Saturday, 29 June 2013

The tyrants' take on Twitter

Overview of the Northern Ireland legal economy

Courts will be fully digital by 2016

Courts in England and Wales will be fully digital by 2016. The legal correspondent for the BBC Clive Coleman reports:

"Courtrooms in England and Wales will be fully digital by 2016, the government says, ending what it described as "an outdated reliance on paper"."

He continued:

"It is part of a wide-ranging £160m plan to improve the speed and efficiency of the criminal justice system."

And this is interesting:

"Measures will include secure wi-fi in courts so lawyers and judges can access all necessary documents."

As are the comments from Justice Minister Damian Green:

"Justice Minister Damian Green said the plan would turn the courts system into a "modern public service"."

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Thereza Snyman on demographic transition at law firms

"As the young'uns move up the food chain and as they become actively more engaged in law firm management we might see more engagement with IT and knowledge management and with other support functions; so that they can be integrated into the strategic thinking of the lawyers."

Theresa Snyman is head of IT at Kingsley Napley.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Traditional Media for Law Firms

She also appeared on BBC 5 Live

As well as BBC world news

Good link up by Linklaters on Twitter

Changes to law on whistle blowing

- whistle blowing 

Until now, there has been no requirement for whistle blowing to be in the public interest. But that all changes with effect from today, June 25 2013. 

Nicola Rabson, employment partner at Linklaters came onto Radio 4 to walk the cat back on the Amendments to the employment rights act.

As the law stands - If an employee blows the whistle and unveils a "protected disclosure" then his or her employer cannot treat them any differently by reason of the fact they've blow the whistle. 

Four key changes to the law 

1- disclosure has to be in the public interest. It cannot just be a personal grievance. 

Come by reason of a number of cases. 

Thereby the hurdle has been raised for any disclosure. 

2. Motivation is now irrelevant. Even if the employee doesn't like employer, as long as the revelation is in the public interest it will be a regarded by the law as a "protected disclosure".

3. if you're employee and you find employee has blown whistle, you cannot treat them differently. You are liable for your actions and the whistle blower can actually sue you for those hostile actions. 

Nicola called this an "interesting change"

4. As an employer, unless an employer takes reasonable steps to prevent hostile actions, the employer can be vicariously liable. 

What are "reasonable steps" steps? Unknown as of but likely to mean training and awareness meeting. 

There is no definition of "public interest". This will only come through the courts and judge made law. Need precedent. 

Asked about the number of whistle blowing incidents, Nicola said the change in law would have little effect. 

She also appeared on BBC 5 Live

As well as BBC world news

Good link up by Linklaters on Twitter

Monday, 24 June 2013

"Blogging makes me a better lawyer" - Reflections on a decade of legal blogging

Dallas, Texas lawyer Alan Sherman says that his decade old blog makes him a better lawyer. 

LexBlog asked: How? They then explained:

"By writing the blog, he stays up to date on development in his field and analysing them for the publication keeps him sharp."

Read more and watch an interview on video here. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

"A truly innovative law firm"

Timeline of social media articles, essays and blogs

-          2008: Northwestern University Law Review

-          2010: Conscious Marketing - Top 100 law firms websites (2010)

-          December  14 2011: Lexis-Nexis - Global Social Media Audit of Law Firms

-          December 14 2011: Martindale-Hubbel Blog on social media Audit

-          December 20 2011: Law Society of England & Wales, Social Media Guidelines

-          December 2011:  Visibility and LexisNexis
“Use of Social Media in Legal Marketing,” (summary graphic) and Lexis Nexis blog.

- Jan 5 2012: Law Society of England and Wales practice note

- Jan 6 2012: Law Society of England and Wales says be careful when adding clients on social media.

-          February 2012: the International Bar Association (IBA) report –
The report addressed the impact of social networking on six groups of legal actors, namely lawyers, judges, jurors, journalists, law students and professors, and legal employers. Read the IBA survey on the impact of online social networking onthe legal profession and practice, here. The IBA is the global voice of the international legal profession.

-          February 23 2012: ALM Legal Intelligence Report

-          March 11 2012: Washington Post

-          March 29 2012: Top 200 UK Law Firms on Twitter (Calista Marketing)

-          June 20 2012: Law Society of Scotland, Social Media Guidelines

-          September 18 2012: Social Media Today Article

-          November 2012: Southern Africa Legal Information Institute

- March 2013: survey by Core Legal research finds that many solicitors are still avoiding social media:

- March 13 2013: Law Society of England and Wales publishes practice note on protecting your online reputation.

- June 2013: Law Society of England and Wales publishes 10 social media tips for lawyers.

Further Reading:

Legal Week confronts what is required of a lawyer or law firm interested in building a social media presence.
"It will take a least an hour a day of their time and it will take six months to a year before you build any kind of momentum. If you're prepared to accept that, then it's a nice communication tool to have, but it's certainly not yet essential or any kind of magic bullet." Here.

Legal Week refers to "social media puff".

Thomson Reuters Social Media Guidelines

Individual lawyer marketing on Bright Fire.

Lexis Nexis approaches law firm strategic planning.

Thomson Reuters says "fish where the fish are"

Lexis Nexis social media service herehere, here, here and here

Law Society publishes 10 social media tips for lawyers

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Legal writing

Thursday, 20 June 2013

DPP publishes full and final social media prosecution guidelines

CPS press release with full list of links to relevant documents and guidelines here.

Telegraph write up here.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Blogging stage fright

As Kevin O'Keefe explains:

"All too many lawyers stiffen up when it comes to blogging and the use of social media. Rather than being themselves, they clam up and hide behind rules and policies designed to protect lawyers from themselves.

The result is many dry and unpassionate blogs that report news and legal updates without any insight, commentary, or personality. Heck, even Walter Cronkite signed off each night with a wink and departing catchphrase “And that’s the way it is,” followed by the date."

Kevin then considers the more immediate forms of social media. And don't be confused, a blog is very much a social medium. Any way, Kevin explains:

"Most lawyers engage little, if at all, on LinkedIn or Twitter. It’s the dry sharing of a piece of content — usually their own. No commenting back and forth or liking, in the case of LinkedIn. Heck, lawyers don’t even personalize invitations to connect on LinkedIn."

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Alex Aldridge Talks Legal Blogging

In this Law Tour podcast by Charon QC with Alex Aldridge, editor of Legal Cheek, the discussion covers many topics. Including legal blogging. At 19 minutes Alex Aldridge responds to Charon QC on the role of the blog to the modern lawyer and law firm.

Hear the podcast in full here.

Also of interest should be the podcast by Kevin Poulter and Alex Aldridge again who chat to Leon Glenister about blogging in a broadcast by the title, 'Write a legal blog, mind your Ps and Qs and get a job?'

Hear the second podcast in full here.

Coffee with Tech Lawyer, Tim Summers

I recently caught up over coffee with Tim Summers (@TimSummersUK), the plain speaking technology lawyer and co-founder of the exciting Temple Bright law firm. This catch-up came 3 months after our Zero-140 encounter of March 4 2013 – and coincidentally, 3 months since his firm’s move into Tech City, London. And thanks to a lot of intensive work and acclimatisation, a lot has changed for the good for Tim and Temple Bright in the 3 months past.

And of important note, Tim has made it clear that a lot has changed and developed by his way of thinking. I began (my questions are in bold):

"So Tim, back in March you appeared keen on social media as a tool for the modern law practice. Asked if social media played an important role, you said: “Yes, as in every other kind of business.  As with anything, you gain in proportion to how much effort you make."

How have things been on the social media front since our last chat?
“ Since opening our London office in Silicon Roundabout, I have become a convert to the use of social media and blogging for business purposes (although, as I now appreciate, the idea of having separate “business” and “personal” identities/aims is increasingly in question.).”

The Best of Bloomberg Law

Law firms with blogs grow faster

This gives us the opportune moment to Segway into saying that a blog should be consider the online home of any law firm or lawyer.

Also opportune to throw up the reminder that we had already spoken about how general counsel are actively reading flaw blogs and recruiting and hiring on that basis.

Lee Pacchia said:

"Law firms are fragile economic entities and when they fail, they fail massively ."

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Legal Marketing Watch: Cleaver Fulton Rankin

In the face of a bold new world, law firms face one core challenge: to change and adapt.

Just what the doctor ordered - if you don't mind us analogously calling the celebrated Mr. Richard Susskind a doctor. So yes, law firms need to adapt to a new online and offline world. They need to change they way they operate internally and externally. By doing so they can begin to meet the new expectations and demands of a more sophisticated and equally price-sensitive client base.

One central tenet to any law firm change manifesto must be the need for differentiation from a saturated market. As per what Above the Law said here and as we explored more here and here and others here, here, here, here and here.

Traditional media for law firms

People are always talking about social and new media for law firms. Today we want to talk about traditional media for lawyers and law firms. Here we go.

Being a late chronotype, mornings are never easy. Nonetheless, as I rose early on the morning of June 3 2013 I did the usual and switched onto Radio 4. And at 14 minutes past the ungodly hour of 6am the dulcet and lawyerly tones of Gary Miller came wafting across the airwaves; mixing it up of course with the fumes from my intermittent quaffing of coffee.

But back to Gary Miller - who is he? Mr Miller is an international litigator and insolvency specialist with Mishcon de Reya. A law firm we have come to grow found of at Elephant creative – see here and here.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Timeline - Legal Aid Reform

[The beginnings of this thread were originally published on Defero Law and can be seen here]

So, legal aid: where are we now? Verbal rumblings have been going on for months. The Ministry of Justice public consultation, 'Transforming Legal Aid' closed on June 4 (full consultation document here). The MoJ said it got 13,000 responses, but apparently this was the one to read:
Elsewhere, Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) has been at his best, tweeting like an animal charged on Red Bull. Former pupil-barrister Harry Mount has been up stirring things up, writing a piece for the Spectator on June 8 on how 'Chris Grayling is right to reform legal aid'.

That really got people's back up, as dozens launched themselves onto that out of control wagon. Though Harry Mount's piece has now been given a full front page (webpage) rebuttal on the Spectator, with an essay by barrister and media-face Jerry Hayes entitled, 'Harry Mount is wrong: Chris Grayling’s legal aid reforms will damage justice'.

Simon Myerson QC was also one of the first to hit out against Mount in the comment sections and has since penned two full pieces, 'Six reasons the cuts to legal aid will ruin our justice system' in the Independent, and then '9 Reasons whay Harry Mount's Hatchet Job on the Legal Profession Misses the Mark'.

There's also a piece by Mark Nayler in the New Statesman on how 'Harry Mount's attack on barristers is shot through with personal loathing'. Oh - and we can't of course forget the comedian John Finnemore's skit on the Radio 4's Now Show on Saturday 8 June.

The whole affair is pretty fluid and even since all the bluster above, the Justice Committee are now/have since been considering/considered the legal aid reforms; which includes, among others, Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff giving evidence.

And the tweets are pouring out, including from Richard Moorhead (the man who's response to the 'Transforming Legal Aid' public consultation we were encouraged to read):

We can expect the flow of tweets to continue. In the mean time you can sign the petition against the reforms:

So that's it. Well my attempts at rounding up where we are. Thousands of words have been written in recent weeks, and many more are spilling out at this very moment. I'm watching the affair progress with interest and look forward to seeing how things settle down and whether Mr Grayling will listen to the calls against his reforms.

In the interim period, enjoy my cartoon.


On June 13 2013 the Bar Council published a response to the Harry Mount piece that appeared in the Spectator, published June 8. Read the response from the tweet below:

On April 18 2013 the Criminal Bar Association published, 'Price Competitive Tendering. A Solicitor's View from the High Street'. 

See the June 13 blog post by Charon QC on the failing of Chris Grayling to know the difference between the Bar Council and the Criminal Bar Association here.

Also hear his April 30 2013 podcast interview with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association here.

There is also a Charon QC podcast interview with barrister and former MP, Jerry Hayes from May 25 2013, 'Jerry Hayes on the Lord Chancellor’s Legal Aid reforms – a sardonic commentary'.

Also is the April 23 2013 piece in the New Statesman by David Allen Green, 'How the Ministry of Justice’s proposal for the tendering of criminal legal aid is misconceived and illiberal'.

Senior judge, Lord Neuberger said that the proposed legal aid cuts would create two-tier justice system.

On June 19 David Allen Green commented on the Attorney-General's "most remarkable letter" to a group of barristers concerned about the legal aid reform.

The Supreme Court President and most senior judge in the UK weighed in on the Legal Aid reform debate. Read here.

"145 specially appointed Government barristers demand rethink on Legal Aid plans" 

You should read the Legal Aid Changes Blog.

June 26, Lord McNally, Minister of State for Justice, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords wrote in the Huffington Post that 'Legal Aid Reform Is Necessary.'

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Charles Christian on social media and the law

In one of his latest podcast in his Law Tour Report, Charon QC interviewed Charles Christian of Legal Technology. From 34 minutes of the podcast Charles Christian talks social media and the law surrounding contempt of court:
"[Social media has] put a broadcasting tool in the hands of many. Whereas before their only outlet would have been to write a "yours disgustedly" letters to the Daily Mail and the Telegraph - which an editor would have spotted, intercepted and binned - now they can get through all of that.

Croudsourced Law-making

Finland is getting ready to use crowdsourcing as a means of creating new law. Heavens above, a croudsourced law-making system - is there something there for us in Great Britain in central government and across the devolved legislatures?
"Earlier this year (2013), the Finnish government enabled something called a “citizens’ initiative”, through which registered voters can come up with new laws – if they can get 50,000 of their fellow citizens to back them up within six months, then the Eduskunta (the Finnish parliament) is forced to vote on the proposal."
Though, it's rightly noted that we have something similar in GB. Albeit a lot more mechanical and citizen-unfriendly.
"Assuming they get their 50,000 signatures, each will have to be voted on by the Eduskunta. Compare that with, for example, the UK system – there, an e-petition that garners 100,000 backers wins the grand prize of being considered by a government back-office and maybe being discussed in Parliament."

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Legal Bloggers Can Learn from Non-Legal Bloggers

There's an art to blogging. It's a form of itself. Subtle, but not difficult. But easy to get wrong. Blogging is not like law school. Blogging is not about dense, wordy, thick, verbose and impenetrable prose like the stuff in legal journals.

It's about being light, airy and bouncy. It's to be written the way you talk as Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog said.
"Blog as you talk. It’s a conversation after all. If you cite cases and use footnotes when out to eat with clients, then have it when blogging. If you don’t, leave them at home when blogging."
And if you're still unsure then we need to ask: how do you get better? My answer is: watch the best writers and observers in the blogging game. Kevin O'Keefe said the same thing:
"Develop your own blogging style from following successful bloggers. You may learn the most from non-law bloggers such as Dave Winer, the folks at Copy Blogger, Jeff Bullas, and Mashable writers."

'Tweeting in Convoy', Ctd

I've discussed the idea of 'tweeting in convoy' on this blog before here. And as is my habit, the idea has been growing and seeking out new avenues.

The latest musings have come from a great a post entitled: "Empowering your law firm employees to be social media ambassadors". There were two highlights.

"Claim the law firm. Encourage your employees to proudly fly your firm name and link on their Facebook wall or Twitter bio."
"Promote re-sharing. Once an employee has opted in to your firm’s social media networks, they’ll be exposed to regular updates. Empower them to share and retweet updates from your brand that they are excited about and moved by. Doing so you’ll connect with those on their networks."

Law Firms with Blogs grow faster, according to US research

Over to Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog here and in the stats and video below:

- Blogging adoption. 156, or nearly four in five AmLaw 200 firms are now blogging. 
- Growth in number of blogs. The number of blogs, 660, has grown exponentially, up 71%   since our last study. 
- Employment blogs being the most popular with 91 blogs, alone. 
- Correlation between blogs and firm revenue.

Legal Aid Reform in Northern Ireland

Justice Committee considers Legal Aid reforms

June 11 response to the Justice Committee dealings by the Law Society of England and Wales

Quick summary by BBC here, which also includes video clip.

On the same day, Radio 4 broadcasted the last episode of 'Law in Action', presented by Joshua Rozenberg

Should UK Supreme Court record and publish all Judgements?

The un-put-downable tweeter come barrister Adam Wagner thinks so. As do the great many who approvingly retweeted him.

The other heavy hitting tweeter come barrister, Carl Gardner agreed:

Then Charon QC, the fictional barrister but nonetheless irrepressible legal blogger and legal tweeter brought a measure of reality to the discussion:

Monday, 10 June 2013

Personal Branding for Lawyers

Barrister Jerry Hayes doing his thing outside Westminster fighting against legal aid reform.

Good starting point is with Belfast-based international libel lawyer Paul Tweed who calls home in the online world. Then there's former MP and TV face barrister Jerry Hayes who can be found at

There's obviously more to building a personal brand online and offline than a personal website. But as I've alluded to before: the blog/website give or take is the online home of the modern lawyer. Other social media channels can buttress and compliment this; but know this: the website and blog are the foundation.

Christopher Hitchens left England in part, because of the Libel Laws

We have a great tradition in this country. It goes back a long way; the classic statements of which are in John  Milton's Areopagitica, and in John Stuart Mill's essay On Liberty where it is said (Christopher Hitchens paraphrases):
"However discredited an opinion may be, to ban it would still be a huge mistake; because otherwise there would be no way of finding out if you yourself had made a correct point. If you had no opponent; if you silenced them there would be no opponent. There would be no measure of your own articulacy or your own willingness to argue."                                             (At 56 minutes 40 seconds of video above)
Hitchens adds his take:
"Thus, it must always be the case that any opinion, no matter how unpopular must be at the front and centre of the argument."
Christopher Hitchens then said that Rosa Luxemburg put it even better:
"Freedom of speech is meaningless unless it's for the person who thinks differently."
Member of the audience then asked: "do you believe in the laws of libel and slander?"

Christopher Hitchens replied:
"No. I left England partly because of the laws of libel. It makes journalism almost impossible. Because again, it's a matter of her feelings (lady beside him). The person bringing a law suit in Britain (many of them tried it on me when I was here) has only to prove that their reputation has been damaged or that their feelings have been hurt. They don't have to prove what I say is not true."
He then added a real shock and awe statement which if you think about it, does kind of ring true. Hitch said:
"There you have it again: it's a secular form of a blasphemy law."                                                 (At 57 minutes 25 seconds of the video above)
Powerful stuff. YouTube video in full here.

Harry Mount versus Jerry Hayes and the Rest of the World

Right. There was a big kerfuffle in the British legal community last week (June 3 - June 9 2013). Why? Because an ex-pupil barrister, Bullingdon Club member and current Spectator columnist, Harry Mount wrote a piece in said magazine entitled, 'Chris Grayling is right to reform legal aid', published June 8 2013.

All of this and more in your pocket

Just take a moment to consider what a radical revolution the smart phone is. What twenty years ago took a trailer to transport, can now be carried around in your pocket.

This evolution of technology has revolutionized the way people live their lives and do business.

Lawyers and law firms have got to buy into this.

Understanding Legal Blogging

Understanding legal blogging

As Andrew Sullivan said in his essay 'Why I Blog', the blog is the new literary form of our age. And as Matt Mullenweg, the creator of the ubiquitous blogging platform WordPress said: blogging has given 'equality of access' and therefore utterly utterly democratised the ability to publish. Everyone now has a soapbox and a real voice that can reach a global audience. Matt said:
"Before the widespread rise of the Internet and easy publishing tools, influence was largely in the hands of those who could reach the widest audience, the people with printing presses or access to a wide audience on television or radio, all one-way mediums that concentrated power in the hands of the few."
The same applies to lawyers. Lawyer can use the new form to give expression to their ability and expertise. By doing so they can build an audience, a following and a reputation as the go to authority on a given matter. Nowadays it's not enough for a lawyer or law firms just to carry on with their affairs in the offline world, they need to get online and carve out a space in the online world. And a blog is at the heart of this.

As Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog said:
'A lawyer's home base on the web is their blog.'

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Law Students Aren't Using the Web with their Career in Mind

In the words of Richard Susskind we all know that "most lawyers are pathologically late adopters of IT." Though it will come. It'll just take a little longer. Susskind again:
"Despite promising, early successes, until the worth of an emerging technology is proven beyond reasonable doubt it will not generally be embraced by the legal world."
Anyway, how are the young generation of law students, tomorrow's lawyers doing? As a part-time university lecturer Brian inkster has a genuine insight. Back in January 2011 Brian Inkster ran a straw poll: during a lecture to over 150 law students he asked them a number of questions regarding their web presence. Here's what he found:
"Of the 165 students it transpired that nearly all of them were on Facebook but only 4 on Twitter, 7 on LinkedIn, 1 on Quora and 2 had their own blog/website."

The Blog, Home of the Modern Lawyer

Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog penned a great piece back in December 10 2012 which captures both the power of the blog and the central force of the blog for the modern lawyer and law firm.

Make sure to read his post which features references to Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress, and is entitled, 'A Lawyer's Home Base on the Web is their Blog'.
"A blog may not look sexy and, like all things worthwhile, takes a little time. But if you’re looking at vehicle to serve as a hub of your online networking, there’s nothing better than a blog."

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Legal Clock-Watching - Niall Ferguson suggests US Lawyers are worse than the British

It's only anecdotal, but still a strong observation from a reasonably reliable academic, historian and economist. Namely, Niall Ferguson.

Having started and ran various businesses in both the US and the UK, in an article here for the WSJ he does a bit of a compare and contrast. A number of pithy comparisons were made including making the observation that arranging health insurance in the US is a very real botheration. But what I found interesting was his observation on dealing with the lawyers. He said:
"As an academic, I'm just an amateur capitalist. Still, over the past 15 years I've started small ventures in both the U.S. and the U.K. In the process I've learned something surprising: It's much easier to do in the U.K. There seemed to be much more regulation in the U.S., not least the headache of sorting out health insurance for my few employees. And there were certainly more billable hours from lawyers."

Christopher Hitchens on Free Speech

More here:

Friday, 7 June 2013

Student Sentenced for Lee Rigby Tweet

Student Deyka Ayan Hassan sentenced to community service for sending 'joke' tweet after Woolwich killing
that said that people wearing Help for Heroes T-shirts "deserve to be beheaded".

Read more about the case here and here.

A man was also arrested for making malicious communications over Facebook which you can read about here and here.

Chris Grayling's Consultation - 'Transforming Legal Aid'

This post is all about giving you the important facts and opinions you need to know about the Ministry of Justice consultation paper, “Transforming legal aid”; how the process panned out and how it was received etc.

The consultation process closed June 4 2013 and over 13,000 responses were received:

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Open Letter to Maria Miller Voices Concerns about Internet Freedom

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Role of Social Media in Turkey's Unrest

Andrew Sullivan breaks it down:

More here:

UK Law Students Better Prepared for Work Than their US Cousins

The 12 panellists who featured in the Guardian panel discussion, chaired by Joshua Rozenberg.

The Guardian recently hosted a roundtable discussion, chair by legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg on legal education in the US and UK. It was a bit of a compare and contrast exercise which threw up some interesting insights, including the one included in that title above, that UK law students are regarded as more work-ready than their American cousins. You can also read the Guardian article in full here, otherwise in full below [emphases are my own]:
"It is an exciting time to be an English lawyer – especially one prepared to look beyond England. The more economically globalised the world becomes, the more it needs globalised legal services, which means more career opportunities for law graduates willing to work in other countries and across jurisdictions, especially if they have an English legal background. With English common law the de facto law of business, and English the de facto language, the UK government has seized the chance to promote the UK as a commercial legal capital of the world, hoping this could be a key driver of economic growth. 
Already 200 foreign law firms are operating in London and lawyers are bringing in about £3.5bn in foreign earnings. 
The Rolls Building, a high-profile court complex opened in London two years ago, which is designed to attract complex business disputes from around the world, epitomises the government's vision of the future possibilities the legal profession offers.
How best to prepare fledgling lawyers for this potentially lucrative but challenging environment was the subject of a roundtable discussion last month attended by senior lawyers and legal academics and hosted by the Guardian. It was held in association with The University of Law.

Interview with Lee Pacchia

[This interview was originally published on Elephant Creative and can be seen here]

The Zero to 140 interview series has been on a truly global tour de discourse, picking the minds of some of the leading legal heads in the UK and America.

The latest up to the #ZeroTo140 interview table is Lee Pacchia (@leepacchia) of Bloomberg Law, a man who regularly sits down with the people that set the agendas and direct the future of the industry. We’re delighted to be able to include him in our series.

Brian John Spencer (BJS) : So Lee, what’s happening today?
Lee Pacchia (LP): Booking guests, writing scripts, taping programs and posting a video a day. Welcome to my world.

Social Media Law in Australia and America

The internet is a boundless, borderless phenomenon that is both a force for good and bad.  A reality that law enforcement agencies around the world have had to confront. We've looked at the situation as it is in the UK and Ireland before; but what about the other countries.

Well in Australia, they're coming alive to the difficulties. In an article here, Adelaide Now discusses the challenge that social media posses to the trial by jury model and the criminal justice system as a whole. Here's what the paper said:
"The right to a fair trial is considered one of the fundamental rights of a defendant in a criminal case. 
However, traditional measures such as suppression orders, designed to protect that right, are proving ineffective in the face of prejudicial material uploaded in real time on social media. 
The culprit is not the traditional media, but jurors, witnesses and members of the public who become instant mass-media publishers with every post and tweet. 
In addition, well-meaning jurors using the internet to conduct their own research about issues in trials threaten the court's ability to ensure that cases are decided only on the admissible evidence presented to the court."

High Court Judge makes new Social Media Law (re: Breach of CourtInjunctions)

Less than two weeks after the Hon. Mr Justice Tugendhat delivered judgment on the McAlpine v Bercow Twitter libel affair (see here and here), the UK's top media and libel judge has made new law and sent out another clear message to social media users.

Namely: the internet may have made everyone a  publisher, however the internet did not made publishing responsibility free. Therefore, don't say anything on social media you wouldn't say on a print newspaper.

This time round the message from the legal mill is a little more social media-user friendly. OK, to understand things we need to go back to here on Defero Law. In that post entitled, "Is Social Media Uncontrollable?" I talked about two men who posted images of the two men who killed Jamie Bulger. This was in breach of a court order; therefore there was a legal effect to their actions (see Social Media and the Law: Know Where You Stand, my blog on the Huffington Post).

The two men were originally convicted and handed down prison terms. Now this has changed. See tweets bellow from Adam Wagner.

Full judgement available below in tweet from the Judicial Office:

This is another important step on the road to hammering out the law that governs activity on the social web. Just this time the judge has made new law that makes it clear what will happen if you publish comments online that breach a court order. And as Adam Wagner rightly said: "TAKE NOTE!"

Monday, 3 June 2013

Bradley Manning Case Could Chill Speech

Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, considered one of the foremost liberal authorities on constitutional law in the US and who taught the subject to President Barack Obama, has said to the Guardian that the charge against Bradley Manning could set a worrying precedent. He said:
"Charging any individual with the extremely grave offense of 'aiding the enemy' on the basis of nothing beyond the fact that the individual posted leaked information on the web and thereby 'knowingly gave intelligence information' to whoever could gain access to it there, does indeed seem to break dangerous new ground."
Laurence Tribe, who advised the department of justice in Obama's first term, added that the trial could have "far-reaching consequences for chilling freedom of speech and rendering the internet a hazardous environment, well beyond any demonstrable national security interest."
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