14 Minute Read
Cat-bum-hole-mouth… it only seemed right to open this blog with that phrase…more on that later ;)
The day opened with the host and MC Celia Delaney storming onto the stage to Firestarter, was this a start of things to come? Celia set the tone for the day and cracked the odd joke here and there before she welcomed to the stage Viv Williams our consulting director who expressed his concern about the current challenges facing the sector and hoped that the day would shed some light and give everyone a new source of inspiration, of ideas and of innovation.
Paul Shrimpling - The moments of truth that determine your firm's future success
The first of four speakers were Paul Shrimping. Paul delivered a talk on 'habitual behaviour' and how it effects a firm that is seeking change. He went on to express how we are not in control of our individual selves, but habits are what controls us.
To break a cycle, push for change and to generate new idea’s/innovation we must first break the current habits that we have by making small changes. During the talk Paul asked everyone to put their watches on the opposite wrist and then concluded by asking who still has their watch in the position he asked for at the start. Many people had already swapped back to their original wrist proving his point that we will never change if we can’t change our habitual behaviour.
Henry Rose Lee - Inter-Generational Harmony & Inclusivity in the Workplace
After that we saw Henry Rose Lee come to the stage talking about Inter-Generational Harmony & Inclusivity in the Workplace. Allowing the audience to interact and play a true or false game on facts related to generations. It turned out it’s true that money is the number one priority for young millennials/Gen Z getting a job. That Generation X are the least happy in the workplace, one delegate pointed out was because they have children that won’t leave home! Also it turns out that Baby Boomers are the richest generation in the world.
But then how do we all work together? She went on to say with community, innovation and advancement. Building a community in the workplace is key; celebrate new hires, encourage senior members to hold “surgeries”, set up projects and provide feedback. Key hacks for innovation in the workplace; reward for pilot successes, make an innovation hub, buddy up with other companies to gain ideas and set up WhatsApp groups to encourage communications and knowledge. Finally Henry spoke about key hacks for advancement; to continue to develop/train employees after qualifications, set up a three-tier career process, allow sabbaticals for millennials/Gen Z, to provide the best possible titles to give status for Millennials/Gen Z and use projects to give people a reason to stay or to feel more engaged.
Law Firm Spotlight
Next up we had a great session where we put three law firms under the spotlight to share with us their firms’ internal processes and methods. First up we had Alison McCormack – CEO of Brethertons. Alison explained to us their “6 Step Onion” plan covering everyone from the bottom up. The key area of the “Onion” was the layers. Brethertons wanted to be more efficient about their processes and technology, through to roles, people and strategy. Everything is linked.
Second up was Anthony Sloan HR Director for Ashtons Legal. The biggest area of Anthony’s talk was their “unlimited holidays” process. This was not something the firm instilled without first doing a great deal of process refining and making sure everyone was on board with the key principles. As a result of the unlimited holidays, sickness levels are down and their flexible working arrangement is suited to each individual.
Lastly, we had James Brown – Managing Partner of Hall Brown Family Law. James Brown's firm is a relatively new setup, and what James and the partners wanted to do was to create the best family law practice in Manchester. Not only have they achieved this, but they have started to acquire tier one talent to be part of their team. Due to the firms agile, flexible and open working environment the firm is going from strength to strength.
After an excellent session it demonstrated that the three firms have created a unique environment for their teams, and are now pushing forward with new initiatives to help service their clients and grow the reputation of their firm.
Penny Haslam - Make Yourself a Little Bit Famous
Next up saw ex BBC Radio and TV presenter, Penny Haslam share her tips and techniques on how to ‘Make Yourself a Little Bit Famous’. Amusingly, Penny began by asking the audience “have you ever experienced a serious face of ‘cats-bum-hole-mouth’ when you see a competitor getting more exposure and glory than you!!! If you have, do not despair …. you’re not alone, and the talk will gave the audience some ideas on how to ensure this never happens again”.
Penny began by talking about how your personal brand and how others perceive you, can offer credibility and showcase your expertise. If you are not able to come up with your own campaign or idea, then comment on others – be vocal, be visible, become known as the ‘go-to person in your field’. Go on radio or TV if you are invited to leverage your expertise, if you are asked to speak at an event and don’t really want to do it, just dust yourself off and do it! Use your camera on your phone to take a video at events you are attending and put them out on social media and YouTube.
Penny ended her lively, interactive and informative talk by sharing her ‘FACE’ (Fact, Add, Comment and Example) questionnaire with the audience. Before attending any interview, meeting, networking event, radio/tv interview she recommended that everyone fill out their own FACE questionnaire so that they were also fully prepared.
Sara Traynor - Lego Serious Play Workshop
Our final speaker of the day was Sara Traynor who uses LEGO as a method to accelerate problem-solving, team development and business planning.
Everyone was given a bag containing LEGO pieces and Sara took us through a number of tasks to help demonstrate the importance of creating a culture of psychological safety where everyone around the table has a voice.
The first task was to build a tower. The results…..we had tall towers, short towers, underground car parks, diving boards and roof gardens. There was certainly no shortage of imagination and the exercise clearly demonstrated that everyone’s perception of a tower is different!
The following challenges were more metaphorical; build what you love about your role; build what a nightmare day looks like. A deeper level of innovative thought was definitely required, and it certainly provided a greater insight into others around the table.
Whilst this was serious fun and a number of valuable lessons were demonstrated throughout the exercise, the biggest challenge was to ask a room full of lawyers to build their models in silence – this was never going to happen!
Symphony Legal Awards
The first day closed and it was on to getting ready for the gala dinner and Symphony Legal awards. The evening began with Nick Ruston blowing everyone’s minds with his outstanding close-up magic including the unbelievable fork & spoon bending! The evening then continued and finished off with the Symphony Legal awards.
Well done to all the winners.
Symphony Legal Member of the Year – Judicare Law International
Product Service Provider of the Year – Tikit
The Friday morning saw two panel sessions and I’m sure those in the audiences (some a little blurrier eyed than others) gained a lot of insight and value from the speakers.
The main takeaways from this session were that the silent generation needs to embrace tech in firms, if partners won’t accept tech then put government process in place and explain to them why it’s important to use. Have ambassadors in the workplace using technology and have them filtering down to the rest of the firm. The panellists agreed that making sure you have the right technology in the business can save employees up to 5 hours a day. So, the question is what can the firm can do with those extra hours?
Next takeaway is if tech is costing you a fortune, is the business using the tech to its best ability? Do you know what the technology can offer and are all the features being used? Finally, are we going paperless? "Not in my lifetime..." comments Adam, "Not on a single screen..." says Stephen. Could we see firms adopting a paperless approach? Maybe not paperless but all panellists hope definitely paper-light. In conclusion as Stephen rightly said we can’t stand back, we have to embrace technology.
The last panel of the day was Aligning Finance, Business Development & Marketing with panellists Adrienne Halladay, Symphony Legal, Rich Dibbins, Conscious Solutions, Ella Nelson, Moneypenny and Clare Fanner, My Legal Checkup.
First up was call handing, are the people answering your phones the right people to sell to potential new clients? They need to be coached in the correct manner; they are the first point of call for the firm. Does the firm need to consider a BD manager to be monitoring this, so more sales are produced? The panel agrees, yes!
The panel spoke in depth around the importance of having a good CRM system and keeping all the firm’s data in one place. Not having it stored on in employees email clients! What happens if they leave? Where has all the data gone, can it be restored? There are free versions you can use; you don’t need to buy a sledgehammer to crack a nut if you’re not going to utilise its full benefits.
Adrienne expresses the fact that you shouldn’t forget about traditional marketing in this world of technology. Yes, you can justify your track on digital and show your partners how the ROI is happening but don’t forget about your old methods, Conscious have just printed a brand new magazine and they are a digital agency!
Finally, a firm's marketing plan needs to be changed every year to keep up with the change of the firm. You can’t just rehash it and write the new year on! It’s important to find the time to write it, it’s a living a breathing document. If you don’t have the time, employ someone to write it, so you can really up your game.
We hope you all enjoyed this year’s conference and we look forward to seeing you next year!
3. Penny Haslam
Thank you to other contributors to this blog Jake Ruck, Account Manager, Conscious Solutions, Rich Dibbins, Head of Sales, Conscious Solutions, Adrienne Halladay, Marketing Consultant, Symphony Legal and Jo Kangurs, HR Consultant, Symphony Legal.