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Source Conference 2020 write up

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When we started planning for Source this year, it was safe to say that the normal checklist didn’t apply. With events taking to the virtual stage, the Source conference as we knew it was not going to happen. But that aside, it wasn’t going to stop this year’s Source of inspiration, ideas and innovation going ahead.

Virtual networking

Throughout the day, the sessions were broken up by virtual networking opportunities. We chose Remo as our event platform as it was perfectly designed for a conference feel and networking that didn’t go amiss.

Not only was it great to have discussions with many of the delegates, but Remo allowed attendees to move between tables and make new connections. Read what some delegates had to say and how they found Remo and its networking friendly features:

  • ‘I particularly liked the opportunity to network in smaller groups.’
  • ‘Remo was excellent.’

The day ahead

The event was introduced and brought to a close by Vidisha Joshi, the Managing Director of Symphony legal. Vidisha also introduced our speakers and their topics.

"Every year we look to bring our delegates original, relevant and engaging content and this year was no different."

- Vidisha Joshi

Our event had four main sessions throughout the day, each of which was driven by a unique and relevant topic. Every session stood strong on its own merits, all linking together to support our overarching theme: Being a source of inspiration, ideas and innovation. The first session of the day kicked off with Caroline Flanagan talking about race.

Let's Talk About Race by Caroline Flanagan

This session was definitely topical with Caroline addressing race and how people approach the conversation or, more accurately, avoid it. Caroline talked about the best way to approach the topic and said that ‘Any conversation you have about race that comes from a good place is so much better than no conversation at all’.

Key take-aways

  • Caroline spoke of many barriers, such as the hard truths of the conversation, the high stakes, and the uncomfortable feeling as the tables turn to a less equal footing between the two people in the conversation.
  • There has never been a better time to have a conversation about race and it’s our individual responsibility to push this moral agenda.
  • The four key things to remember when approaching a conversation about race are:  relationship, agenda, context, and empathy. This means you should treat all four of these criteria with care. Be sensitive about who you choose to talk to, be honest with yourself about why you want to talk to them, approach the subject with empathy, and choose a respectful time to do so.

Feedback about Caroline’s session from a Source attendee

  • ‘Very insightful and inspiring.’

Preventing Burnout in your Law Firm by Leah Steele

In the second session of the day, Leah covered the signs, symptoms, and restorative solutions to burnout, sharing her own experiences and the difficulties that many other legal professionals face in the workplace.

Key take-aways

  • It is good to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy working habits, such as overworking and exhaustion, helping you to identify when you need something, even if that is a break.
  • Five cups of coffee may get you through the day, but they are not contributing to your positive mental state. Prioritise time management rather than overworking in terms of hours per week.
  • It’s good to care about your work and want to do more. But make sure to pay attention to when doing more becomes harmful to your health.

Feedback about Leah’s session from a Source attendee

‘Good tips on how to create psychological safety and understanding that burnout happens to people who care, that it's a cultural issue and not personal fragility.’

The Perfect Legal Business: The Two Ways to Grow a Law Firm by Simon McCrum

The afternoon session kicked off with Simon sharing his successes and the things he believes he could have improved. Did he get the results he wanted? Absolutely. But would he do it all differently if he could do it twice?

Key take-aways

  • Law firms run at one hundred miles per hour. But sometimes you just need to slow down and assess where you are now.
  • Law firms think they need more cases, but in reality, they need more lawyers. You need to not only be keeping, but also attracting more talent to your firm in order to grow your caseload and, in turn, grow the business.
  • Cash is everything’. It’s easy to let your outgoings run away with themselves, but you need to keep an eye on your profits. Be strict with payment plans, don’t allow yourself to be waiting on payments for twelve months, or even eighteen.
  • Be selective with clients, not every client is a good client. It’s okay to say no.

Succession Planning in a Post-COVID Era by Vidisha Joshi, Viv Williams & Trish Kinahan

Vidisha and Viv were joined by Trish Kinahan, a Partner at Hazelwoods, an independent Business Advisers and Chartered Accountants, to discuss succession planning. In their session, they covered why so many firms struggle with succession and how they can be more proactive in solving these issues.

Key take-aways

  • ‘If you haven’t started your succession planning already then it’s probably too late. Succession is a journey that people should’ve started many years ago’. Your fee earners should be on a track to partnership, allowing you to see the future that your firm is heading towards.
  • You have to take off the rose-tinted glasses when looking for a buyer or an investor. Of course, you love your firm, but what is your niche to an outsider? Are you financially stable? What makes your firm attractive? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Prepare for the cost of succession planning, such as time management, experts, and tax consequences. Make sure all of your heads of terms are clear, this will avoid backtracking and further costs.
  • Employee ownership models are also worth considering as an exit strategy and the SRA are supportive of this option.

Conference Closing

The conference was brought to a close with a comedy session from the witty Jeremy Nicholas. He talked all things Source (sorry, I mean Sauce), COVID-19 and entertaining Gifs – the perfect way to end our legal conference.

As for 2021, we will have to see what happens, but this year’s Source was a fantastic day with many captivating speakers who provided us with a Source of inspiration, ideas, and innovation to take away with us. Here’s what some of the attendees had to say…

‘Very engaging speakers, talking about really important issues.’

‘It was great to hear from some brilliant and inspiring speakers.’

We hope you all enjoyed this year’s virtual conference, and we look forward to seeing you next year!