Technology and the SCL Community

November 18, 2010

I would like to use this week’s blog to correct a potential misapprehension about our new strap line “The IT Law Community”. SCL for the first half of its existence was primarily about technology as it applied to the law. It has subsequently been in a sense more about IT law and how technology applies to its practice. 

However this is not intended to diminish the role of technology in what we do. My last blog about “The Two Screen Solicitor” epitomises this. As a society we are not just about lawyers. Our members include IT suppliers, expert witnesses, consultants and commercial advisers as well as solicitors, barristers and IT academics. The common theme is information technology as it applies to the legal profession, whether this be in the use of that technology by or for lawyers or the practice of the law relating to it. 

I well remember one of the first SCL conferences I attended as, if you like a bit of Nube (gaming terminology for innocent naïve new participant – defined on one web site as “A word used by nerds to get back at kids who don’t play video games all the time”!). I was full of expectation about the new things I would learn as a lawyer. In fact  I sat next to a partner in a law firm who started the day by producing a folding keyboard which he proceeded to attach to a Psion organiser (remember those?). Our conversation as neighbours was not about the law but about how he was using this technology to capture the events of the day and keep in touch. 

One of the most interesting aspects for me of our last two conferences has been the discussions around the business processes associated with practicing the law. How can we operate more effectively in these challenging and changing times? Much of this is wrapped up in the way technology is evolving and enabling new practices. Things which were rocket science earlier in my career are often reduced, by technology innovations, to commodity products. 

The “flat earth” and global trading community including outsourcing legal services to India or China are only possible with the underlying technology base that enables them. Understanding the law which applies to cloud computing is in my humble opinion only truly possible if you have an understanding of the way the cloud works technically. You can only appreciate open source products and the significance of, for example, GPL licensing, if you know what they are in the first place. 

So I would like to make it clear that our ambition in SCL as a society is to embrace the wider aspects of technology as it applies to the law. As a challenge to those non lawyers who are nevertheless very valued members of our “community” please post comments to this blog with suggestions as to events we could run or other activities we could undertake to encourage the pure technology side of SCL. We already have a knowledge management group. Should we consider creating a technology group to foster and develop this aspect of our heritage?