On a day when The Lords ruled that the Serious Fraud Office acted lawfully in halting the investigation into BAe and nearly forty years after the invention of email (which pre-dated the invention of the internet), the Bar Council has decided to harness the power of the digitial information era to communicate with members.
I am grateful to a particularly switched on law librarian for providing the text of the article from Counsel magazine: The Email Initiative – proving, yet again, that law librarians are vital even in the age of electronic information.
The article in Counsel magazine throws up some surprising points.
1. Any professional body worthy of its name needs to communicate effectively with its members. The Bar Council is contacting members to inform them of the Email Initiative. They hope, soon, to have harvested 75% of the profession’s email addresses. Interestingly – “Many expressed surprise that the Bar Council did not have their email address already. Others were sceptical about disclosing personal email addresses: a few were hostile.”
2. This is a time of increasing change in the legal services sector… effective interest representation and regulation depends on efficient communication, ‘but communicating directly with 15,000 individual members of the Bar is currently a challenge’.
3. The initiative is not intended ‘to deluge’ the Bar with messages or clutter up in-boxes. The Bar Council does understand how ‘frequent email blasts’ can induce communication fatigue…. but the Bar Council wishes ‘to harness the power of technology’ to put them in touch with developments etc etc… consistent with the “one Bar’ approach… The Bar Council notes that its website contains a wealth of information ….. but ‘busy practitioners may not have the time to browse the site to search for material’.
4. Direct email would have several advantages…. better communication etc etc etc. There were also ‘regulatory’ benefits.
5. “What stands in the way of this direct communication is the simple absence of a comprehensive set of personal email addresses for the profession. Only half of the profession has provided email addresses. The plan is (a) to require disclosure – but this has disciplinary implications in the event of failure to disclose or (b) to encourage more members to provide email addresses voluntarily.
Well… there we are. The Bar may be thirty plus years later than other early adopters of information super highway benefits – but….. a new dawn may soon rise in the sky and in-boxes will ping in Chambers throughout the land and barristers…. may not, as the old saying goes, be wiser, but at least they will be better informed.
I suspect that the voluntary approach may not bear much fruit – barrristers being the independently minded lot they are – and… some were ‘hostile’ to the idea, after all!. Some say… that some barristers do not have email addresses. I know one barrister who says that he doesn’t get any emails at all – a source of pleasure to him – because he does not have an email address.