I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak at the 2016 LMA Southeastern Chapter Conference last week. It was my first time attending this conference, and it was well worth the trip to Orlando as it was the perfect size to facilitate networking, collaboration and learning.

A talented group of industry speakers provided attendees with actionable and innovative ideas to inspire under the conference’s theme of “grow, innovate and succeed.” Some highlights included: 

  1. Jim Durham led a terrific session on the impact of legal services innovation on law firm differentiation. He explored how adopting alternative legal approaches and embracing disruptive change can help firms stand out from the pack and be better positioned for the future.
  2. Speaking of the future, succession planning should be at the top of every firm’s priority list because you can never overprepare for the future and the unexpected (such as a sudden death or departure) according to panelists Nathalie DaumJeanne Hammerstromand Jill Huse. This session explored industry trends, obstacles, opportunities and best practices for integrated succession planning. One of my favorite parts of this session was the reminder of the importance of providing star associates and junior partners with ample reasons to stay at their current firm through perks such as skills-development programs (some firms offer mini-MBA and other business principles training), secondments and opportunities to work in different offices and leadership positions (think committee appointments and helping lawyers obtain non-profit board roles).
  3. Jacqueline Madarang provided attendees with great ideas on best practices in blogging, reminding all of us of the importance of creating an editorial calendar to plan and track upcoming posts, and to offer periodic firmwide training on writing for blogs and social media sharing fundamentals.
  4. Adam Severson’s TED Talk featured satirical videos to illustrate how the messages we deliver to others aren’t always exactly received. I left this session with actionable tips on how to better communicate in the moment and how to more effectively collaborate with colleagues and lawyers. It also provided a good reminder to always discuss expectations, scope, deliverables and deadlines at the outset of a project.
  5. In an industry saturated with content, one way firms can differentiate themselves is through value-added thought leadership pieces (think topical surveys/studies, infographics, client alerts and blog posts, etc.) disseminated to target audiences via a multi-channel distribution strategy. Erin Watson and I presented on how firms of all sizes can do this – often at a very low cost or even for free – providing case studies that demonstrated the importance of “showing vs. telling” and repurposing imagery and content to maximize reach and increase the frequency of touchpoints with target audiences. The cornerstone of the success of every thought leadership campaign is social media (to spread the word and encourage interaction and relationship building), and we delved into the most important distribution channels (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – but don’t ignore Google+ because it’s very powerful for search and SEO reasons).

I always leave LMA conferences feeling energized and inspired, and this was no exception. I’m already looking forward to next year.