A report presents the findings of the virtual court pilot.
Virtual Courts Pilot - outcome evaluation report.
The virtual court was piloted between May 2009 and May 2010 in one magistrates’ court and fifteen police stations in London and one magistrates’ court and
a police station in North Kent. In the virtual court qualifying defendants did not have to physically attend the first hearing in the magistrates’ court, but remained
in the police station with a video link to the court.
The pilot assessment considered the cost effectiveness, speed and justice outcomes of the pilot sites compared to the traditional courts over the period from
January to April 2010, as well as the implications of rolling out the scheme nationally.
The findings indicate that the pilot was successful in reducing the average time from charge to first hearing, failure to appear rates and prisoner transportation
and police cell costs. However, these savings were exceeded by costs of the pilot, particularly those associated with the technology used.
If you have a little time to spare you can read the whole (63 page report)
Last updated December 15th 2010.
An important new resource
Social Welfare Law comes from
Garden Court Chambers (who already provide a major set of
legal resources on their site
The new Social Welfare Law site provides Practice Materials, Legislation and Case Law.
It is written by some of the leading barristers in the field. You have to register to use the site but it is free.
Areas of law covered include
Adult Care, Children, Incapacity, Education, Welfare Benefits, Migrants, Equality, Health Care, Mental Health, Housing and International Law.
As well as the legal materials provided on the site, there are extensive links to important resources in all these areas.
There is also a Monthly Email Bulletin that people can sign up to.
Last updated December 1st 2010.
The most important legal IT exhibition of the year - and it's free
The Legal IT Show 2011 takes place on 1st and 2nd March next year
at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Last year there were 50 key legal IT exhibitors and there is also
an associated conference each year with some free keynote sessions.
This year, the theme of the conference is Commoditisation, Internet Technology & The 21st Century Legal Practice.
You can sign up for free visitor registration on the site.
Last updated November 28th 2010.
HighStreetLawyer.com is a national network of independent
law firms operating under one brand. The brand (still building up) has been founded by solicitor
Gary Yantin and is apparently backed by private equity investment. It has just launched to the general public
with a series of fixed price legal services to consumers and owners of small businesses.
The site offers many services and documents including wills from £200 plus VAT and conveyancing from £520 plus VAT.
The user fills in a form online with details of the service required and is then contacted with a suitable solicitor.
Last updated November 22nd 2010.
Is this a record for the number of micro-sites set up by a firm?
Bonallack and Bishop of Salisbury, Andover, Amesbury, Verwood and Warminster, have
a whole series of micro-sites, driving business to them. Here is the list....
A new way of writing a book which depends on the internet!
Legal Eagles is a book by Simon Tupman
which profiles sixteen visionary lawyers from around the globe who are changing people’s lives and making a difference
in the world. Interviewed by Simon, presumably by Skype or similar means, they offer candid insights into their careers and share the secrets of their success.
Their stories dispel many myths about the legal profession and prove that lawyers can, and do, make the world a better place.
Simon Tupman is a lawyer, formerly practising in London, but now living in New Zealand. The lawyers interviewed are indeed
from around the world, including the UK, USA, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
The book can be ordered from the site and there is a pdf version available.
Last updated November 18th 2010.
Useful advice site related to EU issues and a citizen's rights under EU law. Your Europe Advice
(previously known as the Citizens' Signpost Service (CSS))
is an EU advice service for the public providing personalised advice to EU nationals on their rights under EU law.
The advice is provided by legal experts from the
European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) operating under contract with the European Commission.
They work closely with
SOLVIT, a problem-solving network that deals with problems between
individuals or companies and the authorities in another country, in cases where there is a possible misapplication of EU law.
If, after examining a person's request for advice, CSS thinks that you may need further help in solving a problem with the national administration in question,
they will transfer the case from CSS to SOLVIT and inform the person accordingly.
Last updated November 5th 2010.
Pro bono is a big topic at the moment
Catherine Baksi of the Law Society Gazette,
blogs on the topic of pro bono ahead of National Pro Bono Week, which begins on Monday 8th November.
She says that “being part of the community and giving something back to it ‘pro bono’ has long been a tradition within the legal profession.
But there is a dark shadow on the horizon. Pro bono work, it has always been stressed, is not a replacement for a properly funded legal aid
scheme – yet pro bono is increasingly filling the gaps where this does not happen.”
She refers to an article in this week's Law Society Gazette
How legal aid sector is challenging assumptions about pro bono work by Jon Robins, who is editor of a series of articles on this
topic called Pro Bono: Good Enough?.
Last updated on October 21st 2010.
I have spent a month doing this! Ahhh... it's hard work.
My legal software pages are new beautifully up to date and full of useful information about the key legal
software suppliers in the legal market.
The National Pro Bono Centre houses the profession's national clearing houses
for legal pro bono work delivered in England and Wales: the Bar Pro Bono Unit, LawWorks (the Solicitors' Pro Bono Group) and ILEX Pro Bono Forum.
The Centre is designed to be a "hub" for pro bono charities in the sector and will support the wide range of pro bono projects and brokerage which the
charities support, helping individuals and community groups all over England and Wales.
The coming together of the three branches of the profession in this way will improve co-ordination of pro bono work.
The new offices at 48 Chancery Lane provide a central resource for people seeking pro bono legal advice and representation, making
it easier for people in need to seek and receive help. For more information about pro bono in the legal world, see
Last updated on October 18th 2010.
Solicitors Blog is an "umbrella" site for a number of
existing and new blogs and also legal news, training, events, careers & directories, both UK based and worldwide.
Doubling as an information portal, it also provides a variety of feeds from news and legal sector related sources.
It is possible for the viewer to contribute their own material in various ways. The site is provided by
Netlaw Media an established UK based conference and events organisation.
Solicitors Blog was launched in September 2010 by Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham who called it a "one stop shop" for legal information.
Last updated on October 14th 2010.
Judiciary of Scotland is a new site designed to increase public understanding and awareness
of what takes place in courts each day across Scotland. There is information about judges and the work they do in each
of the different courts as well as helpful advice for individuals attending court or wanting to learn more about the system.
There is up-to-date information on the latest sentencing statements and summaries of opinions, fatal accident inquiry determinations and
other major court decisions in Scotland.
A new Scottish law blog
WardblawG is a law blog or “blawg” showcasing and contributing to Scots and other laws from around the globe.
It aims to provide content from the best minds in the Scottish legal profession, while also providing the most recent news relevant to Scots lawyers and
businesses both those domiciled in Scotland and those established elsewhere looking to set up or develop their business in Scotland.
The blog is written by Gavin Ward, a solicitor, previously employed by a top Scottish law firm, based in Edinburgh, former Citizens Advice Bureau adviser,
and private law tutor at the University of Glasgow. The blog also deals with academic legal topics, particularly ones related to Scotland.
Last updated on October 3rd 2010.
The Legal Ombudsman for England and Wales opens on October 6th.
It is a new organisation with formal powers to resolve complaints about lawyers, free to the person with the complaint.
The service is open to all members of the public, very small businesses, charities, clubs and trusts.
It has been set up by the Office for Legal Complaints under the Legal Services Act 2007.
The aim is to simplify the system and make sure consumers have access to an independent expert to resolve complaints.
Head of the new service is Adam Sampson, previously chief executive of Shelter. He can require the lawyer to compensate
the complainant with an amount up to £30,000.
Last updated on September 28th 2010.
LEGAL BRANDS is a new page I have set up on this topic -
High Street firms setting up as "brands" in order to compete with "Tesco Law". Let me know if I am missing
genuine new "brands".
Last updated on September 24th 2010.
Justcite is a legal search engine and citator service that cross-references
case law, legislation and journal articles. It is a provider-neutral citator i.e. it searches across all major online legal publishers
and links straight to their content if either the material is free or the user has a subscription to that particular service.
Justcite comes from legal publisher Justis and it was originally released 10 years ago.
The new version has been redesigned and rebuilt from the ground up with a new search interface,
pioneering results algorithms and many other features. JustCite is an international citator, cross-referencing material from
an increasing number of common law jurisdictions around the world. The search box suggestions
prompt for reference formats, legislation titles, subject terms and colloquial or common names for cases and EU documents.
For the most difficult of searches, the Advanced Search page allows you to specify very specific criteria particular to material type.
There is a free trial available.
You can access the new release
Last updated on September 16th 2010.
Abney Garsden McDonald, specialised firm for child abuse claims, is nominated for national IT award
Abney Garsden McDonald, of Cheadle Hulme, in Cheshire, has been nominated
as a finalist in the BCS IT Industry Awards. The BCS (formerly known by its original full name British Computer Society)
is the UK Chartered Institute for IT with a 70,000 strong membership, and aims to promote wider social and economic progress
through valuable use of IT in all walks of life and sectors.
The practice uses
Eclipse's Proclaim software system to manage group and class actions,
and is able to link together the often extremely complex information in child abuse cases required to bring successful cases
against individuals or care homes.
Abney Garsden McDonald has the largest dedicated team of specialised lawyers for child abuse claims in the country.
Partner Peter Garsden says "Using Proclaim we have been able to bring about successful outcomes in the most
complex of cases, some with history going back 40 years or more."
Last updated on September 14th 2010.
Major free exhibition
Online Information takes place from 30th November to 2nd December
at Olympia, in London. This is a massive event, attracting more than 9,000 visitors each year from around the world.
There will be more than 230 international exhibitors plus an extensive educational show floor seminar programme (i.e. free seminars).
In addition, there is a major conference (the Online Information Conference) running alongside the exhibition in the Olympia
The show covers 6 different areas:Content Management, Search Solutions , Social Media, ePublishing Solutions,
Content Resources and Library Management.
This is not a legally oriented show but it provides unrivalled general exposure to online topics.
You can register online (free)
Last updated on September 9th 2010.
Free Seminars from DPS on Civil Contract Changes
DPS Software is running three free half-day seminars on how fixed fee civil billing
will affect the LSC practice when the 2010 Civil Contract comes into effect.
The seminars will cover the new Civil Submission rules, where providers will tender for work according to location, and how the latest
Tolerance barred categories will be increased. Personal Injury fees are also due to change.
Half-day seminars will be held at the following venues during the first week of October 2010:
Manchester: Tuesday 5th October at the Law Society
Birmingham: Wednesday 6th October at Lea Marston Hotel
London: Thursday 7th October at the Grand Connaught Rooms
firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place or call 0208 0804 1022. Note - DPS Software has updated the Matrimonial billing function of their case management software to allow automated fixed fee billing and online submission.
The update is a smooth transition from time record/attendance notes to receipted bills and is set to slash administrative duties.
Washminster is written for everyone interested in the work of Britain's Parliament
and the US Congress. (Washington and Westminster - get it?) It covers Practice, Procedure, History and current issues.
The blog is written by David Morgan, who tutors in Law for both Leicester University and the Open University.
Family Law Blog comes from Andrew Woolley and his team, of
Family Law Firm. The blog covers recent case law and other interesting cases and provides
their views on a wide variety of family law related issues. Another blog, also based on the Family Law Firm site, is
Diary of a Divorce which is written anonymously by one of their clients to share their
experiences of divorce and family breakdown. (There’s a time lag on posts being written to when they are posted for perhaps obvious reasons
but it means that the postings are not in strict chronological order).
It is interesting to see how much of an emotional rollercoaster the client is on and how this effects her decision making when it comes to some
of the crucial issues they need to address.
Last updated on September 5th 2010.
An important date for next year's diary
The Legal IT Show will take place on 1st & 2nd March 2011 at the
Business Design Centre, Islington, London. This is the largest exhibition in Europe to showcase technology and business
process innovations for the legal sector.
Apparently, the show each year provides a platform for 65+ exhibitors to demonstrate the latest developments in legal business and
operational efficiency to over 1300 senior managers and buyers from law firms and in-house legal departments.
The exhibition, and many of the keynote sessions, are free and (free) registrations will start soon.
Last updated on August 26th 2010.
A useful public service and web site
The Child Maintenance Options service provides information and
support to help parents make a child maintenance arrangement that meets their needs. The service is also available to
guardians, relatives, friends and child maintenance professionals and can be used anonymously in England, Wales and Scotland.
The service provides information on the three options for making an arrangement:
•making a private arrangement
•applying to the Child Support Agency
•going through the courts
Child Maintenance Options is an impartial service and is available through a freephone national telephone helpline, 0800 988 0988
as well as this website (there are lots of fact sheets, leaflets and FAQ's) and
a face-to-face service for those in most need of more personalised help and support.
The service is provided by the
Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, the
public body that's responsible for child maintenance in Great Britain.
Last updated on August 21st 2010.
A significant new arrival on the UK legal web. (My thanks to Nick Holmes and his Freelegalweb blog for this.)
FindLaw UK, owned by Thomson Reuters, is bringing together various companies it owns to
provide an interesting new web site on legal matters for individuals. A key part of the sites is "Learn About the Law" which says
"Looking for legal information? In legal trouble? Learn About the Law is your starting place for help understanding the law."
There is also information "by life events" (Buying or selling property, Living online, Involved in an accident, Victim of crime, Drink driving and so on).
There are articles and FAQ's on all these topics and individuals still needing legal assistance are guided to
Contact Law, a referral company also owned by Thomson Reuters,
which works with more than 5,000 solicitors.
A bit of history
FindLaw.com, the original (and USA) site, was started in 1995, when two US attorneys
compiled a list of Internet resources for a group of law librarians in northern California. As the site developed, they offered a mix of
cases, statutes, legal news, a lawyer directory, an online career centre and community-oriented tools such as mailing lists and message boards.
In 2001, the site was purchased by West Group,
part of the Thomson Corporation which now also (in the UK) owns Westlaw UK, Lawtel and Contact Law.
Last updated on August 20th 2010.
The importance of good photographs...
Katie Vandyck Photography provides excellent headshots for
web sites. She has been a photographer for 20 years, starting out as an actors’ photographer and going on to photograph writers, musicians,
business professionals, lawyers and families. She works equally happily in black and white or colour and
makes great efforts to ensure that the subject should be relaxed and comfortable, and that the results have
the right "feel" to match what the subject wants. There is a very interesting slide show of good pictures on the site.
(I look at a lot of web sites and many of them have terrible pictures!)
Last updated on August 18th 2010.
TikitTFB is the new identity of the long established supplier of legal practice
management systems TFB. Now they have a rebranded - and brand new - webiste to go with the new identity. It is distinctive
and informative and has a nice feature: on the solutions pages (practice management, case and document management,
legal aid or "small practice edition", they have a "screen shot gallery" accessed via a series of thumbnails, that allows users
to get a closer look of the software.
Last updated on August 18th 2010.
New blog in the Family Law area
Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to
Family Law Week, which provides free access to all the latest family law news,
judgments, analysis and legislation.
Family Law Week Blog complements this material with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.
The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.
Last updated on August 13th 2010.
Interesting new software product now launched
CASE RECORD is a secure online venue for confidential correspondence
between professionals and their clients. It meets the needs of users from different organizations, facilitating correspondence
between them while also managing the separate private communications that need to take place and be recorded.
The product takes a significant evolutionary step beyond email while respecting the complex array of relationships and
conversations that take place in a professional services and inter-organizational setting.
A free month's trial is available.
Last updated on August 11th 2010.
Today's Conveyancer is a new free online newspaper for conveyancers with relevant news,
resources and jobs. It is run by Chris Harris, previously Legal Serivices Director of Legal Marketing Services which is the largest panel
manager of conveyancing services in the UK.
Last updated on August 10th 2010.
bid4fees is a new website which aims "to simplify and modernise how lawyers acquire new instructions
and increase their fee income, whilst also providing clients with more choice and undoubtedly significant cost savings."
Solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers can register with the site and are then able to see the descriptions of the legal problems provided
by individuals. They can ask the person questions and then, if they wish, put in a bid for the work.
Apparently, the identities of the individuals and the solicitors are protected during the initial stages of the process.
Lawyers gaining work through this site pay 10% of their fees to the company.
Last updated on July 31st 2010.
Interesting development from a chambers
QEB Hollis Whiteman is moving....
whilst this may not seem an earth shattering event to others, there is an excellent video presented here of the reasons - including moving into the City rather than
being "just" in the Temple. This could be the beginning of a trend? In any case, it is good PR.
Last updated on July 30th 2010.
Important upgrade to the main legislation service
Legislation.gov.uk is the official home of the revised enacted UK legislation, 1267 to the present,
together with appropriate sections for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The site brings together the legislative content currently held on the
OPSI website and revised legislation from the Statute Law Database to provide a single legislation service that replaces the current services.
The OPSI and SLD websites are in the process of being decommissioned with users re-directed to this new service.
The site is managed by The National Archives, a new UK government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice.
There is a section for Frequently Asked Questions which describes, in particular, the various ways in which the archive is not yet up to date.
Last updated on July 23rd 2010.
Smaller companies in the legal area form a group to market their skills
CoreLegal is a new group of consultants and suppliers for lawyers working together.
They deal with all aspects of legal practice administration; legal bookkeeping from Boogles, legal accounts systems from Perfect Books Accounts,
and legal costings from Lawlords. Staff training from Rebekah Gomez of Coach London and process serving and tracing services by Blackhawk Investigations.
Specialist legal insurance from Cobine Carmelson Ltd, specialist lawyers’ banking services by John Brooks of Royal Bank of Scotland
and law practice valuations and mergers from The Bottom Line Consultancy. Customer satisfaction surveys and legal market research
from IRN Research, specialist law firm marketing from The Fedora Consultancy and legal newsletters written by Roger J Gould.
Crisis management or reputation protection support from Infoplan Public Relations.
Last updated on July 19th 2010.
Lawtel has launched a Pending Actions service that will track key
documents and developments to a case submitted to the High Court before a hearing date is fixed.
Lawyers can rapidly identify forthcoming cases that may be of relevance to their clients or practice area and can also check upcoming cases
against an individual company, or within a particular area of law (e.g. Personal Injury law). The service also allows searches by court type,
covering the Commercial Court, Chancery Division or Queens Bench Division.
Working Families is a national UK charity. They give free advice to
employees on their helpline, 0800 013 0313, about family friendly rights
e.g. rights at work for pregnant women and maternity leave and they advise
on negotiating flexible working. They have just a launched a
that deals with claims before the employment tribunal. The precedents cover a
range of issues, including pregnancy related dismissal and refusal of
flexible working for a father. The resource is pitched at less
experienced advisers who are new to advising in this niche area of law.
Solicitors Leigh Day & Co sponsored the project.
Last updated on July 6th 2010.
Now the Guardian law section has the BabyBarista blog as well!
See here for the BabyBarista blog
and see also the items from June 25th and May 28th, below. By the way, the BabyBarisata blog is also available directly from the BabyBarista site at
Last updated on June 25th 2010.
New Guardian law blog continues to be interesting
The Guardian Law Blog has stories on standardising defence rights
across Europe, plans to close 157 courts, plans to renew the 28 day detention limit for 6 months but to review it as part of a larger
review of counter-terrorism legislation, protecting the rights of employees with mental heath problems, Lord Saville to retire and many other stories.
Last updated on June 17th 2010.
Interesting new initiative from a law firm
Click Legal Advice is a forum for individuals to ask questions of solicitors set up by
Barnetts of Southport. Individuals asking a question will
get an answer on most questions of law except criminal or matrimonial matters. If there is no simple answer to the question,
the viewer will be told what the firm could do for them and/or will be provided with links to appropriate organisations which may be able to help.
Viewers have to register their email address before they can ask a question.
The topics are grouped under Conveyancing, Litigation & Personal Injury, Wills & Probate and General.
It is an interesting initiative; the question is - will people use it and tell their friends?
Last updated on June 16th 2010.
Employment Cases Update is a new service for employment
lawyers from Bath Publishing that provides free access to the full text of key employment law cases as they are published, from
the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court and EAT, starting from January 2010. Many of the cases have
been sourced from existing free resources but are convenient to find in one place, rather than having to search across these other sources.
The text is all free to view and users can also sign up for a free weekly newsletter or a RSS feed. Associated with the case reports is a
modestly priced CPD facility.
Last updated on June 3rd 2010.
Is ‘Tesco law’ heading for the long grass? -
this is the title of an article in today's TimesOnline by Jonathan Ames on whether the new government is doubtful about ABS and will take its time to think about
how to proceed. According to the article:
"Those doubts appear to suit the two senior branches of the profession. The Law Society and Bar Council have expressed
concern about the perceived haste with which the Legal Services Board (LSB) appears to be racing towards implementation.
Both sides hope that new faces at the Ministry of Justice will, if not completely scupper ABSs and external investment, at least
significantly amend the way in which they will operate."
Last updated on June 1st 2010.
E-Homebuying Forum exists to provide a platform for
companies who wish to modernise the home buying process. The Forum works with Government and other industry stakeholders
to provide industry-wide strategic vision and direction in pursuit of greater transparency, efficiency and commitment in the
home buying process - with the goal of bringing faster certainty to the consumer.
You can also join the Forum on the site. Key people involved are chairman Mark Riddick and (new) president, Sir Bryan Carsberg.
They have provided an updated blueprint (in pdf form) for progress in the e-conveyancing field
and are asking interested bodies to support this.
There are a series of policy proposals on this including, for example: Simultaneous Electronic Funds Transfers across a Chain
Not only will the simultaneous completion of Electronic Funds Transfer greatly help fraud prevention in the marketplace
it will also help deliver faster certainty to the consumer.
Last updated on May 29th 2010.
New development from One Crown Office Row's Human Rights team.
One Crown Office Row's Human Rights Update is
a database of 1,000 reports and
commentaries on human rights dating back to 1998 with a weekly update co-ordinated by Chambers Academic Rosalind English.
The cases are taken from domestic courts and the Strasbourg court involving
human rights points that demonstrate the impact of the European Convention on domestic law and also explores the
practical impact of these cases for practitioners. There is now also a
UK Human Rights Blog written by members of 1 Crown Office Row,
for more immediate comment and news. The editorial team consists of Angus McCullough QC,
Rosalind English and Adam Wagner and there are frequent sharp-edged postings. For example, on 28th May there
were postings on medical records, libel reform, abolishing of the Infrastructure Planning Commission and
child witnesses in the court system.
Last updated on May 28th 2010.
BabyBarista has now moved to this new site. Author and past barrister
Tim Kevan has moved his blog from The Times, where it has been for the last 3 years, in reaction to the Times'
plans to keep it behind a new "paywall" along with their other content. He says "I didn’t start this blog for it to be the
exclusive preserve of a limited few subscribers. I wrote it to entertain whosoever wishes to read it."
A new feature is a series of excellent cartoons by Hollywood animator Alex Williams (see
Queen's Counsel, his cartoon satire on law and lawyers for the Times, with more than 750
cartoons going back over fifteen years). Now we know what OldRuin, OldSmoothie,
BusyBody and TheVamp actually look like! This new series will be published in due course if you miss the blog (or even if you have
not missed the blog). Here is what I said about the original book last July:
BabyBarista and The Art of War is a book by Tim Kevan, just published by Bloomsbury.
Tim Kevan practised as a barrister at Middle Temple for 10 years and has written quite a few serious law books but he
has now branched out into a extremely funny exposure of what it is like to be a pupil barrister. His account
was published as an anonymous blog on Times Online for a year or more and indeed continues now in the same persona (still referred to
in the blog as Baby Barista although now he is a "proper" barrister).
The book brings together the main series of blogs, written as a diary, with the young barrister realising that to
gain a tenancy requires more than honest hard work. It is very funny and exposes the practices of the bar in a rather scary way
(do things really happen like this?).
(The subtext "and The Art of War", a Chinese military treatise written by Sun Tzu in the 6th century BC,
is a fascinating insight as well but I won't attempt to summarise that.)
If you need a little light reading for the summer, or alternatively a present for your mother or other dear one
who is not quite sure what you do, then go for it. For £8.99 plus p & p it's a steal - you can order it online now,
as above, or even cheaper
Last updated on May 22nd 2010.
Useful free tips on marketing for legal firms
Words4business, led by Joe Reevy, is one of the leading marketing
companies for lawyers in the UK. He specialises in providing content for legal web sites and for marketing campaigns generally.
He produces a free newsletter called "The Law Management and Marketing Newsletter" for legal practitioners, practice managers and marketers which
"aims to provide thought leadership, good things for lawyers, tips and information of interest."
For example, the current issue includes:
* TescoLaw or New Style Law Firms - Which is the REAL threat?
* Upcoming Conference - Marketing Without Spending Megabucks (and how not to be a Netwit on the Internet)
* Law Firm Annual Benchmarking Exercise - LloydsTSB's Chris Marston's summary and discussion paper
You can sign up for the newsletter
here (bottom of the page).
Last updated on May 20th 2010.
HIPS are now a thing of the past
The BBC reports that
the coalition government has suspended the use of Home Information Packs (HIPs) by home sellers.
"Today the new government is ensuring that home information packs are history," said Housing Minister Grant Shapps.
"By suspending home information packs today, it means that home sellers will be able to get on with marketing their home without having to shell out hundreds of pounds upfront.
"We are committed to greener housing so from now on all that will be required will be a simple energy performance certificate," he added.
Last updated on May 18th 2010.
A useful new blog on Legal IT topics
Legal Practice Solutions from the consultants at
Inpractice UK provides "thoughts on building a more profitable
legal practice". The blog covers analysis, research, proven techniques and innovative solutions in all aspects of
management to help lawyers and managers develop a more successful and profitable legal business.
Family Law Newswatch is a newly designed site from Jordans which provides
up to date news, cases and legislation. There are also opinions, interviews and a calendar, and you can sign up for an RSS feed.
This is really a free "taster" to the many Jordans online services in Family Law and you can sign up for a free trial from the
Online Services page.
Last updated on May 12th 2010.
Does the Law Society know that there’s an internet generation?
This is the title of an article by Richard Susskind in the Times this week.
He says "To judge by its recent consultation document, Access to Justice Review, the answer is not clear. Although the title is promising,
the report appears to be about finding new ways of funding old-fashioned lawyers. "
He then lays out six "building blocks" to increase access.
(He starts the article with this:
"In 1996 senior figures in the Law Society said that I should not be allowed to speak in public.
I had been predicting that most lawyers and clients would soon communicate by e-mail and the feeling was that
I had failed to understand confidentiality and was bringing the profession into disrepute.")
Last updated on May 11th 2010.
Latest practice management system to be offered as "Software as a Service"
LexisNexis Managed Services
is now able to offer the
Axxia DNA system (which it now owns)
as a fully hosted integrated practice management application.
This service is provided through an alliance between
e-know.net, a major player in the field of managed services with
considerable experience already in legal software.
The system is charged as a fixed charge per user per month with flexibility to scale up or down. All
hardware and support support is provided centrally by e-know.net on a 24/7 basis.
Last updated on May 9th 2010.
Conscious offer a free Google Ranking Report
Conscious Solutions are offer a
free Google Ranking Report
based on a firm's locations and they also compare your ranking with two competitors which you choose.
You don't have to select keywords - Conscious will do that for you based on the location information you provide.
You can also provide non-location keywords if you wish. There is no obligation involved and you get your results within 3 days.
New app for transcription from an iPhone
Dictate2us is one of the UK’s largest transcription services and delivers
an accuracy rating of over 98%. The company provides transcription services to many businesses
and professions including individual barristers and firms of solicitors. Latest innovation is a fully integrated digital transcription
system for iPhones and iPod touch which allows users to dictate notes directly into their device and upload the audio
to D2U's team of typists, who then transcribe it. Transcriptions are returned by email as Microsoft Word documents,
normally within the hour for files less than five minutes long. The app is free to download from Apple iTunes stores and has
already been downloaded 36,000 times since the New Year. A version for the Blackberry will be available later in the year.
Users are charged £1.50 per recorded minute for the transcription from audio to text.
Last updated on May 4th 2010.
Social Economy Legal is a new blog which covers the
social enterprise and charity sector in Northern Ireland and Britain. It comes from Conor Morgan, a trainee solicitor operating in Belfast.
It covers very serious topics like Reform of Industrial & Provident Societies, Charities & Trading Subsidiaries (a series of posts),
Social Franchising, Community Interest Companies (CIC's) and Credit Union Reform in Northern Ireland.
Not a lot of laughs there but good solid stuff!
Last updated on April 23rd 2010.
Interesting new development from Lawtel
allows a user to follow an action from the initial stages, right through to a High Court decision.
The process tracks all documents submitted to the High Court before a hearing date is fixed. This enables the user
to follow proceedings from start to finish, and make decisions based on actions submitted to the court.
You can flag up important cases at the earliest stage and register for alerts either by specific cases or areas of interest.
You then receive an email when the status of an action changes.
Pending Actions is included as part of a normal Lawtel subscription.
This is a rather clever demo! (it only
takes a couple of minutes).
Last updated on April 22nd 2010.
Best value on the net!
Walker Morris, of Leeds, provide a separate site at
tenancy-agreements.net to provide tenancy agreements online.
As it says on the site "Our tenancy agreements are remarkably easy to use and easy to understand, flexible,
legally binding, yet reasonably priced. They are available to download immediately in Word format – meaning
you can save the basic agreement for re-use whenever you wish. All you need do is edit the tenant details,
rent amount and tenancy start date and term."
Documents include Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, Common Law Assured Tenancy Agreement and
Corporate Let Tenancy Agreement, each costing £3.95.
Latest source of case law - not free but reasonably priced
Consumer Crime Cases (CCC) is a database of
several hundred digests of appeal cases relating to Trading Standards prosecutions. The site covers
specialist points of law peculiar to consumer and other regulatory law and, in addition, with precedents
on legal issues such as abuse of process or duplicity which derive from the more general field of criminal law.
The case reports come from Victor Smith a former head of the legal service at Northamptonshire County Council.
There is a (modest) charge to access the reports, either for an individual or for a corporate account.
An interesting "model" of delivering advice
JustAnswer is a USA company providing advice from
experts online for a modest fee. Experts in many categories (including legal, medical, electronics and many other) spend
time online and are available to answer questions. The user has to set up an account with a deposit of $15 for good faith.
Apparently, the user makes an "offer" of a modest amount of money and then an expert will reply - providing
competition between experts. The money is only paid when the user is satisfied.
In aswer to a question from me about whether the legal experts were "just" USA based,
the company provided the following answer: "We absolutely do cover UK and Ireland legal questions very well.
We have over 60 lawyers on JustAnswer that specifically focus on Ireland and UK law. Although we are based in
the US, we are the world's largest Expert question and answer site with international categories spanning
Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and more. The Experts who focus on UK and Ireland law have all had their
credentials verified by a third party to assure that they do in fact focus on that specific region.
Also, these Experts are typically citizens of the UK and Ireland and actually reside there (rather than in the
US where the technical side of the website is based)."
Last updated on April 19th 2010.
The Independent Law Network is a blog from
a group of 7 Lawyers in Norfolk. They all have their own independent firms, but they collaborate and share
experiences in a number of areas. The blog describes what they do and they publish articles and information
about the various areas of law in which they practice. The presentation is bright and lively with
contemporary topics covered (e.g. mock elections in schools - are they legal?) and I can
imagine many "ordinary people" being interested - which is presumably the point of the blog.
Tessa Shepperson (a very web savvy practitioner who instigated this particular initiative) says
"I suspect that this sort of thing is going to be essential for sole practitioners as time goes on,
especially those who have a more traditional practice. The public often prefer the more personal
approach which a small firm can provide, but it is often difficult to find them. This sort of
initiative will help make sole practitioners more visible."
Law News UK is a new online legal community led by Charles Price, aiming
to provide general firm news as well as providing legal updates and training stories.
Articles and updates are categorised as News, Commercial, Criminal Law, Employment, Conveyancing,
Personal Injury, Immigration, Planning, Family Law and Human Rights.
They are encouraging other lawyers to submit articles and comments.
Membership of the site is free and members will receive exclusive discounts on legal resources.
Last updated on April 11th 2010.
legalfutures is a new website set up by
well known legal journalist Neil Rose. The site, which is free to users, covers issues of conduct,
compliance and competence for lawyers within the wider context of the Legal Services Act and
especially alternative business structures. It aims to be the definitive guide to the legal services
revolution, bringing together all the vital information together in one place.
The site is attractive with news items and blog postings sharing the front page.
The site is supported by Associates, including leading banks, PII insurers, law firms, LPO providers,
PR companies and others. You will find them listed in the Services Directory.
Neil Rose is a highly experienced legal journalist, having spent 12 years working on the Law Society’s
Gazette and with several other legal publications under his belt. In particular, Neil Rose has been writing
about the Legal Services Act since its genesis in the OFT report of 2001.
The way that the Act "plays out" over the next couple of years will be a major feature of the site.
iLegal Legislation is a new App for the iPhone and iPod Touch as well as Apple's new iPad.
It describes itself as "The Law, in your pocket" and enables users to access the revised text of all UK, Northern Ireland,
Scotland and Wales legislation as well as Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain and English Parliament - anywhere,
anytime, without the need to connect to the internet.
The app comes from Timothy Leigh who is currently studying the Legal Practice Course full time at the College of Law in Manchester;
he has developed the app in his spare time. The newly released app is currently available at half price
(£19.99) for April, rising to £39.99 in May.
(Sounds rather American - students developing marketable products. Perhaps Timothy is the next Steve Jobs?)
Another interesting link from Richard Susskind
Everybody change . . . BT, Thames Water and Microsoft move legal work.
Richard discusses how BT’s legal department is shifting from off-shoring to outsourcing and Thames Water’s recent
decision to outsource its entire legal department to city law firm, Berwin Leighton Paisner.
He concludes with a couple of sobering observations about outsourcing to India.
Last updated on April 3rd 2010.
Interesting and attractive new web site
John Gaunt & Partners is a niche
practice dealing in licensing and entertainment, alcohol, gambling and
regulatory matters. Their new site actually makes one want to explore the services and the news
and the pictures (including the background ones) induce a sort of feel-good factor.
It is rather nice how the little sections expand too.
Last updated on April 1st 2010.
Legal Resources provided by Solicitors
describes legal resources provided by firms of solicitors which go beyond "marketing" to provide free-standing
(and free) legal resources in their own right. I have recently updated this web page and I am impressed by
the quality, and variety, of resources offered by these firms. There is a strong element of public service in
all of these.
Last updated on March 30th 2010.
Flexlaw is the first virtual law firm in Scotland,
as far as I know (if you know of another one, do please let me know!). Based on the previous firm
e-litigate, formed in 2005, the principal, Mark Harrison, is now
developing the virtual firm concept with additional consultants and the new firm launches on April 1st.
The firm is based in Edinburgh, but aims to serve also Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness as
well as the smaller rural towns.
Solicitor Duncan McNair has written a very funny book called
The Morello Letters. His persona in the book is a
slightly confused, pear-shaped 45 year old Italian immigrant living with his larger, plump wife Mrs. Morello
and three (horrible) children in that most salubrious of London suburbs: Ealing.
The ever-inquisitive Mr. Morello, a fastidious and prodigious letter writer, takes it upon himself to correspond
with the great institutions and individuals of our fine nation - from Tony Blair, The Lord Chancellor, Richard Branson,
and the Archbishop of Canterbury to Gordon Ramsay and The Bank of England, The Guild of Professional English Butlers
and Debenhams to Arsenal Football Club - in an attempt to have his seemingly endless list of quandaries answered by the
experts. And they answer! Sometimes the recipients hastily pass on the impossible requests (can I build an old routemaster bus
into my loft or can I bring my goat into Selfridges) to some other unfortunate recipient; sometimes they attempt to explain why the answer is actually "no"
but they are always terrified of seeming to be rude or unkind to these Italian immigrants, and sometimes they realise that
the letter is a joke and reply in kind. The book costs a mere £10.99 and cannot fail to raise a smile.
(Jon Snow, who realised that the letter was a spoof, and who replied in the same vein, is quoted on the front
of the book as saying "The funniest collection of spoof letters I have ever read".)
Last updated on March 16th 2010.
Two innovative new products from solicitors
Evicting Squatters without a Solicitor is a new site from solicitor Tessa Shepperson,
already well known for her site
Landlord Law, an online service for residential landlords and tenants.
Tessa says on the site that the actual procedure used to obtain an order for possession through the courts against trespassers is not particularly difficult,
if you know what you are doing, and that there is no reason why most land owners should not be able to bring a successful claim
as a litigant in person. The kit:
• Explains the circumstances when you can use the procedure set out in the kit
• Gives guidance on when and how you can use "self help" measures
• Tells you what documentation you need to obtain before you can apply to the court
• Gives detailed instructions on completing the court forms
• Gives detailed instructions about service of the paperwork on the squatters
• Describes the hearing in detail - how to prepare for it and what to do at court, and
• Explains how to enforce the possession order through the county court bailiffs
The kit also contains the letters and court forms needed for this process. The kit costs £250 plus VAT.
Website Contract in Context is a contract and specification
for commissioning a website, with full supporting guidance about the commercial and other considerations to bear in mind when engaging someone
to produce a website for you. The "advice" is delivered through a Camtasia video which allows one to demonstrate all sorts of things, show websites
(as if live) in order to illustrate points.
Solicitor Shireen Smith, who developed the product, believes that it fills a gap in the market, where the current choices are either to consult specialist
lawyers at hourly rates in excess of £250 per hour, buy a contract template, or not seek independent advice when engaging internet service
providers despite the fact that these internet transactions are complex and significant to the future success of their business.
There is also a free product called
SEO Contract in Context which provides information about Search Engine
Optimisation (SEO) in a video tutorial format.
The In Context products will all be available for licensing by lawyers and other business advisers
wanting to offer an advisory service to their clients.
By accessing the system they can gain more insight into different types of online presence and
the commercial issues surrounding these contracts.
Last updated on March 6th 2010.
Latest legal blogs
UK Blawg Roundup otherwise known as UK Lawyers' Blog Carnival,
or the blog of blogs, is the initiative of a group of lawyers interested in social media (including Tessa Shepperson, Michael Scutt,
Brian Inkster, Jon Bloor and Shireen Smith). The blog carnival was set up by Michael Scutt to feature British blawgs (there is also the
Blawg Review but this is mainly USA based). (Right now,
the Blawg Review is featuring the UK Lawyers Blog Carnival - it's all a bit of a love-in really). The first edition is hosted on
Michael Scutts blog and there will be a series
of hosts, each with a theme or a special interest. Michael describes the UK legal blogging scene and also has some ugly
Christmas scenes (Michael eating mince pies and such like).
Family Law In Partnership blog is a seriously informative
blog about divorce, children in divorce situations, when to consider collaborative law, special risks in international
abduction, topics of jurisidiction - and of course, much more. This one is written for individuals concerned with
family law rather than for family lawyers.
Last updated on March 4th 2010.
The Law Society's new manifesto, called Delivering Justice
urges all political parties to respect the rule of law and safeguard access to justice.
The Law Society believes that whichever party is in government following the general election, they will face a hostile and difficult
environment. In facing that challenge, the Government must not forget the basic needs for justice and the rule of law.
The manifesto calls on all political parties to publicly support the following four principles in their campaigning, policy development
and - if elected - their actions over the next Parliament:
* The rule of law and access to justice
* The defence of the rights of the people
* Good governance and better law-making
* A strong and independent legal services sector
All these sections can be reached from the main page, as above.
Last updated on February 27th 2010.
My thanks to Nick Holmes for this item
Google Scholar now provides Legal Opinions.
(Choose "Search legal opinions and journals" from the Scholar Preferences option at the right hand side;
you can then choose "Save Preferences" to retain this option).
A search here opens up access to full text legal opinions from US federal and state district, appellate and supreme
courts and (via a "Cited By" feature) links to other cases and articles on Google Scholar that cite them.
Though court opinions in the US are not protected by copyright, they were hitherto only readily available for
comprehensive searching via subscription services such as Lexis and Westlaw.
You can also use Google Scholar / Legal Opinions to follow up citations of judgments that are not themselves
indexed in full text, including those from other jurisdictions. For example, one will readily find citations
of leading cases such as Hedley Byrne and Donoghue v Stevenson, and more recent cases of course.
Don Cruse's Supreme Court of Texas Blog
for more on this.
Last updated on February 25th 2010.
Capsoft, the Edinburgh based developer of document automation software and services using HotDocs software,
have now bought HotDocs itself from LexisNexis. Many law firms and large businesses use HotDocs document assembly software to
generate customized documents such as contracts, government and court forms and legal documents.
Capsoft were already the largest distributor of HotDocs software globally and are now the owners.
As part of the process, Capsoft UK has now renamed itself as
Last updated on February 20th 2010.
TikitTFB is the new name for one of the oldest and
most successful legal software suppliers, TFB.
The move reflects the growing synergy between TFB and Tikit since TFB was taken over by Tikit
and the increasing collaboration on projects over the past twelve months.
However, TikitTFB will continue to operate with autonomy
within the Tikit Group. The new name and logo will be rolled out over a period of 3 months with all corporate materials
and communications moved over to the new identity by the end of May.
Last updated on February 19th 2010.
Latest lively legal blog
Lodger Landlord Blog comes from Tessa Shepperson,
who also runs
Landlord Law an online service for residential landlords and tenants.
Since the beginning of February she has been offering a tip each day on renting a room in your home to a lodger.
Tips include information on your legal obligations, how to choose lodgers, dealing with problem lodgers,
whether you need to worry about the HMO regulations, and so on.
Road Traffic Law, a Scottish firm of solicitors run by Graham Walker,
have been included in the finalists for
Specialist Lawyer of the Year
run by the Scottish company KDMedia Public Relations & Events.
(Click on the "Specialist Lawyer" section about half way down)
(Maybe I will set up a special page for awards - would anyone like to notify me of their awards? Would
this be a bit of "fun" for all concerned?)
Last updated on February 13th 2010.
Here comes the next round of free exhibitions of Legal IT.
the SOLICITORS Group is the UK's largest collection
of law firms and organisers of the profession's leading exhibitions and training congress. The three
big events for 2010 are:
* Law London 2010
Olympia Conference Centre, London, 9th - 11th March 2010
* Law Autumn Olympia 2010
Olympia Conference Centre, London, 28th - 30th September 2010
* Law Autumn NEC 2010
NEC Gallery, Birmingham, 13th and 14th October 2010
You can obtain a free entry to the exhibitions from the site and (in due course) find out more about the
specific courses and seminars being offered.
Last updated on February 8th 2010.
Here is a list of some useful USA Legal News Sources:
FindLaw's Legal News provides a wide range of current
legal news stories, grouped by major heading, e.g. US Supreme Court, Business, Civil Rights, Crime, and so on.
FindLaw started in 1996 when two attorneys compiled a list of Internet resources for a group of law
librarians in northern California. The company is now owned by Thomson Reuters.
JURIST is a Web-based legal news and real-time legal research
service powered by a mostly-volunteer team of over 30 part-time law student reporters, editors and Web
developers led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. They track important legal news stories and materials and aim to present them rapidly,
objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.
JURIST says that it covers legal news stories based on their substantive importance rather than on
their mass-market or commercial appeal.
Law.com is an extensive source of legal news.
This site, part of the American Lawyer Media group, has now "gathered up" a number of previously independent
legal web sites and businesses.
Other sites in the group cover legal jobs, legal training, directories of attorneys and various legal data bases.
LLRX (Law Library Resource Xchange) is a free, independent,
Web journal providing information on a wide range of Internet research and technology-related issues,
applications, resources and tools.
NewsLinx provides "Information Technology Headlines From Around
The Web" (not specifically legal ones). Everything you could want (and more).
bizjournals provides business news "from around the country"
linked with many local news sources.
For more legal sites in the USA, see my page
Last updated on January 29th 2010.
Three unusual sites! (I report these with a straight face)
a unique and valuable service to those who find themselves caught up in employment tribunal litigation.
They undertake a nation-wide search of your opponent to find out whether they have previously won or
lost any employment tribunal cases. Armed with information about other claims, the opportunities
for achieving a successful outcome (or even a strike-out without a full cost hearing) can be greatly increased.
There has been an Early Day Motion with 40 MP's signatures, against this site.
Solicitors from Hell is a site for individuals to put
up bad remarks about their solicitors. Then (according to the Law Society Gazette) solicitors can pay £299 to get the entries removed.
Apparently, this is a lot cheaper than the usual legal redress for libel.
Miners Compensation Claims is a site from Jordans Solicitors
"Calling all miners suffering from Vibration White Finger (VWF)" who have already made a claim but who
did not include damages for services in the claim – every day tasks such as DIY, gardening, window cleaning,
decorating or car maintenance. Apparently, it has been estimated that
approximately 50,000 miners who are entitled did not submit services claims.
Last updated on January 24th 2010.
Getting quite close and well worth a visit - major exhibition of legal technology - and it's all free
Legal IT show 2010 takes place on 10th & 11th February 2010
at the Business Design Centre, Islington, London. This is the largest exhibition of its type in Europe.
Opening times are 9 30 to 5pm on 10th Feb and 9 30 to 4 30pm on Feb 11th.
You can register for a free visitor pass for the exhibition
Keynote Speakers include Professor Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT Sloan Management School and
Dr. Karen Stephenson, CEO, Netform. There is a new Parallel "VIP" Stream which runs alongside the regular meeting.
This is an opportunity for (invited) Managing Partners, Finance Directors, IT Directors and Practice Directors from the
UK 300 firms to participate in workshop sessions with the Keynote Speakers.
There are also 'strategy lab' discussions, live interviews and interactive practitioner panel debates.
These are all free.
Last updated on January 22nd 2010.
data.gov.uk is a new site launched by the Government to provide free
access to all the data currently held by government (and therefore created by our taxes) which may be of use to
individuals or organisations. This has been the culmination of a study of several years length, advised by
(amonst others) Tim Berners-Lee. The site uses open standards, open source and open data: these are the core
elements of a modular, sustainable system. You can browse the data sets (listed alphabetically) or search them
by key word. There is further information about the semantic web - putting out data in a form which can be understood by other applications.
The Jackson report,
written by Lord Justice Jackson, is a review of civil litigation costs. In the forward, he says
"In some areas of civil litigation costs are disproportionate and impede access to
justice. I therefore propose a coherent package of interlocking reforms, designed to
control costs and promote access to justice." (This is a pdf of 584 pages). Detailed analysis and references
to other reports can be found on
The Legal Costs Blog from
Gibbs Wyatt Stone, the Defendant Costs Specialists.
Last updated on January 17th 2010.
The Lawyers Defence Group is a new body set up by
Richard Nelson Solicitors and Murdochs Solicitors to provide all lawyers (solicitors, barristers, legal executives and
paralegals) with access to practical and expert advice on a wide range of conduct, disciplinary, practice,
partnership and employment issues. Areas covered include how to manage a practice and supervise staff to
assistance in disciplinary, criminal or civil proceedings. The group believes that the regulatory structure
changes so fast that practitioners cannot always keep up with it - and then they may need help when something
goes wrong. They have offices in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Nottingham, Manchester and Bristol, and they also have
access to a panel of other solicitors, barristers and consultants throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland.
There is useful information on the site and you can also register (it's free) to obtain more detailed information
Last updated on January 7th 2010.
Latest legal blog
BDN Blog is written by Andrew Walker of Bircham Dyson Bell. The blog
is actually about planning Law and in particular, about the implementation of the Planning Act 2008, which
introduces a new regime for the authorisation of large infrastructure such as airport runways, nuclear power stations,
windfarms, reservoirs and incinerators. It is principally aimed at
non-lawyers - whether potential clients or fellow consultants - although lawyers will also find it useful.
Last updated on January 5th 2010.
Industrial Tribunals and The Fair Employment Tribunal
of Northern Ireland share a web site.
Industrial Tribunals are independent judicial bodies in Northern Ireland that hear and determine claims
to do with employment matters. These include a range of claims relating to unfair dismissal, breach of contract,
wages and other payments as well as discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, age,
part time working and equal pay.
The Fair Employment Tribunal is an independent judicial body in Northern Ireland that hears and
determines complaints of discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion.
You can search on the site for main decisions of the Industrial Tribunals or The Fair Employment Tribunal or both Tribunals.