ILTACON – Opening Session & Keynote


Setting the scene – focus on Innovation

The ILTA main event got off to a strong start this morning at National Harbour, Maryland. This years event is the biggest yet, with over 4100 attendees and over 200 educational sessions to choose from. The 700+ “first timers” were given a warm welcome by an audience who were clearly energised and psyched for what promises to be a great week of legalTech events.

After a glossy ILTA promotional video, first up on stage were ILTA President Angela Dowd, alongside James McKenna – Director at Large.

Dowd reminded the audience that ITLA has been and continues to be a hub for technology, industry advancement and innovation within the legal sector for over 40 years.

McKenna was clear that “there is never really a bad time to innovate and where better to do it than at ILTA” as “Innovation and technology are moving at a very quick pace – together we can keep up”.

This years event has been billed as not only a celebration of innovation, but aims to have ILTA members leaving the conference armed with the tools they need to put innovation into practice at their firms. This is to be delivered through seminar and panel programmes, as well as the collaborative educational sessions with peers and member success stories to be showcased on the final day.

Dowd pointed out that: “This is what ILTACON is all about – Peer powered connections and valuable educational sessions”

Lisa Bodell’s kickass keynote

Lisa Bodell delivered a kickass keynote speech to a packed ILTACON auditorium. Bodell left the audience with a clear set of actions that they could take within their own firms to start affecting change and embracing innovation as a practice.

CEO of Futurethink, author of ‘Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution’ and ‘Why Simple Wins: Escape the Complexity Trap and Get to Work That Matters’ it was clear from the outset that Bodell was both passionate and knowledgeable about the topic of change and innovation, as well as having a penchant for long book titles!

Bodell set out by identifying why change is so hard, before moving on to deliver tactical practical advice on how firms could start to make changes and innovate within their firm.

The audience were asked to think about not just who they were as a firm, but who they were becoming, and asked the question: “What will your company be doing in ten years time that it doesn’t do today?”.

This is a question you hear a lot when futurists are looking to persuade their listeners to think about the future of their law firm. Bodell’s approach was refreshing, as she cited some examples of major changes that large corporations are exploring which (if adopted) would completely disrupt their existing business models.

Bodell asked the audience to consider: “When you think about your business what new model will totally transform you and what new partnerships [will transform you]”

Bodell’s first example was how car manufacturer BMW are working with city planning to deliver cars on demand through their ReachNow service. This was a way for BMW to work past the restrictions that many cities are planning which will ultimately lead to fewer cars in city centers.

Bodell explained the rationale behind BMW’s bold move away from simply manufacturing cars:

lets get in and partner with the people that scare us the most so we can shape the future with them rather than have to respond to it”

Bodell talked about how energy companies such as Shell are exploring how they can move from their current business model of energy extractors to energy producers as the worlds oil reserves continue to be depleted. This example highlighted another core aspect of changing your business model – that a different model may require different skill sets within your business. In the case of an energy company the shift is from chemists to bioscientists. This could then lead to a skills shortage for a traditional employer of bioscientists as they compete for hires with the energy sector.

Bodells examples made it clear that it is important to look well beyond your ‘traditional’ business model when answering the ‘ten years’ question. Bodell made a strong case for embracing the change that poses the greatest threat to your business (whether a competitor, change in regulation or shift in technology) as it may actually be what secures the future of your law firm. By doing so you are able to transform your offering to meet the change head on and ensure that your firm continues to thrive in the process, even if it looks like an entirely different business when it comes out of the other side!

Also published on Medium.

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