Monthly Archives: September 2009

No return to the status quo ante?

The stock market and some of the respected commentators think the recession is over. Others, including the Bank of England, are not so sure.

You could be forgiven for being confused!!

Recession means different things to different people and businesses are affected in different ways. Interest rates are at an historic low and may remain at this level for some months, possibly years. Some lawyers believe the good times are just around the corner. They point to increased M&A and restructuring activity and some City lawyers point to an increase in litigation instructions. Others admit that life has by no means returned to normal (pre Lehman Brothers/Northern Rock etc). Some areas of activity are at a very low ebb. Unemployment is rising and I do not expect the recession to be truly over until businesses are hiring again and law firms stop deferring training contracts and making lawyers redundant. It is noticeable that some firms are having more than one bite at that particular cherry.

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50 not out!!

As the English cricket season draws to a disappointing close, with the Aussies hammering England in the One Day Internationals and taking some (but certainly not all) of the gloss off winning the Ashes, I found I had nothing better to do but to  turn my mind to the CPR! (For the non lawyers among you, the Civil Procedure Rules and not Canadian Pacific Railways or Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation).

I was surprised to find that the CPR is 50 not out. Since their introduction in April 1999, there have been a number of changes to the CPR and the 50th update is mostly due to come into force on 1st October 2009…

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Too early to say

Asked in the 1970s what he thought about the effects of the French Revolution, Chinese Premier at the time Zhou Enlai  famously replied, “It is too early to say”. 

Currently there are a large number of reports from a variety of sources that the end of the recession is here and that the good times are set to roll again. 

The Stock Market has surged above 5000, house prices appear to have risen or at least stopped falling and there are tentative reports that law firms have been through the worst (and it was pretty awful according to some reports) and that recruitment just might be in the up again.

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Third party funding and the credit crunch

By way of a postscript to the preceding post ‘Too early to say‘, I have noticed at least one upturn in activity. 

The market for Third Party Litigation Funding is increasingly in the news, whether because of cases like Stone & Rolls v Moore Stephens in the House of Lords in July or probably because there is a feeling that there is some mileage in this form of funding and money to be made by those who are prepared to do the hard work and raise the funds/take the risk.

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A twitter autumn on its way

As autumn approaches and the dawn chorus starts at a time more closely associated with my normal waking up time, I am still waiting to hear of litigation involving a tweet. 

Tweets may seem inconsequential but they could easily be disclosable. The scenario is obvious. A is involved in a deal with B and as part of the communication chain they exchange not only e-mails and texts but tweets. Litigation ensues and the tweets are deemed to be disclosable. 

Unlikely? Maybe, but impossible? I don’t think so.

[I am indebted to LegalSparrow for pointing out that the phenomenon of ‘twitigation’ is already upon us, see his/her comment here]

Opus Interruptus

In his article for The Harvard Business Review Death by Information Overload Paul Hemp cites research that reveals not only how our personal wellbeing but also our productivity can be affected by the ever increasing volume of information available to us. 

Hemp claims that the sheer volume of information to be assimilated threatens our decision making and our ability to innovate, and perhaps he is right as I am commenting on what I have read rather than being innovative! 

Apparently in one study people took 25 minutes to return to work after being interrupted by an incoming email!! Fortunately, we need not take this too seriously to heart because, guess what, there is technology on hand to assist with the problem! 

By a combination of clever software which seeks to limit and prioritise the emails you receive, and taking control of your “addiction coupled with a change of culture in the workplace” you can help to cure the malady. 

Sensible and appropriate use of technology to assist in unravelling the issues in a case as early as possible makes sense for litigators faced with ever increasing amounts of data from clients and third parties. Use of the technology must always be proportionate (and that is another issue) but failure to use it in appropriate cases is likely to lead to information overload. 

Disproportionate perhaps!  Just like the reaction of an overworked associate who has just received another email interruption?

A drop in the ocean?

Last weekend’s Sunday Times Business section carried an article by Danny Fortson and Kate Walsh about the advisers working on the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

The pictures at the top of the article showing a grim faced Dick Fuld, former Chief Executive, and one of the workers who lost her job that fateful day almost one year ago brought home what a momentous event the collapse of such a major investment bank actually was. The banks in the UK were deemed to be too big to fail and have been bailed out with huge amounts of taxpayers’ money but Lehman Brothers went under owing an eye watering $613 billion.

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At large in Peterborough

Visiting Peterborough last week to talk to a group of lawyers about Smart e-Discovery,  I found myself walking past the magnificent ancient cathedral in the centre of this otherwise (some would say) unexceptional modern town. With an hour to kill before the presentation, I wandered into the cathedral ..   [and those of you who don’t share my fascination for this subject may skip the next two paragraphs!]

It contains the tomb of Katharine of Aragon. Katharine was the youngest surviving child of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, who unified and created modern Spain in the 15th century. She married firstly Arthur, Prince of Wales, eldest son of King Henry VII, and when he died young she married his brother and became the first of the six wives of Henry VIII. Henry ultimately rejected her when he became infatuated with Anne Boleyn…

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