Back to the Renewables Future

So, while trying to find out what the difference between a megawatt and a gigawatt is, I had a thought…how much power, in gigawatts, did it take to power the Delorean in “Back to the Future”?
According to the esteemed Doc Brown, it was 1.21 gigawatts, the power being provided by the nuclear reaction of plutonium, unwisely stolen from terrorists.
According to the Scottish Government (p3), as at July 2011, Scotland had 4.2 gigawatts of installed capacity from renewable sources such as wind and wave power.

We could send Marty Back to the Future three times over. And completely avoid the need for stealing plutonium from bad guys.

Nice!

Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 Regulations and Order introduced

Scheduled to come into force on 2nd July, the new regulations for the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 will move Scottish law firms one step closer to the ABS model currently in place in England and Wales. From 2 July 2012, the Scottish Government will be able to begin accepting applications from those bodies wishing to become approved regulators, presumably the Law Society and other legal professional bodies.

Legislation referred to in the Scottish Government press release is linked to below:

Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 (Ancillary Provision) Regulations 2012 (draft)


Licensed Legal Services (Specification of Regulated Professions) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (draft)


Licensed Legal Services (Complaints and Compensation Arrangements) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (SSI 2012/153) 


Licensed Legal Services (Interests in Licensed Providers) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (SSI 2012/154) 


Licensed Legal Services (Maximum Penalty and Interest in respect of Approved Regulators) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 (SSI 2012/155) 

Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 (Commencement No. 2 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2012 (SSI 2012/152 (C.14)) 

Keeping (t)ABS on England

It’s all change at the moment in Englandshire law firms, and what happens in England no longer stays in England. Alternative Business Structures (ABS) are all the rage, and after a gradual run up period where firms could register interest in the conversion to ABS status (with mainly personal injury firms (PI) and smaller firms doing so, some large businesses such as BT and the Co-operative group being an exception), now they’re actually real – the first three groups to be approved as ABS’ were announced on the 28th March 2012.
Mid tier and larger firms in England seems to be adopting a “wait and see approach”, watching how the smaller, more adaptable firms (and also therefore possibly those who are more hungry for a cash-injection) fare before committing themselves to any tie-ups with investors. The existing large bodies like the Co-operative Group are big enough, and well funded enough to push on and expand their existing legal services in their own direction.
The reaction to this business option in England is likely to be a good predictor of the impact of the Legal Services (Scotland)Act 2010 in Scottish law firms. The Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 will allow 49% non-solicitor ownership of law firms in Scotland when brought fully into force. The regulations involved in the implementation of the 2010 Act are being drafted at the moment, and will be consulted on in two lots, in the Spring and Autumn of 2012.
The recently concluded Scottish Government consultation on ABS in Scotlandfound that most respondents favoured the inclusion of accountants as “regulated professionals” (those who are authorised alongside solicitors to own the majority, 51% share of the company), which raises the prospect of law firms co-owned by solicitors and accountants. It’s yet to be decided what the actual professions authorised to have ownership of a law firm alongside solicitors will be.
And what sort of changes are likely for cross border Scots/English law firms? Will it be more beneficial to become an ABS under one regime than the other? And how do law firms traditionally owned by, in effect, their staff, change to a culture where they’re partially owned by, and accountable to, external funders?
So, to see what a future Scottish law firm could look like, for the next year, we can watch to see how English firms deal with it…
Popcorn, anyone?

Thing 16 – Advocacy (apparently, not advocaat, nor for drinking)

You may well have seen my grumpy-day post earlier on advocacy and activism, so Thing 16 is going to be a meandering thing around some of those points.

I still don’t feel comfortable with telling people how fabulous libraries are, just because I’m a librarian. I have no more expertise on whether a local public library is useful for anyone than I do about the local Council gym – I don’t use either one, so I’m not going to tell anyone that they should be using either one of them, as I am not informed or knowledgeable. Nor do I have any motivation to use either service myself – they just do not have anything to offer me.

I don’t keep this blog in order to show my employers what work I’m doing. In fact, keeping a blog when working in a special library can be quite difficult, and I very rarely refer to specifics of the the work I do on the blog, unless it’s to illustrate a wider principle, I am very careful not to refer to anyone or anything that goes on in my workplace, or anything that could be seen as in any way commercially sensitive. So it’s not really a great tool for advocating my good work to my employers, since it doesn’t actually involve me blogging about my work!
I suppose what it may do is demonstrate to them that I am aware of the wider issues in my profession, and am involved in them, and hence show my own professionalism, but that doesn’t do much in terms of getting the enquiries dealt with!

My advocacy for my own service comes from being involved, helpful, and anticipating the needs of the service users. There is no need to go cartwheeling around in front of staff, with a “We Have A Library!” banner, as they already know we do, and they use it a lot. I learn about the needs and special interest areas of users, keep an eye out for materials or even events I think they would be interested in, and send it those things on to them. I go to external events when I can, to pick up tips on things that might help improve the library service we’re providing, aspects of Scots law, and also just to improve my own knowledge of tools and resources we use or have access to. Like this upcoming Scran event – I’d like to go along, as old photos can sometimes be useful in determining historical uses of land for planning issues. It’s not part of my job to attend out-of-hours events like this, on my own time, but I do it because it increases my knowledge and skills, in order to improve the service.

I also have pretty much the same feelings as Tina regarding the To Do options for this Thing – none of those activities appeal to me. As Tina says, I’m not being deliberately negative, but I just don’t have any urge to get further involved in any sort of advocacy than I currently am.

The legacy of the snail

Last night, through nefarious means*, I was invited to the launch of a series of short films on the Session Cases, by the Scottish Council of Law Reporting. The Session Cases are the most authoritative series of law reports in Scotland, and they are created and published by SCLR.

The videos are 5-6 minute segments, available on a dedicated YouTube channel, which outline the history and effects of the Session Cases on Scots law, how the Session Cases developed, how they are put together and by who, and how they are used in court. The video clips themselves are well produced, high quality films, with interviews and commentary from everyone who uses the Session Cases, from the judges and Advocates who write, review, edit and use them in court, to the Advocates Library staff who maintain the collections of Session Cases for the Advocates, and the Session Papers that support them.

Definitely a useful resource for law students, law tutors, those who have to source Session Cases for users, and anyone interested in how Scots Law works.

And, of course, the Paisley Snail makes a regular appearance throughout, in all its ginger beery glory.

One thing I’d disagree with though – the videos said how wonderful it was that most Session Cases were now available as pdfs of the original pages. This is good because it means that the judge and counsel are looking at literally the same page. I’m sorry, but I don’t see this as a good thing: why is a pdf of a page better than an electronic version? They’re often difficult to read, and when passed between parties as an attachment to an email, they aren’t searchable in the same way as an electronic version is. Insisting on pdf versions is a backwards step, and it probably wasn’t disputed because the judges who were interviewed in the videos are the group who prefer the pdf versions.

*It appears that I was invited because I’m technically in charge of my professional group. The inviting system was somewhat odd – the audience consisted mainly of the people starring in the videos, and the people who had made the videos. No actual end users seem to have been invited (I was one of 4 law librarians in the audience, and we all seem to have been invited because we’re allegedly Proper Professionals (me) or were in the video, or were linked to SCLR), and I’m unsure how SCLR are planning on publicising this to their target market, which I assume is law students/law schools.