Attending Dignity in Dying’s AGM, learning about cyber security with Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, employment updates from Mishcon de Reya and talking rock ‘n’ roll with Kilburn & Strode
It has been just over a month since I joined SJ and I hope that you have been following my news stories. I have certainly enjoyed covering such an eclectic mix of topics. The opportunity to report on so many diverse areas of practice and issues was one reason I was drawn to the title.
As the quintessential roaming reporter, I will be writing the news, along with my colleague Laura Clenshaw, and blogging about my week of events. The past seven days have been particularly busy but nonetheless enjoyable.
Last Tuesday, I attended Dignity in Dying’s AGM to gain insight for this week’s story on Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill. I was in awe at the passion displayed, not only by the organisation’s board members and panel speakers, but also the assembled members who have a clearly defined goal of allowing terminally ill people to end their own suffering if they choose.
Listening to emotional tales of suffering and loss, as well as evidence that similar legislation in other jurisdictions have proved a success was extremely thought-provoking. If Dignity in Dying can muster their troops and lobby hard, it stands a good chance of persuading those peers still sitting on the fence to pass Falconer’s Bill in the Lords.
The following evening, I visited Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co (I admit I kept referring to them as Wragge & Co) for a discussion on the challenges presented to business from the threat of cyber attacks. After Edward Snowden’s leaks, Heartbleed and Target attacks, companies and the general public no longer know whether to trust social media, e-commerce or their own governments. I’ll admit that after Wednesday’s event, neither do I.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening (besides the wine and canapés) was when Daniel Cuthbert, COO of SensePost, gave a live demonstration of just how much your smartphone is broadcasting about you all day every day. Needless to say, from now on I will be keeping my Wi-Fi strictly turned off while roaming the streets of London, just in case Cuthbert is lurking round the corner.
Friday saw me out and about but not for long, it being our busy press day. I returned to my roots by meeting Carrollanne Lindley, Flora Cook and Ben Scarfield from intellectual property firm Kilburn & Strode. Besides bringing me up to speed on all the latest in the world of trade marks and patents, they filled me in on the firm’s in-house rock band, The Black IPs.
The band was awarded second place by a panel including Sir Robin Jacob, Mr Justice Arnold, and Lord Justice Lewison in the CIPA Battle of the Bands last year and will return this year to defend its title. It also won third prize in the fiercely contested ‘Law Rocks! Unplugged’ charity night, part of a series of events aimed at raising over £20,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. I’ll be following The Black IP’s in its search for musical success.
The new week began with a tour of the Supreme Court with SJ’s editor in chief, Kevin Poulter. We also received a comprehensive briefing on the court’s year annual report as it approaches its fifth anniversary.
Access to justice?
Mishcon de Reya hosted its popular seminar on key developments in employment law, which I was pleased to attend. Many of you followed the event via our Twitter feed. Sarah Keeble and Greg Campbell were on hand to discuss a number of topics including shared parental leave, flexible working for all and the impact of Employment Tribunal fees.
On the point of tribunal fees it was noted that since being introduced there has been a huge reduction in the numbers of claims issued – 79 per cent fewer between October and December 2013 than the equivalent period in 2012. As one of our Twitter followers suggested, if the applicant rate is down and success rate has not increased, there may be a suggestion that access to justice is being impaired.
So that was the week that was. Next time I’ll be reporting on the Law Society’s summer party at the National Portrait Gallery.
This blog was first published in the Solicitors Journal on 16 June 2014 and is reproduced with kind permission.