Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Daniel Finkelstein - Do we really need MPs now we have Twitter?

It was early in 2006 and Professor Richard Susskind was day-dreaming. He was at an event in the Mercers’ Hall, the splendid home of one of the city’s longest established livery companies. What, he wondered, had happened to the mercers?

For that matter, what had happened to the cordwainers? The wheelwrights? The tallow chandlers? We buy silk and fine leather goods and wheels and candles in huge quantities, but the crafts people who made them have been largely displaced, their professions pushed to the economic margins and changed beyond recognition.

As Mr Susskind sat there he wondered — might this happen one day to lawyers?

The thought prompted this legal theorist to pen his important book The End of Lawyers? and, more recently, a new volume, Tomorrow’s Lawyers.The thrust of these works is that the rising cost of legal services and the increasing availability of cheaper alternatives is going to reshape the legal business entirely.

In a new edition of The End of Lawyers? Mr Susskind draws attention to the 60 million disputes each year that arise as a result of eBay sales. The parties use online dispute resolution, which allows differences to be settled with a minimum of human interaction.

His simple question is: why think that such processes won’t spread? The growth of demand for legal services could, ironically, be a major cause of the downfall of the conventional lawyer. Clients will find the cost too great to meet. The pressure they exert will lead to new ways of resolving disputes and new ways of delivering traditional legal advice.

Lawyers already outsource back-office jobs. Now some are outsourcing contract review, drafting and legal research to companies in India. Software will replace many human judgments; indeed it is easy to underestimate how much information systems will be able to do. And the profession might break into a far more varied group of providers.

Mr Susskind is careful to add a question mark to the title of his book. He is a lawyer and believes in the importance of the law. He just believes that technological trends are going to make life for the next generation of lawyers very different from that of their predecessors.

In reaching this conclusion he is far from alone. There is a growing literature that foresees that new technology will change the jobs of middle-class professions beyond recognition, doing to them what has been already been done to manufacturing jobs. This is the argument, for instance, of Tyler Cowen in his book Average is Overand of Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee in The Second Machine Age,published earlier this year.

Mr Susskind’s daydream set me to a similar one. Are we witnessing the end of politicians? I am as insistent as the professor upon the question mark, but as confident as he is about the trends. And those trends are already changing politics profoundly.

Let’s start with the very heart of the matter, with politicians as representatives. We were taught at school that while in ancient days it might have been possible to gather citizens to make choices in person, in modern times there were too many people to make this possible.

For straightforward practical reasons it was necessary to employ middlemen to gather opinions together and to make decisions that broadly represented what voters want.

In two ways, this school lesson no longer holds. The first is that modern technology makes it possible to gather citizens together at low cost and find out their opinions. Direct democracy through electronic referendum is now far more practical than it was.

At the same time, even when direct democracy is not used, there are many modern techniques for gathering opinions that are far superior to the unscientific, partial, anecdotal ways in which politicians collect them. There are both quantitative and qualitative opinion polls, for instance, including focus groups and citizens’ juries. And in Martin Lindstrom’s book Buyology,he argues that these may, in years to come, prove less powerful than the insights yielded by brain imaging.

Even those unconvinced by brain scans would acknowledge that we have, through scientific investigation, a far greater understanding now than 20 years ago of how people think and what lies behind their decisions.

Of course, being a representative is not just about parroting the views of other people. There are judgments to make, balances to be struck, priorities to be set. Yet automation will impinge even on this vital political function.

A senior US State Department official recently explained to me how the department uses computer modelling to help it to understand and potentially resolve intractable international disputes. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, professor of politics at New York University, describes in his book Predictionthe use to which he has been put by successive administrations and the CIA. He employs game theory and computer simulations to help, for instance, to forecast the outcomes of foreign elections and predict the next moves of international terrorists.

The use of such methods to aid political decision-making will only grow. Yet even where it is not appropriate, how sustainable is our current model of political generalists who spend their whole lives in politics, moving about from topic to topic, trying to master a new subject every couple of years?

If the increased complexity of modern government can’t be entirely removed by computing power, surely we will also see the rise of experts who lend themselves to government for parts of their career?

New technology is also challenging traditional political parties. The current party system, with its dominant leaders, strong party whipping and internal coherence is at least partly a product of technological change. It arose as a way of dealing with the emergence of the mass media, a development that required simple, uniform, national messages.

The rise of a much more varied media and the dramatic fall in the cost of communicating with voters directly is already having its impact on parties. If it is possible to contact voters without a party machine, the power of the machine will decline. Look at the House of Commons today. Whipping is already much less effective than it was. The same trend will produce more independents and make political careers less stable.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Twitter - "One of those things that turner out to be a far bigger deal then I envisioned when I began it"

Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) teaches journalism at NYU and directs the Studio 20 program there. He critiques the press and works to understand digital logic. He's an adviser to First Look Media.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Are law schools teaching their students the right skills?

Cindy Royal wrote an article on Medium, 'Are journalism schools teaching their students the right skills?' She asked:

How much of your curriculum is dedicated to these issues?


Do you understand the history of computers, the Internet, and web and how they relate to the current state of platforms? (Weaving the Web by Tim Berners-Lee; Hackers: The Heroes of the Technology Revolution by Steven Levy;The Internet: Behind the WebDownload: The True Story of the Internet


Do you understand new business models created by platforms? (The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson; Free: How Today’s Smartest Businesses Profit by Giving Something for Nothing by Chris Anderson; What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis; The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen; Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig)


Do you understand the role of the user in a platform environment? (Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Ageby Clay Shirky; Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins)


Do you understand network effects that drive platform dynamics? (The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society by Manuel Castells; The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler)


Do you know what technology entrepreneurs think about the news business? (The Future of the News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All in One Place)


Are you familiar with each of these sites or mobile apps for distribution of news? (Reddit;MediumVoxFiveThirtyEightBuzzFeed;UpworthyCircaPolicyMicThe Intercept)


Do you know why you should care about and use social media platforms? (Facebook Paper;TwitterGoogle NowYahoo News Digest)



Do you know how to: Make a basic website from scratch using HTML/CSS? Register a domain and get web hosting? Customize a blog platform like WordPress? Do basic video and audio editing? (Find basic introductory handouts.) Or do you have any of the more advanced skills of: JavaScript? Data viz tools, like Google Fusion Tables, Chart.js, or D3.js? A web development language like PHP, Python, or Ruby? Git and GitHub? SQL or MySQL database commands? (Find more advancedhandouts.)


Do you pay attention to technology websites and publications? (Follow them on Twitter:MashableTechCrunchPandoRecode)

So it’s platform or perish. We’ll never be able to fully achieve a digital, technology-based curriculum until we have faculty who are committed to preparing students for the digital, technology-based world into which they are graduating. The sooner we all accept this, the better.

Because we work in tech."

Likewise, I ask: are law schools teaching their students the right skills?

Monday, 12 May 2014

Two former Lords Justices of Appeal now on Twitter

Richard Susskind serves up tough love to Irish lawyers

Richard Susskind believes that lawyers and law firms need to ask themselves a basic question: what are lawyers for? he them said:

"Most lawyers, when they think about the future, tend to think, ‘what do we do today’ – one-to-one consultative advisory service, usually on an hourly billing basis – and ‘how can we make it a bit quicker, cheaper, better’. Not often enough are lawyers taking a step back and asking the question: what fundamental value is it that we bring to those we advise? Why is it that clients pay handsomely for our service?"

Susskind said that of the Legal Services Act 2007 which introduced alternative business structures and meant non-lawyers could share profits with lawyers in legal businesses:

"What it actually means in practice is that we have an entrepreneurial spirit in the legal world that we have never had before. You’ve got banks, building societies and insurance companies coming into the legal marketplace alongside publishers and accountants. You have got external funding, which is bringing new ideas, new ways of delivering services– far cheaper for citizens."

In Ireland alternative business structures were the most contentious part of the proposed Legal Services Regulation Bill. The Bar Council, which represents barristers, strenuously opposed the idea, arguing it would hinder access to justice and have no cost benefit to clients.Richard  Susskind criticised the American Bar Association for arguing that such liberalisation would prejudice access to justice. Saying: 

"In fact it’s exactly the reverse. In almost all jurisdictions that are liberalising, it’s enabling access."

Suds kind concluded by saying:

"We have to open our minds to working in entirely new ways."

In Irish Times in full here:

David Leonhardt of the recently created UpShot on the  New York Times said on the Charlie Rose Show:

"If you have been running a business for 50 years, 100 years, 150 years, and you’ve been successful and then someone says, let’s do things differently and it’s going to cannibalise our business, of course the initial instinct is no."

Richard Susskind appeared at the 2013 Northern Ireland bar council conference. I covered the event here:

And here:

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

4 Ways to Make your Law Blog Stand Out from the Crowd

There’s nothing worse than cooking for an empty dinner table and similarly, blogging without followers can seem a little futile. There’s nothing worse than flogging a dead horse so banish the blogger blues, increase your follower list and make your publication stand out from the crowd in 5 simple steps.

Lights, Camera, ACTION

Just as you wouldn’t spend weeks rehearsing for a play withoutadvertising tickets to see the show, blogging without promotion is a fruitless pursuit. Even before publishing your first blog post, start building a twitter account and hone your unique voice ready for launch.

Twitter is the best social platform for lawyers as it allows you to engage with the law community, share tips and advice, retweet and gather inspiration from like-minded professionals.

Ensure that you have share buttons installed on your blog and that they are clearly visible. Also it’s worth bearing in mind that for every piece of content written, it’s advisable to spend just as much time promoting it whether it’s through social interaction, legal PR distribution or email marketing.

Groundhog Day

One thing which is certain to repel potential followers is the same old bland content written over and over. Readers will see straightthrough a blog written for the sole purpose of endorsing a product or service, so avoid this approach like the plague.

Do some research, identify your target market and create a content calendar based on what your audience are looking for. Look at what your competitors and don’t just copy them, find a gap in the market and strike while the iron is hot.

Not from Concentrate Copy

The first rule of quality content is quality copy. Without a talented wordsmith you’re probably going to end up on the dung heap, and in a saturated market concentrated copy just isn’t going to cut the mustard. If you don’t have a way with words yourself, invest in a copywriter who can drive the business forward through the power of language.

Keeping up Appearances

Is there anyone in this world who doesn’t make a quick first impression based on appearance? Sadly, even with the very best intentions, blogs need to look good to be engaging and gain attention. That doesn’t mean you need to take out a loan and hire the best graphic designer in town, just be smart about it.

Blogger and Wordpress platforms offer a large variety of free templates which you can install yourself and customise to suit your needs. Learn some basic HTML to layout your content and imagery correctly and a good looking blog can easily be yours.

Author Note: Byfield Consultancy is a team of reputable management consultants who know a thing or two about Legal PR. Based in London and proficient in all things PR, this established firm work behind the scenes to raise the profile of businesses using a variety of cutting-edge techniques. Take a look at their website to find out more or to make an enquiry call 0207 092 3999.

Image source: anniemole








Monday, 24 March 2014

US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan on using an iPad and Kindle

"In some of these cases there will be 40, 50 briefs - so there's a lot of reading. That's a big part of the job. And if a Kindle or an iPad can make it easier, that's terrific."

Monday, 10 March 2014

It wasnt that long ago that the Law Society of E&W banned firms from publishing brochures

It wasnt that long ago that the Law Society of E&W banned firms from publishing brochures via @legalcheek

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Law Society poll: More lawyers using social media

Law Society poll: More solicitors using social media

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Glenn Greenwald the Lawyer

Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) is a key player in the new breed of digital-native journalists and bloggers. A leading figure alongside the likes of Nate Silver, Ezra Klein and Andrew Sullivan. A trailblazer who has broken the rules and is reinventing the very concept of how we receive news and ingest information. He started blogging in 2005, went with Salon, then the Guardian and has now started his own site for fearless and adversarial journalism, The Intercept (@the_intercept).

Friday, 7 February 2014

There’s A Huge Latent Legal Market For Legal Visionaries, Ctd

For Michele Colucci, CEO of, it's not that there are too few lawyers, but that there's a communication gap between clients and the legal advice they seek. She said:

"The real problem is connecting lawyers to people who need them. I have 50 people right now needing lawyers.

The legal system is fragmented and it's hard for people to wade through. But I think there are just too many lawyers without access to clients who need them the most, rather than too many lawyers and no jobs."

Read my earlier post on Defero Law (@deferolaw), 'People on Main Steet Can’t Afford Access To Legal Guidance - There’s A Huge Latent Legal Market For Legal Visionaries.'

@MEKowalski: 'Law Schools’ Fear of Social Media Is a Disservice to Students'

Canadian lawyer Mitch Kowalski (@MEKowalski) explained that law students are failing to use social media with their career in mind because of law schools’ fear of the social networks and online space. 

I've written about this many times before including on this blog here: 

And on Defero law more recently I explained my Digital Law Student series:

"I wanted to then tell that story through the Digital Law Student series. Especially because, as Brian Inkster, Pat Ellis and Kevin O’Keefe have said (herehere and here respectively), law students and young lawyers are absolutely not using social media with their career in mind.

In fact the blowback is breath-taking. At the recent Bar Conference in Northern Ireland, not a single barrister was using Twitter and all the new pupils were fanatical adherents to the totally out-dated legal doctrine of no risk, no comment, no change.

As Richard Susskind says, this is “irrational rejectionism.”It’s“institutional bewilderment”. To that I simply cite Gary Slapper (@garyslapper) who said“LAWYERS MUST CHANGE” and John Cooper QC who said that lawyers who were once snobbish and dismissive of Twitter are now active tweeters. Oh and Karl Chapman of Riverview Law who said that the days of the legal technocrat are over. Oh! And how they told Richard Susskind he was mad in the 1990s when he suggested that lawyers would us email (see here)!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Colin Scott (@ColizScott) - Legal innovator

Colin Scott (@ColizScott) dean of the UCD Sutherland Law School is leading the way in new methods to teach law.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Legal blogging and legal tweeting

In the first tweet David Allen Green gives his pick of the best legal thinkers online. In the second tweet he explains his multifarious Twitter and online presence.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

James Harding - "We are singularly vulnerable if we kid ourselves that the rules of this technological revolution in news do not apply to us"

"We are singularly vulnerable if we kid ourselves that the rules of this technological revolution in news do not apply to us. If we are complacent, defensive and flat-footed, then we will be sunk. We will have let down our audiences and they will go elsewhere.


Friday, 10 January 2014

Adam Wagner, David Allen Green and Andrew Sullivan on Legal Blogging

Non-law blogger Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) is the founder and editor of the blog The Dish (@dishfeed). He is venerated for his writing and thinking and regarded as the pre-eminent online journalist of the 21st Century. He explained what blogging is to him here, and that blogging has enormous depth:
"My own approach is I'm just a thinking out loud person. I'm a conservative who is attacking [George] Bush which is putting me in a strange position. The limitation of a blog is that it has to be instant; which means it can't be a terribly considered judgement. But it's also deep because you can have hyperlinks that link the reader to original sources and original texts. So readers, unlike TV, or even unlike newspapers, readers can look at my opinion and then they can go to the original source and make their own mind up. That is enormous depth."
Read Andrew Sullivan in full here.

Legal blogger, tweeter, human rights barrister, founding editor of the UK Human Rights Blog and "very definition of a modern full-service barrister" Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) explained the power of legal blogging during his representation to Lord Brian Leveson here:
"The primary reason UKHRB was set up was to act as a corrective to bad journalism about human rights, and in under two years it has become a trusted source of information for journalists, politicians, those government and members of the public. UKHRB operates alongside a number of other excellent legal blogs, run by lawyers, students and enthusiasts for free, which provide a similar service in respect of other areas of law. I would highlight, for example:
a. Nearly Legal housing law blog;
b. UK Supreme Court Blog;
c. Inforrm- media law;
d. The Small Places - social welfare law;
e. Head of Legal - general legal commentary
f. Human Rights in Ireland
g. Law Think
h. Jack of Kent
i. Charon QC
j. Pink Tape - family law commentary by barrister Lucy Reed
k. Eutopia Law
I. Panopticon Blog 
Human rights is an example of an area of law which is often misrepresented by the mainstream press. This can be the result of a lack of legal expertise amongst journalists, but also represents some newspapers’ editorial positions which are if not anti-human rights, then certainly anti-Human Rights Act. It is no coincidence, in my opinion, that the Human Rights Act is also widely considered to have bolstered privacy rights and as such threatens the celebrity news-driven business model of most newspapers."
Adam Wagner in full here.

David Allen Green (@DavidAllenGreen) (@JackofKent) is a media lawyer, journalist and blogger, named by Nick Cohen as "one of the best bloggers in Britain." In his representations to Lord Brian Leveson, David Allen Green gave an elementary analysis of what blogging is. He said:

Saturday, 4 January 2014

David Allen Green explains why and how he blogs and the power of blogging

David Allen Green (@DavidAllenGreen) (@JackofKent) began blogging in 2007, was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for blogging in 2010 and longlisted in 2010. He began blogging for The New Statesman on law and policy and most recently moved to the FT, which I marked and covered here. During his representations to the Leveson Inquiry here, David Allen Green addressed the matter of social media and blogging. He sees himself as a modern-day pamphleteer:
"The elements of speed and self-publication in blogging make it, in my view, akin to pamphleteering... blogging is akin to pamphleteering, then it is pamphleteering with electronic footnotes."
He then explained how he blogs. He said:
"Jack of Kent is hosted on a straightforward and easy to use blog host website called "Blogger". I have no idea where the servers of Blogger are located. Anyone with internet access is able to create such a biog. The other main site for blogs is provided by "WordPress". Most bloggers who have not built their own website or blog on a commercial or group site tend to use either Blogger or WordPress. 
In essence, all I do is type into a field to create a "post" (or "blogpost") and, when finished, I press publish. The post is then published to the world and can be accessed by any person able to reach the Blogger site. It used to be that some minor technical knowledge of HTML code was required to blog, but increasingly one can prepare posts on "What you see is what you get" (or WYSIWYG) basis.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Scientists use social media and blogs, so should lawyers

Casey Bergman, senior Lecturer in computational biology at University of Manchester explains:
"Many journals and their staff now take part in the scientific process through social media. Scientists need to be aware that this enables journals to monitor our discussions and activity in ways that were not previously possible. Social media also presents new opportunities to shape the dialogue between scientists and journals."
Casey also explains the effect that social media is and will be having on scientific journals:
"Just as scientists are deciding the best ways to include social media into our own work, we should think about how journals can use social media to contribute to the scientific process. This is an open topic that I hope more scientists consider, since the influence of social media on scientific publishing is likely to increase with the rise of altmetrics, an alternative way of measuring the impact of scientific publications."
Casey then lays out some guidelines for scientists new to Twitter, see here. Legal blogger Kevin O'Keefe has previously explained how law blogs will replace and make legal journals and reviews obsolete, here and here. In the Atlantic Magazine here, Walter Olsen actively called for the end of law reviews in favour of easy web publishing. Even John Roberts of Scotus is sceptical about law reviews. The Chief Justice here told judges last year:
"Pick up a copy of any law review that you see, and the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th Century Bulgaria, or something."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Why Choose Us?

Incredible Support

There was an error in this gadget