A Very Good Year – for SCL

December 20, 2016

I became Chair of SCL on 28 January 2016. Thanks to the great work done by Roger Bickerstaff, my predecessor, SCL had an exciting programme in place for 2016 and that has grown and grown as the year has progressed. I could not be more proud of what we have achieved in 2016. And don’t forget that whilst we focus on the business issues at the crossroads of law and technology, we are an educational charity. So in 2016, your SCL membership fee has supported:

• Free SCL membership for students and trainee lawyers;
• Concessionary places at all SCL events for students and those on a low income;
• BAILII – British and Irish Legal Information Institute; and
• An SCL Computer and Communications Law bursary in collaboration with QMUL.

One of the highlights for me was the IFCLA Conference, held in June in London. Over 165 attendees from 12 countries spent two days in earnest discussions sparked by brilliant speakers. It was enlightening, engaging, exciting and fun.

In October we had Richard Susskind’s Annual Lecture “Upgrading Justice” with an introduction from the Lord Chief Justice. That was truly a stellar event and set the agenda for a wide-ranging series of top-level exchanges. Perhaps that should be my highlight.

But last month we had the Tech Law Futures Conference, with many new ideas broached and a wonderful collection of attendees. That really set the bar very high; I am not sure how many highlights I am allowed.

The truth is that the whole year has been a series of highs. SCL has organised over 30 separate events – many of which have been sold out, we have made real progress in consultation responses, the Better Contracts initiative has the potential to be ground-breaking and the flow of ideas and news on our website (over 100 articles – and counting – and 60 news items in 2016) gives members a wonderful insight into so many important and developing topics. I am especially pleased that we have managed to build on that IFCLA success and create improved links in other countries – the establishment of SCL Singapore for example. And the Foundations series has gone from strength to strength, underpinning our commitment to the provision of education to younger or aspiring tech lawyers.

I count myself lucky to be Chair of such a great organisation. I am sure SCL members have every reason to feel proud of their association with it – it has been great to have the chance to meet so many and exchange views on tech law, and wider, issues. You may rest assured that 2017 will be full of exciting and innovative events and I trust that I will see many of you there.

I thought, having been a trustee for over four years, that I was completely au fait with SCL developments but becoming Chair has opened my eyes to just how much work is involved in running and managing SCL. I want to close with a big thank you to the SCL Chief Executive, Caroline Gould and also to Maddie Southorn and Sarah Forster. Without their tremendous work, little would be achieved – they are the cornerstone of the SCL edifice, not to mention the many times they have to be the scaffolding.

Happy holidays from everyone at SCL, and here’s hoping for new starts, new challenges and new connections in 2017.