Author Archives: Nigel Hudson

Accountants to dominate Legal Management Service market?

In the past, the threat to commercial law firms from the big accountancy boys may not have been taken entirely seriously. Doubt as to whether the accountants were really interested in becoming legal service main players, or whether they just looked on legal services as part of a one-stop, full commercial advice service, has always been there. A lot of reliance (perhaps too much) was placed on the depth of legal advice that could be offered by law firms in comparison to the accountants. Law after all is the core business of law firms, whereas the accountants, although at a huge advantage in terms of influence through their auditing service, had legal departments that arguably operated more in a support role.

That would no longer seem to be the case if the news from PwC concerning their Learning Management Service (‘LMS’) points to the future of legal service provision.

 

PwC Sets Out Its AI-Powered NewLaw Strategy

The law, commercial law in particular, must now be viewed as data. Data contained in documents, data contained in judgments…data that can be analysed, compared, selected, predicted and assessed. That being the case, the organisations with the greatest amount of data and the resource to process that data accurately will be the major players in the market. As the above article mentions, the big accountancy firms have the greatest reach globally and therefore the best contacts and network among commercial organisations. If they decide to throw their weight behind the use of AI in the provision of legal services then they could easily dominate the LMS market.

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This post from Tim Corcoran’s ‘Business of Law’ blog may seem obvious to some but is actually a very good, concise analysis of the way that business should be done. Any business that is, not just the business of legal services.

In my own field of legal education, which (sadly) is itself a business nowadays, the same principles should apply. And yet I’ve seen first hand in a number of commercial sectors that even to this day, in a world where analytics are ubiquitous and more prevalent than ever before, this is not so.

Business would do well to heed Tim’s advice. Transparency breeds trust and trust delivers longevity and perhaps even more importantly sustainability and success.

5 tips to increase writing productivity

I’m determined to write more in future, starting in the new year. I think it the past I’ve made the mistake of believing there isn’t time to write that crafting a piece, an article, a paper, whatever is something that must be undertaken in hermetic isolation. All too quickly you can succumb to to the farmiliar excuse that there just isn’t enough time amongst all the other tasks of the day and that writing is not a priority. That’s why I found this article on the Evernote blog so interesting. 

5 tips to increase writing productivity

Ten Hypotheses for eLearning

I have to thank my friend and fellow educational adventurer, Jon Harman, for pointing me in the direction of a very interesting discussion document from the International Forum of Educational Technology & Society (IFETS). The document entitled ‘A Theory for eLearning’ lamented the lack of established eLearning theory and called for a deeper understanding of the term and its place in the educational landscape. Although the discussion document was written in 2003, when I read it earlier this month I still found that a lot of the discussion points are still relevant in 2016. ‘eLearning’ is still a term that is poorly defined and used by many to label any learning methodology that involves a computer, whether connected to the internet or not.

The discussion paper begins with a question: What is a ‘theory’? It describes a theory as “a set of hypotheses that apply to all instances of a particular phenomenon, assisting in decision-making, philosophy of practice and effective implementation through practice.” The paper then makes an attempt at defining some common terminology and follows that with a list of 10 hypotheses for eLearning that make interesting reading. I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with every one of them, so much so that they now have a place reserved on the wall of my office alongside my manifesto of educational beliefs.

 One particular hypothesis that strikes a particular chord is:

“Hypothesis 3:

The choice of eLearning tools should reflect rather than determine the pedagogy of a course; how technology is used is more important than which technology is used.”

This is a point that I’ve made frequently throughout my career as a curriculum and instructional designer. You write the pedagogical principles first and then, only then, look for the most appropriate tools to create the ecosystem for learners to learn. Too many institutions buy a shiny new toy first and then look at ways to use it, many of them inappropriate to the programmes and courses they wish to deliver.

Please take a look at the discussion paper and let me know your thoughts. Do the hypotheses still hold true 13 years after they were written? Could they be added to? Is the use of eLearning so commonplace that it has no significantl meaning anymore?

 

 

Keeping up with the amount of information constantly being pushed to you and pulled by you is the curse of being a worker in the modern 21st Century office. The feeling that everyone else knows more than you affects confidence and belief in one’s own ability. The need to keep up with the Jones’s around the workplace adds more pressure to what is already a high pressure environment that we work in.

David DeLong, consultant and coauthor of The Executive Guide to High-Impact Talent Management, writes: “The problem of learning overload in high-skilled jobs is going to get worse, given advances in technology, the increased availability of knowledge, and the relentless drive for performance improvements. The failure to address this phenomenon will have costly impacts: increased risk of burnout, reduced productivity, and time wasted on the wrong tasks. Awareness of the presence and costs of learning overload are the first step to meeting this new challenge.”
DeLong’s article, When Learning at Work Becomes Overwhelming, which appeared recently in the Harvard Business Review makes interesting reading. He makes suggestions regarding management of information overload and puts forward strategies to ensure that one keeps on top of those developments that are essential to the work one does. Recommended.

My 5 legal profession/education predictions for 2016

Tomorrow sees the return to work for most of us and I thought it would be fun to set out a few predictions for 2016 and then review them next New Year’s Eve. So, here goes:

1. Further dissolution of the traditional legal professions

I think this is a fairly safe one to start off with. There’s no doubt in my mind that the repercussions of the Legal Services Act 2007 are still unfolding even 9 years later. Advances in technology and the innovative use of said technology has opened up new frontiers to explore. ABSs and inter-professional firms have not been fully exploited and yet we are stuck with the same definition of a ‘Solicitor’ and a ‘Barrister’. Even CILEx, who have purposely set out to capture as much of the legal services regulation market as possible have not redefined the role of a ‘Legal Executive’ although they have made a determined attempt to expand it to include ‘Paralegals’.

It’s only that term ‘Paralegal’ that defies definition. It is all encompassing and I think that is a good thing. I can see 2016 revealing a further dissolution of the traditional legal professions with the term ‘Lawyer’ or better still ‘Legal Service Provider’ being a holistic term covering a wide spectrum of new and innovative services and occupations. Who regulates those….well, that will be interesting!

2. Increase in CILEx membership

Tied into (1) above but a separate prediction in its own right. This year, 2016 will see the continued increase in CILEx membership as growing ranks of Paralegals flock to join the representative body partly for recognition, partly for representation and partly for regulation. Paralegals will choose to do this and get on with their professional careers rather than chase the pipe dream of someday qualifying as a Solicitor or Barrister. Until the SRA and BSB wake up to realising that their professions need to be redefined, both bodies will see a declining increase in membership.

3. Further development and integration of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in legal practice

This year will see the inevitable development and greater use of AI to provide quicker, more detailed, and more accurate analysis and risk assessment of data held by legal service providers. The human mind simply cannot compete at the speed of computers and neither should it. That is what the computer is there to do. Instead, AI should be embraced as a means of liberating the more mundane, elevating the human part of the equation to a strategic, communicative, and leadership role better suited to the niceties of dealing with other human beings (aka clients/consumers).

4. New roles (for humans) in legal services

Although the words in brackets are a bit tongue-in-cheek, they have a serious note. If we are to leave the more mundane to computers, if we are to embrace AI as I suggest, then how do we adapt? Well I think that the increased use of technology in the provision of legal services will lead to new roles for legal professionals, those roles being ‘Legal Technician’, ‘Legal Systems Developer/Manager’, Legal Database Manager’, ‘Legal Analyst’, ‘Risk Analysis’, etc. Legal professionals in 2016 will start to take an interest in the software development side of things since an understanding of what goes on “under the hood” is essential if you are to use the machine so to speak.

5.Announcement that Kaplan will be the sole assessor of the proposed Solicitors Qualifying Exam

I’ve saved the best, most outlandish prediction until last. Whilst everyone lamented the exit of Kaplan from the LPC provider market, it was a canny bit of business actually. They knew that that market was disrupted, was shrinking, that they could not compete with the larger providers. So, they made a strategic retreat, have taken the opportunity to regroup, and will I think place themselves in an ideal position to bid and possibly win the vacancy to be the SRA’s chosen independent assessor of the SQE. Given that the changes to the route(s) to qualification as a Solicitor are due to be concluded in 2017 (believe that when we see it), it would seem sensible to make an announcement in the year preceding. Maybe then people will acknowledge that Kaplan’s move was pretty smart.

So, there you have it. Five predictions, five stabs in the dark. Just set a reminder for Saturday 31st December 2016 to review these. I’ll either be acclaimed as the new Nostradamus or the new Russell Grant, let’s see shall we? 

Happy new year!