Re-structuring SCL – Our Vision for the Future

November 1, 1999

Chris Reed and John Irving are Joint Chairmen of SCL.

SCL reached a milestone in its history this year. It is 25 years since a bandof enlightened lawyers recognised the need for an organisation to push forwardthe introduction of ‘computers’ into the legal profession. That battle hasbeen won, and the emphasis has changed from pioneering to development. One onlyhas to look towards the Internet, a technology which has opened up countless newopportunities for both lawyers and legal IT applications, to see that the comingyears promise to be just as exciting as the past.

SCL is at a watershed. The rapid growth in the Society over recent years, dueto the increased interest in IT law as well as IT applications for lawyers,means that a new structure needs to be established to oversee SCL’sdevelopment in these key areas. The long-term aim is for the SCL to grow andprosper as ‘the leading organisation for the encouragement and development oflegal-related IT and IT-related law’.

Change is all around us, and for some months the Executive of the Society hasbeen examining a number of options for reforming the structure of SCL to reflectthe changing professional environment in which our members operate. Proposalsfor a new structure were agreed at the September meeting of the Executive.Following consultation with the SCL Vice-Presidents, Honorary Members, Counciland Committee Group Members, these proposals will be put to a General Meeting ofthe Society to be held later this year for adoption. Simultaneous changes to theSociety’s Memorandum and Articles of Association will also be required.

We are very much aware that our members can only devote limited time to theSociety due to other demands. We felt that, rather than asking a few to do alot, we should create a structure which allows many members the opportunity totake an active part in the Society’s affairs. Therefore, the Executivebelieves that the most efficient and effective way of developing the Society isthe establishment of an IT Section and an IT Law Section. Members of these twosections will be appointed to convene working parties on topical issues, drawnfrom interested members of the Society.

The Executive is also very conscious that the growth of the groups is the keyto the continued success of the Society. Without the hard work of the groupcommittees the Society would not be where it is today. It is anticipated thatthe two Sections will work closely with the groups and give them everyassistance in suggesting topics and speakers for their programmes. This shouldstrengthen the group network and encourage group membership. The Law Society ofEngland and Wales, The Law Society of Scotland and the Institute of LegalExecutives all have a continuing professional development requirement (as doesthe Bar, but this is restricted to new practitioners only) and a strong groupprogramme will encourage members to participate and attend, as all SCL eventsare registered for CPD.

The proposed new structure will involve more members in the activeorganisation of the Society and will thus ensure the survival and growth of SCL.It will also provide an effective means for succession planning, asparticipation in the Society’s programmes of work will be a prerequisite forbeing eligible for election to the national offices.

As a further incentive to greater activity on the part of the Sections,working parties and the Society’s groups, much of the Society’sdecision-making and budgeting will be delegated to the different Sections, andto the existing and any additional Groups, within the limits of the Society’scharitable status. This will have the additional advantage of removing theburden of minor decision-making from the successor body to the Executive, andpreventing delays in approving activities.

Comments from members on the proposed new structure will be welcomed. Theseare most effectively dealt with if forwarded to Ruth Baker, the SCL GeneralManager, at

The Executive is confident that the SCL has a very important role to play astechnological boundaries are pushed ever further outwards within the legalprofession and beyond. We believe that the new structure will enable the SCL tocontinue to grow and flourish. Our voice and opinions are valued and soughtafter by leading figures in the law, and increasingly in government. We hopethat you will support the proposals and continue to benefit from yourmembership.