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The Supreme Court case on the triggering of Article 50

Today the landmark hearing over whether the Government can use the royal prerogative or requires Parliamentary approval to trigger Article 50 began in the Supreme Court.

On occasion, the press can be accused of exaggerating the significance of a particular story, but in this instance the constitutional importance of the case cannot be overstated. This was evidenced by the world's press gathered outside the Supreme Court this morning and all 11 Supreme Court Justices hearing the case together. 

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All Bar none

It is extremely encouraging that key legal organisations are looking to improve social mobility within the sector - hopefully, this will lead to the UK legal profession as a whole becoming more diverse and welcoming.

The proposed model for barrister training would open up the profession to those who are currently unable to meet the high costs associated with joining the Bar. It is important that the UK's legal experts reflect the make up of its society - lawyers should come from all walks of life and this is a positive step towards achieving greater diversity.  

Read Byfield Consultancy's 'Opening Up or Shutting Out' report on social mobility in the legal profession

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A match made in heaven?

In an interesting new development for online legal services, Legal Futures reports on lawyer match-making service LawBid, which says that its users are mainly clients with family law issues. Kid Harwood, the founder, speculates that legal aid changes or general financial issues may make the site attractive, since it may be cheaper than following the traditional route of engaging a solicitor.

The site is funded through annual subscriptions by solicitors, paying £295 for a standard package of five cases per month and £495 for 10 cases per month. Solicitors can get a single case per month for free.

Another consideration is efficiency - Harwood said “Clients using Google can get hold of a list of four to five solicitors, but they have to call them to explain what service they’re after.” 

In addition to this, contacting a legal professional may be intimidating for many people who have not previously engaged a solicitor, since there is often misunderstanding around fee structures - frequently the public fear that they will be charged for simply calling or emailing a solicitor. 

Hopefully services such as this will remove some of the mystery and opaqueness surrounding the legal profession and encourage other firms to become more open and transparent about their fees, while at the same time fostering a culture of approachability. 

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A new employment trend at law firms?

A new trend may be emerging in the legal market: law firms are hiring their C-Suites from outside the sector. The evidence is there - the most recent example of this is leading international law firm Ashurst, which has hired its new chief financial and operations officer from broadcasting company UKTV. 

Although unusual, this isn't the first appointment of a non-lawyer as a member of the executive board of a law firm. It will be interesting to see what implications this employment trend has for the legal profession. 

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The robots are coming - lawyers need to improve their emotional intelligence

Peter Rouse, in his best-selling book, Fragile: Mastering the Relationships That Can Make or Break a Career, and a Firm, says that the end of lawyers is not in fact nigh - they need instead to focus on building relationships and developing emotional intelligence. 

Despite a few rejoicing at the new technology pervading our lives, many within the legal marketplace appear to be fearful of what lies ahead - including, inevitably, automation of many back office functions and simple legal transactions, for example, the chatbot assisting individuals who wish to challenge parking tickets. Increasingly, we may see AI starting to carry out complex legal tasks as well - IBM is leading the way with its Watson computer. 

Rouse points out that lawyers can best secure their future by focusing on their relationships with colleagues, collaborators and clients that engender trust. Those who recognise and anticipate the advance of AI will develop their capacity for emotional intelligence, including personal as well as organisational authenticity and integrity, that sets them apart from what a computer can deliver.

Read Peter's guest blog post on the Byfield website

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