Laurence Eastham on foundations, education and celebrations
I write this in the aftermath, more a warm glow really, of another highly successful SCL Conference. I feel the warm glow (even though I wasn't actually there) via the feedback that comes my way and because David Chaplin's buzzy account of the event (see the SCL web site) captured the buzz so well.
The Conference was, by all accounts, a great triumph, but SCL is not resting on its laurels. The new and exciting SCL Foundations of IT Law programme is being launched in November with the aim of providing SCL members with the opportunity to be trained in all the crucial aspects of IT law and become an accredited specialist in the field. The detail and the (remarkably low) costs associated with the programme are fully spelled out on the SCL web site. As one who once confused his RSJs with his JCBs, I am wary of construction-related metaphors but I have no doubt that the SCL foundation programme will support many a glittering skyscraper-high career in IT law.
This is only the latest recent development reflecting SCL's commitment to education, albeit an exciting one. While networking and informed contributions on consultations are important, the main thrust of SCL's activities is education – of IT lawyers, students in the field and the wider IT community. Attendance at most events continues to be healthy, with a high proportion of SCL members taking advantage of the training opportunities they offer, but two aspects of the education on offer from SCL remain somewhat neglected.
First, it is still the case that the many online CPD courses that are free to SCL members are taken up by only a small proportion. These courses, which might be based on the material in this magazine or might be based on one of the entertaining podcasts available on the SCL web site, give solicitors and barristers a great opportunity to supplement their CPD and it is a pity that they are not more fully exploited. The second area of 'education' is the SCL Twitter feed. While many will think I am stretching the meaning of 'educational' in this instance, it is principally an alerting service that can be used to direct followers to all manner of developments relevant to IT lawyers. While it is much valued generally, judging by the considerable number that do follow it, it is still the case that many SCL members do not take advantage of this valuable resource. Those not yet sold on Twitter are genuinely risking being bypassed and appearing to be out of touch. The argument that it is a passing fad is perfectly respectable but there is a (barely) respectable argument that trousers are a passing fad – it all depends on one's perception of time – and the temporary advantage Twitter offers is still one worth taking.
All work and no play isn't good for even the most earnest of educational charities and there will shortly be a spectacular opportunity for SCL and its members to celebrate the Society's achievements. On 5 December SCL is holding its 40th Anniversary Dinner at the House of Commons and tickets for the event are now on sale. We look forward to a fun evening that focuses on the prospects for the future, with a dutiful nod to the past. With IT law becoming increasingly mainstream, it is harder to maintain the collegiate atmosphere that once marked SCL gatherings. The considerable consolation is that social media and online collaboration has made exchanges of ideas (and pleasantries) much easier – to the extent that I sometimes lose track of who I know from face-to-face meetings and who I know only from online exchanges. But there are times when meeting in historic surroundings in glamour mode (do your best!) is irreplaceable – it is quite impossible to rival such an experience online.