Change is a dragon. You can ignore it, which is futile. You can fight it, in which case you will lose. Or you can ride it.

[Anon.]

This is one of my most treasured quotes. It harnesses so much of what we experience in life – some of which we only appreciate after the event. At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full flow and causing untold human suffering and economic loss. Its unique attribute in preventing gatherings has proven devastating. The legal industry is not immune from this – nor indeed those gatherings and events at which professionals would normally connect during the year. In this short fireside chat, we look at some of the implications and opportunities this creates for in-house counsel as they navigate the road ahead.

– David Kinnear

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

Tell us a little about yourself.

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

I’ve lived and worked 25 years or so in each of the UK and the US and I wear three hats – as a lawyer, a mediator and a publisher respectively. I sit on the occasional Advisory Board and most recently was invited to be a Non Exec. / Advisory Board member of Dorf & Nelson, a bi-coastal US law firm. After several years in industry, including a senior global leadership role at a major global bank, my attention returned to the legal space on account of legal technology. I was curious to see what the sector had done to harness the power of technology to create efficiencies and new products – akin to what has happened in other sectors. In the time since, I’ve been a legal technology co-founder (successful exit) and I launched HPC.

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

What impact has COVID-19 had on legal industry events?

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

As the lockdown kicked in, one after the other, many legal events cancelled or postponed. For a while, it felt a little like the aftermath of 9/11 when air travel shut down and a lot of business travel to events was put on pause. In the months prior to all this, the legal events space was in full flow – it was a buoyant market reflecting a prosperous sector. Very few had really given much thought to a world where physical events aren’t the norm. Perhaps curiously, that’s exactly what I had been thinking about since the inception of HPC.
BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

Tell us about HPC.

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

HPC is a leading digital media publication primarily covering the legal sector. I launched HPC to provide a voice of the modern legal industry – a lightning rod and market square for senior legal leadership to share their experiences and perspectives as change accelerates. We run feature media coverage on some of the top individuals and organizations in the modern legal industry – those who are pushing the envelope, driving change and creating a better future for everyone. While covering serious topics, we’ve had a lot of fun with some of our well known feature interview pieces like our #BakersDozen #TopOfMind and #Spotlight series – highlighting valuable insights that fellow professionals can use. We have a very robust following on social media – many folks simply know us by our Twitter handle @hipcounsel or they follow our hashtag #hipcounsel. We find a lot of busy professionals use this as a check-in with people and issues they need to know about.

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

How will the HPC Global Summit help in-house counsel?

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

The HPC Global Summit is a virtual event series built from the ground up around the role and expectations of today’s General Counsel and Chief Legal Officers. It’s a chance to hear and engage with a world-class Faculty on some of the biggest strategic questions facing the sector. We’ve kept each segment intentionally brief to keep the content fresh and engaging. The virtual format makes it easy to attend – unlike traditional industry events, there are no travel logistics or added costs to worry about. There’s also ample opportunity to connect with individuals outside the sessions. With so much change in the air for legal professionals, it’s another way to plug in and be part of the conversation. Almost every week, there is a new legal technology news alert in the marketplace – so many it can be hard to stay on top of it all. A format like the Summit and especially the Village aspect provides an opportunity to ask around amongst a wider network of colleagues and connect with potential solution providers directly.

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

How has COVID-19 affected the in-house lawyer – and what are the implications?

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

The COVID-19 pandemic has further heightened both awareness and the stature of the in-house legal function and the invaluable role it plays. Aside its own metamorphosis to operating remotely, many legal departments have found a strong fit as true strategic partners in the business – helping to navigate complex human capital, operational, and risk management matters alongside business colleagues. As many businesses have accelerated through vast operational changes, their in-house colleagues have been essential resources – a far cry from simply being the gatekeeper known for saying “no”.

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

So what is your vision for the future?

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

Having attended many events in several cities throughout the US primarily, I was struck by the singular points of failure they evidence. A typical event lasts 2-4 days – in which time large amounts of money are invested for a very short period of time – before it all goes dark. People travel, brochures are printed, booths are shipped, hotels are booked – it’s an entire ecosystem of activity. Yet it doesn’t take into account whether buy-side professionals will actually travel or step away from billable time to attend (they often do not). Since the inception of HPC, the phrase has always come to mind: Don’t go dark. Go virtual.

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

How has COVID-19 affected you and your business?

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

HPC is an all-digital publication so we don’t have the physical proximity issues experienced by some others. In that regard, we didn’t skip a beat. We did see a softening in the market for feature media in the supply-side as budgets were cut or put on hold – at least for the first several weeks following lockdown. This was only reasonable to expect as organizations tried to figure out which way was up. As time has progressed however we’ve seen leadership starting to see beyond the immediate crisis and invest in the next chapter.

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

How can in-house counsel stay on top of recent developments and new solutions?

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

In parallel with the Summit we’re also launching the HPC Digital Village, a virtual ecosystem in which legal professionals can engage with one another and buyers can research, interact with supply-side organizations. What makes this special is that once we switch the lights on on September 1, 2020 – they don’t go off. The Village is an always-on, 24/7/365 destination for the legal industry worldwide. Just like the Summit itself, it removes the requirement of travel expense and the logistics of physically attending a trade show. We’ve brought that experience into the convenience of in-house counsel’s laptop or ‘phone.

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

What do you think the future holds for the legal industry, post-pandemic?

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

I think ’21 will be a very exciting and deeply formative year for the legal industry – in part, a reflection of the vast upheaval in ’20. Some organizations are seizing the opportunity to drive forward and leverage change though others seem to have a wait-the-storm-out view. I do think there is a signficant tailwind behind the rise of alternative service providers – this aspect of things is only going to increase just like it has done in every other major chapter of change (IT, HR, BPO, FA&O etc). I think perhaps some will be surprised by some of the new entrants we see coming into the market – or names that adopt it. The issue of “agile scale” looms large over the sector – the benefits of true scale and efficiency that tend only to come from organizations with deeper pockets invested for the long haul. There is an attractive window of opportunity for buy-outs and roll-ups – moreso for tech players than service providers – but the novelty period for new tech gets shorter and shorter as more tech comes on the market.

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

Do you think ’20 marks the end of physical conferences and events as we know them now?

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

I don’t think ’20 is the end of the legal events industry however I think it will be a considerable time before it becomes “familiar” again. The challenges of large-scale conferences were real even before the pandemic – now they’re on another level altogether. Virtual events and smaller, hybrid events look like the way forward for the foreseeable future – and that’s not a bad thing when you look at it from a participant’s perspective. With smaller, virtual events I think there is a greater opportunity to focus on the quality of the content and the attendee experience. Notwithstanding that it’s virtual, I think there can in fact be a greater intimacy and connection in the user experience than when competing with the background noise of a large trade show.

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

What will be the verdict on ’20?

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

The jury on ’20 is still out but, unlike some, I think the verdict will be positive in the sense that it has caused many organizations to face technology and human capital issues they’ve been ignoring. In addition, it has raised questions about some of the assumptions that were being made beforehand.

BEN COCKRAM

BEN COCKRAM

What are the implications for in-house counsel?

David T Kinnear

DAVID T. KINNEAR

I think there are several implications – and not all negative. It has never been more important than now for in-house counsel to develop strong professional networks – a means by which to both share and digest useful information in the marketplace. There is a lot of change happening right now – both in terms of a shifting perception about the role of lawyers and also in terms of practical changes being driven by wider-scale adoption of technology. Attending good professional events is a healthy part of this process – it’s a chance to meet and engage with peers in conversation. With the impact of COVID-19, it’s simply more necessary to look at helpful alternatives to the in-person event format.

cosmonauts

About Taylor Root

Established in 1989, Taylor Root is at the forefront of the legal, compliance & risk specialist executive search industry, and has offices in 12 countries worldwide. Our longevity and reputation has enabled us to build an extensive network of both clients and candidates who trust us. Our standards and values mirror that of the people we service. We champion Diversity and Inclusion and our Social Purpose agenda creates opportunities via knowledge volunteering, inclusion and social mobility. We believe our success will continue to come from investing in long-term relationships with our clients, some of the world’s leading businesses and law firms.

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HPC

About High Performance Counsel (HPC)

HPC is the leading business media resource covering the modern legal industry and the people, technology and economic forces driving its future. Described as the “voice of the modern legal industry” HPC provides world-class media coverage via one-one feature interviews with leading legal professionals and the publication of key insights via articles, white papers and industry commentary.

For more information, click here.

DAVID T.KINNEAR

About David

David is a Barrister, Accredited Civil & Commercial Mediator, and the Publisher of High Performance Counsel (“HPC”). He is a former co-founder of a legal technology company focused on legal process automation, which was successfully acquired by a leading legal services provider.

David spent his early years in private litigation practice – largely focused on substantial construction, engineering and commercial real estate disputes. David worked for leading law firms Pinsent Masons and Linklaters in London before moving to New York to join Credit Suisse. As Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer, he helped negotiate & execute the relocation of Credit Suisse into its (now) NYC global HQ – the iconic Eleven Madison Avenue. Subsequently, David directed major global outsourcing, shared sourcing, HR operations & process efficiency initiatives including the digitization of records, the global roll-out of PeopleSoft HRMS & Y2K Compliance. David has worked extensively in the UK, US, Philippines, India and China markets in the areas of data management, HR and BPO – and most recently LPO, LegalOps. David graduated from the University of Manchester with Honors in Law and Bar School (College of Legal Education) in London, and has been a member of Middle Temple since 1989.

Member: Bar of England & Wales, American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, New York City Bar Association, Federation of Integrated Conflict Management, The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, The Society of Mediators, The Civil Mediation Council, and the Mediator Network.