FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF CIVIL LITIGATION BRIEF (OR CONFESSIONS OF A RELUCTANT BLOGGER)

Mediatelegal

Today marks the first anniversary of the setting up of this blog, tomorrow marks the anniversary of the first post. It gives an opportunity to recap (and reminisce). 

CIVIL PROCEDURE IN JUNE 2013

When the blog started civil procedure was a slightly obscure subject. Litigators had to know about limitation, service of the claim form and be mindful of peremptory orders. However on the whole all other aspects of litigation would come out in the wash.   When I started the blog I knew that some changes were afoot, this was evident from the third ever post, on extensions of time.  But I had no idea that issues of procedure were going to dominate litigation in the way that they now do. I could not have envisaged the “Mitchell mayhem” which developed into “Mitchell madness”.

HOW THE BLOG STARTED

One of my colleagues, Andrew Wilson had, for some time been urging me to go on a thing called “twitter”.  I knew little about twitter (other than people were getting sued for things they said on it) and even less about blogs.   However Andrew is very insistent and persuaded me to start (he does mention this now and again) .

I assumed that blogging was some kind of strange activity. However when Kerry Underwood stepped in to help at a Chamber’s conference I was organising we  met up for a “power breakfast”.  Blogging was not mentioned, but I thought “Kerry has a blog and he is relatively normal”. Eventually I was worn down and I decided, in addition to twitter,  to “re-instate” a monthly column I wrote for the Solicitors Journal for 17 years. That column had dealt with the old “automatic striking out”  debacle and the introduction of the Woolf Reforms.  I imagined I could do (more or less) monthly updates of the impact of Jackson. How naive I was. (There has been more than a post a day for the past year).

HOW THE BLOG DEVELOPED

I did not know that there was a whole community of well established legal bloggers and I got early support and encouragement from Chris Dale and Jon Williams  in particular, not to mentioned the “relatively normal” Mr Underwood.

Issues of sanctions and procedure quickly began to feature quite heavily in reports and anecdotal evidence.  One of the beauties of blogging is that these can be reported, and commented upon, instantaneously.  They have become a central feature of the blog.

LAW AND T’INTERNET

I had no idea that google was a central part of legal research. There are two million legal related searches in the UK each day. The number of people who arrive on the blog following a search (between 500 – 700 on weekdays) and (100 – 200 weekends) show that a fraction of them reach here. The blog has (as I write) 818 followers who are posted new material directly and are not included in these statistics.

However I was surprised, and happy, in the early days of the blog when it had 40 followers and was getting 50 visitors a day. I am also surprised to be introduced now as “blogger” (rather than practising barrister or author).  For instance when I did a number of webcasts for CLT their marketing department put  “blogger” as the most prominent aspect of the advertising (I felt).  It was the blog that featured most heavily when I was introduced at the Law Society Civil Litigation Conference, and,  at the Association of Cost Lawyers annual meeting.

MOST POPULAR SEARCH TERMS

People are always interested in this.  The most popular terms is “Gordon Exall blog”, there are other variations (based on mis-spellings of Exall). “Mitchell” is the 4th most popular search term, “form H” and “precedent H” are 5th & 6th (they would be 3rd if combined).

MOST POPULAR POSTS

The regular links to other posts and articles section at the top of the blog is the most read, closely followed by the “Mitchell Watch” section.  However, and this may be surprising, the article on how to prepare a trial bundle is 3rd. Every (working) day it gets numerous clicks.  The article on serving witness statements late is 4th closely followed by the links to guides on filling out Form H. 

MOST COMMON QUESTIONS

There are two common questions.

Where does the information come from?

From the internet mainly.  However people are very kind in sending me material or pointing cases out.  I like this a lot.  I encourage it.  Please tell me and send me anything of interest either as a link or case material.  Sometimes I have covered it already, but don’t be embarrassed. I’d rather be told 10 times than miss it once.

Also if you have written an article or post and want a link in the regular links section send me an e-mail or tweet.  Some people do this already. It helps me a lot.

How much time does it take?

Or “have you given up the practice of law?” as some people ask. Far from it. I tend not to blog/write during the day, regarding this as “work time”. On average an hour or two in the evening. (Most of my Instructing Solicitors read the blog and, of course, all my normal working hours are devoted to their papers).   Many readers have noticed that  the posts come out late at night.

WHERE DOES THE BLOG GO FROM HERE?

Much may depend on the Court of Appeal decisions that we are waiting for.  My guess is that procedure will never again take the back seat it once had.

  • With the exception of the posts detailing the arguments in the Court of Appeal sanctions cases I write all the material on the blog, and that will continue.
  • I am hopeful that matters will cool down so we can look at matters other than sanctions. That is improving the quality of information and procedure, rather than highlighting problem areas.
  • However there is no doubt at all that the posts with the highest readership are, effectively, “if you don’t know this you will be sued”.  I suspect that this theme will continue for some time to come.