Monthly Archives: August 2009

…of suits and geeks…

I have some good friends in the tech industry with loud voices debating the merit in breaking down the status quo relating to copyright and the like.

I touched upon the copyright issue, very briefly, in my post lamenting the president of the Law Society’s inaugural artcle in the Gazette.

It seems clear to me that the intellectual property ways of old, as enshrined in common law and statute, are

  • facing immense change
  • under attack; or
  • doomed

depending upon your position.

Is it the case, I wonder, that it is purely the domain of the tech producers, users and enthusiasts to challenge the established order?

On the other hand, is the role of the Internet/Media Law lawyer to merely uphold the law of the land or do the two camps collaborate to explore what the landscape could look like in the years to come. 

If so, where? What forums are there where these conflicting positions can be thrown together and explored?

I’d be interested in hearing more of that conversation.

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Filed under An End To Silo Thinking, General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media

Punk law, anyone, anyone…

Punk Law.

There’s a brand, or a blog, ready for someone to pick up and run with.

The idea came to me while being interviewed on Blogtalkradio – see this post.

I was recounting how the manner in which I had prepared my Youtube clip was in keeping with punk ethics, namely, it doesn’t matter if you are not a virtuoso guitar player, pick it up and get started. The form is to some extent irrelevent, as long as the message, the content, is good.

If clients are going to be looking for lawyers who meet with them on the client’s terms and in the virtual spaces that the client’s use, then is it likely they will look for other resonances?

If physical location is less relevant, then the choice that a client has as to who he or she instructs becomes impossibly diverse. Is it inevitable that they will therefore look for other similarities linking their tastes, values and aspirations with their solicitor of choice.

To what extent do we deliberately communicate our tastes, sympathies and values within social media? (Not that I have ever been a punk, although I did once have a Jimbob from Carter USM haircut. My mum thought it was very nice which wasn’t quite the point.)

Even in the title to this blog, I am communicating other tastes, namely an affinity for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

I wonder if we do it all the time and how we survive when that gets repressed by the larger corporate image. To what extent does social media provide an outlet…

…and what would a Malcolm McClaren designed law firm look like anyway?

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Filed under Law, Lawyers and Social Media

The President’s Inaugural Column

Robert Heslett, new president of the Law Society

Robert Heslett, new president of the Law Society

What happens when leadership says nothing to you about your life?

Last week’s Law Society Gazette features the first article from the new Law Society President, Robert Heslett.  If this is designed to be his rallying call at the start of his 1 year term in office then it is disappointing. 

It looks back and then inwards but never, that I can discern, out or forwards.

The theme of the new presidential year is…

“The Rule of Law” 

What is the rule of law?

“The rule of law is the touchstone of the solicitors’ profession. It is the bedrock and the foundation upon which a solicitor’s work stands. It is therefore right to return to the rule of law to dictate our guiding principles in a time of economic, regulatory, social and political change.”

I have just been speaking to a colleague in another firm and asked him about the rule of law.  Was that why he does what he does?  No it was not, nor is it for me.  How about you?

As I was on the bus into work this morning, I was trying once again to read Wikinomics and was struck by this;

“The net-generation is re-negotiating the definitions of copyright and intellectual property… They won’t let outmoded intellectual property laws stand in their way.” pg 52

I mused on how the net-generation is not so much negotiating change, as forcing change.  Set alongside this, our President’s suggestion that we should “Return to the  rule of law” feels out of time and place, harkening back to a time when power was vested in the affairs of lawyers and politicians.  We are a long way from that now, aren’t we? 

Some will ask if I am suggesting that we abandon law and permit anarchy.  That is clearly not my case and would be nothing more than an attempt to reduce the debate into polarised positions.  We need to be more responsive and help shape the newly democratised conversation.

Robert Heslett rightly identifies that there are challenges ahead for the profession, there are many, but then goes on to concentrate introspectively upon the question of profession regulation and the relationship “Between the Society and the LSB, the SRA and the OLC” 

The “protracted period of consultation” within our profession may well provide, ironically, a relatively safe haven for many to dwell within, constructed as it is with the familiar disciplines of negotiating, drafting and implementing the “Details and structures.”

My big concern is that as we concentrate on this introspection, that our leaders take our eye of the social economic changes that are taking place in the world, both online and realtime.

Nowhere does our President refer to technology, communication or commoditisation of legal services.

It may be correct that “The rule of law is also emblematic of the relationship between the citizen and the state.” although that feels rather esoteric to me.

It may be flattering to perceive that “For centuries, solicitors have been the principle guarantors of this relationship and of the efficient conduct of democracy.” although I am even less convinced of this assertion than the previous one. 

Either way I fear it is dangerously naive to believe that what might have been the case (if it ever was) will always be.

We need a different dialogue within the profession – this conservative opening gambit says nothing to me about my work or my clients’ concerns- and need any effective dialogue with the marketplace and our end users.

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Filed under Law, Lawyers and Social Media, The Changing Legal Market

Blogradio Interview Set List

Photo credit to AndrewVDill Flickr CreativeCommons

Photo credit to AndrewVDill Flickr CreativeCommons

I was interviewed on Saturday by Blawgtalkradio, about the foray into YouTube that I made for my law firm Mogers.

The full interview, kindly said by some to be inspiring, can be found here.

For those without speakers handy, I have pasted below the crib sheet, or set list, that I had prepared to structure our discussions to give you a feel of what was discussed.

Tell us about the film.
1. What is it
2. Where is it
3. Why did you make it
   a. Personal curiousity/interest – can I, and how do I
   b. Susskind’s End of Lawyers book and how Soc.Med will impact on lawyers
   c. Start debate in firm and broader re soc med
4. Why did you make it that way/Design choices
   a. Worked within restrictions – tech, equipment, lighting
   b. Led in part by collaborative law model – not too centred on me
   c. Desire to be different
   d. No suits or desks
   e. Punk ethics?…
5. How did you make it
   a. Stuff lying around the house
      i. Family camcorder
      ii. Flip chart in my study
      iii. Software freely available
6. Permission from law firm? Sought approval as matter of courtesy and to stimulate debate
7. Questions regarding;
   a. Quality – Doesn’t need to be pristine, but of a certain level
   b. Content control – Likely that future editions will be cleared
   c. Inclusion into mainstream company web – unlikely and unnecessary? Soc Media strategy can run parallel to central web. Distinction between the web 1.0 content and contribution from individuals on soc media who lend their enthusiasm and creativity in this way. Different audiences?
   d. Way forward/strategy – Create and drive repeat visits – other content/series
8. How to get heard?
   a. Blogging
   b. Ecademy
   c. Twitter – retweeting not obtrusively but regularly
   d. The tipping point?

There is a great deal within this to come back in future articles.  If there is any particular area you would like me to concentrate on then please do get in touch.

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Filed under An End To Silo Thinking, General Technology