I have lived with the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers for 20 years. I started it as an adjunct to the Venables website www.venables.co.uk but it soon developed a life of its own. It was of course only provided in printed form originally. I remember how it had to be written, printed, collated, packed up and addressed on my kitchen table, stamps stuck on and taken down to the post office in big bundles, together with associated admin relating to managing the subscriptions. It was very “physical” work but a great deal of fun and I felt very advanced.
The Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is edited by Nick Holmes
Legal blogs have been mainstream since the mid-2000s. Originally they seemed very modern, but now they seem rather ordinary. One has to ask “what are they for?” That is where the topic becomes interesting again.
Blogs are pretty normal now; but they are not necessarily called blogs and are used in a number of ways:
- individual thoughts on current legal developments – the classic blog;
- industry updates for clients – most large law firms have extensive blogs, suites of blogs or update sites, including Pinsent Masons (OUT-LAW), Simmons and Simmons (Elexica), Herbert Smith, Kingsley Napley, Field Fisher, Hogan Lovells, Clyde and Co …;
- law updates for lawyers – many of the blogs described below are in this category, with leading examples being the ICLR Blog, Current Awareness from the Inner Temple Library, Free Movement Immigration Law Blog, Panopticon, UK Human Rights Blog and the UK Supreme Court Blog;
- subscription information services – free and paid;
- magazines which provide information in a more literary way than just nuggets of information but which are still purveyors of legal information topics (for example this Newsletter);
- news sources – this was a new idea in the early 2000s but this has largely been overtaken by Twitter where the news can be found literally as it happens.
Long, long ago (2012) I wrote an article on this topic for the Newsletter and asked firms who had said that they were willing, in principle, to give some free initial legal advice, whether they thought it was worthwhile. Broadly, most of them did. You can read this article at http://bit.ly/INL1201venables.
This year I again invited a wide range of firms, via Twitter and LinkedIn as well as by email, to give me their views on this topic. The answers people provided are very interesting but no one is now unequivocally saying that “giving free initial advice is good” and I think that there has been a marked move away from this view over the intervening years.
Here are the contributions, in no particular order.
Changing your legal software supplier has always been difficult and on occasions, acrimonious. Each software system will have different ways of setting up clients, names and addresses and other characteristics, entering financial information, managing the handling of cases (with different case management systems), managing the security of the data, restructuring management reports, how long to keep “old” data, stylistic matters in all reports … and so on.
This has always involved major efforts from the law firm in the preparation of data ready for transfer, and from both the original software company and from the target software company. Each side has to “understand” the other side of the operation and convert or structure the data accordingly. It has been, and still can be, not only a difficult operation but an expensive one. It is certainly a good idea to make absolutely sure that your existing supplier cannot provide what you want, before embarking on the process of changing supplier!
There are not as many IT and practice management services for barristers as for solicitors but there are some very strong players available.
Here are the key players in this market (based on my web page www.venables.co.uk/chambers-it.htm), followed by two short articles from key providers of services to chambers, Martin Poulter and Helen Ford, providing a view of the past, the present and the future.
Under the Bar Council scheme launched in 2004, members of the public and businesses may now instruct barristers directly and without the intervention of a solicitor. There has been a lot of talk and discussion on this new “freedom” since then, along the lines of the following questions:
- Will it benefit members of the public?
- How easy is it to find, assess and then engage a direct access barrister?
- Will it be better for barristers willing to work directly with their clients? Will it be more profitable?
- What effect will it have on solicitors? Will this reduce their market share?
- What new methods are emerging for managing Direct access work?
This article is an attempt to find answers to these questions and generally to ask, “How is it going?”
With contributions from Gordon Healiss, Norma Laming and Greig Duncan
When I set up my web page on Transcription www.venables.co.uk/transcription.htm several years ago, it all seemed rather straightforward. I described the methods of input and output, the speed of the transcription, the security of the process and the cost.
Now, the concept of transcription has developed many new strands, in which the original concept of a transcription service from an external company is still present, albeit with great improvements in the input and output process, but with alternative options now also available, including voice recognition as the method of input and a process of automatic document generation, now merging with concepts of artificial intelligence.
In this article, I present three key strands of this topic.
This short article is based on my web page www.venables.co.uk/softwareireland.htm which provides links to the software companies websites.
The “problem” for Ireland, as for any smaller country, has been that the potential market for the sale of legal software is much smaller than for countries with larger numbers of law firms. A few years ago, this often meant that Irish legal software suppliers were in fact subsidiaries of larger UK software companies and others were genuinely small firms, possibly without a very large financial backing.
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