SCL Chair Mark O’Conor looks back at some highlights of the Society’s year
Much of the enjoyment of Christmas is in taking comfort from indulging in some well-worn rituals. In dark winter days, retreating to tradition provides sanctuary from the icy blasts outside.
So after a year of political and technological turmoil, I make no apologies for using my last message of the year to indulge in that ancient Christmas activity of looking back at some of the highlights and achievements over the last 12 months.
The Online Courts Hackathon, held over 24 hours on a hot weekend in July, must be counted as one of them. This was a novel form of event for us and all present were swept away by the energy, invention and collaboration shown by the competing teams. As our Editor Laurence Eastham noted in his review of the day:
‘Even I, as a mere observer, was energised and uplifted by the wonderful atmosphere, the plethora of great ideas and the stunning skills on display.’
The fact that the event needed to take place at all is testament to the deep changes that technology is wreaking on legal practice on the ground. The winning team’s use of voice recognition to provide assistance to litigants in person is surely a theme we will see recur in 2018.
November saw a successful inaugural student event ‘A Path to Tech Law‘. Over 120 aspiring tech lawyers attended, coming from all over the country. The event was borne out of our University Ambassadors’ initiative which has been set up to engage, enthuse and educate the tech lawyers of the future and which will be, alongside our Bursary award, a key part of our activities for hopefully many years to come.
There were so many SCL events in 2017 that it's hard to choose, but the ‘Back to Basics‘ Technology day was universally well received and I think it's increasingly important that we understand the law, market practice, and also the underlying technology too. It also gave us the chance to launch SCL on YouTube. Our channel now hosts seven videos from the event, freely available for any interested viewer and acting as a permanent calling card for what we do.
Also available on the YouTube channel is the Sextech video that shows that no area of human existence, no matter how intimate, is beyond the reach of the technological revolution and hot on its heels, the debate as to the need for law and regulation to ensure that a civilised approach prevails.
But not all highlights are about the new.
We should celebrate the continued strength of the SCL magazine and the content on the revamped, now mobile friendly website. It is easy to forget how much expert insight, analysis and comment is published in print and online each year by members and thought leaders all expertly marshalled by Laurence Eastham. Indeed many of you use the SCL archives as a first port of call for your research. A magazine redesign awaits in the New Year to ensure that it keeps pace with modern tastes. This year we were delighted to welcome David Chaplin to the SCL team. David is the Development Editor for the SCL website and is spearheading our International Associate Editors initiative.
I am hugely grateful for the continued support and enthusiasm of my fellow Trustees and also the contribution from the SCL Groups who have organised a host of excellent events this year. I would also like to highlight the efforts of the team at SCL HQ, Caroline, Maddie and Sarah who manage the Society on a day-to day basis, support the membership and oversee our entire programme of events involving speakers and delegates from the UK and around the world.
These ongoing activities are at the heart of what we do and what your support, through membership fees and time offered, helps to provide. It is that mix of tradition and the innovation that sets us apart and helps to make the SCL such a vibrant community.
Enjoy the break and prepare yourself for a turbulent 2018.