About this SiteThis site provides a comprehensive set of links to useful legal resources, designed to be of use to the legal community in the UK and Ireland. It was set up in 1995 and is still going strong as one of the very few independent legal web sites in the UK.
Until October 2006, I did not accept advertising or sponsorship of any kind. However, I now feel that sponsored links are acceptable to most viewers and, quite honestly, it is nice to generate a bit of income from this site!
However, it will always be completely clear which entries are sponsored links. There are more details about advertising on this site here.
Here is a particularly nice comment about the site From Mr Sahota, of Sahota solicitors, Solicitor-Advocate (Higher Courts, Civil):
About Delia VenablesDelia Venables consults and writes on IT and internet topics relating to legal applications. Her web site (this one) was one of the first legal resources to arrive on the UK legal web in 1996 and it is still going strong.
Together with Nick Holmes, she jointly writes and edits a series of online courses which goes under the general name of The Legal Web. Details of these courses can be found on Nick Holmes' site here.
Together with Nick Holmes, she also edits and produces the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers which is a bi-monthly newsletter covering how lawyers can make the best use of resources online (particularly free ones), how they can use the internet for improving service to their clients, how it is changing legal practice, how lawyers can market themselves and also sell legal services online, legal aspects of e-commerce and IT issues relating to all these topics. Details of the newsletter can be found here.
The Venables website – a personal storyI first “discovered” the internet on a trip to the USA in 1995. I was an IT consultant for Lawyers and I could immediately see the possibilities that the internet offered the legal world. I soon set up my own web site here with information that I thought would be useful for UK lawyers. At that time, there was only a handful of firms of solicitors that had a web site and there was only one other independent legal site in the UK – Nick Holmes’ infolaw site. He and I met quite soon after this and agreed that the UK legal internet was big enough for both of us, and we have been friends and colleagues (and occasionally rivals!) ever since.
The legal publishers were not really present on the web at that time – perhaps they rather hoped that the internet would go away and leave them to print their learned books in peace! How different it all seems now.
Who is it for?The first thing I realised was that a legal site really had to provide information - separately - for several different types of viewer: lawyers, certainly, but also individuals with a legal problem, companies with legal questions to resolve, and students studying the law. From the beginning, therefore, I maintained separate sections for these four groups and I still do, as you can see from my home page.
The intention of the site was to provide links to useful legal sites, with brief descriptions of these sites – really a giant set of bookmarks and “pointers” to the resources and services which lawyers might find useful.
I am not a lawyer (I was trained in maths and IT) but I had been working with lawyers for 15 years and I could recognise a legal resource when I saw one. I was careful however (and I am still careful) not to give the impression that I can provide legal advice myself; I direct people with legal problems to the relevant part of the site and to the page of solicitors who provide legal resources relating to those topics on their site.
For LawyersI started with just a few web pages but soon found that I needed to differentiate the information into clear categories; you can see the sections offered here. From this section, the list of firms with web sites has always been a popular area – there are now several thousand firms with web sites and indeed, any firm without a web site is now seriously behind. One reason that my own lists are popular is that you can “browse” the page of (say) firms beginning with N; most other sources of UK information, including the Law Society’s own directory site, require you to search for something – a very different process.
One part of the sections related to firms’ web sites is the particular page of firms offering to provide free initial legal advice to individuals or companies, by email or phone, free of charge here. There are many people looking for free legal advice and searching on these words "free legal advice"; the firms of solicitors who ask to be listed on this page have to balance the public service element of their efforts with their hope that real work will result.
It is remarkable that around 300 firms of solicitors have asked to be put on this page, together with details of the areas of work in which they are prepared to provide this advice.
For individualsOver the years, the sections for individuals have become very important and I have set up a series of web pages under the heading of Free Legal Information for Individuals Organised by Topics. These sections provide a description of resources provided by solicitors in each legal area – there are substantial legal resources provided by solicitors in this way.
Individuals are of course also directed to the lists of firms of solicitors with a web site and to the page for firms willing to offer free initial advice, as well as the pages for firms (and others) selling legal services directly from their web site – see Selling pages for more on that topic.
How the web site relates to my other activitiesIn the early years, I maintained the site partly to raise my profile as an IT consultant for lawyers but partly also just because it was so fascinating to do. There soon emerged another benefit from the site – to feature the “Internet Newsletter for Lawyers” which provides information for lawyers about everything that is happening on the legal internet. The newsletter covers how the internet presents the law, how it widens access to the law, legal aspects of e-commerce and websites, how lawyers themselves use it for communicating and for improving service to their clients, and how they use the internet to market themselves.
I produced the newsletter on my own for 10 years but I now produce and edit it jointly with Nick Holmes of infolaw – a full circle from our original contacts round about 1996! You can see more about the newsletter on the infolaw site here. Nick and I also produce various CPD courses about how lawyers are using the internet - you can see these described here and also here.
Delia Venables, 10 Southway, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1LU Telephone 01273 472424
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