ALPMA you've done it again!

By John Chisholm, LinkedIn 

OK. Lets start with the disclaimers. I have been an ALPMA member since its inception.For a few years I sat on the Victorian Committee & the Organising Committee for ALPMA Summit, I have previously presented at Summit and yep I have some friends in reasonably high places within ALPMA.

Notwithstanding, I am not being bribed, threatened or offered alcohol to write this post.

I attended last weeks ALPMA Summit on the Gold Coast as a paid delegate.

I thought it was not only one of the best ALPMA Summits but one of the best legal management conferences I have ever been to - and I have been to a few, let me assure you. People I spoke to at Summit, including many of the presenters and 2 past Presidents from the US Association of Legal Administrators who attended,agreed. Over 300 attendees (including 70 from New Zealand) and the largest assembly of suppliers to the profession ever assembled in Australia in one place.

The Summit's theme "Tomorrow's firm: Digital, Divergent, Differentiated" pretty much nailed it. In one form or another each presenter contributed significantly to the theme.

I was keen to personally catch up with Canadian Jordan Furlong whose commentary & views on the legal profession world wide, especially with respect to "New Law", most law firm leaders eagerly seek out. Jordan, in both his Pre Summit 1/2 day Masterclass Workshop and his Key Note address, did not disappoint. He not only informed attendees about many of the significant changes that have happened and many more that will happen in our profession, but pointed out that instead of fearing NewLaw, incumbent firms can and should embrace it.

Returning by popular demand for back to back Summits was my friend and VeraSage colleague US ex ad man and branding expert, Tim Williams,who again wowed the audience at his Workshop and Summit presentation. Tim implored firms to focus on their strengths and what they want to be known for, to become deep and narrow specialists rather than broad and shallow generalists.

Unfortunately each attendee had to make choices as to which sessions to attend so I didn't get to hear everyone (although you can download the sessions you missed out on from the ALPMA website).

I did get to hear Australia's first law firm appointed Pricing Manager Pier D'Angelo who was very open in talking about the challenges and opportunities his firm Allens has encountered through ulitizing new pricing models. This presentation confirmed that, outside of good client selection, pricing has the greatest effect on your firm's profitability, so as a profession we just have to get much better at pricing strategically.

Dr George Beaton was at his incomparable best urging law firms to "remake" their business models or face mediocrity or, worse still, oblivion.

Being technology challenged I found the Panel talking about Innovation in Technology extremely informative. Panel members Matthew Burgess, James Vickery, Patrick Ng and Warrick McLean were very open about their use, their obstacles, mistakes & successes in adopting new technologies and the outsourcing of an increasing number of products and services.

Alistair Marshall provided a refreshing and engaging presentation on where he believes the profession is at with marketing and how business development can be improved through focussed and targeted marketing strategies.

Carl White's "mystery shopper" results probably brought a dose of reality to many attendees.

While I didn't attend, I heard excellent feedback about other presentations including David Smith's Adopting Technology, the high powered panel chaired by Steph Beard speaking on diversity, flexibility & talent, Law practice in The Cloud by Liz Harris and Dr Bob Murray on what makes high performance cultures.

Despite our ability to now converse with our colleagues electronically all over the world, of course one of the major benefits of attending any conference is the chance to actually meet up with our friends, colleagues and suppliers to the profession. Long may this continue.

A Summit like this not only does ALPMA proud but the whole legal profession. I am not for one minute saying I agreed with everything that was proffered by all the presenters, but that is one of the wonderful things about living in a jurisdiction like Australia where we welcome and embrace divergent views to enable us to make decisions which best suit our own individual practices and, moreover, which best suits our clients of today and tomorrow. And that can't be a bad thing can it?

I did overhear a couple of attendees complain that there was too much talk about doom and gloom in the legal profession. Funny but I did not get that impression at all. Sure if you had hitherto been totally unaware of the significant changes and transition our mature industry is going through, or if you lived in a fool's paradise believing the good old times will eventually return, then I understand it could look like a pretty scary future.

What this Summit achieved I think is both made attendees more aware of what we can expect in the future but also equip attendees with some ideas and tools to,not only survive, but thrive in the future. At the end of the day it is of course up to individuals whether or not they embrace any of those or other ideas or tools.

ALPMA Summit Melbourne 2016 - the bar has been set high.

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