The need for speed

I had a few minutes of fun today checking my reading speed on this site. Probably a not very accurate test, but it does check your understanding of the text you’ve just read, by questioning you on aspects of it at the end of your reading time. I got 100% accuracy each time I tried it, and a very fast reading speed each time. I wanted to average out my speed, but there were only 3 sample texts, and repeating them wouldn’t be very accurate, so I had to settle for the average of the 3 texts: 754 words per minute.That seems to put me above “college professors”, and below “high-scoring college students” (ok – that seems slightly back-to-front, but hey-ho!) on their scale. 

Now, although I’m actually generally a very fast reader anyway, I think that years of doing legal research has actually trained me to be a more accurate skim reader. I may not necessarily understand the details of what I get asked to research (I’m not a lawyer, so the esoteric points that they may want to find out more about are quite often entirely new areas for me), but I can usually pick out the relevant material from the content quite quickly.  I don’t have time to read everything I’m looking through in-depth, but in the process of skimming, I end up assimilating some basic information about the topic too. It means I can retain or discard materials quickly, and collate only the relevant stuff to pass on to the enquirer. Of course, it also means I can get a response together more quickly than if I had to read every item in full…and everyone is happy when they get a reply to their query fast!
And the best bit? I only have to do the skimming – the really hard bit, when you have to read the whole thing, and interpret how that relates to a specific situation, is down to the enquirer to do. And *that* is why I would never want to be a lawyer – too much thinking involved!  😉 
 

Warning: may include Scots law material. Somewhere.

Ah, FindLaw UK, a shiny new website, for general public access to law, and solicitors. Sounds like a good thing, and in principle, it is.

But I have to go back to a traditional moan: Scots law differs in many areas from English/Welsh law. The Findlaw UK website almost exclusively refers to E/W law, but doesn’t actually state this. There are a few references to where there are differences, but these can be deep in the articles e.g the core section on divorce procedure refers entirely to E/W law, with only a related article alongside outlining that there are different procedures in different jurisdictions.

The Personal Injury section refers you to the website of Community Legal Advice, which offers “free, confidential and independent legal advice for resident of England and Wales”.

Buying and Selling Property is purely about E/W law, I can’t find even a hint of the Scottish differences. Bankruptcy? Alcohol and Crime? Dispute Resolution Law? Criminal Law? Litigation? All English/Welsh, with links to national agencies for those topics.

Only the Law and Government section discusses in any depth the jurisdictional issues, including a Devolution section, so they do know that there are differences. But there’s no link from this core information to the subject guidance sections. The few references to Scots law are also often lifted from DirectGov, who refer to the Scottish Government as the Scottish Executive, but FindLaw UK’s own material refer to it as the Scottish Government: using the two terms is confusing for those who don’t know the difference between the old and new terms for the body.

Of course, a lot of these areas of law I don’t regularly work in, so can’t be sure how accurate the site is in those, but the ones I do know about seem to generally have no signing or flagging of the jurisdiction of the content, which, if you’re aiming a site at the general public, is not a great plan.

So FindLaw UK, if you’re going to market yourself as being able to provide “legal information, access to quality solicitors and a community to help you make the best legal decisions”, then please, remember to actually do that. Nobody can make their best legal decision if the information they’re basing it on relates to the law of another country.

Supreme courting…or winching*…or…something.

Iain Nisbet of the Govan Law Centre (and excellent, and entertaining Absolvitor blog) has referred to a (somewhat snarky) blog post I did back in October about the UK Supreme Court website in the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland (JLSS – not to be confused with a terrible manufactured boy band)

While it’s great to see from Iain’s review that things on the site have improved (and I’m blushing at the thought of having any sort of influence other than what craft class to run in the evenings), it did remind me to double check an issue with the cases that was still outstanding in November 2009, when I looked at the site again.

Case [2009] UKSC 1 E, R (on the application of) v Governing Body of JFS & Anor (Rev 3) doesn’t actually exist on the Supreme Court site. You can find it via BAILLI, which shows the 3 cases the court decided in October. Searching for “[2009] UKSC 1” on the Decided Cases area doesn’t bring it up, nor does using the name. The only way to find it is a general search for the exact phrase / citation (which is fine if you know it), which brings up a link to the PDF version of the case. Methinks it’s perhaps time to put that in the…erm…Decided Cases section? It is kinda important, what with it being the first ever judgement from the new court….

*For the non-Scots:

winching Noun. Courting, dating. [Scottish use]

Source

The Supreme Court website – what’s the point of it again?

Something @infobunny was trying to find out this morning…she was looking for what she believed to be the 2 cases decided so far. Where would they be? Well, any sane person would think “Ah, the Decided Cases section, that’s where they’ll be”. But no, sanity does not prevail here! Obviously, where you should be looking for decided cases is in the News and Publications section, where you’ll find a link to a topic called Judgments. Here, you’ll find a case. Just one case. The other is mysterious, and not to be accessed by the likes of us. It may be real, it may not. There’s no way of confirming that from the mish-mash of the website. Although @johnhalton has suggested that the delay in judgments going where they’re meant to be is due to the fact that it takes a while to transcribe from the vellum onto computer…

And of course, why would anyone want to be able to pick up an RSS feed of any important areas, like, ohhh, News? Judgements? Anything? Silly me – what we’re meant to be doing is taking regular trips to the site, to make sure we don’t miss out on any silly little snippets from THE HIGHEST COURT IN THE COUNTRY.

Jeez people – get with the technology, and try doing crazy stuff like putting things in the right place, and letting us keep an eye on information without a daily visit?

Remembering we have a different legal system

The lovely Scots Law News blog has pointed out a few teensy issues on the website of the new UK Supreme Court.

I particularly like the thought of judges being tried in their very own court…wonder if there’s specific crimes for judges? Other than the usual crossdressing (only a fashion crime) and frequenting “saunas” (sometimes a crime, depending on the activity indulged in…).
Any suggestions for judge-specific crimes?

Badgers v. Solicitors

I think in this case, the badgers win

Apparently they’re asking for a solution for their badger problem. I do happen to know that, although it’s illegal to move a badger without a proper licence, or “interfere” with it and its sett, if a young badger does happen to move in somewhere inconvenient (say…under a joiners workshop), and try and establish its home there, that a period of full-volume dance music / cheesy local radio, played through speakers in that workshop while in the course of using it for the established business seems to be a good encouragement to those wandering young badgers to move along to a more serene location to establish themselves in… 😉

CaseCheck expands coverage

CaseCheck issued this press release a few days ago, and it’s a great service, so I thought it was worth popping on here:

CaseCheck Launches UK-wide Service – Free Access to over 5000 legal case summaries and more

Scotland’s leading online legal information provider, CaseCheck, has linked up with Law Brief Publishing. This collaboration with the English legal publisher will give users free access to a database of more than 5,000 case summaries. The resource is popular with the Scottish legal community and has ambitious plans for the rest of the UK and beyond.

The free web-based resource now covers all major areas of law across the UK and EU, and includes expert opinions covering a wide variety of specialist subjects. Visit www.casecheck.co.uk to find out more.

CaseCheck is the brainchild of legal geek, Stephen Moore, who gave up practicing law for a career in legal information technology. Moore combines his work as a technology consultant with a number of leading law firms, with development of the CaseCheck concept.

Moore explains: “As soon as we launched we began getting great feedback. In spite of there only being 10,000 lawyers in Scotland the traffic picked up really quickly. Revenue grew on the back of that traffic and we became committed to seeing how we could develop the idea into other jurisdictions. It was just a question of finding the right partner.”

Law Brief Publishing was set up by Tim Kevan, a barrister, writer and entrepreneur. Commenting on the tie-up, Kevan said: “From the start Stephen really impressed us with his dynamic and innovative approach. CaseCheck has the potential to be an extremely important application and we are delighted to be helping with that. In return Stephen is able to give our extensive back catalogue of case reports a new audience.”


I love the fact that Stephen Moore is a self described “legal geek”! 🙂