The Regional Law Firm Management Forum took place September 29, 2016 in Singapore.  The Australasian Law Practice Management Association (ALPMA) and the Law Council of Australia’s Law Management Group jointly conducted the conference themed: “Change: Technology Enables, People Deliver”.  

As Andrew Barnes, President of ALPMA, detailed before the conference on Asia Law Network’s blog:  “Law firms of the future will be as much about technology as they will about people.  How firms begin to identify that now and begin to prepare their firms for these changes is a crucial underlying element of a firm’s longevity.”  

With the conference now completed, Asia Law Portal had an opportunity to interview Barnes about 4 key takeaways from the conference. Here’s what he had to say:

What were the main takeaways from the event?  

The cross section of firms in attendance, from the large internationals to the small local firms indicates an awareness at least of how legal tech looms on the horizon.  We did not present a tech conference with tech content but delivered an event to raise awareness in the context of how this potentially impact the most important resource in a law firm – the people.  The takeaway was that firms are starting to anticipate change and want to know more about it.

Are there future similar events planned?

Early indications are that future events are likely.  A small group of attendees has flagged interest in establishing an ALPMA-type group on the ground in Singapore.  There are other events in the region where we may also be asked to facilitate a practice management stream to compliment the primary legal programs.

The event was promoted on social media including live tweeted.  How has harnessing social media helped the event and your audience?

It is difficult to assess whilst you are immersed within the event but I expect it has been picked up by those not otherwise able to be in attendance.  I do know there was a flurry of Twitter handles and LinkedIn invitations exchanged during the lunch break.  If this grows, it will be via such avenues.

What are the most important future trends lawyers and legal professionals should be thinking about?  

Before looking at trends – and there are too many spoken about to follow them all – I urge lawyers and legal professionals to firstly open their minds to how they see the future themselves.  You cannot subscribe to all blogs, but search for one or two that you relate to and follow them.  If you feel the underlying messages are ‘same old, same old’ seek another blog.  From my personal experience I think the trends around pricing must grow and if a software developer gets on the early wave with a really good product this will change the game.  Also, as firms feel pressure and seek to increase merger activity there will be more demand for the soft skills around change management and culture as more disparate groups are thrown together at short notice.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal and is the author of A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets. He provides writing, editing, research and strategy services to the corporate and professional services sectors.

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