October 31, 2018

This issue

This issue is dominated by what I chose to
call a Tech Law Masterclass. The eight articles in that section are the product
of approaches made to a number of authors that have contributed greatly over
the years, though I approached a few fresher faces too. I am delighted to say
that some failed to respond, some promised to deliver and some delivered late –
it was just like old times. Plus ça change, plus c’est le meme chose.

Those articles are packed with insights
from established and respected figures but we have also found space for some
new awareness material and an excellent piece on smart contracts. (Just to be
clear, all the articles are from respected figures!). As a result of packing in
so much, this issue shines out in both quality and quantity since we have
splurged on a bonus eight pages. But bear with me just a moment before you
start reading the rest.

Thank yous

When I received a call from Ruth Baker
almost 25 years ago, asking if I could help produce the SCL publication
Computers and Law (we didn’t then have the ampersand), I don’t think I could
have imagined that I would be involved with it for almost all of what remained
of my working life. It has been a great and wonderful surprise. I have ridden a
wave of developments – from ‘will fee earners ever use computers’ to smart
contracts and AI – and have been carried along by perceptive authors and
massively supported by more SCL members than I can possibly hope to thank.
Whether Neil Cameron back in those early days or Neil Brown now, there has
always been somebody prepared to step up and provide that much needed material
to fill empty pages and shed some light.

I greatly valued the contributions from
Media Board/Editorial Advisory Board members and the tolerance shown by the
various Chairs over the years – I might not always have done quite what I
promised (sorry, Simon et al).

I owe an enormous debt too to our designer
Ken Planter because, at least half the time, the only thing people remember and
liked about an issue was the cover. And, because my job has involved everything
from commissioning to layout, I have needed a lot of help with the
technicalities of printing (hat tips to Mike Wicks and Iain Robinson in particular).
The website operations threw up a few(!) problems that foxed me too; I owe a
cyberpint or two to Simon Forrester.

But the biggest debt is owed to Ruth Baker,
whose staunch and unwavering support and crucial advice was so often needed,
and to Caroline Gould, who has continued that support and the fun that always
went with it. Merci beaucoup.

Fare well

I would like to follow through with the
French phrases with ‘après moi, le déluge’ but, unless you count Brexit,
nothing could be further from the truth. I am confident that SCL and the
magazine will prosper (though I fear for the C&L ampersand). David Chaplin
and Maddie Southorn will ensure that the magazine and website retain your
interest and continue to provide enlightenment. New initiatives and new designs
are around the corner. I look forward to them – and quite look forward to
grumbling about them.

Given the context in which we all work,
there will be change aplenty. No doubt in a few years the content of even this
fine issue will seems as dated as those tips we used to run on making the best
use of WordPerfect. But it is change that SCL is well equipped to cope with. We
might well see a shift back to the dual focus that we maintained for a few
years – -challenging and exciting times.

Attendance at the 24-hour Hackathon and the
last few SCL Annual Conferences showed me what a young and vibrant organisation
SCL is. I was enthused by the intelligence and energy on display at those
events, albeit left feeling a little old, and by the vital fun that was a
crucial part of those events.

Seeing that, I am absolutely sure that SCL
will fare well.