The Future Firm Forum was held at the world-class Millbrook Resort, Queenstown, on the 19th and 20th of October. The Future Firm Forum is a law firm leadership and management conference attended by partners, directors, managers and lawyers from across the country, Australia and the UK. A number of speakers, including Portia principal lawyer Erin Ebborn and CEO Jarrod Coburn, addressed issues facing modern law firms; discussing how firms can innovate for and build a sustainable legal profession.
In their presentation, titled “If You Don’t like Change Then You’ll Hate Obsolescence”, Jarrod and Erin examined the business of law, as well as structural and systemic issues facing the legal profession. The focus was on promoting a sustainable future and Portia was provided as an exemplar case.
Jarrod and Erin emphasised the historic tendency for the legal profession to be rigid and inflexible, thereby suppressing innovation. They argued that maintaining the status quo puts modern firms at risk of falling by the wayside. They also stressed that law firms are ultimately businesses, something that is often forgotten when providing legal services. As businesses it is crucial that they are innovative, flexible and forward-thinking, and adopt good business practices.
Jarrod urged the legal profession to have an internal conversation about the critical structural and systemic issues faced by today’s lawyers. The workshop concluded by examining the necessity for the profession to learn to adapt and build more resilience to changes in societal attitudes, consumer behaviours, economic factors and attitudes towards changing labour markets.
Katherine Thomasruns her own business development consultancy for professionals in Perth. Her speech “Contract lawyers: So much more than labour
labour arbitrage”, examined contract lawyer services and the ways in which firms can use them to their advantage to provide new strategic options.
Katherine shared insights into “flexible lawyering” and how firms can make the most of it through innovation, competition and flexibility. She used a number of case studies to illustrate her point, and showed how firms can adapt to contract lawyer services in a low cost, low risk way.
She discussed the recent overseas trend of “Gig Economies” (economies in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements) and discussed how they might operate in New Zealand.advantage to provide new strategic options.
David Sharrock is the Managing Principal of Sharrock Pitman Legal, the winner of the Law Institute of Victoria’s Boutique Law Firm of the Year Award for 2018. He travelled from Melbourne to attend the Forum.
His speech “Gotta keep the customer satisfied!” focused on law firms adopting a customer-centric approach to providing legal services. Forum participants learned how to improve customer service, to devise a customer care charter, to price the customer-centric way, to coach the team to be fully customer-centric and to guarantee their service and products.
Attendees were granted a special sneak-preview of his brand new book “Fighting for Enterprise Success: through the eye of the tiger”. This book aims to help leaders of any enterprise to succeed. It provides a number self-assessment tools, samples, templates and stories, combined with sound, practical ideas and suggestions. Portia will be using David’s book to train staff in good enterprise practices.
Simon McCrum travelled from the UK to attend the Forum. Simon has a long track record of success as part of the management team at Pannone, overseeing a massive growth in the firm’s turnover. He also launched the Connect2Law network for law firms.
His speech, “Foundations for your Future” was focused on organisational management in law firms. He drew heavily on his own experience both as a Managing Partner of Darby’s and as a founder of his own businesses, McCrum & Co, a management consultancy for law firms.
Simon offered a profound insight into post-liberalisation England. His speech focused on the necessity for law firms to be constantly growing. He shared his own experiences of turning Darby’s from a struggling firm into the UK’s fastest growing law firm. He identified the ten “foundations of growth” which he believes to be necessary for the easy and healthy growth of a firm.
Comedian and television personality Te Radar wrapped up the Forum as the final speaker, with a presentation titled “Pride and Precedent: celebrating history through humour”.
His presentation centred on who we are as New Zealanders and what shapes our nature, examined through a historical lens. History provides an insight into the people and events that led us to where we are today. Te Radar argued that a robust understanding of history is important, not only to appreciate our culture and heritage, but also to understand the present.
While it had little to do with the future of law, Te Radar's talk had everything to do with why the attendees were there.
The Forum was an incredible eye-opener and a truly educational experience. It offered Jarrod and Erin the chance to meet a range of interesting, successful people with unique perspectives and insights into management techniques in a structural, operational and strategic capacity.
According to Erin and Jarrod...
David Sharrock "A thoroughly delightful gentleman. He knows his stuff!"
Katherine Thomas "A bright star in the firmament of law consultancy."
Simon McCrum "The energy exuded by this man could power a small village."
Te Radar "An excellent raconteur. He has the measure of New Zealand's heartstrings."
Kudos to Mr Simon Tupman who is more than a consultant and event organiser: this man is hospitality personified. The Future Firm Forum is both intensive and relaxed at the same time. It is a no-miss event for any lawyer or manager with an eye to improvement and sustainability for their business and the profession.