I pack my bag, and in it I put a Marriott hotel in Orlando, ILTA, the Practice Direction to Part 31 CPR, a document retention policy, a litigation support training course, an e-Disclosure conference, some needles and haystacks, All Souls College Oxford, and a wet labrador. There’s a varied lot of things to do while everyone else is away.
I am gazing down from my room onto the Lazy River swimming pool of the JW Marriott Hotel in Orlando. The sun is shining, but it is early morning, and the tall building’s shadow falls across the pool. There is no-one in it yet, no-one around at all. Across the pool there is a fountain in a lake, and beyond that the golf course. Soon I will go across to the Ritz-Carlton where breakfast will be served in the lobby-level ballroom, before attending the first ILTA session of the day.
Grande Lakes, Orlando
I’m not actually. In Orlando, I mean. I could be, perhaps I should be. But I’m not. I am here in Oxford, enjoying the English summer. If the place is a mess and smells of wet labrador, that’s because my wife is floating about in a yacht off the Croatia coast and the dog and I have just got soaked taking an English summer walk.
The aerial photographs from Microsoft Maps, the heavily-illustrated web site of the Grande Lakes Orlando hotel and conference complex, and the ILTA 2007 programme allow me to describe exactly what it looks like in Orlando and to replicate much of the actual experience of being at ILTA 2007. It is missing the people, of course, but I can catch up with them at LegalTech in New York in February. Meanwhile, I sit here trying to make silk purses out of their press releases.
There is quite a lot going on here, one way and another. The clients and would-be clients are all away (some of them, no doubt in Orlando) but it is a good time to do those things which don’t need – indeed are not helped by – interaction with others. I don’t just mean the traditional holiday tasks of archiving and paper-shredding and smashing up old hard drives (have you ever tried to do that?) but some interesting things for when everyone comes back.
I have been asked to put together a training programme which combines an explanation of the nuts and bolts of data-handling with an analysis of the CPR and how it could be made to work better. At present, very few UK solicitors firms regularly exchange documents data. There is a perception that it is all very expensive, and the courts are not really geared up to make the relevant orders. This is an opportunity to change all that – more about it in due course.
The Practice Direction to Part 31 CPR
That in turn involves getting to grips with some good basic tools, the sort of thing which any litigating firm can afford, for importing electronic data and reviewing it cost-effectively. That is time-consuming stuff and not at all compatible with ringing phones and a pinging InBox. It is solitary work, and the only chap I need to speak to about it is….. in Orlando.
Then there is a lot of writing to do. I started a series called Needles and Haystacks some weeks ago, based around a long article in the SCL’s Computers & Law magazine. The article, about an e-Disclosure exercise which seems to have gone disastrously and expensively wrong, at least from the perception of the recipient of the data, raises any number of questions, including questions about the true effect of the Practice Direction to Part 31 of the CPR as well as about the use of technology. The first two articles begin here. The series was interrupted by various other things and the rest will follow shortly.
There is a client’s web site and blog to keep up with. I have done the web site for years, but the blog is a relatively new venture whose main purpose is to provide feeds for the web site. The pair together make quite a good Google-trap. I have done the same web-site-plus-blog combo for myself (that is what you are reading here) and both sets, mine and the clients, have seen a 20% increase in web hits as a result. The downside is that blogs need regular feeding to keep the Google-monster happy.
Then (thanks to Google and the blog) one of the big conference organisers got hold of me – I would have missed that if I’d been swanning about off the coast of Croatia. The upshot is an invitation to speak to a large audience of corporates on a subject of my own choosing – the mutual expectations of clients, lawyers and the courts when litigation strikes. The topic headings include putting your document retention policy to the test, what the lawyers will expect from you, what you in turn should expect from the lawyers, and what the courts will – or at least ought to – expect from both of you. This ties in nicely with the training course mentioned above. Again more about this in due course.
Lastly, and by way of recreation, I have started a new web site of my own. Not yet published, it will be a kind of haphazard, informal Baedeker of Oxford, with photographs accompanied by some history and description, with links to on-line maps – Ordnance Survey, Microsoft Maps and old Ordnance maps which show what the area looked like in 1898.
All Souls College and the Radcliffe Camera
When that is done, someone sitting in the JW Marriott Hotel at Grande Lakes Orlando will be able to describe exactly what it looks like in Oxford, as if he were there.