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The Legal Update

Legal Geek Conference 2017 – The Top Legal Tech Trends Changing Law As We Know It

As Obelisk attends the Legal Geek Conference 2017, we’ve been thinking about the legal tech trends that are going to be shaping our industry in the years to come. Here are just some of the biggest talking points in the law industry that are having a real impact on the way that lawyers work – opening up more opportunities for networking, flexible working, better client management and security.

CRM Software

A lawyer’s knowledge of their client base and network should be considered to have as much importance as the knowledge, and customer relationship management software (CRM) is helping legal professionals better understand the information they have available. More often associated with sales teams, CRM software made for the legal sector is growing in popularity and can can provide lawyers with the ability to keep a more accurate and up to date database of clients referrals and retentions, new case matters, and other leads and communications. However the real boon comes with the ability to analyse and use the data you have to analyse key metrics and performance indicators, such as the lifetime value of any particular client, or where clients are finding your business and where the most leads and referrals are generated. Being able to manage both existing and potential contracts enables lawyers to

The Social Lawyer

The way that lawyers are using social media to aid their work and boost their careers has accelerated in recent years – many firms and individual lawyers are actively embracing social media to market themselves, for client development and even for case investigation. This excellent infographic created by Mycase.com breaks down the habits and percentages of legal professionals on social media – some of the points that interested us most were:

AI and ‘Robot Lawyers’

AI is a trend we’ve been following closely here at Obelisk. Artificial Intelligence is no longer a future concept – routine legal tasks are already being taken over by technology, and it’s causing some major changes in corporate law, as well as other areas of our industry. There are some reports that the trend is driving lawyers away from firms into in house roles, and even into the founding of legal tech start-ups. With clients looking to take advantage of savings offered by technology, lawyers need to refocus on the irreplaceable human aspects of lawyering – client relationships, understand of complex issues attached to cases and providing a source of knowledge, emotional intelligence and understanding that technology is unlikely to ever replicate. Lawyers should see the advancement as an opportunity to seize rather than a battle to be waged: AI is an opportunity to improve creative analysis, lawyer wellbeing and quality of work – it’s time to embrace it!

Cyber Security

One of the key talking points in the legal profession and likely to be a hot topic at this year’s Legal Geek conference, the issue of cyber security is becoming ever more pertinent as companies and individuals alike rush to keep up with the information about ourselves that is available online and ensure it stays secure and uncompromised. Data protection is a particular concern for lawyers who handle all kinds of sensitive information. More and more legal firms and service providers are relying on Cloud storage to keep data safe, as it provides access to better security and expert remote management of software/IT as part of the service, and more robust backup procedures than what may be available in house. In addition to documents and stored information lawyers may consider moving all of their client communications to cloud servers to ensure a consistent level of security across the board.

As well as getting one’s own house in order, it’s important to keep abreast of the next big things in cyber security in order to adequately advise clients and handling cases where data breach and misuse have occurred.

Non-traditional Service Providers

Not strictly a singular technology trend, but a by-product of the developments of technology and increasing adoption within the industry has enabled more non-traditional legal service providers to succeed where traditional firms are losing ground. Non-traditional service providers e.g. mobile/remote legal consultancies, are driven by innovative use of new technology to provide new ways of working with clients on a flexible, part time, in house and ad hoc basis.

As more of the legal industry adopts Cloud and mobile technology and other platforms and software that enable more efficient high quality work, there will no longer be many reasons left to maintain a culture of presenteeism and overwork in the office. We aren’t there yet by any means, but there are promising signs that technology and forward thinking is driving long overdue change in law.

Obelisk CEO Dana Denis-Smith will be speaking at Legal Geek Conference 2017 on Women in LawTech. Be sure to revisit The Attic for more legal tech updates and thoughts on the future of law.

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The Legal Update

Helen Tse on Doing Business after Brexit

At Obelisk Support, we regularly get requests from clients to assist them in Brexit-related matters, whether it’s in the banking industry or regarding general commercial law. As Brexit is still very much a shifting concept, its legal implications are not as clear-cut as businesses would like them to be. That’s why we were very excited when we learned that Helen Tse, lawyer at Clarke Willmott, was working on a book about doing business after Brexit, featuring a range of experts in the most common legal fields affecting professionals in the U.K. Finally, a book that tells you how Brexit could affect your business.

We are very proud that Obelisk Support CEO, Dana Denis-Smith, and her husband, John Denis-Smith, both contributed a chapter in this book, each in their area of expertise. To get the inside scoop, we caught up with Helen Tse on the legal implications of doing business after Brexit.

#1 How did you come to spearhead this project?

In June 2016, before the referendum, nobody envisaged that Brexit would happen and when it did, a slight panic occurred as to what would happen. As a lot of my clients were calling to know what was going to happen for them with Brexit regarding their property or their business, I pitched the idea of this book to Bloomsbury and they were interested.

I started writing at Christmas time in 2016, because there wasn’t much that we could write until we knew a bit more. To get a steer as to what the government would envisage Brexit to be, I contacted the Brexit department (Department for Exiting the European Union) led by David Davis. This book is based on their guidelines.

#2 Who is the book for?

It is for fellow lawyers, anybody in the professional services sphere who has to advise on Brexit issues, as well as companies, SMEs, high net worth individuals, and anybody with an interest in business. It even features a section by Nigel Barratt that talks about the landscape for investor from abroad. We see Brexit as an opportunity to invest in the UK, as it’s 20% cheaper. The sterling has devalued, therefore buying a property in the UK is a great opportunity.

#3 How did you structure this book and why?

Initially, it was going to be purely an academic piece on leading lawyers from different specialist areas on how they think the law will change. But then, I thought that it would be good to have a business section and created a section on thought-leadership. How might business owners envisage that Brexit would impact their business? So the book is two-part, academic on one hand and pragmatic businesslike on the other.

Doing business after Brexit is such a broad topic that you’ll never be able to cover the whole range of topics, but from a business perspective you can address employment, corporate, commercial, property, corporate finance, and all things that you need to make the business flow. What this book won’t say is how individuals who have a property in Spain will be affected. This is a book strictly about business.

#4 Each one of the book’s chapters is written by a different legal expert. What was the biggest challenge about coordinating these contributors?

The book features about 30 contributors. There are a lot of thought leaders in the frame. My main challenge was to get everybody to deliver on time and then edit contributions to get a constant flow about everything. That took all my weekends, as the book is 400 pages long. Given everybody’s busy schedules, there were slight delays so that impacted my schedule too but we got the job done.

#5 Did anything surprise you in the book?

Looking at Brexit is little bit like the ostrich approach. Nobody knows what to do, so you assume that it’s not going to happen. For instance, if repatriation happened, what would happen to the business? If you’re a UK business getting goods abroad, what would happen? On a business level, a lot of businesses still don’t know what to do or what’s going to happen. This book is very timely and will be a great mind map for many companies and professionals.

The book looks at worst-case scenarios. That was surprising to me, but it was necessary to guide business owners. 

#6 Do you deal with similar issues at work?

I specialise in M&A and right before the referendum, we had a few transactions that had come to terms. The price had been agreed. Payment terms had been agreed. It was basically good to go, except that Brexit happened.

After the referendum, did the buyers still want to go ahead with the transactions? Some buyers went ahead but others decided to wait and see, they did not wish to proceed with the acquisition. There was nothing wrong with the company, but the parties were just nervous about what would happen and the economic uncertainty.

I’ll give you a Lloyds bank statistic that appears in the book. On the day of the referendum, they stopped 100% of all mortgage applications. That’s how much uncertainty can impact a business and that’s why it was important to write this book.

#7 How did you guide your authors and where did you draw a line?

From a book standpoint, we had very clear guidelines with the publisher at Bloomsbury regarding drafting style, the number of words or how each contributor should focus on their particular area of law. Legally, though, we instructed that all authors deal with a hard Brexit situation. It makes it much more feasible for a contributor to give their piece.

#8 Did writing the book change your view on Brexit?

Personally, I was not for Brexit but we are where we are. We do the best of the situation that is being given. I remain very pragmatic and as a lawyer, want to make sure that my clients are protected. It really remains to be seen whether Brexit was a good decision or not but as lawyers, we need to be flexible and adapt.

Let’s take the example of a manufacturer who buys his supplies as raw materials coming from Germany. With the post-Brexit currency changes, the supplies might not be affordable anymore. Under a normal contract, you can only terminate for force majeure or frustration. Instead, we’re inserting Brexit clauses into contracts. The book gives you clauses to think about. They haven’t been drafted by anybody yet and we are definitely  leading the way in that respect.  However until Brexit has happened, we cannot have a clear view of what these templates could be.

#9 What online resources would you recommend to lawyers and general counsels to keep up to date with Brexit legal issues?

First, I would say download the kindle version of this book to have it handy. As far as UK resources, I really like Brexit & Law as well as PLC and LexisNexis.

#10 What next?

I get my weekend back! Of course, we’re going to do a presentation of the book on September 20 in Manchester. All the details are here.

About Helen Tse

Helen Tse is the first port of call for SME companies, high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs regarding corporate and commercial law matters. Helen herself is an entrepreneur, a published author and the recipient of the coveted MBE from Her Majesty The Queen in 2014.

A graduate in Law from Cambridge University with a professional career has included Clifford Chance, London & Hong Kong, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Walkers in the Cayman Islands, Helen Tse is highly sought after and an authority in the world of business. Her combination of legal and business acumen stands her heads and shoulders above her peers.

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LinkedIn for Lawyers: Top Tips for Managing Your Presence

With 73,000 lawyers registered in the United Kingdom, LinkedIn is by far the most popular social network for legal professionals. At Obelisk Support, we know from experience that a good LinkedIn profile can increase your visibility, help build your personal brand or connect with industry peers. How you approach LinkedIn will depend on your own personal goals. As with all social networks, it is essential that your profile stands out from the crowd and that you get the most from your presence on the site.

The following tips will help you to create a solid and searchable presence as a lawyer on LinkedIn.

* This content was updated in June 2020 to reflect recent changes in how members interact on LinkedIn.

#1 Create a strong profile

Some people think of their LinkedIn profile as a public version of their CV, but there’s much more to it. To create your profile you should approach your experience in a similar manner, but remember it’s not just a copy and paste job. Your LinkedIn profile is your chance to show a more complete picture of you, beyond your experience.

  • Use a current and professional but relaxed photo. Try to avoid over styling or using filters, as you want to present a natural and down to earth image. Some professionals use photos of themselves speaking at events to show they are active and well-regarded in their field – generally though simplicity is best for a first impression, so smile and face the front on a plain and unobtrusive background. You can show a bit more of your personality with the cover image, or use the space to display your business branding.
  • Your headline is crucial. This is what will appear under your photo, and while many people leave it as their current title (as auto-filled by the site), it is better to write something more intriguing to create say more about your profile.
  • List relevant work experience only. It can be tempting to put in everything you’ve ever done, but just a like a CV you should focus on what is most relevant to your current direction. If you are currently on or have previously taken a career break state why and what you did as factually and assuredly as you would your other experience – there is no need to get tangled up in euphemisms or start over describing your ‘roles’ and ‘responsibilities’ during this time!
  • Remember you can add your own sections to include any volunteer experience, side projects, publications, board assignments, and more.

#2 Engage

Why? Because the LinkedIn algorithm rewards activity in recruiter and other searches.

  • Put a like on an interesting post.
  • Comment meaningfully in a full sentence.
  • Like/reply to other insightful comments.

Be discerning in connecting: quality over quantity. This week, challenge yourself to comment on relevant posts only in full sentences.

#3 Connect

LinkedIn isn’t like Twitter, where you can follow and be followed by anyone and everyone and cast your audience net widely and indiscriminately. LinkedIn provides the opportunity to craft a more useful, relevant and supportive online network of contacts, many of which you will have in-real-life contact with.

  • Start by importing your professional contacts from your email. You can then select which of these you want to connect with on LinkedIn. Remember, don’t add anyone and everyone! Maintain a network of people who you feel will be valuable going forward. Use LinkedIn’s recommendations and check out 2nd-degree contacts (people who are connected to your 1st degree connections).
  • Build your online network by checking out the networks of people you have had the strongest and most valuable professional relationships with. If you are adding someone you haven’t had previous contact with, add a short message explaining why you’d like to connect.
  • Personalise connect requests. Don’t expect answers to direct messages. This is social media; not formal email, and many people are working.
  • Don’t feel you have to accept every contact request you get. It is your profile and you are in control of who sees your updates.

#4 Share knowledge and ideas

This is where LinkedIn really goes beyond an online public CV. Publishing, sharing and following others’ content can greatly expand your knowledge base and raise your own profile.

  • Keep an active presence on the site, publish relevant articles and follow thought leaders and organisations to grow your personal brand and keep abreast of the talking points and news in your area. Obelisk Support CEO Dana Denis-Smith, lawyer and Tedx speaker, regularly shares insights on her LinkedIn profile.
  • People will mostly follow you from the content you post. Try to keep your posts (texts, images, videos) as valuable as possible. What are the most impactful words you can post today on LinkedIn?
  • Try to mix up some variety with your content. Ask yourself these questions:
    • Are you sharing someone else’s content?
    • Are you posting content that highlights you as an expert?
    • Are you posting content to collaborate with others?
    • Are you posting your story as a way to inspire others?
  • Share relevant posts and articles from your network on a regular basis. Encourage your network to engage with share your own posts by including intro lines such as ‘Those of you in [Family Law] might want to take a look at this’ ‘I would be interested to hear your thoughts, feel free to share with your network!’
  • Be sure to also join relevant groups and associations (including your local Bar Association), and follow any Live events that may be of interest. Some examples you might like to follow include The Law Society who have a number of interest groups in addition to their main company page, e-Legal a popular network of lawyers from a number of sectors, and Legal Productivity, which focuses on the business of law in a changing industry.

#5 Treat your contacts as you would colleagues

LinkedIn is a social network, but it’s easy to forget this aspect. Conversations with like-minded individuals, be they online or in person, are always valuable.

  • Thank people for connecting and following – it’s nice to be nice, but you also never know where it might lead.
  • If you regularly like or comment on someone’s posts, or vice versa, get in touch privately to let them know how valuable you find their information. Interaction on LinkedIn is all about give and take, and it is important to support other’s efforts too.
  • LinkedIn has many alerts to make you aware of people’s work anniversaries and new job moves. Instead of just clicking the ‘like’ button, add your own message to show your genuine interest and goodwill. Here’s a little more advice on better LinkedIn etiquette from Fast Company.

#6 Create native videos

If you are trying to stand out from the crowd, look no further than native LinkedIn videos.

  • Native video allows LinkedIn users to record and upload video directly to personal profiles – directly from the mobile app.
  • LinkedIn Native video metrics allow publishers to identify the companies their viewers work for and what their job titles are.
  • Native videos earn an average of three times the engagement of text posts and are five times more likely than other content to start a conversation among LinkedIn members.
  • To boost your profile, native video content, as with all social media, should be just 20% directly promotional and 80% helpful, informative, or otherwise engaging.
  • The best quality videos tend to be produced on desktop, then sent to mobile device for upload.

LinkedIn is professional, but the most impressive and searchable profiles do well because they also show a well-rounded personality. Your profile should be approached as a living and breathing extension of you and where you want to get to in your career – because you never know, it could be the thing that helps you get there.

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Top Blawg: The Best of the World’s Legal Blogs 2017

Legal blogs, or blawgs as they are sometimes known, are changing the way that law is discussed and debated in the industry. Legal blogs can be a valuable outlet and asset for lawyers and companies alike: acting as a marketing tool for your expertise, and allowing some creative headspace to examine issues of personal intrigue outside of your own work.

Whether you are thinking of starting your own legal blog and need some inspiration, or simply want to follow for extra insights and opinion, here are some of our picks of the world’s most highly rated and recommended English-language legal blogs.

This list comprises on blogs covering all areas of law and the largest English-language markets around the globe. If you’re particularly interested in legal technology, watch this space. We’ll be doing a round-up of the best legal tech sites very soon!

UK Legal Blogs

UK Criminal law blog 

Authors: Dan Bunting, Sara Williams, and Lyndon Harris

Founded by three lawyers after a conversation on Twitter, the UK Criminal Law Blog  aims to tackle the lack of public understanding and misreporting in media about the criminal justice system and sentencing.

Family Lore

Author: John Bolch

Family Lore was founded by John Bolch back in 2006. Three years later Bolch left practice to take on writing full time, publishing a book and running a second website. The blog posts a mix of news digests, musings on topical issues and legal updates, with occasional humour and irreverence.

Barrister Blogger

Author: Matthew Scott

This award winning legal blog is direct and simple in approach. Scott is not afraid to share his decisive opinions on legal issues dominating the news sphere, and has a way of setting the scene of well-read (and some not-so-well read) legal stories that keep you engaged from post to post.

The UKCLA Blog

Authors: Various

The United Kingdom Constitutional Law Association publish this highly credible resource of expert comment and analysis on matters of constitutional law in the UK and further afield, with articles cited in academic writing, official publications and in the news media.

Jack of Kent 

Author: David Allen Green

Green offers his liberal and critical perspective on law and policy in the UK. Since mid-2016, the blog has had an almost exclusive focus on Brexit, though Jack of Kent came to broader public attention back in 2013 with its coverage of the #TwitterJokeTrial and its implications on governing free speech and publishing.

European Law Blog 

Authors: Various

A legal blog that does exactly what it says on the tin – this is a concisely written resource for updates and commentary on EU case law and legislation. It also has a Brexit countdown clock on the homepage, in case anyone needs reminding.

Kluwer Competition Law Blog 

Authors: Various

Produced by Kluwer Law International, this blog updates with information and news on international competition and antitrust law, written by practising lawyers, academics and economists, covering Europe and also the US. They actively encourage interaction and invite guest contributions.

Techno Llama 

Author: Andres Guadamuz

Cyberlaw is one of the fastest moving areas of law, and there’s plenty of interesting analysis and thought pieces over at TechnoLlama, with emphasis on open licensing, digital rights, software protection and virtual worlds. Articles are often whimsical, with a serious message.

USA Legal Blogs

Lawyerist

Authors: Various

What began as a one man legal blog turned into a full-blown media company, home to the largest online community of solo and small-firm lawyers in the world. Articles, survival guides and podcasts share ideas, innovations and best practices, with a particular focus on technology.

Ward Blawg

Authors: Various

Founded by Gavin Ward, the blog has expanded to include legal guides and resources for UK audiences. There are sections on areas of law including commercial, property and criminal law, offering a mix of advice, analysis and news updates.

Associate’s Mind

Author: Keith Lee

Lee began his blog back when he was in law school, and it has grown to be one of the most popular legal blogs in the US. He focuses his content on helping lawyers new to the profession transition from amateur to professional and to navigate the on-going changes in the industry.

Gen Y Lawyer 

Author: Nicole Abboud

This series of podcasts interviews a new generation of professionals who are doing something a little differently in the profession. Abboud talks to millennials both inside and outside of the legal profession who are going after what they want on their own terms.

The Law for Lawyers Today

Authors: Karen Rubin, Tom Feher, Frank DeSantis, guests

Published by Thompson Hine LLP, TLLT is a resource for lawyers, departments and firms focusing on legal ethics, the ‘law of lawyering’, risk management and legal malpractice, running a legal business and other related topics.

Law 21

Author: Jordan Furlong

With the tagline ‘dispatches from a legal profession on the brink’, Furlong analyses the trends and changes that are occurring or that are indeed overdue in the legal industry – from women in law, to technology and market pricing.

Australia Legal Blogs

Barnold Law

Author: Bruce Baer Arnold

If you’re looking for detailed updates on a range of topics such as Australian health law, data, technology, theoretical discussion and, at the author’s own admission does of irreverence, irony, indignation and honestly-held opinion, this is the place to start.

LGBT Law Blog 

Author: Stephen Page

Page is a leading divorce and surrogacy lawyer committed to championing the rights of and interests of LGBTI people in Australia. His posts tackle discrimination parenting, property settlement, same sex domestic violence, and same sex law issues. This will be one to follow as Australia goes to postal vote on same sex marriage laws.

TressCox Lawyers Blog 

Comprehensive and expert thoughts and opinions from the TressCox Lawyers team, this is a great example of how a law firm can use blogging effectively. The blog focuses on corporate, employment, insurance and litigation law.

India Legal Blogs

Legally India

Authors: Various

Legally India provides a platform to bloggers of all legal and writing experience to express themselves and communicate with the wider legal community in India. The blog is regularly updated with breaking news, analysis and original content about the Indian legal market.

Livelaw

Authors: Various

Livelaw is a comprehensive legal news portal, which in their own words is set to redefine the standards of legal journalism in India. The website also reports on foreign and international law and provides a range of resources for practicing and studying lawyers.

iPleaders

Authors: Various

iPleaders aims to help make the law more accessible, by researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, workshops, and interactive software for legal entrepreneurs. They publish on a range of blog platforms on subjects such as sports law, outsourcing, marketing and advertising, and business law.

Law and Other Things

Authors: Various

Law and Other Things publishes informative court and case updates, news articles, interviews, book reviews, petitions and announcements relating to India’s laws and legal system, courts, and constitution.

 

Finally, we couldn’t go without including Obelisk’s own thinking space! The Attic offers a weekly mixture of thought pieces on working culture in the legal industry, profiles of consultant and event speakers, and guidance on career development for lawyers and legal consultants looking to work differently.

What legal blogs do you follow? How do they help you in your work? Send us your recommendations at laure [at] theattic [dot] london and we’ll update our list…

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The Legal Update

Data Protection for Lawyers: Keeping Information Secure

Obelisk consultant Alisha McKerron Heese looks at the big issue of data protection in the modern age, and how lawyers can make sure the information they handle is safe and compliant at all times.

Compared to other areas of the law, Data Protection is relatively new and data protection for lawyers is fast becoming an essential business tool. It arises in many different aspects of day-to-day business and has undergone rapid change over the years, particularly with the development of technology and the increase in flexible and remote working.

Data protection and security affects us in more ways than we can imagine as lawyers. All service providers must make sure they keep their client data safe, but as lawyers often deal with extremely sensitive personal information, we must be particularly careful as to how we handle it, and we need to keep up to date with new regulations. It is these qualities which make it an exciting area of the law and at the MBL Conference on Data Protection & Security, we heard six speakers examine current and future developments in data protection laws and procedures. Here are the topics to look out for to keep legal information secure in your legal practice.

#1 Data Breaches and Exposure

Over the last 10 years, there have been several infamous instances of data breaches from companies such as HMRC, T-Mobile, Sony, Yahoo, TalkTalk, Sage and Three. According to Dr. Stephen Hill, a trustee director of the Fraud Advisory Panel, most of these stem from poor business practices. It seems that the greatest security risk to organisation is outdated software, and indeed, outdated employee knowledge of technology and security measures. 

Steps to prevent breaches: Data security needs to be in the hands of experts, which often means outsourcing data storage and security to a specialist company. As Jared Staver of Staver Law Group states in this Digital Guardian article, offsite servers that are encrypted, protected and have teams of people ensuring their security are the safest way to store data.

Some other simple, practical ways of guarding against these incidents include:

  • Making use of the blind copy (“BCC”) function when emailing
  • Ensuring that confidential information is removed from documents before sending
  • Emails/documents are sent/faxed to the correct address
  • Paper work is kept secure and regularly checked.
  • To find out if your email has been breached Dr. Hill recommends breachalarm.com, which allows you to check passwords for any email account to check if they come up on lists of passwords stolen by hackers.

#2 Regulating Data Protection: Privacy and Electronic Communication

What about the areas that are out of our individual control? Advertently or inadvertently, valuable information is being collected and stored when we use electronic devices to communicate with one another. As technology advances, what is being done to ensure continual protection? To see if your browser is safe from tracking, Dr. Hill suggests using panopticlick.eff.org to analyse how well your browser and add-ons protect you against online tracking techniques.

Rosemary Jay, one of the leading lawyers in the area of data protection, told us that the E.U. Commission has proposed a draft regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications (“PEC”) which contains specific provisions on cookies, online marketing and the use of content and metadata.  

  • The proposed regulation will expand and tighten our existing legislation which makes it unlawful to, amongst other things, transmit an automated recorded message for direct marketing purposes via a telephone, without prior consent of the subscriber.  
  • The proposed regulations will not just apply to telecom companies, but also to Over The Top (OTT) providers such as WhatsApp.
  • PEC will cover services such as public WiFi (found at, for example, a hotel or a bar), and services provided by “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices.  Stricter rules will apply to WiFi location tracking.
  • Access to websites will no longer be conditional on accepting tracking cookies. The aim is to get rid of cookie banners and make it a requirement that browsers contain cookie controls so that users must choose those settings as part of the installation process.

The proposed regulations have some way to go before being finalized and approved and it is likely that the timing will not coincide with the GDPR timing, as discussed below.

#3 GDPR & Technology: Friend or Foe

One need look no further than the dark web to ascertain the value of stolen data, where large amounts of data are auctioned. It’s a comfort to hear from Robert Bond, voted Best Lawyer in the U.K. for the practice area of Information Technology Law 2017, that protecting personal information is nothing new. It’s the scale of that task in modern times that has moved the goal posts. Without a doubt, the advent of the computerised world has complicated matters, because it has enabled large quantities of data to be stored and exchanged and the connections with the data subject, to be lost in the process.  

Greater protections are due to come into effect in May 2018 with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  GDPR widens the definition of personal data, while applying the same principles that currently apply.

  • Stronger evidence of consent to handle personal data is required and there is a greater emphasis on transparency and accountability.
  • Your existing rights have been strengthened and you will have more rights–including the right to rectification, to request all your personal data be erased, to restrict processing, the right to have  personal data made portable so that it can be transferred–for example to a third party–the right to object and rights in relation to automated decision-making and profiling.
  • The proposed PEC will compliment the general GDPR with its specific rules.  

#4 Biometrics and Data Protection

What about rights in respect of information derived from us physically?

Apple’s latest phone allows you to use your thumb print to get into your phone. British e-passports now have additional security features including a chip with the holder’s facial biometric. Other examples would include iris recognition and DNA. This type of information, called biometric data, falls within the definition of personal data and is protected by the GDPR.  But there is another type of information closely associated with biometric information, called bodily-generated information, which is personal information generated by an individual directly. This may not be used as an identifier, in the sense that it allows you to identify who the individual is e.g. heartbeat, body temperature. Consider the increasingly popular activity trackers people wear on their wrists and the data they generate.

Does the GDPR cover this type of information? According to Mrs. Jay, overall the controls of GDPR should help minimise the risks associated with the use of biometric data. Whether it covers bodily generated data is a somewhat unclear, but best practice is to assume that it does.

#5 The Cost of Data Protection Compliance

What happens if an individual asks a public authority to provide him/her with a copy of all information that it holds on him/her? As Rory Dunlop explains, requests like this can be a lengthy and expensive exercise for any organisation on the receiving end.  Bear in mind that personal data extends not only to electronic data, but paper too. Thankfully there are instances where non-compliance is acceptable, for example in the context of excessive costs or vexatious claims.

The exponential growth in the collection and sharing of personal data has raised a number of questions as to how we can get a handle on, and own, our data. Fortunately, proposed legislation offers a number of regulatory frameworks to solve this problem, such as the GDPR which comes into effect in May next year and the PEC which is in the process of being finalised. Painful as they may be for companies, I believe that these frameworks are a force for good that will enable us to gain more control from large internet companies, like Facebook and Google.

Communicating securely and protecting client data are our top priorities as lawyers, so it is vital to invest the time and finance to ensure our systems and knowledge stay up to date with the changing digital landscape.

Alisha McKerron Heese is a multi-jurisdictional capital markets and corporate lawyer. She has magic circle and investment banking experience and is looking to transition from the voluntary sector back to fuller employment in the legal field. She is a magistrate and a freelance lawyer.

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How To Keep Up with Company and Commercial Law

In our new series The Legal Update, we look at trends and new training requirements across different sectors in the legal industry. Here, we look at company and commercial law.

New tax and insolvency rules, not to mention on-going political changes in U.S. and U.K. affecting global trade and exports have increased the demand for corporate lawyers for both local and multinational companies. Of course, it means for those providing legal services in corporate law it is more important than ever to be ahead of the curve in your expertise and resources.

Company and Commercial Law Today

Companies across the world are shoring up their corporate law resources due to significant changes in tax laws, insolvency and bankruptcy procedures, and ever-growing uncertainty about export and trade legislation in Europe, the U.K. and the U.S. In-house corporate legal departments are growing rapidly and while they may be getting bigger, the emphasis is on efficiency; a larger workload means that corporate lawyers are still being required to do more, often with less.

As more companies outsource their legal work with alternative legal providers, this means that freelance lawyers have to stay on top of their game and keep up with their field. For commercial lawyers, how to keep up with company and commercial law is a must-do in their business development list.

Online Resources for Company and Commercial law

Staying abreast of these significant global shifts in the sector can be difficult when dealing with daily pressures and demands of your case workload. Whether you are looking to update your knowledge within your current area of work, or are looking to expand your expertise in order to change or broaden your career scope, there are some useful online resources to help you home in on key focus areas.

  • To keep abreast of country specific corporate governance updates, often the first point of call is government websites – although they can often be time consuming to search! The gov.uk Publications section has a fairly straightforward search function allowing you to enter key words and filter by date for the latest government reports, research and guidance.
  • Lexis Nexis is the go to for many corporate lawyers and compliance departments. It offers a huge range of resources on corporate law and allows you to monitor regulations and compliance programmes, plus you can track legislative activity by setting alerts.
  • The European Commission publishes updates and minutes of meetings by the Informal Company Law Expert Group in its company law and corporate governance section, including a recent consultation on digital solutions and efficient cross border operations.
  • Keep an eye on your local bar association’s website, most of which now offer a range of engaging and digestible media to keep you informed on the latest trends and changes in corporate and commercial law. For example, The American Bar Association has several links to online resources, such as Law Technology Today’s series of webinars focusing on legal technology such as the Cloud and mobile law offices.
  • Oxford University Press have a continually updated library of legal resources for company, commercial and business law for more in depth research, including the upcoming Mayson, French & Ryan on Company Law 2017-18 and Baskind Commercial Law Concentrate 4e.
  • Justis is a subscription service that provides content on case law and legislation from numerous common law jurisdictions, with exclusive content not published elsewhere online. This includes a bank of commercial law cases from 1994-present.
  • EY Global Updates on Corporate and Commercial Law are a good starting point to research any updates in a region that might be new to you. It breaks down new legislation and updates into summaries by country.
  • The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium offers access to a range of resources for newly qualified and practicing corporate lawyers, from job descriptions to guideline documents and recommended online reading. They have also held an annual conference in the US for the past two years covering the current hot topics in the sector.
  • Inner Temple Library has interactive online courses and lectures available for anyone returning to the profession or is generally looking to brush up on their expertise. Both in depth several-week long courses and short introductory tasters are available on a broad range of industry-wide topics.

Legal Workshops & Training

At Obelisk Support, we work to ensure our legal consultants stay at the top of their game, with workshops and access to training providers and courses for constant development and up to the minute knowledge.

For example, we recently held a masterclass event on getting the most out of the online legal research platform of LexisPSL. Participating in events and discussions about your sector are integral to growth as a lawyer. Sharing your own experience is as important as hearing from other experts and thought leaders, and we actively encourage thought sharing through our Friday Live events and other workshops on sector-specific topics and trends in the legal profession. We also offer our consultants a discount on MBL legal courses online.

For more information on how we can help development your knowledge and experience as a corporate lawyer, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.