SCL Conference: Supporting the Foundations

June 13, 2010

SCL’s 10th Annual Conference has ‘The Software Symposium’ as its title. While no SCL Conference in living memory has been devoid of references to software, the title matters because it highlights a focus on software that more accurately reflects the day-to-day practice of many IT lawyers. Of course, convergence and the Internet, the semantic web and all manner of other things are important and excite the intellect too, but software, its development and its newer forms like open source and SaaS still demand most of the IT lawyer’s attention. There are still new things to learn about software and the ubiquity of the app reminds us that updating our knowledge in this area is vital. 

The centrality of software to the main practice of the IT lawyer is reflected in an array of impressive speakers. The Conference begins at the beginning, with Martin Campbell-Kelly of Warwick University speaking on the evolution of software. Susan Atkinson, Richard Stephens and Conor Ward are a stellar line-up for the following session on software development risks that will explore the various methodologies. It will be a rapid waterfall of relevant knowledge for the lean and agile – and if that sounds like gibberish to you, you definitely need to attend the session. The following session on the effect of the cloud on software will cover the technical, security and legal issues of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS and the way in which the use of the cloud is about business models as well as being about ‘computing’. Friday’s sessions end with a look at open source, a topic having special relevance in light of the advocacy of greater use of open source by both of the elements of the new coalition government.  

The Conference Dinner with Andrew Charlesworth as speaker is an inevitable highlight of the day. Andrew is both an amusing speaker and an academic with real vision, so it should be entertaining or enlightening and may even be both. No SCL Conference attendee will have overlooked the fact that one dictionary definition of symposium is ‘a drinking party’ so the post-dinner get together is a function of the event not just a sideshow – indeed my dictionary suggests that the ‘drinking party’ meaning is historic, which leaves the 2010 attendees with quite a lot to live up to.

Saturday starts with an innovation – a look at top-end software solutions that can assist in the management of legal practice and the delivery of a better service to clients. Wikis, KM, remote working and the central desktop are just some of the topics that a sparkling array of innovators – Ruth Ward, Melanie Farquharson, David Kemp and Struan Roberston – will address; it will be a surprise if SharePoint does not get a mention.

The next session focuses on transformational outsourcing contracts but with the emphasis on the management and development of software in that context. Clive Seddon of Pinsent Masons, Alan Dion of KPMG and Charles Lilley of IT services company Steria are the contributors. The Conference ends, like all the best ‘drinking party’ symposia, with a fight, in a session entitled ‘Software Spats’. What to do when things fall apart and litigation is threatening to become inevitable? Alex Charlton QC and Harry Small will look at BSkyB now there has been time to put that case in perspective. The session will also be looking at how to avoid litigation and how to manage it if it really cannot be avoided. 

I mentioned the ubiquity of apps in my opening. At least three apps are relevant to the Conference. If you bring the appetite for learning, SCL will download the appropriate material and attendee’s approval is guaranteed. And all that CPD comes with a price, £545 plus VAT for SCL members (including accommodation and the Conference Dinner), that is appsolutely fabulous.

View the conference programme here

The conference brochure is available to download on the right hand side of this page in the downloads section.