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Web Sites and Technology on the Legal Internet

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I-COM.net AlphaBiolabs  - more care, more convenience, more value Medical/legal services: Legal DNA Testing, Immigration DNA Testing, Paternity Testing, Legal Drug Testing and Legal Alcohol Testing. Lasting Powers of Attorney, a Practical Guide, 
by Craig Ward (The Law Society)

Are you interested in the "History of New"? See: New from 2008 or New from 2009 or New from 2010 or New from 2011 or New from 2012.

Last updated April 17th 2014.

  • I like Twitter (I really do) but I have several gripes (5, so far) about Twitter users...
    • No 1. People send too many tweets.
      Some of my best friends (sorry guys) send several a day - 4, 6, 8... even more. Some people (ordinary human beings) have sent out over 10,000 tweets. No one can have that many interesting things to say! They are running the serious risk of being unfollowed or (at best) having their followers skip over their tweets. My advice would be - at most 1 a day. At most. Really.

    • No 2. Too many Twitter handles @ and hashtags # can make a tweet incomprehensible.
      Handles and hashtags are often made up of strange characters and do not look like names or topics at all. I know it is nice to put in peoples' handles because then they get informed about the tweet automatically - and I know that the hashtags enable tweets to be assembled on a particular topic automatically but this can go too far! Please could you make your tweets into something that the ordinary viewer can understand?

    • No 3. We all like to tweet but we do not really want to listen (much).
      There are the big stars (Stephen Fry etc) and the legal IT stars (Richard Susskind, Charles Christian, Joshua Rosenberg, Tim Kevan) but most of us are not in this category. Most of us have 100 or 200 followers and follow a similar number. That makes sense. That implies a certain reciprocity. What does not make sense is where people follow many hundreds of other people - and I have come across a few people following two or three thousand. This simply says (to me) that these people are following everything that moves in the hope that a few will "follow them back" and that they do not read the tweets of others AT ALL. If you are following 2,000 people and if they put out an average of say 5 tweets a week that would be 10,000 tweets to read a week. I rest my case.

    • No 4. People have started using pictures as disguised longer messages.
      That is cheating really - just a way of getting more than 140 characters in a tweet, and it also gives difficulty to people with sight difficulties since there is no way of "hearing" the text on pictures. (My thanks to Ian Eiloart for this one).

    • No 5. Please do not tweet with your every passing thought.
      Surely tweets should be saying something of more than momentary interest? I would prefer not to receive tweets on food, drink, football, TV, weather, holidays, children and pets. Is it just me?

    Last updated April 16th 2014.

    Innovative software for employment lawyers to sell to their clients

  • myhrtoolkit is software designed for small and medium sized businesses to streamline the HR function with easy-to-use human resources tools. It is a cloud system so you can access it wherever you are. Holiday requests, absence management, appraisals, tasks, reports, HR documents, messaging and reminder notifications can all be managed online. There is a very good video on the site to show you how it works. Ironmonger Curtis employment law partner Jon Curtis is also the Managing Director of this software which is sold nationally by HR and employment law professionals.
    See also Latest Newsletter Feature - Selling employment law with online HR software.

    Last updated April 12th 2014.

    Access to your data by foreign governments?

  • Cloud Computing is the subject of a Law Society Practice note issued today. It gives a good description of the benefits and risks of using cloud computing and includes ways in which a contract can try to protect the user against particular types of risk. Interestingly, one of the risks (described in section 6.3) is the risk of foreign governments or intelligence agencies gaining access to your data - lawfully. It says, comfortingly, that "The Information Commissioner's guidance on the use of cloud computing makes clear that where this occurs enforcement under the DPA against a data controller is unlikely." So you can sleep easy.

    Last updated March 30th 2014.

  • Do you need to brush up on your European sites?
    I have updated my web page European Institutions and Legal Resources Online. There are some amazing sites there. The Europa site, for example, is probably the most complex web site in the world, with 24 official languages, all types of viewer from school children to business men and politicians (and lawyers) and every topic under the sun (or snow).

    Last updated March 26th 2014.

  • Bar Marketing provides a very useful monthly newsletter for Chambers (free)
    Bar Marketing provides a monthly newsletter called "Chambers Marketing News". This provides jargon free practical marketing advice from qualified marketing professionals with, for example advice on chambers budgeting (this month's special topic), different types of promotion, event planning and successful directory submissions. You can subscribe here. One of the things I like about it is that it provides real information - not just "teasers" to get you to become a client of the company.

    Last updated March 25th 2014.

  • There is an amazing article in the Telegraph today called Google search: 15 hidden features, about incredible things you can do with Google which you probably did not know about.
    Here are my 7 favourites from this list (yours might be different):
    * Limit a search to a particular site, e.g. a search on "site:venables.co.uk harassment" will find all references on my site to harassment
    * Currency and (just about) any units conversions, e.g. "£5.85 in $" gives the answer $9.67
    * Translate any word to any language, e.g. "translate newspaper to french" gives "journal" as well as various dictionaries for more subtle meanings
    * Search for films local to where you are e.g. "movies brighton" provides a list of movies showing near Brighton
    * Weather forecasts for anywhere, e.g. "Lewes UK forecast" or "Tempe Arizona forecast" provide what you would expect
    * Dictionary definition of any word, e.g. "define hyperbole" brings back "exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally"
    * Public data, e.g. "population Lewes" brings back various alternative numbers (from different sources)
    I suppose there must be some limits to these options (e.g. unemployment trends in outer mongolia?) but for ordinary places and things you might actually want to know, these tips are amazing.

    Last updated March 15th 2014.

    There is a new version of "Find a Solicitor" on the Law Society's site - it's good!

  • The Law Society's Find a Solicitor is provided by the Law Society of England and Wales. This is a free service for anyone looking for information about organisations or people providing legal services in England and Wales that are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Find a Solicitor aims to include all SRA regulated law firms, individuals and the organisations that contain regulated individuals who choose to be listed. Additionally, it references non-solicitors who are members of the Law Society's accreditation schemes. The "Quick search" is designed for members of the public wishing to find someone in their area who can help with a specific legal issue. The "Pro search" provides more advanced search functionality, to find a specific person or organisation by name, by SRA ID or by their primary and secondary areas of practice. Additional search filters enable searches by Law Society accreditation scheme name and selection of accessibility options, e.g. disabled access to building, hearing induction loop and legal aid.

    Last updated March 13th 2014.

    This important journal is now free...

  • The Digital Evidence and Electronic Signature Law Review brings articles, legal developments and case reports to academics, practitioners and the industry in relation to digital evidence and electronic signatures from across the world. The review is issued once a year, in October/November. This new Open Access version of the journal (i.e. it's free) is being developed by Stephen Mason with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), University of London on the SAS Open Journals System.

    Last updated March 13th 2014.

    An interesting blog

  • Justin Patten's blog is a thoughtful and interesting blog on topics relating to Wills, Probate Law and Divorce Mediation. Latest post is about Powers of Attorney - why they are a good thing and why the family benefits. Other recent posts cover why Co-operative Legal Services may entering into a sticky patch and why our Health and Safety Legislation (or obsession?) may be leading to a lack of Justice.

    Last updated March 10th 2014.

    News about Online Dispute Resolution from a past contributor to the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers.

  • Modria, the major Online Dispute Organisation, has been selected by The American Arbitration Association (AAA) to build the online platform to manage their New York No Fault (NYNF) caseload. This new platform will accelerate case processing, ensure secure and transparent communication between parties, and increase convenience for AAA and its customers. The Modria Resolution Center for NYNF will support conciliation (mediation), arbitration and master appeal processes. Insurance carriers, applicants and general counsel will be able to participate in the process online, improving online communication, document management, and scheduling. All parties will be able to get on-demand status updates on pending cases, anytime, anywhere.
    You can read the article Online Dispute Resolution written by Graham Ross, head of the European Advisory Board of Modria.

    For Lawyers learning languages...

  • How to study Languages on the Internet and Languages for Lawyers are two very interesting articles in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers by Susan Isaacs, a language teacher who provides language courses in the City for Lawyers (and other professionals). The articles cover general free language resources on the Internet as well as free sites (or TV legal drama!) which can help the lawyer gain vocabulary and fluency in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and German.

    Last updated March 7th 2014.

    Are you already listed - or do you want to be listed?

  • Firms of Solicitors in England, Wales, Scotland, Norther Ireland and Ireland (on this site) lists approximately 7,000 firms - all the ones I know about. The lists are "browsable" by the name of the firm. This is a free directory - no charge is made to the firms to be in the list. I am happy to provide a free entry for any firm I have missed, if they contact me.

    Last updated March 5th 2014.

    A useful facility (SaaS) which Solicitors can put on their own web site

  • Conveyancing Calculator is an Online Conveyancing Fees Calculator which Solicitors can put onto their own website to provide potential clients with an instant online conveyancing quote. The service is cloud based. Each solicitor who signs up to the service (which only costs £95 for a year for unlimited use) receives a unique username and password. This allows the solicitor to log in and set up their own fees, cost and disbursements. They can also customise the email that clients receive when they ask for a quote. It takes just minutes to set up the access to the facility. You can see how this works by visiting a solicitor's site here. See the "Best conveyancing Rates" banner at the right hand side which then leads to the detailed calculator here. The facility has been developed ay a web site design company called Guildford-IT and can be purchased via the Conveyancing Calculator site as above.

    Last updated March 2nd 2014.

    Looking for a Solicitor? Here is my directory of directories.

  • There are an amazing number of companies providing directories of solicitors for some or many types of work. These companies aim to attract individuals looking for a solicitor to their site and then provide facilities for solicitors to have clients referred to them by paying a fee to the directory company.
    There are nearly 50 such companies referenced on my page here. It's a sort of directory of directories.

    Last updated February 25th 2014.

    Are you interested in the key legal publishers?

  • Legal Publishers are described on my web site and I have updated the pages recently. The section is divided into the really big publishers and the smaller (and often more recent) legal publishers described here. Please let me know if I am missing any or if anything else needs updating!

    Last updated February 21st 2014.

    Government clamp down on Claims Management Companies

  • The Ministry of Justice reports that, in the past year, more than 200 licences have been removed from rogue Claims Management Companies (CMCs) which have flouted the rules on how claims can be generated and which bombard the public with unwelcome calls and misleading information. The figures were released by the Claims Management Regulation Unit at the Ministry of Justice. The greatest fall in numbers has taken place in the personal injury claims sector which has seen the number of CMCs fall by more than 1,000 from a peak of 2,553 in December 2011 to around 1,400 in January 2014. This comes as the Government is also introducing a new set of toughened rules to crackdown on abuses, increases fees for CMCs and gives the Unit new powers to fine firms for rule breaches, as well as employing more enforcement staff to tackle irresponsible practice.

    Last updated February 13th 2014.

    Cloud systems are very useful when there is a flood!

  • Richard Griffiths & Co is a family-run firm of solicitors with offices in Salisbury, New Milton and Chippenham, an area is badly affected by floods with transport seriously disrupted. However, firms of solicitors cannot just shut! Joseph Cooke, Solicitor at the firm, said “The flooding in the south west is so bad that virtually all trains have been cancelled on some days. In the past, the floods would have been a real problem. However, our software supplier Quill solves this problem because everything – documents, letters, attendance notes – is saved to case history and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. So it was still possible to do a day’s work in spite of being unable to travel”.

    Last updated February 8th 2014.

    New development in After The Event Insurance (ATE)

  • Box Legal has announced in its blog that it will shortly be placing adverts in the legal magazines which show the cost of their policies, starting with Clinical Negligence and Industrial Disease policies. Apparently, ATE companies do not generally quote their prices so this may set the cat amongst the pigeons. Box Legal think they will be the cheapest since they do not have large offices or a large staff.

    Last updated February 7th 2014.

    A very useful source of information on marketing and new media topics

  • Hallam Blog is a great source of information on marketing and new media topics. Sue Hallam, who founded Hallam Internet, provides short tutorials on many useful subjects, like a glossary of social media terms, how to use Google Trends, whether Guest blogging is "done", all about Top Level Domains, whether your business needs a legal app, how to fix an email marketing mistake, and.... lots more.

    Last updated January 26th 2014.

  • Free European Sources Online is a wonderful blog article by Ruth Bird covering the revamped Eur-Lex site which offers a set of legislative and caselaw resources that are core for many lawyers in the EU. Eur-Lex is the European Commission’s project to bring together EU law into one comprehensive, free site but, as she says, it can appear a little overwhelming at first. Ruth provides a guide through the resources on this site. The host blog, Slaw is a long standing Canadian blog and co-operative which now has has a crew of 24 bloggers and 60 columnists. Whilst based in Canada, Slaw covers legal resources from around the world. Ruth Bird is the Bodleian Law Librarian at the University of Oxford. She has worked in law firm and academic libraries for over twenty years and is a recognised expert on law resources in many countries.

    Last updated January 23rd 2014.

    Identity Intelligence - a new concept to me

  • GBGroup is a company which combines individual identity data with technological developments to prove they are "real"; this concept is called Identity Intelligence. One of their products is called MatchCode. It says on the site "Matchcode is a family of global data quality and customer identity registration products that offers data capture, validation and batch data cleansing. It is currently the only solution that validates UK and global postal and email addresses as well as mobile and landline telephone numbers across more than 240 countries or territories worldwide - all through a single interface." This product can be integrated with other systems, e.g. if you set up a new client, the embedded system will check that the information provided about name, address, geo-location, landline and mobile phone numbers, email address and other factors is consistent. It can be installed locally or used as SAAS software, i.e. accessed online on a "per case" basis.
    DPS Software has now implemented the Matchcode system across all of its product range. This will involve address validation and real-time auto-population for when clients enter data into their system. Advanced Legal, TikitTFB and LexisNexis have also integrated this software with their own systems.

    Last updated January 14th 2014.

    New information site grows fast

  • Injury Claims Specialists is a new body, only launched in 2012, but is apparently already the UK's largest injury claims information website. It is not a firm of solicitors or claims management company itself but acts as an umbrella body and provides a large amount of information about accidents and injuries and how to claim compensation. It is funded by a number of solicitors and claims companies who advertise on the site. The site seeks to provide consumers with clear, plain English injury claims information and aims to be unbiased and impartial.

    Last updated January 8th 2014.

    Latest new entrant to the legal services market - and a powerful one

  • LegalZoom (UK) is the new UK version of the very well established LegalZoom (USA), which has been running for 10 years and has had 2 million customers. Legalzoom also has a Canadian version and apparently plans to expand into the EU as a whole. They have partnered with Quality Solicitors and initially with Quality Solicitors Talbots in particular. (I note however that there is no mention of LegalZoom on Talbots' own web site). LegalZoom offer monthly plans of �9.99 a month for a personal plan and �19.99 a month for a business plan. It is also possible to purchase particular services, such as a will for �29.99. It says on the website "With every document you purchase, you receive a free initial consultation over the phone with a lawyer from QualitySolicitors Talbots. QualitySolicitor's lawyers are approachable, and professional. We'll take care of the details, then a lawyer finishes the job – so you save time and money." This looks like a rather soft launch at present but there is considerable power and money behind the company. They have apparently been setting up the deal with Quality Solicitors and how it will work for over a year. To find out about the many other contenders in the legal services market (solicitors and non-solicitors) see my section for Selling Legal Services and Legal Documents Online.

    Last updated January 7th 2014.

  • Eclipse Legal Systems has announced integration between its Proclaim Case Management solution and the Land Registry's new Electronic Document Registration Service (e-DRS). Firms of solicitors carrying out conveyancing will now be able to access Land Registry services directly from their case management systems including property enquiries, document copy requests, bankruptcy searches and transaction status reports. This will speed up the conveyancing process, reduce paper, printing and postage costs and provide an elecronic audit trail to reduce fraud. Eclipse's Case Management Conveyancing system is currently implemented at 150 organisations including large household names as well as smaller regional and local firms.

    Last updated December 31st 2013.

    Welcome to the Ministry of Justice, Simon Hughes! And good news for Legal Aid.

  • Simon Hughes has been a Lib Dem (or originally Lib) MP (Southwark and Bermondsey) since 1983 and he is deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats. It has just been announced that he has been appointed as Minister of State for Justice in a government mini-shuffle. Simon is a life time campaigner for civil rights issues and I am confident that he will make strenuous efforts to improve the situation for legal aid - as well as supporting the Human Rights Act and arguing against secret courts. He was a barrister before politics took over by the way. More on Guardian Law.
    Also "by the way" - I was a foot soldier in getting him elected in the byelection of 1983. He is one of my heroes.

  • HotDocs Ltd provides document generation technologies, resulting in intelligent templates that guide the user through document creation. HotDocs is used by thousands of law firms, legal publishers, financial institutions and government bodies. There is an interesting HotDocs Blog about the use of HotDocs for legal documents. The latest post concerns the difficulty of someone in marketing persuading users of a product to let it be known that they are using it. In the case of HotDocs, many firms apparently do not want their users to know that they are using automated document generation since it might affect their fees. And they do not want their competitors to get the same advantage as they have! Whilst hotDocs is a particular case (very large, very successful) I suspect that this is a dilemma faced by many marketing executives.

    Last updated December 17th 2013.

    Freedom at last for the Supreme Court!

  • The Supreme Court will have its own non-governmental web address in the New Year (Jan 6th), i.e. www.supremecourt.uk rather than www.supremecourt.gov.uk (it doesn't work yet!). The point is that to have a url that includes "gov" is hardly the sign of an independent Supreme Court - and symbols matter. The Privy Council - also independent from the government - will change its url similarly by dropping the ".gov". Further details are given on the Supreme Court's News page and in the Guardian's Law Section. The overall content and design of the two websites will not change but users searching for the current url's will be automatically redirected to the new addresses from January. The new url will cost less than £500 - a bargain for freedom, I would have thought.

    Last updated December 16th 2013.

    It's just my opinion but this would make the legal system a laughing stock.....

  • A number of jorors have already been jailed for using search engines to give them information during a trial. So far, this has come under "contempt of court" procedures but it is currently being suggested that the situation should be clarified by Parliament to define an actual offence and the penalities associated with it. I think that this is a very tricky situation, since the use of mobile devices is becoming ubiquitous and jurors would feel a deep sense of grievance if they were denied access to their phones and devices, not just in court but throughout the trial since if it was only in court that the prohibition applied, jurors could go home and carry out the search there or get someone else to do it for them and ring up with the results, or write them a letter or meet them in the pub or.... The ways you could get round any such limitation are virtually limitless and any legislation that tried would be laughed out of court (pun intended). And someone would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights as having been denied their basic human rights to communicate and/or subjected to a cruel and unusual punishment.

    Last updated December 13th 2013.

    A success story from Bolton personal injury firm Asons

  • Asons is (now) a large firm in Bolton. There are 250 staff, and they have recently announced plans to develop a brand new £7 million building in Bolton’s town centre which would allow the firm to nearly double in size and to expand into major areas of corporate law. The building will feature an executive networking hall, a gourmet restaurant for business clients and glass projection technology that will transform one of the glass walls to become effectively a moving theatre. Upon completion in 2015, satellite offices will be developed in Singapore, London, Dubai, New York and Pakistan. (Thanks to Asian Image for some of this information). And yet, the firm only started 5 years ago, with 3 people! The firm implemented Eclipse's Proclaim Practice Management software when it started, now used by all staff, providing a core centralised solution for the full range of injury claim types and capable of extending to all desired work types.

    Last updated December 9th 2013.

  • Final Judgment - the last Law Lords and the Supreme Court is a book (launched on December 9th) by Professor Alan Paterson, OBE, of Strathclyde University. The book, published by Hart Publishing, of Oxford, was launched in conjunction with the second Annual BAILII Lecture, hosted by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The book is all about the way that the Supreme Court makes its decisions and how this differs from the way that the House of Lords, in its last years, used to make its decisions. The location of the coffee facility does come into this but also for example whether the laudable collegiate aim of getting a single judgment with no dissenting views affects the type of judgment which is made (less informative? less useful in the long run?). And whether the superior power of argument of some of the senior judges could sometimes be interpreted as exerting too much influence on the less senior ones. The speaker, a legal academic, has been studying this sort of thing for 40 years. He wrote the definitive book 30 years ago on how the House of Lords made its judgments! He must have been very young then. He described also how the process has changed (and continues to change) because of the European dimension, the Human Rights Act and the increasing use of Judicial Review. All these introduce new "dialogues" into the way that judgments are made. He also described the increasing transparency of the way the court works (TV cameras are allowed in the court, and judgments now appear on YouTube) but asks whether this is in fact enough - and how transparency could be extended.

    Interestingly, the political colour of the choice of judges did not come into the talk at all - it would appear not to be a consideration. That's certainly a difference between the UK and the USA Supreme Court where adherence to the Constitution (or interpretation of the Constitution) is an intensely political matter.

    Last updated December 3rd 2013.

    To time or not to time? That is the question.

  • There are around 200 members in the Quality Solicitors network - good size local and regional firms who have joined the "brand". According to a story in the Law Society Gazette, they are planning to abandon hourly rates and will offer potential clients the option of a fixed fee rate after a free interview to determine the nature and scope of the work. There will however be a pilot scheme for around 15 firms. The story is also covered in Legal Futures. Litigation is apparently included although there could be some special complications there where clients might want to pursue litigation "for ever" rather than accept some kind of settlement. Who is to say what is fair? Other groups offering fized fees include Riverview Law (and see their article on this topic here) and Stobart Barristers ("top people. Fixed cost"). My experience is that most smaller firms - good firms - are afraid of fixed fee costs since they do not know how to protect themselves against the unexpected contingencies which could arise. And explaining all these possible problems is not usually a good way to start a relationship. And the firms are not big enough, or profitable enough, to take big risks with this.

    Last updated December 1st 2013.

    New book from Eduardo Ustaran on the key issues of Privacy and Data Protection

  • The Future of Privacy by Eduardo Ustaran has just been released by Legal Publisher DataGuidance, part of Cecile Park Publishing Ltd. The book looks at the key issues of privacy and data protection and argues that in order to get the balance right, policy makers, regulators and organisations must address the specific challenges presented by rapidly evolving technology, the increasing value of personal information and the globalisation of data-reliant activities. Leading expert Eduardo Ustaran makes a number of public policy suggestions about how to address these factors and anticipates the key elements that organisations and privacy professionals will need to tackle to comply with the regulatory framework of the future. Eduardo is an internationally recognised expert in privacy and data protection law and specialises in the legal issues that derive from the use of information technology and the Internet. He is a dually qualified English Solicitor and Spanish Abogado, a partner in Field Fisher Waterhouse and head of their Information and Privacy Law Group. He advises some of the world's leading companies on the adoption of global privacy strategies and is closely involved in the development of the new EU data protection framework.

    I have known Eduardo for many years, originally when he was a paralegal at Martineau Johnson in Birmingham. That was probably 1995 or 1996! We met at meetings of the Society for Computers and Law and then later he became a regular contributor to the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, always combining the quality of his content with "readability". I cannot think of anyone more qualified to write on these topics than Eduardo.

    Last updated November 22nd 2013.

    A new software offering for Solicitors but with a solid background..

  • Insight Legal was launched in 2011, led by former AlphaLAW Technical Director, Tim Smith, who was also subsequently Development Manager for IRIS Legal Solutions. Tim and other members of the team have experience of a number of law firms and software companies and have brought this knowledge to bear on developing a new suite of software and services for small and medium sized law firms. Insight Legal is a Legal Accounting and Practice Management system. The screens are simple and intuitive without requiring hours of laborious configuration or days of expensive training to understand. You can use the software straight out of the box. The user can change the screen layout, add their logo, customise the screens, change the format of matter references and generally make the system "fit" the firm. The system generated reports are clear and concise, but also comprehensive - there are full lists of features on the website. Assistance is given with the migration of data from the existing system to the new system and the company have experience of migrating many different systems. Training and support are provided as needed.

    Last updated November 14th 2013.

    Conveyancing online! Law Society announces a new initiative

  • The Law Society is currently developing an online Conveyancing Portal to streamline the conveyancing process and improve communication between solicitors, conveyancers, clients and stakeholders including Land Registry and HMRC. The portal will effectively be a secure deal-room to communicate and share documents, accessible by all parties with controlled access to view for clients and stakeholders. The portal will be managed by the Law Society and all the information will be in one place. The whole property chain will be accessible via the portal and other stakeholders - estate agents and so on - will have appropriate controlled viewing access. All monies (stamp duty, mortgage fees and land registry fees) will move through the system. Compliance and risk management features will be embedded in the system. There are some stylish videos from Nicholas Fluck, Desmond Hudson and others, at the above address to describe the project. There is no timescale attached yet but you can register on the site to be kept informed and to give your views.
    (There have been attempts to do something similar to this in the past, but they were probably ahead of their time. It does seem to be the "right time", now, for the current initiative. We are all used to online portals now!)

    Last updated November 8th 2013.

    More Competition pours in to the legal services market

  • The AA has become the latest company to enter the legal market after being granted an alternative business structure (ABS) licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The new business, a joint venture with solicitors Lyons Davidson, will start trading on 1 December and will be limited at first to personal injury and other car accident claims. The AA already offer Legal Services providing online legal documents but, once established, there will now be a fully fledged legal firm in operation. The new firm will be called AA Law (no web site yet!). Other major businesses to win ABS status (or applying for it) include Saga, Direct Line, BT, Co-operative Legal Services Limited. A full list of ABS firms (around 200?) can be found on the SRA's site here.

    Last updated October 25th 2013.

    Manchester Law Society plan to provide innovative new features

  • Manchester Law Society have chosen a web communication platform from LegalRSS which will handle all web, mobile, enews, social sharing and networking, including content sharing and multiple sites. As well as sending more than 100,000 targeted enewsletters annually, MLS want to be able to update its website and to use social networking quickly and easily. The ability to co-brand means MLS can also give a presence to sponsors and advertisers where appropriate. They can also create bespoke mobile websites for user groups and the new MLS Student mobile website is already proving popular. The system is particular good at "segmentation", i.e. matching content provided to particular user groups. For information about what MLS are doing, contact Fran Eccles-Bech and for information on LegalRSS or the white-label version MyInfoNet, contact Joe Reevy.

    Last updated October 16th 2013.

    I have recently been updating my pages for Selling Legal Services and Legal Documents Online. There are many more non-regulated suppliers of these "packaged" products than firms of solicitors doing it. The risk to a firm of solicitors in "getting it wrong" is far greater than to an unregulated individual or small company. And perhaps the "packaged" products are inherently low cost products and therefore developing these is not a sensible way for solicitors to spend their time. And perhaps solicitors do not really want their clients to say "why are you charging so much for my employment contract (or lease, or will, or whatever) when you are offering it online for much less"!

    Last updated October 15th 2013.

    I have recently updated these pages on my site:

  • Transcription and Digital Dictation Services and
  • Digital Dictation Equipment and Software.
    There are a large number of suppliers on both these pages. It is a very competitive market!

    Last updated October 7th 2013.

    Good web design

  • Quill Pinpoint, the outsourced cashiering experts, have launched a very attractive new web site. It is easy to find information on the two main offerings - the outsourced cashiering and the hosted legal accounts system for in-house cashiers. There is lots of online interaction for users and potential users. Call back requests, licence requests and enquiries can now be e-submitted. A substantial "resources" section provides access to data sheets, case studies, newsletters, Solicitors Accounts Rules and other basic reference information. There is also an attractive slide show providing key selling points and showing Quill staff working on the outsourced material and communicating with clients.

    A new exhibition for solicitors and "legal professionals"

  • Bristol-based Prysm Group is launching a new event for the legal sector called LegalEx, to take place on 15-16 May 2014 at Excel. It hopes to attract an estimated 2,500 solicitors and legal professionals over the two-day event. It will be supported by The Law Society and will feature 90 seminars and 70 exhibiting firms. LegalEx will run alongside the Accountex show. A feature called The Hub sitting between the two shows will allow solicitors and accountants to network. (There is no mention of barristers in the description - the event appears to be just for Solicitors and people working for Solicitors.)

    Last updated September 26th 2013.

  • DPS Software are offering a free e-book presenting the benefits of client portal solutions and web-based collaborative working platforms which enable clients and fee earners to collaborate, exchange documents, track and complete tasks in a simple, time-effective manner. The e-book explains the benefits of cloud computing (which provides the infrastructure for the client portal) and what can be done with this type of solution. The client benefits from the portal and the firm gains an important competitive advantage. The e-book is available for download here.

    Last updated September 21st 2013.

    Latest cloud product from document generation leader

  • HotDocs Ltd provides document generation technologies, resulting in intelligent templates that guide the user through document creation. HotDocs is used by thousands of law firms, legal publishers, financial institutions and government bodies to streamline the process of creating repeat documentation, in terms of reducing time spent, increasing efficiency, reducing risk and vastly improving accuracy. The product is used internationally in the production of a wide range of documentation, such as employment contracts, bank loans and sales contracts by a wide range of customers across more than 40 countries. The latest product is HotDocs Cloud Services, a cloud-based platform that facilitates the embedding of HotDocs automated document generation technologies into an organisation’s own process systems, such as a corporate website or a Business Process Management (BPM) defined workflow. HotDocs Cloud Services is a subscription service that customers can start using immediately, whilst always benefiting from having the latest HotDocs features available, with no need for upgrades or maintenance. The Cloud Services platform delivers HotDocs document generation capabilities and tools to integrate with any application, allowing customers to enhance their systems to better fit business needs.

    Last updated September 19th 2013.

    A course I really enjoyed (and found useful).

  • Conscious Solutions put on very good courses - I went to one last year. The latest course is It's All About Conversion - whether your website results in increased business. The same courses is being put on in Manchester, Solihull, Bristol and London on various dates in the middle of November. Cost for the one day seminar is just £95 + VAT and the course qualifies fo 5.5 hours of CPD.

    Last updated September 18th 2013.

    Currently being updated but I need your help!

  • Legal Research Services (Publishers) Online covers the main legal publishers. As well as the really big legal publishers, I also have sections for many of the Specialist and Smaller Legal Publishers.
    This is an ongoing project - do please let me know of any inaccuracies or omissions.

    Last updated September 11th 2013.

  • Burnetts has become the first law firm in Cumbria to launch its own online market-place Burnetts' Market Place providing downloadable, discounted legal documents to small businesses. The site, which has a range of products including a social media policy, small employer’s pack and website compliance documents, is designed for small businesses in Cumbria. Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees account for 85% of all the County’s enterprises. The firm believes that many small businesses are looking for simplified documents at a cost more in keeping with their level of business. The documents are guaranteed to be up to date, written by qualified solicitors, legally compliant in England and Wales and at discounted fees. Documents are purchased using a virtual trolley and payment is securely handled via Paypal; buyers are then sent a confirmation email with a link to downloadable documents, provided in Microsoft Word. The documents, which include editable fields for personalisation, are available from £35 to £125 + VAT.

    Last updated September 10th 2013.

  • I asked Paul Sandell of Thomson Reuters a number of questions about the newly acquired Practical Law Company (PLC).

    Delia. Thomson Reuters purchased Practical Law recently - what is actually happening?

    Paul. Thomson Reuters acquired Practical Law Company (UK and US) in January 2013. In the UK, we received clearance from the Office of Fair Trading on 28 March which enabled us to start the process of combining Practical Law UK with the existing UK & Ireland Legal Solutions business of Thomson Reuters. The acquisition effectively brings Practical Law's market-leading know-how together with best-in-breed books and looseleafs from Sweet & Maxwell (e.g. Chitty on Contracts, The White Book, Archbold on Criminal Law and many others) and highly-regarded online databases Westlaw UK and Lawtel.

    Delia. How does this new service fit in with Lawtel and with Westlaw UK? As a supplement or a rival?

    Paul. As for all other practice areas, the know-how resources which comprise Practical Law's new Family service are complementary to the primary sources and commentary in Lawtel and Westlaw UK. Practical Law provides lawyers with the tools they need to work efficiently and effectively, including standard documents and clauses with drafting notes, practice notes with clear explanations of how the law is applied in practice and regular legal updates (by e-mail or online) highlighting developments in law, regulation and practice.

    For times when lawyers need to research something in more depth, they can link through from references to legislative provisions or judgments in Practical Law's resources to see the full text of the statute, statutory instrument or case report on Westlaw UK.

    Delia. Is it primarily a case reporter or a precedent builder, or something else?

    Paul. The core parts of Practical Law's Family service include:

  • A full range of practice notes, giving know-how and guidance on a wide range of family law topics, including nuptial agreements and relationship planning, cohabitation, family ADR, divorce, financial remedies, children and domestic violence.
  • Standard templates for family law documents including a fully interactive Financial Form E, a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement, financial consent orders and court forms.
  • E-mail updates compiled by our lawyers with analysis and commentary on new developments in family law.

    Delia. What does the service offer which is not offered by the several (largely?) free services in family law e.g. from Bath Publishing and Jordans?

    Paul. Practical Law's Family service has been created, and will be maintained, by a team of solicitors with a wealth of experience gained from private practice. The material prepared by our team has been augmented by contributions from nearly 90 contributors from leading sets of family barristers and quality law firms. These include four Heads of Chambers and numerous other experts known for their expertise on specialist areas including Fiona Hay at Harcourt Chambers who has written about pensions, Andrezej Bojarski who has written about trusts and Janet Bazley QC who has written about relocation of children. The team can also draw upon the wide expertise of the editors in the other Practical Law services including Dispute Resolution, Private Client, Property and Pensions. The service also benefits from a Consultation Board made up of some very eminent individuals in the field of family law comprising three judges, four barristers and six solicitors. Practical Law's Family service comprises around 950 resources of which around 850 are entirely new. These resources include practice notes, standard documents (including letters and clauses) and editable court forms. All of these resources will be continually maintained and do not link to underlying textbooks that are maintained less frequently. The detailed linking to other Practical Law Materials and primary sources saves time and is easy to navigate.

    Highlights of the service include:

  • a comprehensive standard precedent for a pre-nuptial agreement, prepared in collaboration with an expert advisory panel;
  • a comprehensive cohabitation agreement prepared in collaboration with a very senior QC;
  • a "shell" financial consent order with 90 plug-in standard clauses;
  • an interactive Form E financial statement which incorporates drafting notes and allows clients and third parties to add in information. This Form E tool is included in the service at no extra cost; and
  • a weekly current awareness email update

    Delia. Is there a part of your service which is free?

    Paul. No, Practical Law is a subscription service. Unlike certain free to view resources, our practice notes, standard documents and interactive forms are all continually maintained to take account of developments in law, regulation or practice. Our subscribers know our resources are up to date and trust us to get it right. Our reputation for quality and currency has been hard won over many years and is one in which we take great pride. Our current awareness is prepared by experienced lawyers who filter out only those developments which will really make a difference to lawyers in practice and we ensure that our resources reflect current practice through our regular contact with leading practitioners and advice from our Consultation Board.

    Last updated September 7th 2013.

  • Criminal Justice Degree Schools is a USA site with information and resources on the best criminal justice schools and associated degrees, as well as profiles on 80+ criminal justice careers. There are new articles published each week and an extensive section of Criminal Justice Resources which would be a very useful starting point for anyone looking to compare the UK and USA systems.

  • Slater & Gordon's blog is set up to cover many topics, using a search process to identify (say) employment law, family law, personal injury and so on. The blog is lively and well presented. Slater & Gordon was previously Russell Jones & Walker.

    Last updated September 2nd 2013.

    Law Society President speaks out for the European Convention on Human Rights in a letter to the Times

  • As the European Convention on Human Rights turns 60, Law Society president Nicholas Fluck and Sir Nicolas Bratza, president of the British Institute of Human Right and former president of the European Court of Human Rights, call for greater recognition of the convention and its British roots. "Rather than generating rafts of litigation against the UK," they write, "the very few cases that have reached the European Court of Human Rights have led to important and lasting changes: curbing stop and search powers, promoting equal treatment of same sex couples, regulating state surveillance, upholding the global prohibition on torture, limiting indefinite retention of biometric data and ensuring safeguards to protect children and vulnerable adults. All too often the loudest voices in our debates focus on decrying the convention and its court. There is little recognition of the many ways in which the convention has helped to build fairer and more cohesive countries across Europe, including the UK. The UK’s leadership helped to set down legal protections of our fundamental human rights and freedoms; UK lawyers were at the forefront of drafting the law, and the UK was the first country to ratify the convention. Rather than squandering the legacy our postwar leaders worked so hard to build, now is the time to recognise and secure our human rights heritage."

    You can see the Times letter here but it is behind the Times paywall.

    Last updated August 29th 2013.

  • Andrew Hogan's blog on legal costs provides information and posts on this topic. Andrew has advised upon and argued costs cases in the county court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, as well as other tribunals including the Lands Tribunal. He is based at Ropewalk Chambers in Nottingham but travels widely. He also provides a blog on disability discrimination and other areas of law affecting disabled people.

    Last updated August 27th 2013.

    Dig a little deeper into the legal and political issues of today

  • Halsbury’s Law Exchange is legal think tank, hosted by LexisNexis. It aims to communicate ideas on reform or legal direction to decision makers and the legal sector and promote debate through papers, reports, events and media pieces. As it says about itself "Through our legal white papers and current projects, it seeks to be a legal think tank in the true sense of the term; to debate the legal issues of the day without political or commercial agenda and to influence and prompt change." There are in-depth papers on most areas of law and an opportunity to comment and debate online.

    Last updated August 26th 2013.

    You may be following this already, but just in case you are not....

  • The Guardian Law Section is a selection from the main Guardian news and editorial content related to law - and since the Guardian follows legal developments in considerable depth (both from an individual citizen's viewpoint and form the viewpoint of society as a whole) this leads to quite a large section of the paper ending up in the law section every day. As well as the basic presentation of legal news, there are key contents areas as follows:
  • A section on legal aid with particular coverage of current issues and limitations
  • A section called "Justice on Trial" covering legal systems and legal developments around the world
  • There is a major section for law students
  • A section created and edited by Joshua Rosenberg
  • A law blog from Fiona Baldwin
  • A particularly strong selection on Human Rights issues, with its own subsections: Human Rights Act, Strasbourg, Bill of Rights, Privacy, Control Orders, Extradition, Torture and US Constitution
  • A law jobs section, including careers articles
  • An index of keywords, A to Z, which serves as a jumping off point for many or most legal topics.
    You can obtain this information in a number of ways, whatever your selection of topics, and whatever equipment you are using.

    Last updated August 22nd 2013.

    Latest on GOV.UK

  • GOV.UK is the Government's over-arching portal for (eventually) all Government services and information. This is designed to replace the hundreds of existing Government sites with a consistent interface, comprehensive search facilities and user-focused experience. The process of moving sites onto the new portal started in late 2012 and is designed to take the best part of two years. The "Services and information" list on the home page includes these (each of which have many more subdivisions and sub topics):
  • Driving and transport - Includes car tax, MOT and driving licences
  • Benefits- Includes tax credits, eligibility and appeals
  • Businesses and self-employed - Tools and guidance for businesses
  • Employing people - Includes pay, contracts and hiring
  • Passports, travel and living abroad - Includes renewing passports and travel advice by country
  • Education and learning - Includes student loans and admissions
  • Working, jobs and pensions - Includes holidays and finding a job
  • Housing and local services - Owning or renting and council services
  • Crime, justice and the law - Legal processes, courts and the police
  • Money and tax - Includes debt and Self Assessment
  • Births, deaths, marriages and care - Parenting, civil partnerships, divorce and Lasting Power of Attorney
  • Disabled people - Includes carers, your rights, benefits and the Equality Act
  • Citizenship and living in the UK - Voting, community participation, life in the UK, international projects.

    Under "Crime, justice and the law" (subtitled "legal processes, courts and the police") are the following sections:

  • Courts, sentencing and tribunals - Attending courts, paying fines, appealing a sentence and tribunals
  • Prisons and probation - Sentencing, probation and support for families of prisoners
  • Reporting crimes and getting compensation - Including criminal injuries compensation and reporting suspected crimes
  • Young people and the law - Includes legal rights, youth offending teams and crime prevention
  • Your rights and the law - Includes being arrested, cautions, discrimination and consumer rights

    However, most of the information required by lawyers is still on the previous Ministry of Justice site including:

  • Procedure rules
  • Daily court lists
  • Prison finder
  • Court fees
  • Employment Tribunal guidance
  • Claims management regulation
  • Forms, including Court forms,Tribunals, Criminal injuries compensation, Mental Capacity Act, asting Power of Attorney forms
  • Statistics relating to courts, crime, prisons,etc
    All this will presumably be moving over to the GOV.UK site although the timing is not clear.

    Last updated August 20th 2013.

    An important blog on Constitutional law

  • UK Constitutional Law Group (UKCLG) is the British section of the International Association of Constitutional Law. Formed in 2003, the UK Group is an independent association, jointly convened by Andrew Le Sueur and Sebastian Payne. The group runs seminars and conferences and also provides the UK Constitutional Law Group Blog with frequent and detailed posts.

    Last updated August 10th 2013.

    Interesting new book on personal injury from one of our authors

  • Surviving Jackson - Developing a Profitable Personal Injury Practice for the Future is a new book from a personal injury lawyer, Jeff Zindani, and Prof Dominic Regan (adviser to Sir Rupert Jackson). The book highlights the practical changes required in light of the Jackson reforms. Key industry experts help the PI lawyer to make sense of the changes and to understand how to respond through realigning the business to the new market conditions. There are over 10 chapters (250 pages) with up to date analysis of the law, useful advice, case studies, worked examples of business models and advice on an automated marketing system. You can purchase the book (£99.99) from the site.

    Last updated July 29th 2013.

    BAILII wins grant from Legal Education Foundation (My thanks to Nick Holmes' blog at Binary Law for this story)

  • BAILII is one of the first six organisations to win a grant from the Legal Education Foundation which was launched on 10 July. The Foundation is the charity established following the sale of the College of Law last year. It has some £200 million to invest, making it one of the largest foundations in the sector. BAILII applied for funds to enable it to cover the initial training and year 1 salary costs for a Deputy Director (to assist Joe Ury) and a part-time fund raiser (which latter post should be self-financing after the first year). The other grantees so far are Advocacy Training Council (how to deal with vulnerable witnesses), Galleries of Justice (using courtrooms to teach children about law), Law Centre Network (legal advice for those who are unable to pay for it), LawWorks (to support, promote and encourage a commitment to pro bono work), Pro Bono Community (two trainees are establishing courses to pre-train law students to give advice in clinics about welfare) and Pathways Phase 3 (encouraging young people from less socially advantaged backgrounds to enter the law).

    Last updated July 27th 2013.

    Important blog on Immigration

  • Free Movement is a blog from Colin Yeo, a specialist immigration law barrister based at Renaissance Chambers in London. He has been practising in immigration law for thirteen years and previously worked for the Immigration Advisory Service and Refugee Legal Centre. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law and draws on the experience of several specialist immigration barristers in Renaissance Chambers.

    Last updated July 16th 2013.

    On a personal note...

  • I attended a very good course last week on "Social Media for Business" from Premier IT. An excellent and knowledgeable teacher, interesting fellow course mates and good material have definitiely given me a bit of an impetus in that direction. Their range of training courses includes Project Management, Service Management, Social media, Microsoft Applications, Desktop Publishing, Internet and Web Design, IT Technical and bespoke training programmes. Based in Russell Square, in London, they are easily accessible and it was (for me) a day well spent. Follow me @deliavenables!

    Last updated July 15th 2013.

  • Congratulations to the new President of the Law Society, Nicholas Fluck, of Stapleton & Son, based in Stamford, Lincolnshire. Nick was elected to the Law Society Council in 2005 and previously chaired the Society's Technology and Law Reference Group. His election augurs well both for High Street firms across the country, whose importance will doubtless never be forgotten in the year ahead, and for the role and importance of IT in the legal world to be recognised.

    Last updated July 14th 2013.

  • The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) was established in 2009 to provide transparency through certification to a Code of Practice for credible online Cloud service providers and to assist end users in determining core information necessary to enable them to adopt these services. It is a not for profit company limited by guarantee, and is an industry body that champions and advocates the adoption and use of Cloud-based services by businesses and individuals. They provide a Code of Practice that provides transparency of Cloud services such that consumers can have clarity and confidence in their choice of provider. There is a list (with useful details) of certified organisations and also a list of organisations currently undergoing certification.

  • Lawcloud is the first Practice Management Software provider (i.e. in the legal market) to be awarded certification (see here for details).

    Last updated July 10th 2013.

    Increased interest in online dispute resolution....

  • Modria builds online dispute resolution systems. Companies use Modria’s software to resolve customer issues quickly and fairly, which saves support costs and improves customer loyalty. Modria is a spin off from eBay/PayPal, with a perpetual license to the Community Court platform that powers ebaycourt.com and paypal-court.com. The Modria platform is the leading online dispute resolution system in the world, enabling businesses and government agencies of any size to resolve customer problems swiftly and fairly. Modria has recently announced that it has closed a $5 million dollar Series A investment round led by Foundry Group. There is a blog on these topics on their site.

    Last updated July 4th 2013.

    An initiative from Direct Access barristers

  • CallMyBarrister is a free online "community resource" that enables direct access barristers to tender for clients’ work. The website allows a user to post their legal issue anonymously and then registered barristers reply directly offering their services and effectively tender for the work. Only general facts are submitted about the case and all correspondence is confidential. Once the barrister and client decide to exchange details, the correspondence is closed and they continue to work in the normal way. It is free to access for the public and does not cost barristers anything to register and to use. The site is the brainchild of leading barrister David Malone.

    Last updated July 1st 2013.

    Annual awards from BIALL

  • The British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) recently celebrated three award winners at their Annual Dinner in Glasgow. Catherine McArdle, Deputy Librarian of Lincoln's Inn Library received the Wildy's Law Librarian of the Year award (see picture of the award here). Catherine received praise from her colleagues for her knowledge and professional approach to her work, and her commitment to BIALL through her role on the BIALL Council, participation on various committees, and organisation of many courses and social events. On the same evening, the Association awarded the Supplier of the Year Award to Wildy & Sons, legal booksellers since 1830, and the Legal Journals Award went to Property Law Journal by Legalease. Following a survey of BIALL members, Wildy's came top with an average score of 4.73 out of 5 and were described as a joy to work with – they provide excellent customer service and their website was highly praised. Property Law Journal is valued greatly by its readership for its good quality articles, coverage of topical issues, relevance and currency.

    Last updated June 17th 2013.

    Interesting new site on property law

  • Jonny Law Online is a very useful site about property and property law maintained by Jonathan Achampong, a conveyancing solicitor with a major firm, Ashfords. There are sections on conveyancing, lease extensions, leasehold, enfranchisement and commercial property. There are also featured articles on news items and topics of current interest.

    Last updated June 15th 2013.

  • UK Criminal Law blog was set up by 3 barristers from 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings after a discussion on Twitter concerning inaccurate reports of criminal cases in the press, the lack of public understanding of the criminal justice system and the number of unlawful sentences handed out by the courts. It was noted that many news reports, and consequently discussions had by the public concerning cases of interest, are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the law (and on numerous occasions, inaccurate facts). In addition, it appeared that many solicitors, barristers and even judges, make fundamental errors of law. The site contains a major source of information about the court system and the legal system generally, particularly with respect to criminal law. There are also headnotes from important Court of Appeal and Supreme Court explaining the impact of the decision. Where possible, they also provide the sentencing remarks from the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts, together with a short report stating the facts and the outcome.

    Last updated May 15th 2013.

  • The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently published advice on "Bring your own device " (BYOD) on its website here. The introduction says "Bring your own device is a term which refers to when employees use their personal computing devices (typically smart phones and tablets) in the workplace. Permitting devices which you do not have sufficient control over to connect to the corporate IT systems can introduce a range of security vulnerabilities and other data protection concerns if not correctly managed. This guidance explores what you need to consider if permitting the use of personal devices to process personal data for which you are responsible." The guidance (a 13 page pdf document) looks at the risks and benefits of doing this and suggests some of the topics which should be included in a BYOD policy. A summary of the document is provided by Law Now (CMS Cameron McKenna's information site) here.

    Last updated May 5th 2013.

    Two new Legal Apps launched by Irish firm

  • Irish Data Privacy Law has been launched by leading Irish firm A&L Goodbody. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner supports this useful tool as it is aimed at senior management, privacy law professionals and in-house lawyers who need to respond to an increasing number of data protection requirements and challenges that data security presents to businesses today. The app is designed to allow users to access up to date, concise information on data privacy law generally as well as providing access to the relevant Irish and European acts and regulations. It also includes an index of privacy law terms. It is free to download to iPhone and iPad here. The firm has committed itself to keep the App updated with all future legal developments in the area coming down the tracks at an Irish and European level. The new app is part of a suite of online tools which have been developed by the Firm over the past year, including Irish HR Law A-Z, Ireland’s first dedicated law app which provides HR professionals, in-house lawyers and senior executives with accessible information on employment law facts and regulations, free to download here. As well as the A-Z of HR law terminology, there are interactive calculators on adoptive leave, maternity leave and redundancy. This App comes from A&L Goodbody's Employment Law practice.

    Last updated April 12th 2013.

    The Ministry of Justice web site has moved to GOV.UK.

  • The Ministry of Justice web site has now (apparently) moved to GOV.UK. However, all the areas of interest to lawyers (as distinct from "ordinary people") still seem to be on the old Justice site, e.g. Procedure rules, Daily court lists, Prison finder, Court fees, Employment Tribunal guidance and Claims management regulation. I cannot find these sections on GOV.UK. For example, if you go to GOV.UK and search for "procedure rules" you get things like rules for cyclists. There is a section on GOV.UK for "Crime, Justice and the Law" but it does not seem to have any of the things which lawyers would actually be looking for. If you go to the section for Crime, Justice and the Law" on the GOV.UK site and search for "procedure rules" you still get the rules for cyclists. For the time being, it might be better to continue to use the old Justice link and work from there.
    Of course, I could be wrong.... or just missing something..... Can anyone help?

    Last updated April 11th 2013.

    The latest group of Direct Access Barristers will provide some competition to solicitors, looking for clients!

  • myBARRISTER is a new online service that gives people and businesses direct access to the specialised skills of barristers, helping them resolve legal issues, defend against prosecution, take legal action or simply providing specialist legal advice on a particular situation. myBARRISTER is the idea of, and is funded by, Ronald DeKoven of DeKoven Chambers, Lincoln's Inn. Here is how it works (as described on the site):
    1.Use the search function to select a nearby barrister who's a specialist in your problem.
    2.Use your first free phone call to talk through your problem.
    3.Agree a price and commission your barrister to provide a legal opinion for you.
    4.They will ask you a lot of questions about your situation and will then review the law and write up their opinion.
    5.You meet with your barrister or speak on the phone to go through the opinion and to agree your next steps.

    Last updated March 30th 2013.

    The Supreme court is now on YouTube! My thanks to Amanda Millmore of Legal Training for this information.

  • The Supreme Court has launched its own YouTube channel showing videos of judgments being handed down. There are around 30 judgments on there now, from 2013, as well as some older ones from the latter part of 2012.

  • And whilst on the subject of the Supreme Court, there is an interesting history and analysis on the Guardian's Law Section here - The UK supreme court: an interactive history. The history starts in 1399 (the time of Henry Bollingbroke) and continues to the present day, with more recent periods described with a Summary of the key judgments emanating from that time.

    Last updated March 20th 2013.

  • The Precedent Store is a new microsite from infolaw which focusses exclusively on legal precedent documents on CD and online. There is full information on a wide range of Precedents on CD, which may be purchased from the store online; plus information and links to Online Services for law firms and businesses and legal forms. The site has been created by Nick Holmes of infolaw. Nick has been involved with developing, producing and supplying legal documents on disk, CD and online for more than 25 years. He provided the first online forms service, Nick's infolaw Formfinder, and then the comprehensive Lawfinder in 2001. He produced one of the first UK legal weblogs and the first legal metadata webfeed in the UK in 2004. He was also among the first legal commentators in the UK to take full account of social networking for lawyers. Associated with The Precedent Store, Nick is writing a Precedent Store Blog which will cover everything to do with legal documents: new products, developments in document production and automation, online services and more. His first post covers Precedents on Disk (way back). Just for fun he lists the dozens of formats in use then; if you were there in the early days, have a look at this (and be grateful that we live "now").

    Last updated March 17th 2013.

  • Visualfiles was acquired by LexisNexis Butterworths in 2006 and rebranded as LexisNexis Visualfiles. Before that, it was Solicitec, one of the first companies to develop case management software. The changes in identity have blurred the capabilities (and pedigree) of Visualfiles but I understand that a new development and marketing "push" is now being given to the product. Indeed, during 2012, adoption of the product grew substantially, crossing the 25,000 licences mark across 360 sites - possibly the largest installed user base in the UK. The technology can handle 2000 plus concurrent users, across multiple sites but is also available "out of the box" for smaller firms. For ease of use Visualfiles is delivered inside Microsoft Outlook. It provides a file centric view of documents, emails, contacts and standard precedents in a simple file handler friendly interface.

    Last updated March 7th 2013.

    Extensive information on various divorce matters

  • May May & Merrimans of Gray's Inn, London, provide two specialist sites www.prenups.uk.com and www.leavetoremove.co.uk with extensive information on these topics. The site on prenuptual agreements aims to provide clients considering any such agreements with relevant information, whether they are the financially stronger or financially weaker partner. The site sets out the current law on prenups and good practice requirements to be observed, so as to have the best chance of such agreements being upheld by the court in the event of a divorce, as well as outlining possible changes to the law to be made following the final report which is awaited from the Law Commission on whether prenups should be made legally enforceable. The site on international leave to remove provides necessary information to parents who wish to relocate abroad with their children after the breakdown of a relationship, or to oppose an application by the other parent for leave to remove the children of the relationship abroad. The web site covers the current law on leave to remove, an outline of the court process, advice to parents on how to prepare their case (in support of an application for leave to remove or in opposition to such an application), and alternatives to the court process (family mediation and collaborative law).

    Last updated February 25th 2013.

    Are you looking for some financial assistance for post graduate study of the law? Here is a handy reference.

  • The Law Society provides a very useful summary of the various grants, loans, awards and scholarships available for the post graduate study of law. In particular, it describes the Law Society's own Diversity Access Scheme...
    "The Diversity Access Scheme (DAS) offers assistance with Legal Practice Course (LPC) fees to exceptional individuals who face or have overcome exceptional obstacles to qualify as a solicitor. Obstacles may be of a financial, social, educational or personal nature, or might relate to a disability or chronic health condition that makes the goal of qualifying as a solicitor a particularly challenging one."
    Applications are now open and will close on 29th March. This is the only source of financial assistance for legal education fees available from the Law Society, so no funding is available from the Law Society for the law degree, GDL, CPE, LLM or any other courses. However, a number of other possible sources of finance for post graduate study of law are described on this page.

    Last updated February 15th 2013.

    Impossible - or...?

  • Should the Law Society set up a Bank? is an interesting (and challenging) idea put forward by Gill Steel in Gill's blog. Gill runs Lawskills, a consultancy and training company which helps practitioners develop their skills in the areas of Wills, Probate, Trusts and Tax. She says "The service which many law firm clients receive from retail banking is poor. Loans to meet IHT charges in an estate are pretty much a thing of the past; the recognition of different powers of attorney and their use in managing a client’s money is generally poor to abysmal and there are increasingly cases of frustration in not being able to satisfy correct Money Laundering procedures. We have had, amongst other things, the mis-selling of protection insurance, the unwillingness of some banks to lend to customers and ridiculously low rates of interest on funds." The LawSkills website is a mine of information for the Wills, Probate, Trust and Tax profession providing technical advice and commentary through articles, glossary, Gill's blog and podcasts.

    Last updated February 8th 2013.

  • Frugal Dad is a USA site providing a database of USA colleges offering online education. It allows the viewer (the Frugal Dad or the potential student) to search for affordable colleges throughout the USA. It lists the Institutions across the USA together with the fees for in-state and out-of-state students. Currently, many universities, such the University of Washington, Maryland and Houston have themselves listed this resource as useful for people who are not only looking to further their education but also have to finance it. There are also some interesting facts about online education. According to the Sloan Consortium (a well respected USA institute), there were over 6 million people in the USA enrolled in at least one online course in 2010 - and doubtless the numbers have gone up considerably since then. The site is not specifically related to legal education and you cannot use it to select legal courses online, but since it links to the Colleges and Universities themselves, you could research this further for any particular institution in which you were interested.
    PS This site allows an interesting comparison with UK fees. Many USA Universities charge fees of $30,000 to $40,000, often (for the more famous institutions) with no differences between in-state and out-of-state students.

    Last updated February 7th 2013.

    Relaunch of an interesting online journal

  • UpperCase is a very interesting journal from Anya Designs. Anya started life as an electronic publishing company in 1996, working with both Blackstones and Jordan Publishing to produce electronic books for the Psion 5. Currently they publish the Criminal Offences Handbook, edited by Mike Gribbin, both as a book and a digital publication and various other works. They also write software for case management and legal accounting, with 350 firms as users, and generally provide software tools for lawyers. The journal, also edited by Mike Gribbin, covers Case Law, Civil Law, Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Law Updates, Legal Aid, Legal IT, ilaw and Legal Practice Management. This is a serious journal and well worth a look from lawyers (and it is free). It is also well produced and attractive to look at. You can read it online or register to receive it by email.

    Important Exhibition on IT for Lawyers - and it's free

  • The 13th Annual Legal IT Business Show will take place on 5-6 March 2013 at the Business Design Centre in London. This is the largest exhibition in Europe on Software and Services for the Legal Profession with 60+ exhibitors demonstrating the latest developments to over 1100 senior managers and buyers from law firms and in-house legal departments. There will be product launches and seminars on topical areas of interest. There will be 128 "Showcases" Across 8 Key Technology Themes, running throughout the day in their own enclosed pods within the exhibition hall. These are small group discussions with limited numbers, each lasting For 30 minutes. For the latest programme and to register for your free visitor pass visit the site, as above.

    Last updated February 5th 2013.

    Extensions to the very popular Court Search app

  • Court Search from CPD provider Legal Training in conjunction with MillieSoft has been extended for 2013. Features include Court addresses, maps, directions and contact details as well as live Crown Court information, and daily lists for the High Court and above. The iPhone and iPad version now contains details of Tribunals and their lists too. A new feature for 2013 across all devices is the addition of car parking information near to each Court. The app is also available for Android phones and Blackberry devices. Links to purchase the app in each of these versions are provided on the Court Search site, as above.

    Last updated January 24th 2013.

    Big news on the legal software supplier front

  • Tikit has been taken over by BT. Tikit itself took over TFB a few years ago, one of the leading suppliers of software for lawyers and, as TikitTFB has continued to be a leader in that market, suppying legal software (particularly Partner for Windows) to over 600 firms across the UK. Now it will be part of a group of six separately managed businesses within BT Enterprises, a division of BT Retail. Each of these businesses will maintain the autonomy and entrepreneurial spirit of a standalone business.

    Last updated January 23rd 2013.

    Latest legal app, a legal e-resource locator, named LawSauce

  • LawSauce is a new legal app written by Ruth Bird (University of Oxford, Bodleian Law Librarian) and Natalie Wieland (Legal Research Skills Adviser, Melbourne Law School). It is an e-resource locator developed to quickly locate the right legal web resource for legal tasks, which can otherwise be a very complex task. LawSauce includes over 7,000 records covering case law and legislative sources for many jurisdictions. It is organised by broad geographical region, such as North America or Asia. The sources are then arranged by their jurisdictional location. For the UK & Europe region, links are to the EU, as well as to each individual country in greater Europe, extending to Russia and the CIS in the east and Ireland in the west. The app can be downloaded from the Android Store or the iTunes store.

    Supreme Court warns of 'uncertainty' if legal privilege extended to non-lawyers (see Solicitors Journal for full article)

  • Parliament, and not the courts, should decide on whether legal advice privilege (LAP) should be extended to non-lawyers, the Supreme Court has decided, 5-2. Four justices agreed with Lord Neuberger that extending the principle to accountants and other professionals would “carry with it an unacceptable risk of uncertainty and loss of clarity in a sensitive area of law”. Lords Sumption and Clarke dissented, on the grounds that English courts had always taken a “functional approach” to LAP.

    Last updated January 20th 2013.

  • IRIS Legal, a leading provider of legal software, has launched a new user group IRIS Legal User Group (ILUG) to provide a knowledge sharing forum for its customers and to collaborate with them on existing services and new product development. Over 600 of its users have already registered, including solicitors, barristers, in-house and legal forms customer bases. There will also be sub-groups around products, specialist areas or common interest groups such as cashiers, marketing, etc.

    Do you want to go back a little further? Please see New from 2012, New from 2011, New from 2010, New from 2009 and New from 2008.

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