Bloomsbury Law Online

LEAP devices

The continuing advancement of cloud technology and the new ownership regulation means it has never been easier to start a law firm. Mobility, simpler and lower cost technology and widespread acceptance of remote working is motivating legal entrepreneurs wanting to start their own practice.

This Conveyance

It is probably easier for companies to sell legal services and documents online than it is for firms of solicitors. This may seem unfair, given that the ultimate product (eg a divorce or a conveyance) was originally created by lawyers to protect the client. How can it be that non-lawyers can do it better?

In an article that I wrote for the March/April issue of this Newsletter, I described four reasons why I thought it was hard for a firm of solicitors to provide these products or services online. I said that:

  1. These products are technically difficult, requiring sophisticated (and expensive) software to do the job online, and considerable ongoing technical support.
  2. They are inherently risky for the firm in professional terms. Errors or misunderstandings could lead to serious legal problems for the firm – hardly good advertising for the firm.
  3. The relatively “simple” processes offered for online solution are not in any case very profitable, so a great deal of effort could lead to a relatively modest reward.
  4. A cheap online divorce or conveyance (say) is likely to undermine the solicitors “normal” work. A client could well say “Why should I pay a large amount of money for a personally managed divorce when you can provide the same service online for a third of the cost?

Employment tribunal judgments are now available online on GOV.UK at www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions.

Previously, in order to read a first instance judgment, you had to hope that one of the parties published it or that the judiciary website considered it to be of sufficient importance to publish or to take a trip to the central register and locate it in person.

Hacker cartoon

Recently, I met a barrister who was handling a case where a website project had gone badly wrong, losing significant sales for the customer who had commissioned it. After comparing war stories, we concluded that a lot more websites go awry than one might realise and that it might be worth sharing some of the horror stories to highlight potential pitfalls and help others to avoid them.

In a profession where only a minority of law firms have a dedicated or experienced marketing manager, the role of project managing the new website often falls to the marketing partner or practice manager. Having never had to commission a website before, they may not be entirely sure what work is involved, how to write an effective brief or how to compare proposals from web agencies, and so it is easy to see how problems might arise.

Given that a law firm website might account for as much as 50 per cent of new business enquiries these days – equivalent to having another office – it can play a critical role in a firm’s business growth.

LD Hub iconLeigh Day has expanded rapidly since 1987. In 2007 the firm decided to develop an intranet, going live on 17 October 2007 which served us well for 10 years but a decade after the first project we felt that a new, more up-to-date and accessible intranet was needed to help maintain the special Leigh Day ethos following the firm’s rapid growth and to help people work more effectively.

Blockchain

The origin of the term “smart contract” has been attributed to Nick Szabo who wrote a paper in the late 90s in which he described them as combining “protocols with user interfaces to formalize and secure relationships over computer networks.” However, the more popular meaning of “smart contract” in current parlance, and for purposes of this article, is an agreement which is monitored, executed and enforced by blockchain technology.

New publications, launches and events:

Legal tech startups
Mapping the legal startup space
How AI is used in legal
eDisclosure systems
Hacking online courts
Tomorrow’s Lawyers 2.0
A chatty bot in chambers
Electronic evidence
Digital Economy Act 2017

Solicitors no longer need to count CPD hours. Instead you should now reflect on the quality of your practice and identify any learning and development needs. You can then address these needs to make sure your knowledge and skills are up to date and that you are competent to practice. The new regime requires you, […]

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch April 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 don't know about you, but I have had enough of "robot lawyers". It's not that I have anything against robots, it's that the term "robot lawyers" I feel demeans lawyers; not only that, it's unfair to robots. It's a term being used purely for media purposes; nobody seriously thinks in terms of "robot lawyers".

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch April 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.

It's now nearly 6 months since the mandatory introduction of the new Continuing Competence regime for solicitors and 4 months since the introduction of the new CPD requirements for the Bar which have similar aims. What do you need to do to comply?

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch April 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.

The following items have been selected from Delia Venables’ “New” page.

justice online

Courts in England and Wales have been struggling with information technology for so long now, that expectations of any improvement remain stagnantly low. Nevertheless, the current project to create an Online Court with its own procedure and staff goes beyond anything hitherto attempted. Can it overcome a long history of failed IT projects and deliver something that not only matches its own ambition but overturns our low expectations?

And if it does, what will happen to the principle of open justice and accountability, not to mention law reporting, when court hearings are conducted in a virtual realm without the press bench and public gallery of a traditional physical courtroom?