John Flood’s Random Academic Thoughts (RATs)

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I was struck reading a blog post by Crispin Passmore (late of the SRA and LSB), Utah turns US reform party into a carnival. The Utah Bar and Supreme Court thoroughly investigated ways of increasing access to justice through the process of regulatory reforms. Their commission contained, among others, Gillian Hadfield and Margaret Hagan. One doesn’t normally associate the US legal profession with this kind of activity. Because law, lawyers, and the legal…
The Financial Times has published an article with this title (£). It’s a bit of a strange piece, and a number of the commenters agree. The gist of the piece is that unless big law firms change their ways of working–long hours, lack of promotion prospects, especially for women–they are doomed. Their hegemony is no longer assured because upstarts can overcome barriers to entry and poach white shoe work. The example given is Kirkland & Ellis…
Adrian McCullagh and I have put up a new paper on SSRN, titled, Blockchain’s Future: Can the Decentralised Blockchain Community Succeed in Creating Standards?  The abstract reads: Nakamoto proposed a new solution to transact value via the internet. And since 2009 blockchain technology has expanded and diversified. It has, however, proven to be inefficient in the way it achieves its outcomes, especially through the proof of work protocol. Other developers are promoting alternative methods…
I have put up a new paper on SSRN comparing Rake’s Cleaver Greene and Horace Rumpole of the Bailey. They offer contrasting views of professionalism, among other things. To make sense of this I use Mary Douglas’s ideas of Purity and Danger (or taboo).  The abstract reads:  My thesis is that lawyers regularly fall into two categories in various media— either saints or sinners; heroes or villains; conventional or maverick, representing the sacred and the…
Back in 1993 Andrew Caiger (now a barrister in South Africa) and I submitted a paper to the Modern Law Review, which was then under the editorship of the late Simon Roberts. The topic of the paper was lawyers and arbitration in construction disputes based on a series of interviews we had done. Simon was a wonderful editor helping me through the writing process with encouragement, never short, well, almost never. One of his requests…
There’s been a dramatic rise in “unexplained wealth orders” in the UK. And East European oligarchs are finding Britain a less accommodating place to hide their wealth. These are nasty orders because if you can’t say what the source of your money is, then it’s confiscated. According to the Financial Times a survey of 59 law firms by the Solicitors Regulation Authority shows the firms have done little to manage money laundering risks and 26…
(Thanks to Persuasive Litigator) I have put up a new paper on SSRN titled, “Legal Professionals of the Future: Their Ethos, Role and Skills“. It is part of a new collection being edited by Professor Michele DeStefano and Dr Guenther Dobrauz-Saldapenna, New Suits: Appetite for Disruption in the Legal World, to be published by Stampfli Verlag this year. The abstract reads: The paper examines the nature of professionalism and knowledge that underlie the legal…
Years ago, 1983 to be precise, a young and precocious academic published his first book. Barristers’ Clerks: The Law’s Middlemen has had a varied and storied life. As it’s out of print I have let it be downloaded for free from my website but that’s out of action until I redesign it. So I have transferred the book to my SSRN page where you can download it. If you don’t want to do that, it’s…
Richard Susskind has recently published a short paper arguing people don’t want professionals, they want solutions and answers. The paper then criticises professions for being more concerned with themselves than the people they serve. All in all, there is little wrong with this except the hoped for outcome–an outcomes-based set of professionals–won’t happen. Susskind is first and foremost a lawyer and a technologist. He isn’t a sociologist which is why I forgive him his…
After receiving many kind comments on our paper, “Professions and Expertise: How Machine Learning and Blockchain Are Redesigning the Landscape of Professional Knowledge and Organisation”, I have substantially revised it and put the new version on SSRN. I want to thank in particular Professor Laurel Terry of the Dickinson Law School at Penn State University. I hadn’t realised how many convoluted sentences I’d written until she pointed them out and she came through with…