Centre for Legal Education (CLE) Conference, Nottingham Law School, Notts Trent University, session 1

by Paul Maharg on 16/06/2017

At the kind behest of Pamela Henderson, my colleague at NLS, I’ve joined the CLE blog as guest speaker and will be liveblogging the conference at that blog and also here.  I’m a part-time professor at NLS, and a member of the CLE, which does fine research work in legal education.  The conference has speakers from UK, Europe and beyond, and some excellent topics are lined up, so looking forward to innovation and enlightenment…

Session 1 is a keynote by Brian Inkster, of Inksters Solicitors, an innovative Scottish firm based in Glasgow, Forfar and (as befits a firm specialising, inter alia, in Crofting Law) Inverness, Wick, Lerwick and Portree.  It’s titled ‘Clicks and Bricks: Legal IT the Inkster Way’.  Pamela is blogging this session in detail, so I’ll just add a few comments as they come to me – or not…

Brian’s story is typical of innovators in legal practice: his firm is small and agile, the first firm in Scotland to introduce digital dictation, for example, and online payment.  Being in the cloud enables virtual offices in remote, rural regional areas in the highlands and islands, with #inksterplex at the heart of a hub and spokes.  Cleverly adapted f2f by flying out to see clients, on a hub and spokes model, and uses VOIP.

As I listen, it reminds me of a piece of research some of us (Patricia McKellar, Karen Barton, Peter Duncan, me) carried out years ago, surveying technology used by solicitors in the jurisdiction of Paisley Sheriff Court.  A solicitor invited us to come and see their system…  Emails, he said, come into this computer.  Our secretary prints them out, puts them in solicitors’ dockets, solicitors respond on tape, and the secretary types them out on the same computer.   Legal process engineering of a sort, which raised interesting issues, even in 1999, of the differences between automation and innovation, and the considerable difficulties for lawyers to achieve the first, let alone the second.

To an interesting question about legal education and law firm tech, he said that he’s more liable to employ students who are already doing things on blogs and on Twitter – ie those who are already part of the culture.  Fine presentation.  Wish students in places where the three RRRs really matter (remote, rural, regional) could hear what Brian had to say.

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