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This is the law’s fastest cross-examination where the respondent has to fork up an answer in anything between zero and 140 characters. Today’s latest interviewee is barrister, Reuters correspondent and long time legal-tech blogger Charles Christian.

Charles Christian is one of the world’s leading commentators on law and technology and we’re honoured to have held an interview with him. Here it goes:

Brian John Spencer: What are you up to right now?
Charles Christian: Right now I’m in a cocktail bar in downtown St Paul, Minnesota

BJS: Why and where did you choose to read law?
CC: Ludicrously I wanted to be a politician so I did my Bar finals at the College of Law in London

BJS: What does the law mean to you?
CC: In practical terms – altho I once used to write a lot of legal columns – it taught me a discipline for analysing problems

BJS: What about the internet?
CC: The Internet is the essential communications channel of the moment – we had paper, we had telegraphic, now we have the interweb

BJS: When did you get online?
CC: I was first online with Compuserve email in about 1982 and launched my first website in 1996

BJS: When did you jump onto Twitter, LinkedIn etc.?
CC: First joined Twitter in 2008 but not really active till 2009 – LinkedIn, I’m on it but I find it boring

BJS: What do your friends and family make of you Tweeting?
CC: Mrs C aka @janeitlegal also on twitter & in the words of Gary Numan “my friends are electric” so they are here too

BJS: Why do lawyers have such a mistrust of technology and social media?
CC: It’s the Olde Worlde Legal Mindset – they still see law as a 19th century profession not a 21st century service industry

BJS: Should we encourage more legal silver surfers (older generation people)?
CC: Age has nothing to do with it – law attracts more than its fair share of Young Fogeys

BJS: Are you a blogger?
CC: Yes – I run 2 blogs: LegalTechnology.com day job, the other UrbanFantasist.com for my fiction

BJS: Thoughts on blogging and what it can do?
CC: I’m biased as I’m in the publishing & communications industry – it’s how your reach your audience in the digital age. If you have a message & a market, you blog

BJS: Social media and the rule of law, do they make a happy couple?
CC: No because the law is always playing catchup & is about 15 years behind the digital curve

BJS: What about social media & law practice – what role does social media have to play?
CC: Lawyers need to communicate with clients on the platforms clients use – in 2 years Facebook-type communications will be the norm

BJS: Reaction to Keir Starmer’s draft guidance for social media prosecutions please?
CC: It highlights the fact the law cannot keep pace with the digital age – we need to rethink how we make tech-related laws

BJS: The French government wants to censor hate speech on Twitter – good or bad?
CC: The French are the French but I don’t see them as a major player in the digital world

BJS: Have you been trolled?
CC: Yes, by a crazy person with a crazy agenda

BJS: Thoughts on legal apprenticeships?
CC: I’m so old I had to pay my pupil master & his clerk 50 guineas to train – apprenticeships are just another distraction from fact legal training is in a mess

BJS: Should law school teach digital literacy?
CC: They need to realise there is more to digital literacy than teaching students how to do Lexis searches but by the time most students hit law school they are already literate

BJS: What about primary schools, should they teach coding and more fundamental computer literacy skills?
CC: Teachers lack the teaching skills & by the time the kids grow up, those skills will be outdated – I think they already embrace general computer literacy well enough given limited resources

BJS: Should law school teach commercial acumen like marketing and business development?
CC: A big YES – lawyers need to realise that law is only one very small part of running a successful legal practice today

BJS: Any personal online/social media ambitions?
CC: I’m in the middle of a website rebuild & developing more apps – I don’t set myself targets because in 18 months they’ll be obsolete & I’ll need to reinvent myself

BJS: Advice for aspiring solicitors and barristers?
CC: Accept that law is a 21st century business & run your practice accordingly – if you don’t fall asleep at night still clutching your iPad you are not trying !

Follow Charles Christian on Twitter here.

Netlaw Media and Charles Christian of the Legal Technology Insider are hosting the  ‘LawTech Futures 2013 – The Future of Legal Technology’ at the QEII Conference Centre, London on the 30th April 2013. You can read more about it here.

This interview was also published on the Twitter for Law Firms blog.
Brian Spencer is an Elephant Creative Associate, based in Belfast. He runs his own freelance practice, working with Northern Ireland law firms, helping them to understand the complexities of social media and digital marketing. He works with mainland UK firms through his association with Elephant Creative and regularly contributes to the Elephant Creative blog.

 

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  1. JanetteB 24th August 2015 at 09:25am

    Now there’s one I haven’t heard before, “Young Fogeys”, love it!