Daily Dispatch

The Friday Five

Serving 21st Century Clients: LexThink.1

By | Apr.06.12 | Daily Dispatch, Innovation, The Friday Five

“Serving 21st Century Clients” was the theme that drove 11 fearless speakers to the stage at last week’s LexThink.1 to pitch their personal angle—in a mere six minutes! How did they fare? For this week’s Friday Five we asked writer Gwynne Monahan—aka the legal Twittersphere’s “girl in the blue hat”—to report her impressions of the event, held the eve of ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago. 

LexThink.1, the pre-ABA TECHSHOW event “formerly known as Ignite Law,” is a fun event that has grown into a big deal. Two years ago, the inaugural Ignite Law was held in a small room in the downstairs of the Chicago Hilton. Last year, it was promoted to a larger ballroom where it returned this year. It’s produced by the team of Matthew Homann, JoAnna Forshee and Jobst Elster, and Andrea Cannavina—you can learn more about them here  and watch videos from past years of Ignite Law here).

Each year has a different theme—”Serving the 21st Century Client” this year—and anyone can virtually pitch a presentation idea and compete for a spot on the live stage. Twelve speakers are chosen through an online public vote, and then they have six minutes to deliver a 20-slide presentation. Think about that for a second. Six minutes. Twenty slides. Oh, and to add to the fun, the slides move automatically. Six minutes. Twenty slides. Do the math.

Similar to last year, there was a mix of returning and new speakers. Jason Wilson, over on Slaw, has a good write up of the presentations, as does Inside Legal—with photos—here. The 2012 videos will be posted in the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye out—they’re worth watching.

What I Learned at LexThink.1

Here are my five takeaways.

1. Social media is still the “it” topic. A good number of the presenters mentioned social media in some capacity—either as a necessary adoption to communicate in the manner clients are used to, or expect to, or as a way to promote yourself to your client base. Nothing new, exactly, but the fact that it was mentioned so frequently just goes to show that clearly the legal community is catching onto how social media is changing the way people communicate.

2. Google Plus doesn’t rank as a social network, but Pinterest does. I was quite surprised by this. One presentation mentioned Google Plus as a social network. Wait. Check that. One presentation mentioned Google Plus. A few mentioned Pinterest, though, as a client communication tool or another way to market your practice. Call me crazy, but Pinterest doesn’t strike me as the more useful of the two. Perhaps it’s just the recent hoopla over Pinterest, which, by the way, Carolyn Elefant wrote about back in January.

3. Will Hornsby is funny. I toyed with making this point something like “ABA Staff Council Will Hornsby adds humor to legal ethics,” but the guy is just funny. And his humor seeps into everything, including legal ethics. I took his legal ethics class at The John Marshall Law School, and it was just as entertaining as his LexThink presentation. With a mix of humor and excellent grasp of legal ethics in every state, Will, who is Staff Council to the ABA, delivered a fantastic presentation on how ethics rules can hinder lawyers’ ability to serve today’s clients. [Read more from Will here.]

4. Serving in the 21st century is like the toothpaste aisle. One thing that struck me after listening to the presentations was how convoluted and disorganized the 21st century is, so far. We used to have three methods of communicating and serving clients: phone, letter or in person. Now, we have multiple options: phone, letter, in person, a social network, email, text message, to name a few. It seems 21st century client service is mimicking the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store: Always a new choice.

5. The blue hat sticks out.  Branding was a topic in a few presentations, how to stick out from the crowd. In one slide, there was an image of a red umbrella raised above a sea of gray ones, which made me think of the Traveler’s Insurance company. Then I started getting tweets like, “I see your blue hat!” What started as a way to keep warm, as the venue is often chilly, has become a personal brand. Yes, even something simple, like wearing a blue hat, can make you stand out.

Needless to say, I’m quite curious about next year’s LexThink.

Gwynne Monahan is best known by her Twitter handle @econwriter5. She has written several articles on open source applications for lawyers and legal professionals, and has presented on open source as well as issues surrounding social media. She is currently Community Manager for Clio and is spearheading Small Firm Innovation.

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