Legal Cheek's tech correspondent i@n davison shares his diary from one of the all-night hackathons he has introduced at his in-house legal department
I am a big fan of Facebook’s legendary 'hackathons', where the social network’s employees stay up from dusk til dawn working together on creative side projects – which they then use to help take the business forward.
Pedram Keyani, the Facebook coder who came up with the idea, explained the philosophy recently in Fast Company: "The core idea is to take ideas you haven’t had a chance to focus on and think about them in a different way," he said.
I am proud to say that I have introduced hackathons myself in the legal team I head up at a leading global solutions management company. Just like at Facebook, some of the best ideas we have had have been generated during the hackathons, which we've been running for six months now.
Yet for some strange reason hackathons are still rare among solicitors. To try to raise awareness of their positive benefits, I kept e-diary of our most recent one last week, which I have shared below.
Thanks to the trebling of undergraduate fees, the cost of legal education has reached new highs this year – with the fees for a three-year LLB, plus an LPC or BPTC, now approaching a combined £50,000. But growing numbers believe this will prove to be a blip as academics begin to offer ‘massive open online courses’ (MOOCs) for free.
A few days ago I met up with Apple’s former head of education, Alan Greenberg, who recently moved to direct MediaCore’s education team, and asked him about his views on MOOCs in respect of law school.
Will it soon cost nothing to qualify as a solicitor or barrister via the internet, with advocacy taught by YouTube tutorials, and Inns of Court dinners replaced with ready meals and webcams? Or will the traditional model prove more resilient than many expect?
College of Law GDL student Simeon Klein is tempted to take a risk and be creative in his bid to steal a march on the training contract competition.
A two-minute trawl through law student forums like thestudentroom.co.uk yields ample horror stories of hopefuls applying to 60+ firms to no avail. In such a competitive market, it’s no wonder that law students are constantly being encouraged to take on a myriad of extracurricular activities and snap up any legal work that comes their way.
But does this sort of thing actually get you anywhere when everyone’s doing it?
A Twitter legal advice experiment taking place today could prove a turning point for the way legal services are delivered, forecasts Legal Cheek's tech correspondent i@n davison
Ten years ago, the internet suddenly made music free, shredding the business model of the music industry. A similar thing happened to journalism soon after, as newspapers – facing competition from blogs – were forced to place their content online for free. That same disruptive force now seems set to wreak havoc on law.
In a few hours, family lawyer Lisa Collins, of Colchester law firm Birkett Long Solicitors, will take to Twitter to offer free legal advice. The pioneering session, which takes place today between 12pm and 2pm, will cover conventional family law matters, plus issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
One question springs to mind: why pay for legal services when they can be provided for free on Twitter by lawyers like Collins who live in low cost areas of the country like Essex (where they can be sustained by their savings and practise law as a hobby)?
I love holidays, but I hate missing opportunities. Unfortunately, the two often go hand in hand, with that automatic 'out of the office' email sure to send exciting offers and ideas elsewhere, writes Legal Cheek tech correspondent i@n davison.
Does it have to be like this? This year, I'll be keeping my 'out of the office' off. Instead, I have composed a new automated response that better sums up my situation:
"I'm in relax mode right now, but that doesn’t mean not prioritising you. I’ll be online during this entire relaxation period: please connect with me."
An ability to receive emails – and, maybe more importantly in these 3G days, to be alerted to them immediately – is key when you approach the holiday period in this way. That’s where Bluetooth comes in...
Legal Cheek tech columnist i@n davison reviews Friday's LawTechCampLondon.
Do you want to be Kodak or Instagram? I have my wife ask me this question first thing every morning. No prizes for guessing which way I respond. But it is helpful to receive regular updates of key paradigms – and remind myself of where I want to be in relation to them.
With a view to not becoming a legal Kodak, I listened intently to the new ideas that were discussed at Friday’s fantastic LawTechCampLondon, attended by leading figures including futurologist Richard Susskind and The Kernel's Milo Yiannopoulos. Below I have listed the five observations which made the most impression on me.
Editorial note: this is the first of a regular series of posts by Legal Cheek’s new tech columnist, i@n davison
Many so-called "experts" claim the billable hour is dead. However, I disagree.
I believe that charging by the hour will always have a place in a changing market for legal services, even if its popularity declines as clients push ever harder for alternative fee arrangements going forward.
One of the consequences of the unpopularity of the billable hour right now is that many of the tech innovations we are seeing in other areas have passed it by completely. For example, why is there no fusion – or even discussion of fusion – of time recording software with social media? Wouldn’t it be great to share information with other Twitter or Linkedin users while working on a file?
This week, LexisNexis PR specialists Simon Goldie and Melissa Higgs visit Legal Cheek HQ, where they share their advice on managing an online public profile with journalist Alex Aldridge and employment lawyer Kevin Poulter.
In the wake of Lord Neuberger’s comments criticising judges for appearing on MasterChef, the quartet discuss how far lawyers and law students should court publicity.
One legal wannabe who has struggled, in particular, to strike this balance is Newcastle University law student Joshua Cryer (pictured), whose horrible racist tweets to ex-footballer Stan Collymore landed him a two year community service order on Wednesday.
“Assuming Cryer is contrite, can he be rehabilitated?” Aldridge asks Goldie, the head of external relations at LexisNexis and a member of the Chartered Institute of PR Professionals.
"Bad day for the internet. Having been there, I can imagine the dissension @Google to search being warped this way." tweeted former Google lawyer Alex Macgillivray yesterday.
Macgillivray, now Twitter's general counsel for policy, was referring to the move by Google to apparently warp its search results by boosting posts from its Google+ social network. Certainly, Google+ needs all the help it can get.