By Nikki Shaver, Managing Director, Innovation & Knowledge, Paul Hastings
The notion of ‘tribe’ raised its head at LegalGeek UK last year and re-appeared this past week in New York. In a room of 200 people from verticals across legal, Jeroen Plink of Clifford Chance kicked off Inspire.Legal 2.0, heralding the event as the apotheosis of the tribal gathering that is New York Legal Week.
The brainchild of Christian Lang, from legal tech company Reynen Court*, Inspire.Legal was held for the first time last year, and now looks established enough to be an annual fixture on the Legal Tech calendar.
Lang’s vision for Inspire.Legal is to bring together key people across the legal ecosystem to engage in meaningful conversations around topics of change.
‘We decided to try to add value to the ecosystem by hosting an ecumenical gathering focused exclusively on problem definition and more richly and holistically understanding legal’s most pressing challenges,’ Lang says.
The smaller size of the event makes for a relatively intimate ‘Community of inquisitiveness’, in which participants feel comfortable discussing topics as diverse as interoperability, collaborative funding, technology adoption, and experiential learning.
Inspire.Legal calls itself an ‘unconference’, which is borne out by the format. ‘Unpanelists’ facilitate discussions in the first half of the day, giving rise to challenge statements that form the focus of the afternoon’s exercise.
This year, the theme of the day was collaboration, exemplified by the event’s joint sponsorship by EY and Clifford Chance, and by the diversity of attendees.
Inspire.Legal provides a safe space for discussion, and then sets out to be deliberately provocative – a networking exercise around discussion cards required attendees to engage strangers on topics such as ‘are wellness programs a sham?’, and on-the-spot debates which at one point had Bob Ambrogi on stage debating Zach Abramowitz on whether it’s even possible for real legal innovation to be driven by law firms.
In the end, though, what makes this conference so compelling is that it represents a genuine attempt to open up conversation across verticals, bringing clients, students and law school faculty into the conversations that many of us are otherwise having in isolation at firms or at other legal innovation events.
It’s hard to get the balance right and it would have been great to have more clients in the room, but Inspire.Legal is only in year two and I have confidence the equilibrium will shift as the model matures.
The community would be well served if more conferences tried this hard to get all of the stakeholders in a room together and ensure that each voice in the tribe was truly heard.
[* Editor’s Note: Clifford Chance, which financially supported the Inspire.legal event, is also an investor in Reynen Court. ]
Legal Innovators US and UK Events
Picking up on Nikki’s point about getting clients in the room for events and hearing their views – Artificial Lawyer is delighted to announce that Legal Innovators California – San Francisco – June 18, will have some great input from clients. We have several inhouse speakers lined up and can already announce:
- Michael Cheng, Associate General Counsel, Facebook
- Patrick Lytle, General Counsel, Ginger.io
- With more speakers to be announced soon, including from Google.
And, the Legal Innovators event in London, on two days across 7th and 8th October later this year, is also taking the same approach and we will have an entire day (the 8th) devoted to hearing from clients, featuring companies such as BT, Fujitsu, AlphaSights, Deliveroo, with more to be announced in the coming weeks and months.