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Alumni Spotlight: Ben White and Rosie Collins - Crafty Counsel

Written by Aileen Thomson, posted on Thursday, March 15, 2018

In our new feature, Alumni Spotlight, our Development Executive Aileen Thomson finds out more about some of the fascinating and varied things our alumni have got up to since leaving Christ Church.

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Ben White and Rosie CollinsBite-sized ‘Ted Talks’ from lawyers, for lawyers

We caught up with Ben White (2002, Modern History) and Rosie Collins (2002, Modern Languages), who are collaborating on a new legal media start up, Crafty Counsel. (Craftycounsel.org)

So, Ben, what is Crafty Counsel, and why did you start it?

I’ve seen a couple of sides of the Legal industry since leaving Christ Church. I worked at Clifford Chance for seven years, before moving in house as a lawyer in a start up in 2016. In both organizations, I found the way that lawyers keep up to date on the latest developments, and the way that law firms publicize their expertise to the world, increasingly at odds with technological developments and the websites we are all used to using in our spare time. Enter, Crafty Counsel!

Crafty Counsel is a home for bite-sized (90 second!), high quality videos for lawyers. Didn’t think legal videos could be fun? You can’t have seen our site yet.

Can you be more specific?

Well, we’re here to deliver three things.

Firstly, we’re filling the gap in training and development resources for in house lawyers, meaning lawyers who work as legal specialists within companies, government and charities, as opposed to working in law firms. These people typically lack access to relevant training materials and can also end up feeling rather isolated. We provide a quick way to keep across new developments and what other lawyers are thinking about.

Secondly, we’re providing a platform for subject matter experts – often senior lawyers working in law firms, but also regulators, academics, and others – to showcase their expertise to an engaged audience of potential clients and peers. The relationship between lawyer and client is all about trust – and how better to communicate your credibility and personality than through a concise, expert distillation of your key areas of practice?

Thirdly, we’re all about making ongoing professional education engaging, relevant and fun. For some reason, ongoing training for lawyers is often incredibly dreary. When there are so many exciting, talented experts out there, it’s such a waste. And it’s increasingly incongruous when you look at the quality of education on, and the user experience of, platforms like Ted Talks, Khan Academy and Udemy. It’s a cliché, but legal training is ripe for disruption - it’s just a matter of time. Hopefully we’ll be part of that change!  

A clapperboard from one of the Crafty Counsel filmsWhy 90 seconds?

We needed urgency, and 90 seconds ended up working perfectly. It’s long enough to deliver a powerful message, but short enough to hold the viewer’s attention. We’re also experimenting with longer series of several videos on a particular theme, but broken down into 90 second chunks. We recently launched a series on Legal Privilege (the rules that govern what documents can be held back from disclosure to Court, such as lawyer/client correspondence), with two barristers from Maitland Chambers, and that covered seven videos in total.

What's your favourite video so far?

We recently launched a series with the UK’s Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, addressing some myths around the General Data Protection Regulation, which is a transformative change to data protection rules that is coming into force in May. That’s been very timely, and a real privilege for us to showcase the UK’s regulator speaking to one of the most relevant topics in the industry. 

We have also had some great videos with Mishcon De Reya (a Technology and Media focused law firm) addressing the Gig Economy and Equal Pay legislation. Again, very topical areas, so it’s nice to feel that we are running with the zeitgeist!

And you’re working with another Christ Church alum!

We’re really fortunate to be working with Rosie’s production company in all this. Rosie’s an absolutely stellar film-maker and a joy to work with. The quality of these films gets a lot of attention from lawyers and makes the platform really stand out.

Rosie is also a real pro when it comes to making lawyers feel at ease in the studio – while some lawyers secretly harbor dreams of on-screen stardom, it doesn’t come as naturally to others! We have a lot of fun behind the scenes, even though Rosie is learning more about Corporate law than she ever anticipated…!

Rosie, tell us about what you’re working on.

I’m having a lot of fun working on this new venture with Ben, and it’s been a rather lovely and unexpected partnership! Corporate law isn’t an area I really knew much about before Ben approached me, but it seems like my background and his make for a really good fit for approaching things in a new way. It’s always really enjoyable to get people in the studio, who aren’t used to being in front of the camera, and end up with a great piece of content which everyone’s really happy with. I’ve been surprised how much I’ve actually enjoyed the content, too - I’ve learnt about all sorts of current topics from bitcoin to equal pay for women!

But Crafty Counsel is actually a bit of a departure for me, as I’m mostly focused on my company, Fred. We are working on exciting, scalable, socially impactful projects - primarily using virtual reality. We combine tech, behavioural science and community engagement to change how people think and feel about themselves, their communities and the world around them - and wrap this up in fun and play so it doesn’t feel like traditional therapy or education. We’re collaborating with some really exciting scientists (we have an in-house clinical psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist now) and awesome, world-leading technology partners, and partnering with the NHS and police, amongst others. Our current projects include working with leukemia patients in long term isolation, UN Women on films exploring new ways of understanding and combating violence against women, a trial using VR with dementia patients and their carers, and an exciting VR initiative with the community affected by the Grenfell Tower fire. It’s really great to find a way to get to work on really fun, exciting projects where you can see immediate benefits to the people you’re working with - and hopefully we’ll be able to scale these projects nationally and internationally before long…

 

You can watch Crafty Counsel's videos here.