The College of Law Practice Management inducted its 2022 Fellows at its annual conference on October 6-7 at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, MA, which was held for the first time in person since 2019.

The College is an international professional, educational, and honorary association dedicated to “the improvement of law practice management and the enhancement of the professional quality of and public respect for the law.” Fellowship in the College is by invitation only and only awarded to those professionals with outstanding experience, accomplishments, and ethical standards. Since 1994, fewer than 350 Fellows have been admitted. Muir, founder of Law Practice Management LLC and author of Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence, was inducted as a Fellow in 2019.

Eight Fellows made presentations, four about failures and four about successes in effecting change. Failures were recounted by Liam Brown, Chairman and CEO of Elevate Services,  Casey Flaherty, Chief Strategy Officer of Lex Fusion, Jason Barnwell, Assistant General Counsel of Microsoft, and Cat Moon, Director of Innovation Design at Vanderbilt Law School. Brown emphasized the importance of culture in effecting change, and his underestimation of the blocking power of unaddressed fears when the company attempted to introduce software. Flaherty recounted having built a program that law partners said they wanted but then wouldn’t move forward on. Barnwell lauded the necessity of accumulating “failure data” in order to learn how to succeed, and Moon led a “Failure Camp” that helped people couple failure with resilience, an exercise that Royal Bank of Scotland has replicated.

Presentations about successes in effecting change were made by Steve Poor, Chairman Emeritus of Seyfarth, Alex Hamilton, CEO and Founder of Radiant Law, Connie Brenton, VP of Law, Technology & Operations of NetApp, and Caren Ulrich Stacey, CEO & Founder of Diversity Lab. In introducing robotic process automation for the first time in the legal industry, Poor found that, though successfully efficient, the process made personnel feel insecure and fearful to the point of jeopardizing the initiative. After thoroughly vetting and addressing concerns, those people were brought on board and the program successfully implemented. By turning over 80% of contracts within half a day, an industry best, Hamilton’s Radiant Law outperforms much bigger firms that support large companies’ contract portfolios. That success was achieved by getting rid of time sheets and the billable hour, imbedding continuous improvement and assuring attorneys time to focus and relax. Brenton launched the free Legal Metrics Portal to give beginners through experts help in overcoming stumbling blocks in project management, and Stacey founded a service that vets, according to firms’ needs and cultures, women who have left the legal work force but are qualified to show their merit in a one-year internship, almost 90% of whom have been hired to stay on.

The consensus takeaway from Fellows was that change is an emotional process, and those who are affected must be addressed directly and sympathetically in order for that change to be successful. The acknowledgement of the role of emotions in law was also validated for us at Law People Management in the critical question of the weekend: how do your lawyers feel on Sunday night about going back to work?

This year’s InnovAction Awards went to Stacey’s Diversity Lab, Fox Rothschild LLP for processing improvements, and Suffolk University Law School’s Legal Innovation & Technology Lab for quickly setting up during the pandemic a website that provides common documents that can be filled out and filed online with the courts at no cost. One of Suffolk’s graduates was also hailed for having developed the site “Hello Prenup,” with financing from Shark Tank.

Altogether a year of impressive steps forward for the legal industry!