Sunday, April 20, 2008

After the Georgetown Symposium

The symposium was an outstanding success, and Mitt Regan and Jeff Bauman, the organizers, were terrific. Over 120 people turned up, with delegates and attendees from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany and more.

The mixture of academics and practitioners gelled superbly. Both learned from each other and there was a serious attempt to communicate without jargon and condescension.

What was absolutely clear during our time together was that the nature of law practice and the law firm has fundamentally changed in the last 10 years. Time after time, senior partners were saying that technical skills were no longer sufficient; they wanted to see more emphasis on right-brain activities in their lawyers. Empathy with clients and their needs was the buzzword.

There had been enormous consolidation in the practice of law. The top AmLaw 50 was now responsible for 25% of global legal revenues. And this was predicted to continue. Everpresent and continuing change for the legal profession. Roll on Tesco Law and Goldman Sachs Skadden (but watch out for Gen Y: they may not be that keen.)

The size of the organizations was raising new and profound risk management concerns which were leading to stricter intra-organizational regulation than is typically seen in national regulators. Global businesses have to be able to protect themselves from within as well as outwith.

All in all, Clementi and the Australian changes were perceived as opportunities rather than threats, but there are still 50 state courts and bars to convince as well as various federal agencies. The Americans will have to catch up fast.

More can be found at Adam Smith Esq, ideoblog and Conglomerate.

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