The swamp of legal apathy was well and truly drained in Washington DC as the largest gathering of in-house lawyers assembled in the U.S capital. More than 4000 in-house counsel attended the ACC Annual Meeting (14-18 October 2017) to debate the hottest trends, innovations in the law, and future of the profession. Twitter, as always, was there to capture the debate. The Washington Twitterstorm covered everything from blockchain, to Legal Operations, access to justice, and who exactly has the best swag? Here we reveal the top 10 Tweets from the conference.
1. Law and the Blockchain Revolution
Don Tapscott, bestselling author of the Blockchain Revolution, began the conference which served to establish a tech focus. Ron Friedmann, Partner at Fireman & Company noted : “#ACCAM17 seems ahead of law firm counterparts in putting #blockchain front and center.” Tapscott explained that corporate counsel needs to keep blockchain on their radar.
Ilona Korzha, in-house counsel for Fortune 100 company, Sprint, noted: “Fantastic and thought-provoking presentation. Who knew that blockchain was so much more than just currency?” Mark Schwarz Vice President & General Counsel at Teletrac Navman, added: “Blockchain is everywhere… legal challenges and opportunities abound.”
2. The rise of Legal Operations
To make Law Great Again, the ACC prescribed Legal Operations (26% of general counsel have legal operations functions, up from 16% in 2016). “Of all the wonderful sessns/great thinkg at this meetg, THIS may have the most long-term impact” tweeted Susan Hackett, CEO of Legal Executive Leadership, amd former GC for the ACC. The session was led by Reese Arrowsmith, Vice President, Head of Operations, Campbell Soup Company. with case studies from Citigroup and AbbVie.
Catherine J Moynihan, ACC Associate Vice President, Legal Management Services says: “I have been struck by the number of general counsel who are starting up legal departments and want to build it with an operational model in mind. They are thrilled with the ‘boot camp’ put on by an ensemble faculty of legal ops pros explaining how to put an operations road map in place and build the department with solid, scalable financial and vendor management practices underpinned by a technology strategy.”
3. AI has arrived In-House
The number of in-house counsel with an eye on AI has risen (LawGeex had great face-to face meetups with many of our customers benefiting from AI during the conference). The automation of everyday legal tasks was center stage in Rise of the Machines: Can Compliance and Litigation Keep Up?, a panel moderated by Mark Huller, Senior Counsel from The Cincinnati Insurance Company, and featuring Khalid Al-Kofahi, R&D Vice President at Thomson Reuters; Cynthia Boeh, General Counsel at Other World Computing; and Martin Tully from Akerman LLP.
Kofahi used the mantra “what business are we in?” noting that if lawyers are in the advice business then they should embrace this. Boeh simply called AI “miraculous” for taking the menial tasks out of the law. Thomson Reuters also unveiled a new paper on AI for in-house counsel, finding that roughly two-thirds (67%) of all survey respondents stated they are confident and ready to try new technology. This included research showing 39% of in-house counsel predicted it will be commonplace within 10 years, and 37% believed it will take more than 10 years.
4. Networking good. But where’s the social media?
This gets meta. There was discussion on Twitter on the need for more social media interaction at conferences (this is now reflected in this round up of the best tweets, likely found on social media). Justin G. Castillo, Head of Legal at BT Americas, explains: “Obviously the point of social media is what Kevin O’Keefe says: Reputation and Relationships” (Kevin O’Keefe is founder of LexBlog seeking to share information, news, and commentary to help lawyers and other professionals looking to network online).
Castillo adds: “Sure, you can (and should) do retail networking and shake hands at receptions/conference, but you also can use social media to find those people you’d like to meet in person. It also helps you tap into the wisdom and insights that smart colleagues put out every. single. Day. To illustrate, I have a list of 219 people on my legal innovators list. They provide me with invaluable insight into how technology and innovation are changing how attorneys work. Attorneys who don’t tap into this are missing out big-time, and organizations such as ACC need to work harder to drive that point hoe and show lawyers the way. A few people “get it,” but we have a looooooong way to go.”
5. Healthfulness and Building Resilience
Nicolle Schippers, Associate General Counsel at Arag North America was among those tweeting about a fascinating session – which used techniques from the U.S military to create greater resilience among lawyers. This evaluated the challenges faced by lawyers who must practice skepticism and “pessimism”. Tweets Michal Cardman, Employment law editor at XpertHR (The) “pessimistic style useful for assessing legal risks. Attorneys should strive for *flexibility* and be optimistic where appropriate.”
6. #ProBono Proud
Corporate Pro Bono, a partnership project of the Pro Bono Institute and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), is designed to substantially increase the amount of pro bono work performed by in-house counsel. Here, President of the DC Bar, and Sr. V.P., General Counsel at ULLICO Inc, Patrick McGlone, tweets his support.
Peter Halprin, attorney in Anderson Kill’s New York office, officially won the ACC Annual Conference (though let us know if your stash exceeds this).
8. Cultivating the Millennial in-house lawyer
Above The Law’s Joe Patrice provides one sensitive approach to cultivating in-house millennials. In a session on this topic, Ryan Evans, director, corporate counsel, Jack in the Box; Elizabeth Henries, attorney; Camille Olson, Seyfarth Shaw and Welly Tantono, country counsel, Hewlett-Packard Asia Pacific unpicked the legal generational gap issue. They talked about the differences between “Builders”, “Baby Boomers”, “Gen X” and “Millennials”.
9. Champions of innovation at the ACC
Lucy Bassli, Assistant GC at Microsoft, shows the power of planning, processes and legaltech (although LawGeex unfortunately cannot take credit for this success, we are helping dozens of clients automate the approval of NDAs and other contracts in an hour or less).
Lucy was one of dozens of ACC “Value Champions” featured at the conference, transforming process and operations, including Urmila Paranjpe Baumann, assistant general Counsel at Express Scripts; Brad Lundeen, senior corporate attorney at Cabela’s Inc; Jami Segota, SVP GC at Ricoh USA; Michael Tucker, General Counsel at Avis Budget Group; and Mick Sheehy, General Counsel at Telstra.
10. Where is ACC Next Year?
Matt Nolan, VP & General Counsel, Ancra Group and Director of Heico Global Compliance (and friends) at the end of the conference. We also look forward to seeing you all in Austin next year.
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