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Back in June, I wrote about the long delayed COVID-19 app, which was supposed to form a key part of the contact tracing system, famously hailed by Boris as “world beating”. The app was eventually launched on 24 September and has, according to government figures, been downloaded almost 20 million times. Although two million people have been ‘reached’ by the NHS Test and Trace service, it is not known how many of these are due to the app. However, despite getting a very high number of downloads compared to equivalent apps in other European countries (notably France which only…
FutureLearn FutureLearn provide structured online learning courses in partnership with hundreds of universities and other bodies. These cover all subject areas and range from short courses, through professional accreditation programmes, to university degrees. Courses are divided into “weeks” of prescribed activities. You can learn by watching videos, listening to audio and reading articles. Many of these steps are followed by short quizzes to help you check that you have understood. They may be started at any time after they are published (and can be done to any timescale) and are free to access for their duration plus 14 days, regardless…
The Internet Newsletter for Lawyers was launched in the late 90s as there was at that time a thirst for guidance on what this new thing called the internet was and what it could offer the lawyer. Today we all take the internet for granted and few concern ourselves with what it actually is, even fewer how it works. In fact a 2019 survey by HighSpeedInternet.com found that, although 86 per cent of respondents said they understood what the internet was, in fact only two-thirds of those gave a reasonable answer; in other words half those questioned did not understand.…
In July 2020, the Law Society Gazette reported that legal industry revenue had dropped to a four year low. With everything else on the decline, this is no surprise. However, not all of the trends initiated by Covid-19 are negative – and some are giving the legal industry a much needed boost, one of which is online reviews. Transforming professional services Online reviews have taken the world of professional services by storm over the last decade. With more and more of us relying on the internet to hold all of the answers, it’s unlikely we’ll make any kind of decision…
The Court of Appeal recently handed down its decision in the case of R v Bridges [2020] EWCA Civ 1058, the first case of its kind in the world dealing with law enforcement use of live facial recognition.  Live automated facial recognition (AFR) is a technology that is overlaid onto facial images in real time. The technology captures biometric features of a face to confirm the identity of an individual by matching the image with a base set of images. The use of AFR by law enforcement globally is increasingly common and has attracted controversy primarily because of the…
Constantly working on branding and IP projects means that I’m always coming up with new ideas on what I can offer clients to help them get more from my service. One example of this is my newest product and forthcoming book, provisionally called Brand Tuned – How to Create an Inimitable Brand to Win Business in a Noisy World. However, one niche that always seems to be hit or miss for people when it comes to return on investment is social media. That’s not to say, I haven’t had some major successes personally, but, on other occasions, a piece of…
The gig economy has garnered heavy criticism since it became an integral part of the world of work over the past decade or so. On the one hand it has been credited with providing flexible work for millions of people unable or unwilling to secure full time employment. On the other hand, it has been likened to a modern form of slavery, with the tech giants as the masters of an online version of Victorian workhouses. What is the gig economy? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the gig economy is: “A labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term…
Currently, each social media platform has its own set of policies regarding what kind of content can be published by its users. Since many politicians are now heavily reliant on these platforms to bolster their support and reach out to new voters, the ability for the big tech deities such as Zuckerberg to decide on the political discourse which can or can’t take place on their networks is highly significant for democracy. Facebook, Twitter et al, may claim to be agnostic platforms rather than publishers, but the reality is that they are de facto gatekeepers of political (and social) debate.…
There have been a couple of interesting developments recently relating to apps on the Apple and Google app stores, both of which potentially threaten self regulation of these platforms. Fortnite sues Apple and Google Epic Games, the publisher behind hit computer game Fortnite, is taking legal action against both the Apple and Google app stores. The app version of Fortnite was removed by both tech giants from their respective stores, as a result of an alleged breach of their policies. Apple and Google charge app developers 30% in respect of any purchases made on their stores. As well as charging…
Digital Technology and the Resurrection of Trust The House of Lords Select Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies has produced an important Report which focuses on a crisis “with roots that extend far deeper, and are likely to last far longer than Covid-19.” This virus, that affects us all, is the pandemic of misinformation and disinformation. “If allowed to flourish these counterfeit truths will result in the collapse of public trust, and without trust democracy as we know it will simply decline into irrelevance.” Alex Walker of the UCL Constitution Unit provides a useful a summary of the main issues
In the last issue of the Newsletter, I made a case for individual lawyers cutting back on use of social media. Let’s now consider some alternative marketing techniques to which firms’ social media budgets can be diverted, which may deliver more bang for the buck. Content You may expect a copywriter to extol the virtues of blogs and articles, but website content is still the most important determining factor for search engine ranking. One well written blog carries far more weight than links from a dozen short tweets, and longer form content is generally a more effective tool of…
In recent months, the internet has been your shop window more than ever before. As we continue to move forward with the easing of personal and professional restrictions, we thought that now would be a good time to update our digital marketing “Top Tips”. Our update is based on our experience of having worked closely with our law firm customers during this trying period and takes into consideration some of the trials and tribulations (and opportunities) that this new normal presents. 1. Ensure your website is fit for purpose Your website should be the beating heart of your law firm’s…
In April 2020, the Financial Times published an article inviting organisations and individuals from the legal sector to join a global hackathon to develop solutions to problems created by the coronavirus pandemic. While some of us in the legal sphere will read this announcement with admiration and excitement, others will be wondering, “what is a hackathon?” Even those who are familiar with the term may question how hackathons can make a difference. These are the questions we’re here to address. For those sceptical of the value hackathons can deliver, rest assured they are responsible for many multi-million dollar investments and…
Alex Heshmaty asks Belinda Lester, founder of Lionshead Law, and Annie Joseph, a trainee solicitor at a top 100 UK law firm, to consider some of the key opportunities and challenges that remote working poses for lawyers. In a world of social distancing, the coronavirus pandemic has lent fresh impetus to the work-from-home movement. Law firms that had previously resisted employees working from home were forced to adapt overnight when Boris Johnson announced the start of lockdown in the UK back on the 23 March 2020. They began rolling out laptops and other equipment and technologies to their employees, prompting…
Remote hearings are here to stay, thanks to Covid-19. That might have happened anyway, sooner or later, but the pandemic has made it both sooner and more certain. On 3 March 2020 the government’s coronavirus Action Plan declared that “The Ministry of Justice’s HM Courts & Tribunal Service have well-established plans to deliver key services to protect the public and maintain confidence in the justice system.” By 23 March the Coronavirus Act 2020 was on the statute book, enabling rules and directions to be made permitting public and media access to remote hearings broadcast via the internet. A flurry of…
We previously reported on a controversial digital services tax (also known as the GAFA tax) which was implemented in France towards the end of 2019, which levies a 3 per cent tax on digital services gross revenue (as opposed to profits) made in France by companies with total worldwide revenues of more than €750 million – of which at least €25 million is generated in France. The aim is to close the tax loopholes which effectively allow large technology firms to avoid paying tax by basing their regional headquarters in tax havens. Around the same time, the Organisation for Economic…