing efforts on building your law firm brand rather than the brand of individual star lawyers within the firm, then you’ve probably got ambitions for your law business. It makes sense, therefore, to find out about protecting your intellectual property.

Every law firm or barrister’s chamber will have intellectual property to protect, although the actions to take will be different depending on the business, the intellectual property involved, and the aspirations for the business.

legislation.gov.ukBloomsbury Law OnlineICL Ronline

News from Legislation.gov.uk, Bloomsbury Law and ICLR.

More than three years ago I wrote an article for this Newsletter extolling (in the main) the benefits of using a virtual approach to working in the digital age by virtualising legal services. The last three years have seen a further embedding of virtual law firms in the legal marketplace, with Keystone Law becoming a (more) established name, Setfords Solicitors receiving a substantial private equity injection and Excello Law apparently moving from strength to strength; my own firm, Redmans, although much smaller, has substantially increased revenue and profits.

redmansThis article looks at how my firm’s practices have changed over the last three years and gives an update on the benefits (and disadvantages) of the virtual model. It also looks at how the model of a virtual firm may have changed over this period.

Content conundrum

The contest at the heart of the Investigatory Powers Act

After more scrutiny than probably any other piece of legislation in recent memory, the Investigatory Powers Bill received Royal Assent in November. Notwithstanding the amount of Parliamentary time spent on the 300 pages of powers and safeguards, underpinning the Act are some complex and abstractly defined (in some cases undefined) concepts. Nowhere is this more true than in the distinction the legislation tries to draw between between content and metadata.

The distinction matters because the Act applies fewer safeguards and constraints to selection and examination of metadata than to content.

The government’s position, which finds support in human rights law, is that intercepting, acquiring, processing and examining the content of a communication is more intrusive than for the “who, when, where, how” contextual data wrapped around it.

digital marketing

A good website with lots of useful information is no longer enough; the site has to be “marketed”.

Over the last 10 or 15 years, a large number of digital marketing companies have sprung up, typically offering to design and implement an impressive website and provide it with the key factors which will encourage the viewer to make contact and, hopefully, to become a client. These companies offer some of the following:

privat

After all of the 2016 drama, the start of a brand new year is a welcome development in itself – a clean sheet for a script yet to be written. However, 2017 will not be without challenges and the same applies to the world of privacy and data protection. Many of the big issues that arose during 2016 will need to be addressed in 2017. New questions will no doubt emerge.

virtual reality girl

The basic idea of virtual reality (VR) is to create a computer generated environment which someone can experience and explore, through the use of a headset (incorporating vision and sound) and sometimes other input devices (eg haptic gloves) which allow them to manipulate their virtual surroundings. The concept of a computer simulated reality is nothing new and experiments with VR systems were already being carried out in the late 60s (eg The Sword of Damocles). Advances in technology during the late 80s and early 90s led to an increasing cultural awareness of VR through films such as Lawnmower Man – and the rise of computer games prompted more companies to attempt to create a device which could be used in the same way as a home console. But progress was slow, with a trailblazing attempt by Sega in 1993 terminated, officially due to fears that users could injure themselves by moving around due to the “reality” of the headset (although perhaps more to do with limited processing power and reports of testers developing headaches and motion sickness). However, although it struggled to take off as a consumer device, VR systems have been used for many years for training in certain professions: teaching pilots to fly, police officers to shoot and surgeons to operate.

“Every decision is binding no matter whether it is reported in the regular series of Law Reports, or is unreported. Once you have the transcript, you can cite it as of equal authority to a reported decision. It behoves every counsel or solicitor to find, if he can, a case – reported or unreported – which will help him advise or win his case.” – Lord Denning

In the days of printed law reports, there was a very real upper limit to how many cases could be reported – you can only fit so many in a book.

With digital content, no such physical problem exists, but other constraints remain. The process of producing high-quality reports of lengthy judgments is time-consuming and expensive. Consequently, fewer than 20 per cent of UK higher court cases end up in law reports – either leading or specialist series (based on the number of reported and unreported cases in the Justis database of UK superior court judgments).

It’s worth noting this limit is simply indicative of resources, rather than legal significance. It is a statement that only 20 per cent of cases can be reported, and says nothing about how many should be.

cpd_emailad

Thanks to those who have already completed our new Internet for Lawyers CPD 2016 courses and a reminder to those who have not that you can earn all the CPD you need with us online now.

quentin-huntA surprisingly large number of lawyers are unaware of the right to bring a private prosecution and the potential benefits that such a course of action can bring. A private prosecution is a ‘criminal law’ action and is prosecuted in the criminal courts but if utilised effectively, it can be a very useful tactic either as an alternative or in combination with Civil Litigation. The following are areas where private prosecutions have been used to great effect: