LawCamp Leeds: 7 April 2009

Embarrassingly, I am not the first to blog this event. That honour (if such it be) goes to Nick Holmes of Binary Law (see "Brainstorm on Web Law at LawCampLeeds"). And while you are there look at some of the other things on Nick's blog like the Free Legal Web which I commend and to which I hope shortly to contribute.  
Nick also has the honour of organizing what appears to have been the first legal BarCamp anywhere and certainly the first in the UK. And that event was to float, develop and promote the Free Legal Web.

"Now what is BarCamp" I hear some of you say. Nothing to do with barristers except that this barrister is helping to organize one.   Probably the best introduction to the BarCamp concept is provided by Wikipedia:
"BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants."
If you have never actually been to a BarCamp you can get an idea from the videos of previous BarCamps listed under "Need an Example" on the BarCamp front page.   Here's what to expect:

"When you arrive, go to the pre-registration table, where you can claim your nametag (and sometimes T-shirt). Make your way into the eatery, where you may find breakfast (if organizers or other participants have brought some to share) and lots of people to socialize with.

We start by gathering together in one space and going around the room to introduce ourselves with three tags to describe what we're passionate about (or want to talk about). There will also be some announcements. After this, people who intend to lead a session will add their session info to an empty schedule grid (may be moved around early on). If you see a session you're interested in, go to it.

After a couple of sessions, you will have a significant amount of downtime for lunch. Feel free to wander around and socialize while or after you eat. More announcements will be made, and any newly proposed sessions will be announced.

After the sessions are finished, please stick around to clean up. It's generally as simple as throwing trash away and taking down signs, but all the help is appreciated.

If you brought wireless equipment or power strips, find a coordinator and ask where they're most needed. Please set your wireless router to a unique SSID (e.g.- barcamp_xxx), to avoid networking conflicts (nasty with a dozen routers in the same room named the same thing). Always choose one of channels 1, 6, or 11 to avoid interference between nearby channels (the coordinators may have a preferred choice to avoid interfering with neighbours too). Also, if you can, please lower the radio output of your router. There'll be plenty of WiFi cloud to go around without everyone blasting out at full power."

Now the man who invented BarCamps (well FOOCamps really - "FOO" standing for standing for "Friends of O'Reilly") also coined the expression Web 2.0.  In his article "What is Web 2.0" Tim O'Reilly he explored the new generation of websites in which the website becomes in effect the visitor's computer. Familiar examples include Google Docs which liberated word processing, spreadsheets and presentations from the standalone computer or local area network or the calendar program "Upcoming".   The facility to use a website as a computer have given rise to hundreds of new businesses - social networks like facebook and twitter, self-publishing sites like Lulu, information sites like Wikipedia. Not all these new businesses are American. Liquid Accounts, for instance, an online bookkeeping service comes from Huddersfield and GB Offices a virtual office application from Bradford.

One of the curious things about Web 2.0 is that it has taken so long for most lawyers to catch up with it.   It is obvious that there will be legal issues such as, who is entitled to user generated content, who is liable for any loss or damage arising from user generated content, what price privacy and data protecting, and loads more, but lawyers just aren't thinking about them.   One of the reasons for that is that the issuers are rather inchoate, rather like the technology.  Law is reactive rather than proactive.  But lawyers can't ignore these issues indefinitely because one day the techies and business people will be seeking their advice. To understand the issues we lawyers will have to understand the technologies and the web 2.0 business models. And the best way to do that is to use BarCamp, one of the tools that the industry uses.   

When planning BarCamp I gave some thought to the venue.   The NTI was the obvious choice because it already hosts Open Coffee, Ignite UK and other BarCamps.  Anyway you can find more details and sign up at


Anonymous said…
It looks interesting for me...
ashwini said…
Nice post..

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