News from the SCL Chair

October 9, 2016

Post summer break no doubt you are swamped with work again and holidays feel like a distant memory. Amidst the debates of hard or soft Brexit, and the increasing regularity of law firm AI adoption, it seems the right time again to look ahead to some of our forthcoming events and to update you on some of the activities which go on behind the scenes at SCL HQ.

{b}What’s on the horizon?{/b}

Well from the international perspective it’s all go. For example, SCL Ireland has a number of events in the pipeline and we are aiming to host the Tech Law Futures Conference in Dublin next November. Ireland has become something of a magnet for tech lawyers and while we have always had considerable input from Ireland we note the call arising from our recent survey for us to do more in Ireland. I hope to see a range of suggestions from SCL members, and a queue of volunteers, so that we can spread the SCL word as effectively as possible. Do get in touch with your ideas and we will hope to include those suggestions in our plans.

Meanwhile SCL Singapore kicks off this week (14th October). There is clearly a great deal of interest in the region and we will report further on the outcomes and next steps.

The other hotly anticipated event is the SCL Tech Law Futures Conference on Thursday 10th November. It has a stunning list of speakers (I am one of the less stunning ones) and a fascinating range of topics. The whole event is very much the product of an amalgam of members’ ideas and SCL realisation which is emblematic of the Society. Again, miss this one at your peril!

{b}SCL Annual Lecture{/b}

More than 200 members and colleagues joined us last week for Richard Susskind’s Annual Lecture. As a charitable society focusing on the legal issues arising from technology and the use of technology in law, Richard’s lecture was the ideal discussion of both limbs of our work. If you were not able to join us then let me commend to you Richard’s work. As tech lawyers we simply cannot afford to be ignorant of the AI debate and (love or hate the implications) the trends towards future ways of working are clear and raise profound issues for the law, our profession and society as a whole. Relatedly, we are starting an AI and Robotics Group to look at these issues in more depth. Please get in touch with Caroline Gould at if you want to be involved.

{b}Giving back{/b}

As you probably know, the Society membership subs help to run the Society and ensure that our magazine and website meet your requirements. SCL is an educational charity, the Trustees and Group Chairs donate their time and insights, and from time to time we end a year with a surplus of funds. What to do with that? Well we have investigated, debated and discussed the most appropriate use of any fund surplus and we hope that you will be pleased with the outcome. We intend to split this year’s surplus; repeating our previous donation to BAILII and linking with universities to assist tomorrow’s tech lawyers complete their studies.

BAILII continues to be able to make freely available the latest judgments from courts and tribunals across the UK and Ireland on a daily basis. It has recently signed a new five-year contract with the Ministry of Justice to secure the rapid delivery of data for processing and publication. BAILII has succeeded in maintaining its services over the past fifteen years almost entirely through philanthropic funding. For BAILII to remain strong and independent it continues to need reliable core funding from everyone who shares the belief that it is providing a valuable and unique free access service.

SCL LLM bursary: The cost of studying can be prohibitive for many students and each year a number of excellent candidates are unable to continue their education due to lack of funds. SCL would like to help by providing access to specialist teaching and research in the field of Computer and Communications Law at QMUL. At SCL we believe that it’s good to give back and to offer more people the opportunity to have a career in tech law.

Finally, as you might remember, we run an annual essay competition for tech law students. The winner this year was Lucie Audibert and I hope she won’t mind me quoting from her feedback because I thought that you, as members, would be pleased to read this:

“The SCL Student Essay Prize is an amazing opportunity for all those passionate about IT Law to differentiate themselves and gain first-hand exposure to the field. By researching and expressing your views on a salient topic that matters to you, you will get the chance to have your essay published and available to a wide array of IT Lawyers. As winner of the prize last year, not only did my essay appear in the SCL’s influential Computers & Law magazine, I had the unique opportunity to attend the IFCLA conference, a fantastic two-day event for IT Lawyers from all over the world, gathered to discuss the latest issues stirring up the field. This experience has opened doors for me like I could never have imagined. I highly encourage any student with an interest in tech law to pick up their pens and give this year’s essay questions a go”.