6th Annual Janders Dean Legal Knowledge & Innovation Conference

This week I was afforded the opportunity to attend the second day of the 6th Annual Janders Dean Legal Knowledge & Innovation Conference, held at Darling Harbour. The Conference has developed a strong reputation over the years in legal knowledge management circles, so when my firm offered me the opportunity to attend, I did not hesitate.

As expected, the Conference offered high-calibre speakers, a solid agenda, thought-provoking ideas and an opportunity to meet my peers, and it has certainly lived up to, if not exceeded, my expectations. Given I found the Conference very informative and practical, I thought I would share some of my takeaways from the day.

JDKM1All who work in legal knowledge management are aware of the increasingly complex environment we operate in. A presentation by Dr George Beaton, Executive Chairman of Beaton Research & Consulting (Australia), highlighted just how complex that landscape has become. Dr Beaton talked through a number of highly informative and visual slides examining the state of big law in Australia (and also globally) and the picture is that of an environment with increasing challenges on a number of fronts, including:

  • the growth of quality in-house legal teams competing for work;
  • increasing costs sensitivities and value expectations;
  • the growing entry of large international players into the Australian legal market; and
  • disruptive technologies that are likely become the catalyst for massive structural changes.

JDKM4While the home truths about the structure of big law and the competitive landscape delivered by Dr Beaton may be daunting, the only sensible response to a climate full of challenges and threats is to pull out and dust off the old quote: ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing .’ (The Open Door, Helen Keller, 1957)

Fortunately, Dr Beaton didn’t just leave us shaking in our boots after delivering his challenging data and observations. He also offered the following advice:

  • foster strategic conversations;
  • actively prepare for emerging challenges and opportunities;
  • generate and assess innovative strategies and options; and
  • build a deep understanding of the drivers of your business environment.

A dynamic and highly entertaining presentation later in the day (the only presentation on the day involving tasteful male nudity), by Sue Anderson, Director of Programs at the ARA Retail Institute, served as a timely reminder that the legal industry is not singled out by the gods of commerce for special punishment. The retail industry in Australia faces similar issues, including:

  • increasing customer service expectations;
  • significant pricing pressures; and
  • disruptive technologies, threading the very structure of retail.

Other highlights of the day included presentations by:

  • Stuart Kay, Global Business Systems Director at Baker & McKenzie, who gave an insightful overview of the history of language, learning, knowledge and technology;
  • the always delightful Cristina Libro, Legal Technology Solutions Manager at Henry Davis York, who talked about the need to challenge our traditional concepts and understanding of knowledge management in order to delivery truly value add solutions to our clients;
  • Miz Brmbota, Knowledge Manager at Cooper Grace Ward, who reminded us to keep it ‘Sesame Street simple’;
  • Karen Hanigan, Knowledge Management Director at Clayton Utz, who reminded us of the importance of getting out in front of our firms’ clients to deliver as much value add services as possible, whether it be a simple presentation on recent developments or more formal training;
  • Stephanie Abbott, Director of Knowledge L&D at Mayer Brown JSM, who gave us an excellent refresh on the 70-20-10 learning model and the barriers to learning, from fear of failure to cherry picking and many other cognitive traps; and
  • last, but definitely not least, the fascinating Derek Schueren.

In light of my experience this year, I sincerely hope I will have the opportunity to attend again next year. Thank you Janders Dean and Justin North!

See also: 7th Annual Janders Dean Legal Knowledge & Innovation Conference

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