Bloomsbury Law Online

AI conversation

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a very broad term, covering everything from relatively simple document automation techniques right through to Stanley Kubrick’s HAL

For purposes of this article, we will consider AI to mean the current application of “intelligent” technologies to provide a solution to a problem, as opposed to a free thinking machine. In this sense, AI consists of concepts such as machine learning and natural language processing (NLP); generally computer programs which can either be trained to perform routine tasks or which interact with humans in a more natural way. AI tools may help to:

  • automate routine tasks;
  • manage and analyse vast quantities of data (Big Data);
  • spot discrepancies in data to aid compliance;
  • interpret natural language queries and sift through data to provide relevant answers (eg chatbots);
  • predict future outcomes based on patterns from past data.

Recent online developments from Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis.

I don’t meet many people working in the justice system who disagree that we need to change, but people do often question whether we will be able to do what we have said we will, and whether our reforms will be implemented well and will work properly. They point to criminal justice or wider Government IT problems of the past to illustrate these worries.

Barristers must soon complete their CPD for 2017 and be able to declare that they have done so. Are you in a position to do so?

Review the following précis of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) CPD requirements and make sure you have complied. If you feel that you have not yet complied, we can help you do so, simply and efficiently, with our CPD 2017 service.

Solicitors must soon attest, in respect of the practice year to 31 October 2017: “I have reflected on my practice and addressed any identified learning and development needs.” Are you in a position to do so?

Review the following précis of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) continuing competence requirements and make sure you have complied. If you feel that you have not yet complied, we can help you do so, simply and efficiently, with our CPD 2017 service.

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.