Last week we were in Chicago for LexThink.1 and the ABA TECHSHOW. This was our 3rd year producing LexThink.1 (aka Ignite Law) with Matt Homann and our 13th year attending TECHSHOW. The events kicked off Wednesday night with a reception hosted by ABA TECHSHOW and RocketLawyer (we'll cover in our TECHSHOW post) and then moved into the evening's main event - LexThink.1 - which again played to a sold-out audience of 250 legal professionals, thought leaders, innovators and commentators. This year we featured 11 speakers with 6 minutes each to share their vision of law practice futures, specifically the future of law firm client service. 2012 saw 9 new presenters, Jay Shepherd repeating his 2011 debut, and the ABA's Will Hornsby as the only 3-time presenter. If 2011 was the year of the JDs (9 presenters were lawyers), 2012 was the year of the CEOs with 5 of the 11 carrying the chief exec title. Three of this year's presenters were at TECHSHOW for the first time (it was nice to have some fresh perspectives also) and 5 of the 11 are currently authoring books. One thing never changes -- when asked the difficulty of the Ignite presentation on a scale of 1 to 10, the average was 8 out of 10. Within the month, we will have the videos ready for release, but in the meantime, let's look at the presentations...
Avvo's CEO Mark Britton kicked-off LexThink .1 2012 with 'Back to the Future' - his vision of how lawyers can embrace the web and their web communities in a permanent way. He shared 8 'to dos': set objectives; identify your target audience; identify your target time; establish a core web presence; stand out; don't report, commentate; monitor and measure; and understand mobile. "We went from offline to online and now we are moving from online to mobile."
Richard Granat focused on legal industry startups and clients' desire for transparency, convenience and better technology. He noted that startups eliminate friction and offer unbundled legal services in the form of legal advice startups; document automation startups; web advisor startups; and walled garden startups. "Clients want fixed pricing and they know technology is all around. They want you to use technology to reduce their costs." He warned that "LegalZoom is going to eat the business of solos and smart firms for lunch."
Web 2.0 and the 'thank you economy' was the focus of entrepreneur (and developer of the Barrister App) Roe Frazer's talk. He stressed the importance of a firm social media plan with the focus being the firm website. He encouraged to get involved in the conversation, whether that's via Twitter, Facebook or tumblr or seek out the likes of Quora.com for crowd sourced advice from legal professionals. "3/4 of worlds' internet users now use social media to find answer in addition to search engines." One key takeaway - "If you have a blog, put it on Tumbler. Google indexes it highly."
ABA ethics guru Will Hornsby shared a plethora of ridiculous state ethics rules that for one reason or another are still in effect to this day. One example, "Hawaii has a rule that attorneys can't use email to solicit clients. A conspiracy by Obama to save the USPS?" His appeal - "If you have a 21st century practice, you deserve 21st century policies. Get involved." VOTED FAVORITE SPEAKER!
Young attorney and marketer Ruth Carter shared her passion for participating in and organizing flash mobs and touched on the many related legal gotchas to be aware of. For example: "If you invite people by Facebook, that can be solicitation." Ruth warns that ideally a Flash Mob involves an attorney from the beginning.
Eggplanter CEO Jason Dyer offered some reflection ... how can all of us, in this case with the use of technology, better serve our clients? "Is our technology really going to focus on our users or just give up?" He urged attorneys to pay attention to how you treat clients, "think about every single interaction and avoid turning our clients into commodities". His call-to-action: "Don't forget you can't replace skill with technology. Within the next week, formulate one sentence that captures how you can increase client interactions."
Eric Hunter, director of KM of Bradford & Barthel, focused on how integrating consumer driven social media, intranets, extranets and client portals into a 100% web approach can and will drive organizational & behavioral change. "All the innovators (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, etc.) are working on ways that change the way people think." We have known Eric for a while and he puts his money where his mouth is - he has moved his 275 user California law firm to a 100% cloud and now Google+ firm.
Jay Shepherd presents the one word that can change how you do business - Simplicity. "If complexity is the problem, simplicity is the solution". Focus on the result triangle -- clarify the goal, show you care and address the fear. It's fear that keeps people from doing what you want them to do. His example, Southwest simplifies everything (boarding, no bag fees, etc.) because it allows them to spend 30% more time in the air which is where airlines make money.
Matt Spiegel, MyCase CEO, made the case: "If the #1 complaint submitted to all bar associations is lack of communication, why don't we make more of an effort to improve it?" He argued how lawyers can to get away from traditional lines of communication and give clients the attention that they deserve through technology. "Whether we like it or not, consumers have grown to expect a high level of attention in all areas of life, including representation by a lawyer. Lawyers need to get with it and increase customer service via better more streamlined and consistent communication."
James Ring, CEO of Fair Outcomes, focused on ending cheap talk in legal bargaining and how game theories can take lawyers, who often get in the way, out of the process resulting in quicker more agreeable resolutions. Most cases don't settle until the eve of trial because they are about to lose the opportunity. "Trafficking in small talk is a dirty business."
Affinity Consulting Group's Steve Best found a lot of resonance with his Ignite presentation focused on passion. "Passion is the cornerstone of innovation. Innovation is the cornerstone of technology." Find what you are passionate about and embrace it. Once you've embraced it, share it. Once you've shared it, encourage others to find theirs. Often times your passion in other areas, like music or art, can spill over to a passion for serving your clients better. "Do we as lawyers show passion when we talk to our clients?"
Note: All of the presenter pics remind us of Steve Best's example of drawing his inspiration from a symphony conductoer and how he, without words, leads and inspires an entire symphony.
I'd like to thank our co-Producer Matt Homann and everyone that helped make LexThink.1 happen - from Andrea (administrative assistance) to Jobst (handling media relations). We'd like to especially thank Reid Trautz (2012 ABA TECHSHOW Chair) and Cindy Galvan from the ABA TECHSHOW and Jack Newton from Platinum Sponsor Clio - who has sponsored Ignite all three years.