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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)

Interested in the "History of New"? See: New from 2008 or New from 2009 or New from 2010 or or New from 2012 or New from 2013 .

Last updated September 21st 2014.

Big change in the legal software market with Capita's acquisition of Eclipse

  • Eclipse, a key case management system in the legal market, has been purchased by Capita PLC, the UK's leading provider of business process management and integrated professional support service solutions, with 64,000 staff across the UK, Europe, South Africa and India. Eclipse has over 150 employees based in Bradford, generating a turnover of £9m, and provides case management software and services to over 20,000 users in law firms, Alternative Business Structures, claims departments and commercial organisations. The new ownership will allow Eclipse to continue to expand and develop their products and presumably their case management software will now be developed beyond the core legal market to wider users and functions. Capita, or to give it its full name Capita Justice & Technology Solutions, has recently been acquiring a number of new software products.

    Last updated September 20th 2014.

    I particularly like software companies who have been in the legal market for a long time but who are still leading from the front

  • Professional Technology (UK) was established in 1986 but they have not lost their cutting edge. They are still a leading supplier in the legal market with around 300 users. They provide accounting systems, case management and workflow systems, as well as IT support, cloud computing and networking. They do not do a lot of shouting - they just deliver the goods and look after their customers. More info in my software section here.

    Matrix Law International (the wider group associated with Matrix Chambers) have launched their new web site

  • Matrix International is a group of independent and specialist lawyers covering a wide range of areas of law. They can provide representation in a dispute resolution forum or expert advice on the issues of a case. Matrix has worked in over one hundred countries and are regularly instructed by solicitors, in-house counsel, governments, multinational corporations, international organisations, NGOs and individuals. There are around 80 members of the organisation of which most are barristers. Between them, they speak 12 languages including French, Russian, Hindi, Urdu and Arabic. They have offices in London and Geneva. The UK part of the organisation is Matrix Chambers.

    logo saying NEW Internet Newsletter for Lawyers - Read it online! (no password required) September/October 2014 issue:

  • Tessa Shepperson of Landlord Law describes how a small firm can work profitably on the web - and even enjoy it
  • Michael Scutt of Crane & Staples considers possible remedies for SEO bad practice including a charter of good pratice
  • Abra Millar of Hallam Internet describes how you can find out who is linking to your site and why it matters
  • Brian Inkster of Inksters Solicitors considers how you can reinvent your law firm - a bit at a time
  • Christina Blacklaws of Cripps suggests that ODR technology should now be introduced for family law
  • Nick Holmes describes the Government's continuing relocation of Justice websites to GOV.UK
  • 2014 Legal Web CPD courses from Nick and Delia for solicitors and barristers - interesting, good value, straightforward
  • Celia Fraser of Law Systems describes Profitable Probate and shows how to use software to increase profit
  • Joe Reevy of Words4Business says that studying data (often of dubious value) should not get in the way of real networking
  • FindLaw UK, part of Thomson Reuters, shares key strategies for solicitors’ website success: visibility, design and content

    Last updated September 19th 2014.

    Important new legal information site comes to the UK - FindLaw UK

  • FindLaw UK, part of the Thomson Reuters Group, has now been relaunched as a major new legal information site. Based on the USA version, FindLaw.com the UK site is aimed at two major groups - consumers and lawyers.

    For consumers:

    For solicitors:

    Last updated September 17th 2014.

    Quill Pinpoint Cashier doubles up as a Special Sergeant in the Police Force

  • Janine Cope is a Supervisor within the Quill Pinpoint cashiering team in Manchester but she is also part of the Employer Supported Policing (ESP) scheme, an initiative aimed at encouraging businesses to assist staff who become Special Constables through active engagement with the police force. Quill provides paid days off and other assistance to allow her to fulfil this responsibility. Janine says "One minute I can be sitting at my desk in the office, wearing a suit and high heels and chatting to clients about their finances and the next, I’m decked out in my police uniform and heavy boots, responding to anti-social behaviour issues in the Salford area." Quill's Julian Bryan says "We are pleased to be able to make a meaningful contribution to the local community in this way - and Janine is learning a new set of skills which are transferrable to the workplace". (Delia's comment - That's intruiguing). Full story is on the Quill site here.

    Last updated September 16th 2014.

    Open for advice by phone for criminal matters, 24 hours a day

  • Mackesys Solicitors, based in South London, are one of the biggest providers of criminal defence legal aid services in the country. With over 30 UK qualified criminal lawyers in South East London, South London and Kent, they provide free legal advice at any Police Station or Court in and around the Greater London area, at any time day or night. The numbers are 0207 639 0888 during office hours and 0800 696 999 out of office hours.

    Last updated September 11th 2014.

    Liverpool Solicitors open every day of the week - is this a first?

  • Paul Rooney is a firm of solicitors who have been in Stanley Street, in Liverpool, for over 30 years. They have recently moved to new premises in Tarleton Street and are now open every day of the week - from 8am–8pm Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm Saturdays and 11am-5pm on Sundays. The firm cover personal injury claims, including large scale incidents, as well as housing disrepair and care home fee claims. More details here.
    Question from Delia - are there any other firms of solicitors who are open 7 days a week? Please tell me - delia@venables.co.uk.

    Last updated September 10th 2014.

    Manchester firm provides a glossary of legal terms for people involved in divorce and separation

  • Pinnington Law of Salford, Manchester, have created a glossary of legal terms in divorce and separation, to help participants understand the legal processes they will need to follow. The glossary includes technical terms involved in court proceedings and legal documents as well as different child arrangement orders and agreements for which the participant can apply. There is general information on divorce and other areas of law on the main Pinnington site here.

    Last updated September 7th 2014.

    Firms of solicitors with lots of useful, free legal information on their web site

  • Stowe Family Law is apparently the UK's largest standalone family law firm but it is still a very personal one. Senior partner Marilyn Stowe is well known as a dedicated and (where necessary) hard hitting divorce lawyer. The web site covers the several stages of a divorce, from getting started, the actual divorce, children, financial issues, maintenance issues and "life afterwards". There is also news, a blog and a downloadable book on "Divorce and Splitting up" for 99p.

    Last updated September 3rd 2014.

    Latest Newsletter Feature describes how to make more profit from Probate, using software

  • Probate Plus from Law Systems Ltd is the leading Windows software to assist in the administration of a deceased’s estate and the production of related forms or letters, documents and estate accounts. The use of the software helps the law firm establish efficiency, consistency of approach and co-operative working in the Probate team. Celia Fraser has written a Newsletter Feature on this topic. The article provides a tutorial on how the system works.
    Note, there is a sale on until 15th September establishing a 15% reduction in costs of software and training.

    DNA Testing is big business these days, particularly using the Internet, but it is worth using established suppliers

  • AlphaBiolabs has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. It is fully accredited DNA Paternity, Drug and Alcohol Testing Laboratory, providing testing to the legal profession, corporations and members of the public. The company is based in the North West of the UK and do all of their testing work in-house. But there are now apparently over 200 companies providing services over the internet worldwide (including to private consumers) and even established companies have to work hard to keep up. Alphabiolabs have just invested 1 million pounds in new drug testing and additional equipment, staff and processes to keep ahead with their legal drug testing services and they are also offering free cpd training for DNA, drug and alcohol testing for solicitors and legal professionals in the UK.

    Last updated September 1st 2014.

    Firms of Solicitors doing Personal Injury work have to battle with Claims Companies for the business

  • Firms of solicitors doing Personal Injury work, have to battle with hundreds (or is it thousands?) of claims companies which, whilst regulated by the Claims Management Regulator at the Ministry of Justice, can be quite small and inexperienced and certainly do not have the level of commitment to their clients generally manifested by solicitors. It seems to me that firms of solicitors have not really found a way of getting their greater experience (and reliability) across to potential clients. Indeed, I find that they often set up a separate web site with a catchy claims-related name, and then do not stress, or sometimes even mention, that they are solicitors. Surely solicitors should be making the most of the fact that they *are* solicitors? And what can they do to make the most of that?

    Last updated August 29th 2014.

    How to relate the content you have on your web site with the business you want

  • Curated Media is a new web site launched by Moore Legal Technology to concentrate on how content and the sort of business you are looking for are related. People are often seduced into thinking that any publicity is good publicity - it probably isn't. The new site has 8 useful messages on the home page - worth a look, for a start. One example - "Lawyer profiles? No identity, or multiple identities? Neither work." The parent company, Moore Legal Technology has been experiencing a period of sustained growth. They have recently moved into bigger offices in Glasgow and have taken on new staff. They also now have an international presence with clients in USA and Australia.

    Last updated August 26th 2014.

    The first barrister-only entity to have been awarded ABS status by the SRA is doing well

  • Richmond Chambers Immigration Barristers is an award-winning, innovative partnership of specialist immigration barristers and other immigration law professionals. They provide expert legal advice and representation directly to the public, in relation to all aspects of UK immigration law. They are regulated by the BSB as a chambers, and also by the SRA as an ABS. That sounds like a lot of regulation, but they seem to thrive on it! They were in fact the first barrister-only entity to have been awarded ABS status by the SRA; they were Runner-Up for the 'ABS of the Year' award at The Lawyer Awards 2014. They received 400 fee paying clients in the first 9 months of operation and they come top in Google for "immigration barrister".

    Interesting commercial system for putting individuals and lawyers in touch with each other, from Australia

  • LawPath is a commercial service in Australia, allowing customers to ask a legal question and connect with a lawyer from the Lawpath network for a free 30 minute consultation. Sophisticated matching technology identifies qualified local lawyers (around Australia) who are interested in assisting with the matter. The user can also buy legal documents, many supplied by LexisNexis, to use themselves, with a personal lawyer review of the documents available as an option. The firms pay a monthly subscription fee to be part of the scheme and be listed in the directory. The scheme only started in February 2013 but already seems to be attracting considerable interest.

    Solicitors have been outsourcing their accounts for ages - now barristers are doing it as well

  • Chambers People have been providing specialist services to barristers' chambers for 12 years, including staff recruitment, training, accounts support and consultancy. We would probably now call these outsourced services, although in the earlier years, this was not a term widely used. Their newer service, Chambers Fees, provides an outsourced Fees Billing and Fees Recovery service for either individual Barristers or Barristers chambers, by remote access to an existing computer system, or by a manual method. They can work with either of the two main Chambers accounts systems, Meridian or BarSquared Lex.

    Last updated August 25th 2014.

    Legal advice and services provided by barristers direct to the public under the Public Access Rules

  • I have recently updated my page for Barristers Public Access. If I have missed your organisation, chambers or individual practice, or if you want to update your entry, please let me know! Email me.. delia@venables.co.uk.

    Last updated August 22nd 2014.

    Law firm offering an important legal resource in the field of immigration

  • Gherson is a leading London firm specialising in UK immigration, nationality, European Union Law, human rights law and asylum. The site is in 3 languages, including Russian and Chinese and there are brochures in another 7 languages. There is a large amount of information on the site on all possible topics relating to UK immigration law and also a library of articles on important current legal developments and a blog. This site is an amazing resource.

    SRA will provide its data for the public domain

  • The SRA has agreed to share its data on solicitors (including information on past disciplinary issues) with comparison websites set up by third parties by the end of this year. This is in response to a call from the Legal Services Consumer Panel to provide more information for (other) online registers of practitioners. This will be the precursor for the development of an online register of solicitor firms that can feed directly to comparison sites, expected by the end of 2015. The full story is in The Law Society Gazette, including some very strong viewer comments from viewers as to why this is a bad idea and will just lead to the provision of "statistically meaningless data".

    Last updated August 21st 2014.

    New type of service offered by a law firm

  • Woolley & Co. is a law firm with an amazing amount of free legal information on their web site relating to family law and divorce. They also offer an interesting range of "fixed price advice packages" for example Uncontested petitioner divorce and Uncontested respondent divorce. This is an interesting variant on the DIY packages for divorce, since the lawyer remains in charge.

    Last updated August 20th 2014.

    Tikit is strong in the USA as well as the UK

  • Tikit is already well known in the UK as a supplier of legal software, but it is also a key player (as Tikit North America) in the USA. Tikit, now owned by BT, is currently taking part in the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) Annual Conference. Products being showcased there include the latest version of Tikit timekeeping software, Carpe Diem; a preview of the new version of Tikit eMarketing; the enhanced Tikit Template Management System; and the North American launch of a voice-enabled audio conferencing solution called BT MeetMe. BT is one of the leading conferencing solution providers globally and has over 2,400 customers in the US and Canada. The demonstration at the conference uses two eye-catching old-style British telephone boxes to draw in the crowds.

    New body formed for Compliance Professionals

  • A new membership body for risk and compliance professionals, the Legal Compliance Association, is being launched following a resounding call for the Solicitors Regulation Authority to issue further guidance on outcomes focused regulation (OFR) and resolve unanswered questions. This will be open to anyone with an interest in legal compliance, whether they are working for a traditional law firm, alternative business structure or an in-house legal department. The new body will enable the risk and compliance community to share information which will be very useful to compliance officers and other support teams.
    Managing Partner has more on this story. (I do not have a web address for the LCA yet.)

    Last updated August 19th 2014.

    Tighter financial situation for legal aid is leading to some new ways of working for barristers

  • Dartford Chambers was established in response to the reductions in legal aid for Family Law. They offer a cost-effective alternative for those who can no longer obtain legal aid but who still need help from a specialist family lawyer. They provide clerking and administrative services to fit barristers' needs, for example, enabling barristers to find a more flexible work/life balance working from home, without the overheads of large London sets. They welcome applications from practitioners specialising in ancillary/financial relief, contact, residence, care proceedings, adoption or special guardianship, and Court of Protection matters. You can contact Elaine Cheeseman on enquiries@dartlaw.co.uk or call 01322 314706.

    Last updated August 18th 2014.

    LPC Scholarship from Datalaw to be won

  • Datalaw, a leading legal CPD provider, will pay the tuition fees for the Legal Practice Course – a prize worth up to £12,000 – to the winner of its new competition. The competition is open to paralegals and trainee solicitors in England and Wales who are available to start their LPC in September 2015. Applicants will be asked to answer a series of questions posted on the website. From the responses, 50 hopefuls will be selected to write a blog or submit a five-minute video explaining why they want to become a solicitor. Those submissions will be assessed by a judging panel, and a shortlist of 10 candidates will be chosen for a final interview with the winner to be announced in mid-March. Details can be found on the Datalaw site here.

    Last updated August 15th 2014.

    The Law Society has been granted ‘unprecedented’ access to the United Nations.

  • The Law Society has been awarded Special Consultative Status to the United Nations, which gives it scope to collaborate with member states on issues including human rights and the rule of law, and contribute to discussions on the Council’s agenda on an international and domestic level. Consultative status for an organisation allows it actively to engage with the Economic and Social Council of the UN, and its subsidiary bodies, as well as with the UN secretariat, programmes, funds and agencies. That's a great vote of confidence - well done, Law Society.

    Last updated August 14th 2014.

    Who needs data? Do not let data get in the way of real thought!

  • Joe Reevy of LegalRSS has written a feature for the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers called The internet, useless data and networking. He says that the pursuit of (often useless) data can get in the way of important activities like networking in the local community. The internet has not rewritten the laws of law firm marketing! He also discusses the benefits of co-branding. This can greatly increase your "reach" in your own community - and beyond.

    Last updated August 11th 2014.

    DPS Software and ETSOS join forces to make conveyancing a little easier

  • ETSOS is a leading conveyancing search aggregator, offering a choice of property searches and specialist reports for both residential and commercial sectors. This can be a great saving of time to the conveyancer. Through a single interface users can order any of these reports and searches: Official Local Authority Searches, Personal Local Authority Searches, Land Registry, AML (Anti-Money Laundering), Environmental Reports, Mining Searches, Planning Reports, Utility Searches, Company Searches, Drainage & Water searches (CON29DWs), Chancel Liability, Residential & Commercial EPCs and CLS Insurance. The ETSOS "super market" approach (i.e. offering all these different search processes and reports from one place) can now be integrated within leading case management system DPS Conveyancing Software. In other words, conveyancers using the DPS software can now find and order searches from within the case management system. The information, when returned, is then automatically assigned to the correct case file within the DPS system.

    Solicitors Regulation Authority grants first licence to local authority-owned ABS

  • Local Government Lawyer reports that the SRA has given the green light to the first Alternative Business Structure to be majority owned by a local authority. Under the ABS licence, the legal teams at Buckinghamshire County Council and Milton Keynes Fire Authority will be able to operate through a private limited company called Buckinghamshire Law Plus. They say that the business is projected to make a £1.7m shared profit over its first five years and that the public and voluntary sector community will benefit from having "a trusted, and extremely competitively-priced, law firm at their disposal.” The contracts of the existing 63 fee-earners will be changed so they are employees of both the council and Buckinghamshire Law Plus.

    Last updated August 1st 2014.

    Quill's outsourced cashiering is expanding with new 4 new trainee posts available

  • Quill is expanding its outsourced cashiering service. It seems that more and more law firms are outsourcing their legal accounts function. Reasons include the lack of trained (traditional) cashiers available; the ever increasing burden of regulation making these very demanding positions, even for smaller firms; and the benefits of outsourcing in general. The new posts are based in Quill's offices in Manchester and are part of an approved training scheme which has been running for several years in association with the University of Chester.

    Last updated July 16th 2014.

    Norwel's robot wins "employee of the month" award at Stephensons

  • Norwel's practice management system Prescient+ can be configured to carry out out routine functions early in the morning and late at night and it has even been suggested that the software should be given "employee of the month" status by solicitors firm Stephensons as can be seen in their case study. The robot produces standard e-mails, texts, letters and documents; updates case records and transfers packets of data to the online case management system. When all processing is completed, the Robot automatically schedules a further set of tasks, before returning back to "sleep" for another 23 hours.

    Last updated July 15th 2014.

    New President of the Law Society makes Access to Justice his key priority

  • The new president of the Law Society is Hampshire solicitor Andrew Caplen. He is making Access to Justice and the preservation of legal aid his priorities and he has also announced a new event for the Law Society - an Access to Justice day on 8th September which will herald the start of a new campaign and a major research programme. He said: "Under my leadership, the Law Society will re-focus on access to justice and will continue to fight the erosion of legal aid. I have spent the last 20 years fighting against the cuts, so I know what this is all about, I have lived it. Access to justice ensures the basic functioning of our democratic society." He will also be placing a special emphasis on gender based violence, and will commit the Law Society to lobbying the government to amend LASPO so that legal aid is more easily available for victims of domestic violence. The full press release is at here.

    New link between Eclipse Proclaim case management and ID and AML checks

  • Eclipse Legal Systems have provided an automatic link from their case management system Proclaim for online ID and AML checking services from CRIF Decision Solutions. This integration enables users to request 'one click' ID and AML checks, directly from the Proclaim user desktop. Users select the type of search required (ID or AML) and enter details of the subject and then search results are returned directly to Proclaim, embedded within relevant client fields and the file history.

    Last updated July 11th 2014.

    DPS Software provide access to Criminal Justice Secure emails via their managed IT solution

  • The Criminal Justice Secure eMail service (CJSM) allows people working in the CJS and those working to prevent crime, including public, private and voluntary organisations, to send emails containing information up to an equivalent of ‘Restricted’ (i.e. sensitive data), in a secure way. These key groups of people can now send emails securely to each other.

    To make the most of this new facility, case management specialist DPS Software has added a new functionality to DPSCloud, its managed IT solution which allows law firms to send and receive CJSM emails straight from and into their Outlook Office inbox and assign them to the right case or matter in their case management system. This is possible becuase of the integration between Microsoft’s email platform and DPS’s case management software that gives users access to their case-related information straight from their email system.

    Last updated July 10th 2014.

    Law Society signs joint venture deal to create online Conveyancing Portal

  • The Law Society has announced a joint venture with Mastek UK Limited to deliver its online Conveyancing Portal, which aims to speed up the home-buying process. Law Society deputy vice president Jonathan Smithers said: "The Portal will make it easier for conveyancing professionals to better serve the house buying public. In its first phase the system will allow professionals to better communicate with each other, clients and other parties, satisfy due diligence obligations more quickly and at lower cost and facilitate the conveyance of residential property through established protocols." Mastek UK Limited is a multinational information technology services company with a presence in the US, Canada, UK, India and Asia-Pacific.

    There is more information on the Mastek UK site and also in the legal journal Legal Futures. The Law Society's Conveyancing Portal is also described on its own site here although this does not yet have news of the joint venture.

    Last updated June 25th 2014.

    There are quite a few blogs around on divorce, but this one is worth looking at..

  • Rainscourt Family Law of Milton Keynes, provide a blog on their web site written by Katie Rainscourt, on topical divorce matters such as grounds for divorce, maintenance orders which do (or do not) keep up with inflation, prenuptual agreements and other ongoing topics. It is interesting and informative and does not "talk down" to the readers.

    Last updated June 22nd 2014.

    How to find International Legal Resources

  • Legal Resources from other countries is a section on my web site to which I have devoted quite a lot of time recently. The latest page to be refurbished and updated is International Legal Resources. This is the place to start for countries which do not have a page of their own (I have separate pages for Ireland, the rest of Europe, USA, Australia, Asia, Africa and a few others). There are a number of important international collections of legal resources (including WorldLII, Library of Congress, New York University School of Law and the United Nations) and I describe these here.

    Last updated June 20th 2014.

    Outsourcing is good for you! Here are some of the reasons why...

  • Ten reasons to outsource your cashiering is an interesting article from Quill Pinpoint in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. Outsourcing is cheaper, safer, more flexible, provides better reports and has expert advice to hand. And lets you be a lawyer.  

    Last updated June 18th 2014.

    A new mobile app to help witnesses attending courts

  • Pocket Witness is a mobile app for witnesses attending courts, tribunals and inquiries in the UK and under British jurisdiction, but also contains helpful advice for people giving evidence anywhere in the world. Developed by Trevor Gilbert, it educates witnesses about their role, responsibilities and likely course of events at a variety of hearings. It aims to improve public access to justice and ensure that lay (regular) and expert witnesses are not left at a disadvantage when they give evidence in the witness box. The app also provides access to legal developments, supplementary tips and insights on public cases.  

    Last updated June 17th 2014.

    A useful new (free) facility from a firm of solicitors - The Child Maintenance Service’s child maintenance calculator.

  • Divorce Family Toolkit is a blog from Alan Larkin of Family Law Partners in Brighton - "The inside track for those struggling with divorce finance issues". As well as postings on topics of family law finance, the blog contains a description of the legal terms used in family law, lots of information on the dreaded Form E, and links to other useful sites related to Family Law and (particularly) the financial aspects of Divorce. There is now a useful (free) facility The Child Maintenance Service’s child maintenance calculator. This allows parents to predict what level of child maintenance may be requested if the Child Maintenance Service is involved, based on the rules introduced by the Child Maintenance Service on 29th July 2013. It uses a gross income model and applies different rates (or a combination of rates) in 5 bands. The calculator is free to use and can be used directly by parents or by their lawyers or mediators. It can be accessed by computer or through mobile devices. There is an official calculator provided by the Government but this does not give enough detail and does not lend itself to allowing the results to be easily communicated (by email for instance) to a co-parent. The lack of transparency in the calculation tends to aggravate the mistrust that exists immediately after separation.  

    Last updated June 15th 2014.

    A service for signing documents electronically

  • Signable is a UK based online service that enables documents to be legally signed online. Rather than emailing or posting the document to the signer, you can send it out via Signable and get it signed in a matter of minutes. Signers can sign on their desktop or their mobile device and the Signable service checks that the document is legally binding and secure. Apparently, the technology adheres to all regulations set out by the Electronic Communications Act 2000 requirements. There are details of the legality of electronic signatures here. There is Pay As You Go plan available or a Monthly plan and there is also a free 14 day trial available.
     

    A useful online service for Solicitors to use on their own websites

  • Conveyancing Calculator is an Online Conveyancing Fees Calculator which Solicitors can put onto their own website to provide potential clients with an instant online quote, incorporating the Solicitor's fees, costs and disbursements. The client receives the quote by email and the Solicitor receives a copy of the quote. The service is cloud based and only costs £95 for a year for unlimited use by viewers. Apparently "conveyancing fee quote" is a top Google search term so it is good to be able to offer this. The facility has been developed by Web Design Guildford.

    Report from the recent LexisNexis Seminar for IT Consultants

  • LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions is the software solutions arm of LexisNexis UK. The key products provided are:

    Last updated June 2nd 2014.

    A new CPD course for solicitors from Delia and Nick - Social Media and eBusiness for Solicitors 2014!

  • The new course covers: Introduction to social media and a glossary of terms, descriptions of the key social media platforms, your website as a marketing tool, local marketing and local SEO, social media monitoring, battling with Google algorithms, setting up a law firm e-commerce site and lawyers developing online software to sell. Qualifies for 5 hours CPD from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

    Last updated June 1st 2014.

    No need to panic just yet

  • Nominet are launching a new shorter and "sharper" UK domain - just .uk. There is more about this on Nominet's new web site dotuklaunch and also on the Nominet rules page. These new domains will launch on 14th June 2014. Anyone with a co.uk, org.uk or me.uk can however relax for a while - well for a few years actually, since until June 2019 (5 years away) anyone with one of the above domains will retain their entitlement to the corresponding new .uk domain and no one else can register it. (You can check your entitlement on the Nominet site). Some registration companies have been giving the impression that anyone can pre-order the .uk domain and that therefore the existing domain holders (as above) had better get moving. However, as Market Oracle also explains, you can relax for a while. (My thanks to Nick Holmes for putting me straight on this - I also panicked!)

    Last updated May 27th 2014.

    Managing multiple sites with a great variety of content, needed in many formats (for different devices) and for different purposes (including social media) is one of the big headaches of modern web site development. A new system from Joe Reevy of Words4Business fame offers a solution.

  • MyInfoNet provides for easy management of content across multiple websites and creates mobile sites, e-newsletters, news streams and social media updates. The system, which runs as a cloud based application, does not require a new website from the user, and can be implemented in minutes, greatly increasing the marketing facilities of the firm. Cost is £39 + VAT per week (no forward contract required) and a 3 month trial is just £82.50+VAT.

    Last updated May 25th 2014.

    Voice recognition, smart phones and case management come together - at last

  • LOASys (Legal Office Automation Systems) specialise in digital dictation, speech recognition, documents assembly & management.
    DPS Software are one of the leading independent legal case management software and hosted IT solutions providers in the UK, catering to over 600 practices and 15,000 individual users. These two companies have worked together to provide the integrated dictation system which everyone has been wanting for some time (even if they did not realise that they wanted it). Dictation from a smart phone is automatically transcribed by the LOASys voice recognition solution and saved as fully formatted Microsoft Word documents against the required case or matter in DPS’s case management system. Bingo.

    Last updated May 20th 2014.

    The right practice and case management software can make all the difference...

  • Lance Mason, a firm of solicitors in Blackburn, Lancashire, started up as a 3 person firm in 2011, specialising in personal injury work as well as general commercial work. It adopted Proclaim Practice Management & Accounts Software from Eclipse Legal Systems. Now the firm is 80 strong and is planning further expansion and development.

    Last updated May 15th 2014.

    A departing cashier can be a trigger to new methods of running the firm's accounts

  • Legal cashiers of the reliable and traditional variety are hard to find, these days. However, a retiring cashier can be a trigger to new methods and in particular to the use of an outsourced cashiering service like Pinpoint, from legal software and services supplier Quill. A named member of the Quill team handles the firm's accounts - and payroll as well, if desired. See the story of how this process works for Solicitors Rosemary Smith & Co. here.

    Last updated May 14th 2014.

    Hotdocs wins "International Business of the Year 2014" at Scottish awards

  • Hotdocs has won an important award against fierce competition from six other global companies based in Scotland - the "International Business of the Year award" as a result of major overseas growth and the company’s market position within the United States. The event organisers wrote that: “HotDocs has grown significantly overseas since 2009 and its automated document generation software is a market leader in 42 countries. Shortlisted for its particular strength in the US marketplace, HotDocs’ software is used by 80% of America’s leading law firms and one fifth of Fortune 500 companies.” The event, which took place at Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre on Monday 12th May, was the largest business gala dinner ever held in Scotland, with almost 2,000 guests. Sponsors include the Royal Bank of Scotland, Virgin Money, Chivas Brothers, Johnson & Johnson and KPMG and Sir Richard Branson was a special guest on the night. Full details here.

    I have known and admired Hotdocs for over 10 years. It has always been a ground breaking company and (just as important) commercially innovative and successful. There is more detailed information about Hotdocs in my software section here.

    Last updated May 10th 2014.

    The new Internet Newsletter for Lawyers is now online. Highlights of the May/June 2014 issue:

  • Copyright – Shireen Smith navigates the minefield of finding and using images for your website - watch out for copyright issues
  • Cryptocurrencies – Alex Heshmaty provides a primer on Bitcoin – what it is and how lawyers can use it - and some problems
  • Copyright – Simon Stokes considers the pressures digital copyright protection is facing and looks to its future
  • Internet skills for lawyers – Amanda Millmore covers some useful computer skills for using the internet which you might not know about
  • European institutions – Delia Venables puts us straight on the confusing array of European institutions, courts and resources
  • Copyright – Laurence Kaye of Shoosmiths argues that copyright is a Darwinian species that can adapt to survive
  • Newsletter Feature - Jon Curtis tells firms how to sell employment law with online software myhrtoolkit
  • Social Media and eBusiness for Solicitors - CPD for 2014 from Nick and Delia (more courses soon)

    USA and European legal resources..

  • Legal sites and resources in the USA and European institutions and legal resources are two of my sections which I have updated recently. Do let me know if I have missed anything significant or indeed made any mistakes!

    Last updated May 6th 2014.

    Case management and electronic filing for the court system

  • C-Track is Thomson Reuters' court management and filing solution designed to capture, track, process and report on court information and keep cases moving through the judicial process. The web-based software, designed to solve the complexity of appellate and trial court case flow, can be configured to operate with multiple agency or partner products to ensure a seamless and efficient workflow solution. Thomson Reuters has won the contract after an extensive procurement exercise. Apparently, the software has been developed and extended over a 15 year period and will now be deployed across the jurisdictions within the Rolls building.

    Note: The Rolls Building, formally opened by the Queen in December 2011, is a massive court complex in London that is used by the High Court of Justice and houses the commercial and property business of the Chancery Division (including bankruptcy), as well as the Admiralty Court, Commercial Court, and the Technology and Construction Court. The building has 31 courtrooms, including three "super courts" for high-value cases, and four landscape-oriented courtrooms for multi-party cases.

    Last updated May 4th 2014.

    Looking for Barristers?

  • I have two Directories of Barristers on this site, with brief descriptions of each Chambers or Individual: If I am missing any, or the descriptions are not up to date, please contact me! delia@venables.co.uk.

    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.

    Do you want to go further back? See New from 2013, New from 2012, New from 2011, New from 2010, New from 2009 and New from 2008.

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