Legal Web Watch December 2013

Legal Web Watch is a new email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. The below issue was published 15 December. Legal Web Watch is sent to subscribers to the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, purchasers of our Legal Web CPD courses and some others on our lists we have had contact with in the past. If you’re not already on our lists and would like to receive Legal Web Watch regularly (free of charge) sign up here.

Nick’s Picks

What clients want

Kevin O’Keefe on Real Lawyers Have Blogs says that nothing he has shared on Twitter has been retweeted and favorited as much as this diagram on lawyer profiles by Matt Homann (@matthomann):

Read Kevin’s What lawyers put in online profiles versus what clients want in profiles.

More on lawyer biographies

Jordan Furlong on Stem’s Law Firm Web Stategy Blog writes: Two things can consistently be said about lawyers’ online biographies: they are among the most important pages on a law firm’s website, and they are among the least engaging and distinctive items on that site. This can be a frustrating disconnect: the lawyers I meet invariably are interesting, insightful, and well-rounded, yet their online bios are often stiff, stilted, and one-dimensional, providing readers with trivia such as year of call and source of law degree rather than information that clients can really use.

Read Jordan’s Crowdsourcing Your Lawyer Biography.

Your thoughts on lawyer biographies

If you have any comments on lawyer biographies, pointing to notable examples, good or bad, please do let us know.

A (very) Modern Lawyer

A notable new blog on the block is Modern Lawyer from Colin Yeo, covering social media and modern practice tips for lawyers.

He writes about himself: I am a practising barrister specialising in immigration law and based at Garden Court Chambers in London. I am interested in blogging, social media and using technology and new methods in my practice. For some time I have been collecting snippets, odds and sods from around the internet and saving them (to Evernote, of course). I decided to store them somewhere public facing and have set up this blog for that purpose. I hope that the material and thinking is helpful to other lawyers, whether self employed like me or part of a firm. My ”˜Other Blog’ is Free Movement, focussing on updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law. I started it in 2007 and it now receives over 20,000 unique visitors per month.

Delia’s Picks

Selected items from Delia’s “New” page:

A success story from Bolton personal injury firm Asons

Asons is (now) a large firm in Bolton. There are 250 staff, and they have recently announced plans to develop a brand new £7 million building in Bolton’s town centre which would allow the firm to nearly double in size and to expand into major areas of corporate law. The building will feature an executive networking hall, a gourmet restaurant for business clients and glass projection technology that will transform one of the glass walls to become effectively a moving theatre. Upon completion in 2015, satellite offices will be developed in Singapore, London, Dubai, New York and Pakistan. (Thanks to Asian Image for some of this information). And yet, the firm only started 5 years ago, with 3 people! The firm implemented Eclipse’s Proclaim Practice Management software when it started, now used by all staff, providing a core centralised solution for the full range of injury claim types and capable of extending to all desired work types.

The last Law Lords and the Supreme Court

Final Judgment – the last Law Lords and the Supreme Court is a book by Professor Alan Paterson, OBE, of Strathclyde University. The book, published by Hart Publishing, of Oxford, was launched in conjunction with the second Annual BAILII Lecture, hosted by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The book is all about the way that the Supreme Court makes its decisions and how this differs from the way that the House of Lords, in its last years, used to make its decisions. The location of the coffee facility does come into this but also for example whether the laudable collegiate aim of getting a single judgment with no dissenting views affects the type of judgment which is made (less informative? less useful in the long run?). And whether the superior power of argument of some of the senior judges could sometimes be interpreted as exerting too much influence on the less senior ones. The speaker, a legal academic, has been studying this sort of thing for 40 years. He wrote the definitive book 30 years ago on how the House of Lords made its judgments! He must have been very young then. He described also how the process has changed (and continues to change) because of the European dimension, the Human Rights Act and the increasing use of Judicial Review. All these introduce new “dialogues” into the way that judgments are made. He also described the increasing transparency of the way the court works (TV cameras are allowed in the court, and judgments now appear on YouTube) but asks whether this is in fact enough – and how transparency could be extended.

Interestingly, the political colour of the choice of judges did not come into the talk at all – it would appear not to be a consideration. That’s certainly a difference between the UK and the USA Supreme Court where adherence to the Constitution (or interpretation of the Constitution) is an intensely political matter.

New book from Eduardo Ustaran on the key issues of Privacy and Data Protection

The Future of Privacy by Eduardo Ustaran has just been released by Legal Publisher DataGuidance, part of Cecile Park Publishing Ltd. The book looks at the key issues of privacy and data protection and argues that in order to get the balance right, policy makers, regulators and organisations must address the specific challenges presented by rapidly evolving technology, the increasing value of personal information and the globalisation of data-reliant activities. Leading expert Eduardo Ustaran makes a number of public policy suggestions about how to address these factors and anticipates the key elements that organisations and privacy professionals will need to tackle to comply with the regulatory framework of the future. Eduardo is an internationally recognised expert in privacy and data protection law and specialises in the legal issues that derive from the use of information technology and the Internet. He is a dually qualified English Solicitor and Spanish Abogado, a partner in Field Fisher Waterhouse and head of their Information and Privacy Law Group. He advises some of the world’s leading companies on the adoption of global privacy strategies and is closely involved in the development of the new EU data protection framework.

I have known Eduardo for many years, originally when he was a paralegal at Martineau Johnson in Birmingham. That was probably 1995 or 1996! We met at meetings of the Society for Computers and Law and then later he became a regular contributor to the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, always combining the quality of his content with “readability”. I cannot think of anyone more qualified to write on these topics than Eduardo.

An article by Eduardo summarising the arguments in his book will be published in the January issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers.

Conveyancing online! Law Society announces a new initiative

The Law Society is currently developing an online Conveyancing Portal to streamline the conveyancing process and improve communication between solicitors, conveyancers, clients and stakeholders including Land Registry and HMRC. The portal will effectively be a secure deal-room to communicate and share documents, accessible by all parties with controlled access to view for clients and stakeholders. The portal will be managed by the Law Society and all the information will be in one place. The whole property chain will be accessible via the portal and other stakeholders – estate agents and so on – will have appropriate controlled viewing access. All monies (stamp duty, mortgage fees and land registry fees) will move through the system. Compliance and risk management features will be embedded in the system. There are some stylish videos from Nicholas Fluck, Desmond Hudson and others, at the above address to describe the project. There is no timescale attached yet but you can register on the site to be kept informed and to give your views.

There have been attempts to do something similar to this in the past, but they were probably ahead of their time. It does seem to be the “right time”, now, for the current initiative. We are all used to online portals now!

An article by Law Society President Nicholas Fluck on the new portal will be published in the January issue of the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers.
Best wishes for the festive season and the new year.

Nick Holmes and Delia Venables