Justis

GDPR

“So, have I missed the boat to get ready for the GDPR?” “Will I get fined for not being fully up to speed?” “What is the worst thing that can happen if I am not complying by May 2018?” These are some of the most frequently asked questions currently accompanying the efforts (or lack of them) to prepare for the GDPR.

The GDPR is an ambitious, complex and strict law that will transform the way personal information is collected, shared and used globally. The organisational changes required to comply with this framework will be substantial and the potential consequences of not doing things properly can be severe. Therefore, it is not surprising that the climate around the GDPR and its compliance requirements is one of panic.

https

HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, the secure version of http, the protocol for communicating data between your browser and the websites that you are connected to. https ensures that all such communications are encrypted.

For several years now technical experts have highly recommended the use of https instead of http for exchange of information between web browser and web server. But while the change to https in the browser is painless, there are significant additional costs to implementing https on a server. Given these, why is https so strongly recommended?

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The ambitious courts modernisation programme known as HMCTS Reform continues to grapple with the process of creating a justice system that not only is suitable for the digital world of today but also won’t look out of place in fifty years’ time. How is it getting on?

Many solicitors provide free legal information on their websites. Is this good marketing or just giving away valuable information?

I maintain a section on my website called Free Legal Information for Individuals provided by Firms of Solicitors at www.venables.co.uk/individtopics.htm. This covers accidents, benefits, business, car crime, consumer, conveyancing, crime, divorce, death (probate, wills etc), debt, dental claims, discrimination, disability, education, employment … and so on, listed alphabetically.

When I recently carried out a major check of these entries, I found that many previous free legal resources have been removed or seriously reduced in scope. It seems that many firms of solicitors, having originally been keen to be part of the new and exciting World Wide Web have eventually decided that it was not really worth the effort.

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The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) has as its central remit the promotion and facilitation of research and scholarship at an advanced level across the whole field of law. Though based in central London and attached to the University of London, IALS draws its primary membership from academic researchers and postgraduate research students from other institutions throughout the UK, and provides services to researchers in the wider legal community.

IALS has been involved in innovative online legal information delivery for many years, developing and promoting public access to materials on the web through the creation of a wide range of e-resources, digitisation and collaborative ventures. The arm of the Institute actively involved in this field has recently been renamed IALS Digital. Through the ongoing work of IALS Digital, the Institute is committed to extending the reach of digital provision of legal information by delivering specialist legal research tools and niche web services – maximising access to key or hard-to-find information to facilitate legal research, public understanding, and the promotion of justice and the rule of law.

Some of IALS Digital’s recent initiatives are highlighted below, along with several of its more well-established research tools. All of the resources are freely available at ials.sas.ac.uk/digital.

Hacker Firewall by Christoph Scholz

Encryption is a way of making data secure, so that it can only be accessed by authorised parties. Cryptographic techniques are used to render information unintelligible to any third parties whilst it is being stored on an electronic device such as a laptop or smartphone, or during its transit from sender to recipient over the internet or other types of computer network.

There are many techniques of encryption but the main principles are as follows:

  • Unencrypted data is referred to as “plaintext”.
  • Plaintext is encrypted using an algorithm known as a “cipher”.
  • The algorithm also generates a pseudo-random encryption “key”.
  • Once plaintext has been encrypted it is known as “ciphertext”.
  • The ciphertext is unreadable and can only be deciphered (ie converted back to plaintext) with the symmetric (private) or asymmetric (public) key which was previously generated by the algorithm.
  • End to end encryption means that data which passes through a company’s servers (eg WhatsApp) can only be read by the sender and recipient and cannot be accessed or interfered with by the company handling the data.

Several online publishers describe recent developments in their services for lawyers. News from ICLR, Justis, Bloomsbury Law and 1COR.

Very soon you are going to have to account for how you have assessed and met your learning and development needs to remain competent to practice in 2017. How’s it going?

Sigmoid curve

Richard Hugo-Hamman, executive chairman of LEAP, discusses change and how to use technology to keep ahead of the curve.

Your law firm is a business, growth and profitability is paramount. You want to see your client base grow and your profits increase. More importantly, you don’t want to go backwards just because you are so busy working in the business that you don’t notice what is happening. You may have other goals – opening another office or being recognised as experts in a niche field. Whatever your measure of success, you want it to endure.

Creating consistent, long-term growth can prove elusive. The best way to generate long-term growth is through the regular introduction of change to create new ways of doing things. For many businesses, including law firms, the clearest path to continued success is through the regular implementation of new technology in an ongoing cycle.

This needs a culture of innovation so that your whole firm is accustomed to continuous improvement.

Electronic evidence cover image

By Stephen Mason and George Weir

To ask the right questions of digital evidence professionals when instructing them, it is incumbent on the lawyer to be aware of what questions to ask. Here we describe the various mechanisms by which evidence in electronic form is adduced into legal proceedings via the worldwide web and internet.

robot1robot2

Recently I encountered a tweet about a “robot lawyer” called LISA and took the bait: “Can someone please explain to me how this differs from document assembly we’ve had for decades? Intelligent? Robot? Lawyer?”

Robot Lawyer LISA is a document assembly tool with a single form (an NDA). For what it is – consumer-facing document assembly – the concept and content are fine relative to what else is available. The claims to be something more – an AI robot lawyer – are absurd. The hyperbole, however, is effective.

Billy Bot Infographic

Billy Bot is the world’s first robotic junior clerk for a barristers’ chambers.

The concept of Billy Bot came out of the huge growth in public access work that now comes directly to barristers. Members of the public can now contact chambers directly to discuss their potential cases with the clerks in chambers. This presents a new difficulty for barristers’ clerks as they need to spend much more time dealing with enquiries from the general public than they do with solicitors or other lawyers (who have a professional understanding of the legal process and requirements) when they contact us to obtain advice or book a barrister for a hearing.