By George Leloudis, CLM, CPA
When something shifts from one place to another, a void is created in its former spot. Left alone, that spot neither gains nor loses value. When seen as an opportunity, however, the spot or void can be developed into something of equal or greater value than its original placeholder.
As you have probably seen, the traditional first day of the 2014 Annual Conference & Exhibition in Toronto has been shifted from Monday to Tuesday. Because for the first time we have over 90 educational sessions to offer, your Conference Committee and ALA staff recognized that this shift would allow us to create and deliver an enhanced conference experience by offering more state-of-the-art learning opportunities. The void created by the shift has been crafted into an exceptional day of focused learning and sharing of ideas. Read on to see how this added day might just help you experience a shift in your professional life.
From my eight years of ALA membership and seven annual conferences, I’ve benefited from a shift in perspective and knowledge driven by participation in numerous Idea Exchanges. It’s difficult to describe the value of dialoguing with dozens of your peers who have faced or are facing challenges similar to your own. My Outlook address book is full of names of colleagues I’ve met and of whom I continue to bounce ideas and questions. This May in Toronto, nine Idea Exchanges will be offered on Monday including three for small to large firm administrators, two practice specific for administrators in IP and personal injury firms, two for administrators working in government and corporate environs, one focused on HR, and one for ALA members interested in pursuing the CLM certification.
As leaders within a profession facing unprecedented change, our ability to analyze and solve problems is increasingly important to the success of our firms and to each of us individually. I urge you to arrive in Toronto on Sunday so you can participate in Monday morning’s pre-conference educational programs. The Critical Thinking Certificate Program, presented by the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and Professor Risa Mish, will identify traits of critical thinkers and obstacles to critical thinking, as well as equipping participants with a framework from which they can produce well-reasoned, compelling solutions to business challenges.
The second pre-conference educational program is LMA’s QuickStart Certificate Program, which may be ideal if you are new to marketing and business development, need a refresher, or if you’ve been in the administrator saddle for five years or less and need to shift to a place of greater competency in the realm of marketing and business development. As its name implies, this program will deliver immediately useful, no nonsense advice and practical tools. Participants will explore law firm structure, strategy and economics; professional conduct in relation to legal marketing; business development planning; and personal and career fulfillment.
Note: ALA is pleased to partner with the LMA to present the above certificate programs. At the end of both, participants can earn a Certificate of Achievement by completing a knowledge assessment.
Curious to know how shifts in the economy and law firm business models are affecting real estate decisions? Plan to attend Monday’s Bright Insights session presented by Sherry Cushman of Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Legal Sector. As you may have heard at this year’s regional conferences, this program will provide the follow-up data from the 2013 National Legal Sector Benchmark Survey. A deep dive into the responses from 286 firms will provide participants with an understanding of how real estate can be a vehicle to decrease overhead and improve overall business operations, strategies and synergies.
From real estate strategies to the look of our work environs, a FUTURE shift is happening all around us. Shifts in management strategies, technology and legal process are changing the face of law. In a can’t miss Monday session, management and technology experts including Gensler, ALA’s innovation and research partner, will examine these shifts and will introduce the unique and exciting 2,500 square foot exhibit Legal Office of the Future: Innovation Lab, which opens at the close of the session. Look for more information to come on this excited presentation.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Oh My! Have you ever considered how these powerful and sometimes scary social media tools could be used within your firm to enhance learning? In the Social Media HIVE on Monday, Mary Abraham, a lawyer and leader in social and legal knowledge management, will facilitate a shift in social media comfort levels and efficiencies. This learning opportunity will be built upon in additional HIVE events scheduled throughout the conference.
Further opportunities to shift your knowledge abound on Monday with six Business Matters sessions and a retirement plan best practices session presented by ABA Retirement Funds Program. These sessions will equip you with interesting and practical knowledge that will add value to your overall conference experience.
As you can see, Monday will be a busy day. But the day is not done when the above sessions come to end. While the beginning of the day will include various leadership meetings, it will be closed by an evening of networking and fun at the Leadership/Newcomers Connection and more fun and dancing at the Welcome Reception. These events will be taking on a new look this year so stay tuned to this blog and the conference website for additional details.
So, if you were planning to arrive on Monday, SHIFT your thinking and plan to travel on Sunday. It’s a shift that’s sure to lead to opportunity! See you in Toronto!
George Leloudis, CLM, CPA is the Executive Director of Woods Rogers, PLC in Roanoke, Virginia. He is a member of the 2014 Annual Conference Committee.