Technology, Technology, Technology

November 14, 2012

Sadly this will be my last blog as chair of the trustees. I plan to step down as chair at the next trustee meeting, though I am pleased to be able to continue as a trustee. My proposed  successor as chair will be Roger Bickerstaff of Bird & Bird and I wish him every success in this rewarding and challenging role. Rewarding because SCL is a great organisation to work with, providing education and insight and above all a community for IT lawyers, related professionals and the academic IT world. Challenging because we are always trying new things to improve the service we provide to our members.

This week I had the pleasure of being “David Dimbleby” at SCL’s very own Question Time chaired by our President Richard Susskind and with a guest panel that possessed  an extraordinary breadth of experience comprising Kit Burden from DLA Piper, Harry Small from Baker & McKenzie, Richard Stephens from LORS and John Yates from v-Lex. The discussion was wide ranging but throughout it was evident that the continuing theme which informs and drives our business is changing information technology. From Big Data to Apps to Cloud Computing and 3D printing nothing stands still. Very often we as advisers are running to catch up not with legal developments, which generally take time to come to pass, but with the IT itself. This not only impacts upon the services we provide to clients but how we structure and organise our practices to do this. Computers and the Internet give us, and partly demand from us, new ways of practicing the law. Will we soon be tweeting legal advice? We debated legal developments and lawyers on demand, lean lawyering and the traditional pyramid structure of law firms. We plan to publish a fuller report on the Question Time proceedings and I encourage you to read this.

I have written some 26 blogs as chair. As I look back at these previous blogs some inform readers about developments in SCL, but for the majority technology and its use and effect  is a theme running throughout . From my efforts to create web sites and to use social media to my plea to lawyers to use laptops and tablets (and stop cutting down trees) and my advocating the use of two screens on a desktop, all are derived from technology developments creating social and business change. This also reflects well SCL’s dual focus on the law and on the technology itself. The cases and the statutes and regulations of course remain the bedrock of our legal practices and keeping abreast of this ever changing panoply, from the EU’s efforts to regulate data to the many and sometimes surprising judgements of the courts, is a continuing challenge for us all.

The one thing we can all be sure of is that this is not going to stop. We are all on the bus and cannot get off.  If you can create a working firearm on a printer from a set of emailed blueprints, the sky is literally the limit. Computers will as always get exponentially faster and will continually change our lives, generally I think for the better. Legal practice whether like mine in house or in private practice will I suggest need to recognise and articulate the processes that build up their operations and adjust these to react to and take advantage of technical and social evolution.

So thank you for your support for my blogs over the past three years. It has been thought provoking and great fun composing them.  And can I finally as I bid you farewell and adieu express my appreciation to those who have commented on my blogs. I know at times it has made Laurence Eastham, our SCL editor who contributes so much to the society, mildly envious to see these comments. He and I know that as bloggers there is nothing worse than putting your heart on your sleeve and publishing your thoughts in an interactive format, only to get no reaction. So please continue to support SCL and comment on our various blogs and come along to our many events.  I look forward to seeing you at one of these  in the future.