Eclipse

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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:

touch2

A view from across the pond.

Remember all those ludicrous predictions you kept hearing about how law firms were some day going to invest heavily in intelligent technology that could do legal work? Funny thing about that: some day is today.

Here’s what’s actually happening, right now, with advanced technology in law firms:

analytics

“War is 90 per cent information” – Napoleon Bonaparte

With the legal sector continuing to go through a period of unprecedented change, law firms are increasingly looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals.

Law firm decision makers throughout the country will be busy developing and implementing business plans, setting objectives, goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), ie important metrics. However, when applied in an online environment, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and get distracted by the sheer volume of metrics delivered by analytics tools which can easily confuse rather than inform.

The following tips are designed to help you see the wood through the trees and highlight some of the most important tools and techniques to help your law firm succeed online.

liminality

I’ve always liked the word “liminality” – a threshold that marks the boundary between two phases. If nothing else, Brexit presents an opportunity for its appropriate use. The UK’s current state, where we are still in the EU but apparently heading somewhere else, does feel liminal, with its quality (to quote Wikipedia) of ambiguity or disorientation.

You can sense this in the way the Commission’s significant proposals for copyright reform have been greeted in the UK. The Proposal for a Digital Copyright Directive (more on which below) and Regulation on rights clearance for online TV programming, if adopted, will represent significant modifications to European copyright law. But the response in the UK seems muted, reflecting an uncertainty about their applicability to a post Brexit UK, a sense in which they seem both relevant and irrelevant to the UK.

a-to-z

In the last issue of this Newsletter, I wrote an article on the main suppliers of cloud based software for lawyers. I described the suppliers who have developed software for the cloud, from the ground up (no pun intended), with no option for in-house use; there were about 30 suppliers, and their offerings, described in that article.

This covered many of the newer suppliers who have seen an opportunity for developing easy-to-use legal software in the cloud, particularly for smaller users, as well as some of the older, and well established suppliers who have developed a completely new software system for cloud use.

email-newsletters

A good way of keeping up to date with recent developments in law – and to collect quite a bit of free content – is to sign up for email alerts. But take care to choose wisely, lest your inbox be flooded with updates you don’t have time to read. It’s best to choose a few that deal with key areas of interest, and make sure you at least skim through them when they arrive, or transfer them to an “updates” folder in your email app so you can review them when you have time.

You can sign up to email alerts from official sources like government departments or NGOs, or from legal publishers anxious to share summary content in the hope you will subscribe to their full services. Nothing wrong with that; and the free content from solicitors’ firms or barristers’ chambers has a commercial justification too: they want to showcase their expertise in their areas of specialism. In addition, a number of legal blogs provide case comments and current awareness content.

net-neutrality

Net neutrality is the idea that all data sent across the internet should be treated equally, without the application of any discriminatory filtering based on specific criteria. To better understand the concept, it helps to view the internet as a “dumb” network of pipes merely facilitating the flow of data from one location (eg a website) to another (eg a user’s laptop). Since the inception of the internet, a variety of techniques have been used for commercial or law enforcement purposes to restrict this data flow, either by preventing certain data from reaching users or conditionally slowing down the speed of data.

The Bar Standards Board has finally come up with draft guidelines for their new CPD scheme, commencing 1 January 2017.

For 2017 there will be no requirement to complete a set number of CPD hours. You will have individual responsibility for what training you require and you will have increased flexibility in the types of CPD activities that you can complete.

The four required stages you should complete are:

The Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) has launched OBserving Law, the IALS Open Book Service for Law, being developed as part of the School of Advanced Study’s Humanities Digital Library open access book publishing initiative.

OBserving Law aims to provide a new open access monograph publishing service for legal researchers. Titles will be made freely available in PDF and epub formats, with single volume and separate chapter versions. A print on demand paperback purchase option will be offered as standard with a hardback choice for libraries and others that may prefer that format.

upgrading-law

On 6 October 2016 Professor Richard Susskind delivered the annual Society for Computers and Law lecture, entitled “Upgrading the Law”, marking 20 years since the publication of his The Future of Law. How had he fared in his predictions?

He was not shy about confirming his successes but did not gloat and admitted that his predicted expert systems solving complex legal issues hadn’t taken off as he’d envisaged. Whilst legal and compliance rules are increasingly built into systems, the artificial intelligence that has arrived is generated by brute force processing rather than elegant, encoded reasoning.

As to recent developments and his hopes and fears for the future, I pick two that have elicited further comment.

new-dps-apps

Clients are demanding Apps for real-time communications, lawyers need them for remote working. But how do we improve the security of apps in order to prevent any data security breaches?

Law firms are prime targets for cyber-attacks due to the amount of money they hold for clients and the sensitive information they control. Clearly, remote access to data on mobile devices can significantly increase security-related risks.