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  • Anthony Olisa

Future Lawyer UK (7.0)

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I was lucky enough to attend the Private Practice Day of Future Lawyer UK’s recent conference.  Although it was my first time attending, the team at 3Kites are very familiar with the event, and my colleague Melanie Farquharson was a panel speaker at the last event.  You can read about her experience of that event here


After indulging myself in a few tasty breakfast pastries, the day kicked off nice and early with opening remarks from the session’s chairman, Stephen Allen.  His first order of business was to ban the term “Non-lawyer”.  This has been a recurring debate within the legal community, with petitions lodged across the pond to remove the term.  As a Non-lawyer (or should I say, lawyer), I found myself nodding in solidarity.  But, I’m yet to update my LinkedIn profile. 


Stephen went on to make another point that really grabbed my attention: “Knowledge grows the more you share.”  This is a great way to think about the importance of knowledge sharing within the Knowledge Management Cycle. 


The concept of Knowledge Management was continued later in the day by Caroline Doherty De Novoa (Co-Chief Knowledge Officer, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer), where she shared her belief that knowledge is the nutrition for the exercise of innovation.  I couldn’t agree more.  Capturing the lessons learnt from previous innovations, building repositories of know-how and fostering a culture of knowledge sharing are all essential parts, I believe, of a healthy approach to innovation within a firm. 


Tara Waters (Partner & Chief Digital Officer at Ashurst) gave us all a refreshing and wit-filled keynote on how to nurture a culture of innovation.  Amongst other things she shared top tips around the importance of impactful change and delivering based on positive experiences. One of those tips was to avoid using innovative jargon (which I’ve been guilty of) and instead, talk the language of those who will be impacted by the change.  Simple, but effective.  She also, and this was a first for me, gave some “bottom tips”.  These included a reminder that data doesn’t lie and that as someone working tirelessly to push through innovative initiatives, you should never forget to give yourself a break. A welcome reminder of self-care within the midst of our professional pursuits. 


One of the panel discussions centred around rethinking the role of legal innovation.  They started the conversation with light banter around the intriguing job titles that have emerged recently within this space. I’m sure you’ve come across a few Chief Storytellers and Directors of Inspiration.  Personally, I couldn’t help but think of the aspiring Directors of First Impressions at the front desk when I walked in.  Jokes aside, a valid point was made by one of the panel members in that the job title should not be where our focus lies.  Instead, more attention should be paid to the actual responsibilities of that role and how it helps the organisation achieve its strategic goals. 


Steve O’Brien (Newicon’s self-proclaimed Chief Nerd, also their CEO) came on stage to talk about the importance of adding value.  He illustrated the concept of value-add quite nicely, with a graphic portraying raw data turning into information, then knowledge and finally wisdom.   Of course, a “Chief Nerd” (he said it, not me) couldn’t have the stage without leaving us with thought-provoking views on the impact of technology on mankind.  And thought-provoking it was.  He described how, as a result of recent advancements in technology (cough, cough, AI), he couldn’t help but look at people and see a ticking monetary number over their heads.  The direction of that number is going down at varying rates, and that rate depends on the type of job role the person has.  His belief was that as technology advances, which it will, the monetary value of each person in the workforce will continue to decline.  I reserved my right not to nod in solidarity to that one. 


Of course, the topic of AI was sure to command its own section (and make regular appearances in conversations throughout the day).  During another one of the panel discussions, Ben Allgrove (Partner and Chief Innovation Officer, Baker McKenzie) spoke on AI's impact on firms.  His view was that firms would need to swap out the traditional billable hour business model for alternative pricing structures as improvements in tech (particularly AI) mean less time is required for current legal tasks, hence reducing the amount that can be billed. 


Thomas Hansteen (Co-founder of Etain) touched on the impact of AI a little further.  He promoted the idea that AI will allow lawyers to do more of the tasks they should be doing and less of what a lot of lawyers are left to currently do.  He referred to the latter as “Grey tasks”, and categorised them as data processing activities, with examples being copying data from one system to another.  Whereas the activities that lawyers should be doing, “Blue tasks”, as he called them, were all value-adding activities such as solving complex problems. 


Throughout the day, many more great points were made about AI, particularly generative AI.  One that really got me thinking was whether AI in law firms was an equaliser or a differentiator.  What do you think? 


All in all, the day was a great experience.  I learnt a lot, connected with some amazing people, had delicious pastries and even managed to get my picture taken with a sparking tiara (don’t check my LinkedIn!) 

Till next time! 


If you have any questions about how 3Kites' can assist your firm, then please contact Laura.Howells@3Kites.com 

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