The SCL first Boot Camp on 2nd to 4th February was an enormous success. Joanne Ashley tells you what you missed.
Boot Camp 2001 was an intensive motivating experience with information rich seminars from some infectiously enthusiastic practitioners.
If delegates arrived with any doubts about the significance of new technology or its synergy with everyday life, the interactive life science and technology setting of @Bristol was sufficient to remind us all that understanding is the key to mastering all new subjects.
John Yates and Nigel Miller co-chaired a good cross-section of speakers drawn from industry and the relatively small sector of the legal profession specialising in IT work. John's relaxed style at plenary sessions encouraged questions and comments from delegates and speakers alike.
Jeremy Holt began his Saturday slot by inviting us to 'Behold the magic of the web' a quote from A Midsummer Night's Dream which is guaranteed to impress other lawyers, but clear the table at dinner parties! His talk on licensing rights was unique in having no Powerpoint presentation but, without any visual distractions, it was one of the most engaging of the sessions.
Bill Jones urged us not to be afraid of the dark, a welcome acknowledgement from a more established member of the profession that client's expectations mean long hours for legal advisors. He threw down the gauntlet against the corporate squawk of 'running ducks in a row up the flag pole to see the crest of the wave' but failing to deliver workable solutions for client. He also warned us that credibility with clients can be lost simply by not knowing the latest TLA. This reinforced a basic truth emphasised at Boot Camp: to service a client you must first understand it.
Animated discussion of the finer points of IT law at the Boot Camp dinner.
After a quick jog through Data Protection and IP law, a cross-border sprint through comparative law and over the assault course which is recent case law, Boot Camp delegates earned the dinner cruise so well organised by SCL. The spaces at the early Sunday morning session and the ashen faces of many of those attending demonstrated that the Boot Camp 'passing out' parade may have come a day early for some delegates!
The emphasis throughout Boot Camp was on providing commercial solutions for our clients. The importance of adequate project management, which extends to legal project management and using specialist legal advisors to resolve disputes between clients swiftly, was highlighted particularly by IT consultant Michael Turner.
Of course, the obvious next step is to take this 'RAD-style' legal solution profile from discussion to practice and use it between solicitors when acting for clients. From the industry speakers at Boot Camp it is clear that this more industry orientated approach is too seldom adopted. Boot Camp delegates must now know that a solicitor delivering such superlative service levels would doubtless benefit from doing so, particularly as the industry grapevine spreads recommendations faster than an explicit e-mail on a Norton Rose intranet.
If this evangelism was not for you, then at the very least you could come away from Boot Camp with practical tips on how to assist clients to manage IT sourcing procurement, and disputes.
From constructive advice about kick-starting drafting where the contract provided by the other side is hopeless to good-natured 'worst deal ever' story swapping, Boot Camp was more a generous knowledge sharing exercise than a forced hike through the quagmire of this area of practice. If any delegates who attended the Boot Camp remain in any doubt about the dynamic future of IT law, they can't have been listening.
Joanne Ashley is an associate at Sprecher Grier Halberstam and specialises in IP and e-commerce.