Happenings, IFCLA Thanks and More

August 9, 2016

It would be an understatement to say that a lot has happened over recent weeks – and that’s true for SCL as well as the wider world.

The referendum result and the political upheaval that has followed it will stand out for most. The continuing uncertainty that surrounds that issue – uncertainty that was predictable but is heading towards the unforgivable – allows me to glide over that and move on to more obviously SCL-related matter. Plus gliding over is probably best for my health as the subject can bring me out in a rash, particularly in the context of the recent IFCLA conference where collaboration, inclusion and a positive approach to future legal and technological developments were very much at the heart of the discussions.

This is my first opportunity to publicly thank all those involved with the very successful IFCLA Conference in June. It was a terrific event that perfectly embodied the international nature of tech law in the most concrete fashion imaginable. Roger Bickerstaff, Caroline Gould and Maddie Southorn were the architects, builders and interior designers of an impressive construction and found just the right balance of exotic and home-grown material. The success of the Conference reflects great credit on SCL and its membership. My own experience of it left me invigorated by the exchanges inside the main Conference, and outside it during the social events, and re-affirmed my commitment to making sure that SCL maintains an international outlook – as must all tech lawyers if they want to survive in 21st century practice. The use of Glisser undoubtedly enhanced the delegate experience and widened participation and SCL will be using it again for {the Tech Law Futures Conference: http://www.scl.org/site.aspx?i=ev46551} in November. If you were unable to attend the IFCLA Conference, do read {David Chaplin’s excellent report: http://www.scl.org/site.aspx?i=ne47941}, and the Twitter feed. For me, some of the standout observations included those from Richard Susskind, who assessed automation vs innovation and discussed the ‘AI Fallacy’ (namely, the mistaken assumption that the only way to develop systems that perform like humans is to replicate the way that humans perform). Dr Joachim Schwerin, speaking on FinTech made the point that the disintermediation that lies at the heart of FinTech can be characterised as ‘people being fed up with the system’! Julie Samnadda from the Commission Legal Services presented the plans to create the Digital Single Market in a clear and accessible way and discussed the challenge for how to accommodate the existing legal framework. Later, we benefitted from the digital transformation insights of Michelin and Jeremy Moreton at IAG, assessing the transition risk from old to new tech, and the real business impact of tech failure.

One of the people attending the IFCLA Conference was the SCL Student Essay Prize winner, Lucie Audibert. I was delighted that we managed to resurrect the Essay Prize competition and I am grateful to Neil Brown and Kiran Chand for their work in setting questions and judging the entries. Lucie’s enthusiasm for tech law was invigorating and her obvious pleasure in being at IFCLA may well show us a way forward – perhaps with more sponsored student attendees for future high-level events. I had a great response from the winner and runners up to my congratulatory messages and hope that they will see SCL both as a resource and as an organisation with which they can be involved as their careers develop – Lorraine Chimbga has already become involved in providing book reviews for us.

Our next big event is the SCL Annual Lecture on 6 October, in which SCL President Richard Susskind will address the topic of {‘Upgrading Justice: http://www.scl.org/site.aspx?i=ev46790}’. It is 25 years since the first SCL Lecture and 20 years since Richard gave his first SCL Annual Lecture. With real progress on ODR and in the wider implementation of technology in the courts and beyond, I can confidently predict that this will be a very well attended event and would advise you to book early. This event is free to SCL members but it is likely to be of great interest to non-lawyers, and lawyers who are not SCL members, so it might be just perfect for clients and colleagues too. It cannot fail to impress so ‘bring a friend’!. The Lord Chief Justice is to introduce the Lecture, which shows just how highly SCL and Richard are rated.

I want to let you know about a few changes at SCL HQ in Bristol. There have been changes in roles and we have a new recruit in Sarah Forster, SCL’s Finance and Membership Accounts Manager. Sarah has taken on a range of tasks including those previously carried out by Priti Magudia. Caroline Gould’s ever-widening and increasingly crucial role in SCL is now reflected in her new job title: Chief Executive. Maddie Southorn’s contribution to SCL has expanded to reflect her knowledge, experience and interests and that is reflected in her new job title: Communications Manager.

Finally, I want to give a big thank you to those who responded to {my call for feedback from in-house lawyers: http://www.scl.org/site.aspx?i=ne47125}. Doing more for in-house lawyers in the tech field is very high on my list of priorities for SCL and we will be following up on this initiative over the next few months. If you do still want to respond and my original call passed you by, do let me know what you think – it’s not too late to let me have your views.