Friday 6 August 2021 Edition 68
Diary news, commentary, insights, appointments and e-vents from the legal world
SHORT THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
Yes, but what’s lurking behind the rainbow?
No doubt all of us clapped for the NHS. But however wonderful individual medics (of all kinds) might be there is a danger that the NHS gets away from real scrutiny by virtue of its quasi-sacred status.
Sadly one of the most egregious examples of this is the case of Ian Paterson who performed countless unnecessary operations over many years. Acting for many of Paterson’s victims is Pryers Solicitors which points out that between 2000 and 2010, a number of patients and colleagues raised concerns about Paterson’s practice but it wasn’t until 2011 that he was suspended from operating. A subsequent Government report acknowledged, “It is not simply a story about a rogue surgeon… it is far worse. It is the story of a healthcare system which proved itself dysfunctional at almost every level when it came to keeping patients safe, and where those who were the victims of Paterson’s malpractice were let down time and time again”.
Tamlin Bolton, a Senior Solicitor at Pryers who is representing some of Paterson’s victims, observes, “It’s abhorrent how Ian Paterson abused a position of trust to assault innocent and unknowing victims. The fact that more patients continue to be added to his list of victims a decade after he was suspended, is both shocking and appalling.”
So just how much blind trust should we give the NHS? That might be one of the questions that surfaces in the course of the Covid inquiry.
IN THIS WEEK’S EDITION
+ THE LEGAL DIARY
– Legaltech Platform to Pay Out for Small Businesses?
– China Counterfeit Crisis
– Remote Control of law firm management
– Letting Go of London (Try Reading instead)
+ APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK by Eversheds Sutherland and Hunters
THE LEGAL DIARY OF THE WEEK
Legaltech Platform to Pay Out for Small Businesses?
In a move whoch will be warmly welcomed by small businesses around the country legal technology is being applied to that problem that bugs them the most – late payments.
Today LawtechUK (a collaborative coalition involving the Ministry of Justice) has published a feasibility study and proof of concept for a new technological approach to the frustration of late payments via an ‘SME online dispute resolution’ platform.
Devised through a partnership between legal, technology and alternative dispute resolution experts from the University of Oxford, Oxford Computing Consultants, Resolve Disputes Online and Jur, it is hoped that the new platform could empower UK businesses to resolve +200,000 disputes over a five-year period, accounting for £3.4bn in debt value. Moreover, it could cut the time taken to resolve disputes to between six and eight weeks.
The work is supported by the well-know academic and consultant Richard Susskind, a LawtechUK Panel member whose 2019 book Online Courts and the Future of Justice (OUP) is, by chance, also published today in paperback [https://lnkd.in/dy-eEWht].
“This study offers a roadmap for the future of legal dispute resolution – an inexpensive, straightforward, online alternative to a traditional hearing but connected to the courts in case a formal judicial determination is needed,” says Susskind. “The proposed system offers SMEs an easier and more affordable solution to sorting out their late payment problems. The result – greatly increased access to justice for small businesses.”
Despite the involvement of the Ministry of Justice in LawTechUK it is stressed that the study is independent of Government and does not represent Government policy. Nonetheless the study anticipates that a first release of the online platform could be brought to market within nine months. It recommends a private and public sector co-funding structure, setting out how the platform could become financially self-sustaining within four years.
For the full report go to:
China Counterfeit Crisis
Rouse, the Far East experts all matters related to IP, is blunt in the latest edition of its excellent INSIGHT e-magazine about the role of China in the counterfeit market.
“CHINA CONTINUES TO BE THE GLOBAL SOURCE OF COUNTERFEIT GOODS EXPORTED WORLD-WIDE AND TO SE ASIA,” it proclaims but then goes on to say that China’s role in counterfeit trade cannot be overseen.
Staggeringly counterfeit goods from China are estimated to make up approximately 12.5 % of China’s total exports and over 1.5 % of its GDP. “Several comparative analyses rank the region as the primary source of global counterfeit goods (up to 75% of all counterfeits). Data also suggests that the size of the trade of counterfeit goods from China into SE Asia is approximately USD35 billion. The volume poses significant harm to developing economies within South East Asia where local businesses and investors suffer heavy losses due to such activities.”
That pretty well sums up the ambivalence the West must feel towards this business behemoth. It does not play by the rules but it is too big to shun. Tough one.
If the past eighteen months has been a period ‘flying by the seat of the pants’ then – in the aftermath of Covid – managing how teams of lawyers work effectively together into the foreseeable future is going to require a new skill set. That’s why recent research from consultancy Ezra, which provides digital coaching, is particularly interesting. What it shows is that communication skills and emotional intelligence are going to be the most sought-after skills in the post-pandemic workplace.
“Communication is the ability to talk, listen and share information effectively, while emotional intelligence is the ability to read between the lines and understand a deeper, unspoken need or expectation,” said Nick Goldberg,Founder of Ezra. “Both are going to be incredibly important as we return to the workplace after such a disruptive year and with the threat of COVID-19 remaining.”
Of course these have always been important but they are going to be more important than ever before in situations where lawyers might not be directly seeing and meeting each other for days on end (and for many months into the future). So no surprise then that communication ranked as the top area of improvement for businesses across the UK, USA, and China. Meanwhile on a national level, emotional intelligence ranks as the most important factor in a number of countries from France to Cambodia.
What was surprising amongst the findings, however, was that decision making came at the bottom of the list of skills required. Just 3.8% of global businesses consider it to be the most important outcome of coaching in the current climate. But then maybe after so much recent turbulence perhaps businesses which have survived are feeling pretty confident about their decision-making skills. Let’s hope so.
Letting Go of London
With fewer people coming to work daily in the City and West End it may well be that some of the towns within commuting distance might see a surge in business for local law firm offices – especially if they are part of London networks.
A good example is Reading which not only has highly regarded local firms such as Clarkslegal but also offices of outfits like BDB Pitmans which operates across London and the South-East from Cambridge to Southampton.
In fact business is thriving in Reading and the firm has just announced a raft of new appointments so that it will be up to 80 lawyers serving clients in the Thames Valley and beyond. Strong local relationships are vital and the firm boasts an extended partnership with Reading FC Women’s team which sees them as the back of shirt sponsor for the next three seasons.
Meanwhile not too far away in Winchester are Capsticks (five offices outside London) and DAC Beachcroft (ten offices outside London) plus several other big legal names in the southern counties. Watch out for increasing traffic in these locations as lawyers opt to go local.
APPOINTMENTS OF THE WEEK
KYLE B. WEIDIE has joined Eversheds Sutherland as the firm’s Global Head of Digital Marketing in the firm’s New York office. He joins from Kobre & Kim, LLP where he was Global Head of Analytics & Digital Marketing. Prior to that, he spent 14 years in the Marketing & Business Development Department of Crowell & Moring LLP.
In a joint statement Erin Meszaros, Chief Client Service Officer (US), and Judith Green, Chief Communications & Executive Projects Officer (International), said, “We are excited that Kyle has joined us as his deep understanding and background in digital marketing will help drive our ‘digital first’ approach. Communicating effectively in a digital world is crucial to our global firm’s high client service standards. Kyle will focus on coalescing our global digital presence into a unified platform.”
REBEKAH FRENCH is joining Hunters as an International Development Consultant. It is an interesting development for someone who was formerly with the Royal Air Force, seeing active service in Iraq and Afghanistan deploying among other places to Helmand Province with Royal Marines Commando.
Having left the armed forces, Rebekah moved into the private security sector where she has worked closely with Government Agencies, International Charities, International Aid Agencies and International Development Corporations. She has spent a large portion of her career on project deployments in Eastern Africa and the Middle East and as such has a keen cultural awareness and understanding of the regions.
NO E-VENTS this week, dear reader, everyone’s on staycation.
It may be August but the Legal Diary continues until a short break in the early Autumn. So if you still have any ‘Diary-type’ news or insights, comments or analysis do contact us at
Meanwhile, enjoy the rain!
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