This week’s top 15 legal briefings – 20 July 2014

As recently as 2006, tweeting was the exclusive preserve of birds; and little more than a decade ago, Mark Zuckerberg was a 19-year-old Harvard student having a lot of problems dating girls. Today, there isn’t a human being in the developed world – and very few in the emerging economies – who hasn’t heard of Twitter and Facebook. Love those social media sites or loathe them – and there are far more with the latter emotion than you might think – there is little avoiding them. Although, maintains our correspondent from social media consultancy Totum, English law firms have in large part been doing their best to steer clear. ‘Given the risk-averse nature of the legal profession,’ comments Totum, ‘it is unsurprising that it has not rushed to embrace social media with the same enthusiasm as many other industries have.’ Lawyers are even wary of the ‘business’ network, LinkedIn, owing to a preponderance of you-scratch-my-back references on the site. However, says Totum, ultimately law firms cannot afford to dismiss social media outright. Engaging with the phenomenon provides access to a potentially rich seam of business development. The trick is anticipating just when the big three – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – start to show signs of becoming passé, so you can make an early leap onto the next social media bandwagon. Click herefor more information.

Jonathan Ames
Jonathan Ames

It is probably not a dead cert that if you are a social media junkie you are also an Apple addict – but the odds are fairly short. Steve Jobs’ brainchild from the mid-70s has grown to a point where fans of all ages will queue overnight outside Apple shops in London, New York and even Moscow just to get an early crack at the latest gadget. Apple makes no secret of the value it places in the distinctive design of those gadgets – and now it is increasingly protecting the look of its retail spaces. Lawyers from London law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co report on a recent ruling from Europe’s top court, holding that the layout of a shop may be registered as a trade mark. The decision follows Apple’s successful bid in the US to register a trade mark for a three-dimensional representation in colour for retail store services featuring computers and a host of other gizmos. Apple really is a lifestyle. Click here for more information.

It has been about 40 years since the UK’s intestacy rules were revised, so probate lawyers are eagerly anticipating 1 October when the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 is scheduled to come into force. According to our correspondent from IBB Solicitors, the reformed legislation is a welcome advance; however, families of those who die intestate are still in for a shock, ‘particularly where couples are not married or in a civil partnership’. The main change ushered in by the legislation is that surviving spouses or civil partners will receive a higher proportion of an estate to use as they wish, but unmarried partners will still not benefit. In essence, says our commentator, the changes don’t go far enough. Click herefor more information.

Top five briefings by law firm
Totum: Tweet dreams — social media and law firmsDownload
Schillings: George Clooney defends future mother-in-law against Daily MailDownload
IBB Solicitors: Who can inherit if someone dies without leaving a will: new intestacy rules in force October 2014Download
Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co: An introduction to purchasing property in UKDownload
Carey Olsen: Pre-nuptial agreements: wedding bells or alarm bells?Download
More law firms

Top five briefings by practice area 
Banking & finance: The FCA marches down the road to competition concurrencyDownload
Employment: Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill: further employment law reforms aheadDownload
Intellectual property: Apple Stores to be trademarked in Europe?Download
Litigation: Duck, duck, goose? No, says the court — Aereo remains yet another duckDownload
Company/commercial: Can hindsight be used when assessing losses in a breach of warranty claim?Download
More practice areas

Top five briefings by region 
Asia-Pacific: Shanghai: Chinese Supreme Court strengthens interpretation on respecting the independence of refund guaranteesDownload
Middle East & Africa: Think global but act local: local content rules in the oil and gas sectorDownload
Offshore: Cayman Islands: important new legislation on third-party rightsDownload
Europe: Apprenticeship contracts: will they save Italy’s future?Download
US & The Americas: Non-US investors in US real estate: tax challenges and solutionsDownload
More regions