Conference/Webinar Session Re-caps

It can seem like the reason that Disney is so successful is truly a dose of magic.

But when you break it down, they have a real formula for excellence – excellence in leadership, creating and sustaining the right culture, and pursuing client satisfaction. All of the pieces of that formula are important, but even after putting them together, what truly makes Disney successful is their ability to bring people back again and again. And to do that, they need connection with their customers, and to empower their customers to tell the stories that make other people want a piece of the Disney experience too.

That isn’t much different to the way business development works for lawyers and law firms.
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Starting at the top is essential, but you need the right mix of people within your firm to really be successufl. Disney calls this “cast excellence.” The corporate culture at Disney is, by design, well-defined, clear to all, and goal-oriented. It can seem challenging to implement this at a law firm, but I’ve seen it done (take a look at our member firm in Australia, Hall & Wilcox, with their emphasis on Smarter Law). Jeff Williford of the Disney Institute challenged firms to think about their corporate culture, and whether the existing culture is what they want – internal branding is important, as is communicating your culture up front and early.

If you communicate your culture up-front, others can make the decision if they want to engage with you or not.  For example – Disney doesn’t allow anyone with visible tattoos or mohawks to work there, and they communicate that early so people can self-select out. Similarly, Hall & Wilcox has a transparent culture of collaboration and community, with a fully open plan in their offices – when you interview, you know right away whether that’s something that would work for you or not.
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Several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a keynote session focused around Disney’s approach to business excellence. The recap I shared has been among one of my most popular posts, and the advice provided by Jeff Williford from the Disney Institute proves to be timeless. Despite a changing marketplace, the tenets that underlie their success remain the same – and that’s perhaps why Disney has proven to be so successful in a sustainable way.

I’d like to break down the post into a series to revisit the key points that Jeff raised in his speech, and why they’re still relevant today. Although his presentation was about how Disney creates a truly magical experience, there are a lot of parallels for the legal industry – we’re also a service industry after all!  Any of the particularly important points that relate to law firms will be in bold throughout the post.

He told the audience that Disney employs more than 60,000 people from 65 countries, with 10% of those being interns, and warned us that his presentation on Disney’s approach to business excellence would be like drinking water from a firehose. But he did say that Walt Disney reminded everyone in 1955 that “it all started with a mouse.” (Which inspires me to encourage all of us to think about how and why we got started – where are OUR roots? Who is OUR mouse?)
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“It’s a community, it’s a movement.”

These were among the closing words from Mary O’Carroll, the Head of Legal Operations at Google and CLOC board member, as the first CLOC EMEA Institute wrapped up last week. And for those of us in attendance, you could certainly feel the energy. It was not unlike what we saw at the CLOC Institute in Las Vegas in April.

“There’s so much passion here!” was a phrase you’d hear a lot throughout the day, and it was not misspoken. CLOC is a young organization, but in the last two years, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium has grown tremendously and is creating a tidal wave of enthusiasm and change throughout not only legal ops, but the legal industry itself. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll delve deeper into a couple of the sessions that I attended at the conference, but for now, I wanted to leave you with a couple of important things. 
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Artificial Intelligence: the number one topic for discussion among my lawyers when we ask them about future and current trends in the legal industry. Or as they like to refer to it, “technology.”

While a few people are still talking about it like it’s something that’s going to happen or will affect us in the future, the majority have accepted that AI is already here. Whether they’ve adopted certain pieces of it (see this discussion we had earlier in 2017 on AI), or they’re still trying to figure out what it means for their firm, there are some standard questions and ideas that law firms, lawyers, and other legal professionals should become comfortable with, if you’re not already.

To aid in this process, the Legal Marketing Association has been providing some additional resources on AI, and brought together some of the top minds in LMA to host a Twitter chat last week on the “Next Big Thing: Artificial Intelligence.” While I’d argue that it’s more just “The Big Thing” since it’s already here and being adopted by firms, and more importantly, their clients, the discussion was a robust one, with some excellent food for thought. The following is my summary of the discussion. 
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Today, I’m excited to bring you a guest post from my friend, Jennifer Simpson Carr. Jenn joined Lowenstein Sandler as a Business Development Manager in 2013. With 10 years of experience working in law firms across the US, she has worked extensively to help firms and attorneys engage target audiences and win new business in competitive markets. She recently attended and presented at the Legal Marketing Association’s Southeast Conference, where she gained some excellent, actionable advice that firms can implement immediately. Below, you’ll see her five takeaways from the conference, which range from client service to analytics to succession, and her advice for what action firms can take to implement them.

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Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in the LMA Southeast Conference (LMASE17), which I found to be one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking conferences in my 10+ years in the legal marketing profession.

I find conferences energizing. They offer the opportunity to connect with the legal marketing community, share ideas and strategies, and gain new perspectives. This conference was no different and set new standards of excellence.

LMASE17 offered three days packed with educational programming, many sessions addressing the topics that are top of mind for in-house business development and marketing professionals as well as the agencies that support them.

As I reviewed pages of notes and contemplated how to use some of this newly-acquired wisdom to make an impact, five themes stood out to me as strategic and actionable, and yet easy opportunities for any professional to affect change.
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rawpixel-com-250087During the recent CLOC conference, attendees had the opportunity to receive a complimentary copy of Richard Susskind’s second edition of “Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future.” Susskind also spoke as the lunch keynote on the first day, and shared with us that while his first edition had been written for young and aspiring lawyers in the profession, he had found that everyone interested in the changing legal ecosystem wanted to hear more about (and sometimes argue with) what he had to say. And so the second edition was updated and published.

Towards the end of the book, with respect to the future of the legal industry, Susskind says:

Given our economic conditions, the shift towards liberalization, the new providers in the marketplace, and the burgeoning, exponential increase in the power and uptake of technology, I find it unimaginable that our current legal institutions and legal profession will remain substantially unchanged over the next decade. Indeed, it seems to me that the least likely future is that little will change in the world of law. And yet, the strategies of most law firms, law schools, and departments of justice assume just that. In truth, for much of the legal market, the current model is not simply unsustainable; it is already broken.”

Those are strong words, but we’re living in a time when change is fast-paced, faster than it’s ever been. And while most leaders in the industry are willing to accept that change is happening, not many of them are either willing or able to do anything about it. 
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Change - Speedometer Races to RevolutionAt the recent CLOC Institute, Connie Brenton, CLOC President & CEO, along with Chief of Staff/Director of Legal Operations for NetApp gave us a challenge:

Stop thinking about how we can fit into the world around us. Start thinking about how we can change the world around us.”

For many of us, that change has started with sharing what we heard at CLOC with our own corners of the legal ecosystem, and keeping that drumbeat for change sounding. While I plan to recap some of the key sessions I attended, I first wanted to share with you some of the excellent articles that have come out following the conference, which should be further galvanizing the legal industry.
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clem-onojeghuo-122041Any time you pick your head up from the daily work you’re doing in the legal industry, “change” is the drumbeat that you hear.

Nowhere was that more apparent to me than at last week’s CLOC Institute – for those of you who aren’t familiar with CLOC, it’s the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium. They’re a relatively new group in the industry, bringing together legal operations professionals for networking, education, to share best practices, and really, to drive change. But they’re more than just legal ops – in fact, their mission states quite clearly that this drive for change involves working with “other core corporate legal industry players” in addition to legal operations professionals. Their goal is to “optimize the legal service delivery models needed by small, medium and large legal departments to support their clients,” and they recognize that this can only be done together. 
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zachary-nelson-192289The final session that I’d like to share from the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference this year focused on learning lessons from businesses outside of the legal industry – while there’s something to be said for understanding what your peers are doing within the industry, there’s a lot to be learned from other professionals as well. LMA brought Maggie Watkins, Chief Marketing Officer of Sedgwick LLP to moderate Lynn Skoczelas, Chief Experience Officer of Sharp HealthCare, Lilian Tomovich, Chief Experience Officer at MGM Resorts International, and Susan Letterman White, Founder and Managing Partner of Letterman White Consulting to offer their perspective on how businesses are using the client experience to up their game.

The panelists shared with us some key learning outcomes that we can adopt in our own pursuit of the excellent client experience. 
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