I spent the day at the Legal Futures conference yesterday. It's the first one I've been to and was definitely worth attending, even though it was on a Monday (I don't usually "travel" on a Monday) and meant getting a 6am train from Bristol (to get a cheap ticket).
After presenting some pretty insightful market research on "What do clients want?" from law firms, Arlene Adams, the CEO of Peppermint Technology came up with the best phrase of the morning. She compared heroin addiction (the first hit being free) to how law firms should think about offering a "freemium" model.
Adam Sampson from the Legal Ombudsman was very good. He made the point that he was a layman, not a lawyer (me too Adam) but then promptly left after his talk. Nice to see the public face of LeO so engaged with his "community". Must have been a very big complaint he was adjudicating over!!
George Bull & Tony Pierre were pretty good. It's the first time I've heard George speak and very good he was to. He was supposed to be at the LawNet conference a couple of weeks ago, but was bedridden on the actual day. I'd like to listen to more of what they have to say, although it would be better if they'd broken client confidentiality and gave away the name of the acquirers they were acting for. Did anyone follow Tony to his next meeting as Neil Rose suggested? Is spying in business legal?
Odd expression that isn't it, "acting for" makes it sound like more of a play or a performance than real life with people's futures and jobs on the line.
Anthony Fairhurst from NatWest told us what all the bankers seem to say. We're lending LOADS of money to professional service businesses. It will all be fine. Right!
Charley Moore from http://www.rocketlawyer.com gave a great talk on their history/service and even managed to get a reference to Rumpole of the Bailey into his slide, although I think that was partly down to his (English) colleague Eva Arevuo. Interesting model that one, and not just because of the $18m backing from Google Ventures. He made some good points in conversation with myself and Guy & Chris Setford who are behind http://www.setfords.co.uk/. Just as Charley & Eva were leaving I told them that Paul Hajek from http://www.cluttoncox.co.uk would be their perfect "pilot client" in the UK. A small law firm who "get it" when it comes to new ways of working.
After the "Here comes the competition" panel, Neil very politely invited Chas from http://www.legalzoom.com/ to then tell a story, something about a friend of his buying a Budweiser in a bar. I jest, it was a great point, very eloquently made, but if I try and repeat it here it will be lost on you, you definitely had to "be there".
Prof. Mayson was as good as always. Not someone I know in person, but someone whenever I've watched them talk from stage I have a lot of time for. Knows his stuff. Delivers it in an incredibly polished way. He did a good job of summarising the morning.
Lunch was pretty good. Although it took the food "queue" a good ten minutes to work out that the food was replicated at four different points rather than being one long queue. See, I worked that out in ten seconds, just shows that some people around the legal market need to think outside the box, either that or I was brought up in an environment where it was "every man/woman for himself" at the dinner table!!
The "New ways to practise law" (note the spelling) was good. http://www.everymanlegal.co.uk have a pretty interesting model, although their float on Sharemark is not going to be as exciting as LinkedIn's float a new months ago ;-). Jennie Pratt from http://www.ashtonkcj.co.uk had a good take on the JV/partnership approach to working with other sectors (her's was from the perspective of working with an IFA).
Denise Nurse from http://www.halebury.co.uk was one of the most engaging presenters of the afternoon. Hell, if someone who's been trained as a weather and TV presenter can't be engaging, then there's no hope for the rest of us.
Charles Layfield from http://www.connect2law.co.uk wore some great socks (you had to be there) and made some great points about how their network differs from some of the others i.e. they are not trying to be a consumer brand. Ajaz Ahmed from http://www.legal365.com was GREAT. I posted on Twitter that if that brand does not "make it" then he has a backup career waiting (should he need it) as a comedian. His comedic timing was impeccable.
The final panel session of the afternoon was the usual suspects (in alphabetical order rather than preferred business model order) comprising of http://www.contactlaw.co.uk, http://face2facesolicitors.com (why do they write it with lower case f's?), http://www.highstreetlawyer.com (why does Gary write it without spaces?), http://www.lawyers2you.co.uk, http://www.qualitysolicitors.com. and http://www.360legal.co.uk. Not sure I learned anything from that session apart from the fact that Craig Holt couldn't even be bothered to come and listen to the rest of the day to put any other comments into perspective. Although I'm not sure the rest of the panel sat through every session like what I did!
My overriding thought for the day (apart from the bar conversation afterwards) was how few law firms there were there. My tally on the day was 38 people from law firms that I recognised as "traditional" law firms (22% of the delegates). Now let's assume I'm not as good as I think I am at recognising law firms' names and that I'm 50% out (a huge margin of error). That still means that only 33% of the audience were from traditional law firms. That's scary, I mean really scary. One of the best conferences of the year was practically ignored by the legal profession. Ostrich like behaviour.
By my reckoning there were 541 tweets on the day. Charles Layfield from Connect2Law can't even wear loud socks without someone else commenting on it on Twitter and Guy Barnett sure as hell can't show a photo of a "gimp like" character drinking from a dog bowl in front of a http://www.lawyers2you.co.uk stand without expecting one of the biggest laughs of the day from the assembled throng. Even louder than when Gary Yantin of High Street Lawyer finished talking about 3 hours before his slides had finished cycling through…VERY funny!
The thing I'm most proud of is that clients of Conscious like the ones mentioned above and http://www.stephensons.co.uk, http://www.anthonygold.co.uk, http://www.tpplaw.co.uk, http://www.wosskowbrown.co.uk "get it" which is why one or more people from those firms attended to find out more about their future.
Well done to Neil & Rebecca Rose and the team at Legal Futures for a great conference.
Oh, the "after show" party at The Gun pub? Well that would be telling now wouldn't it, but suffice to say that as it was a Monday night it was not that "late" or "drunken", well apart from………oh, c'mon, do you really expect me to be that discreet? "What me, The 13th Duke of Wybourne…" (Fast Show character on YouTube)!
See you all at the next conference.