CEO Letter

Dearest ILTAns!

As I write this, ILTA>ON wrapped two weeks ago, yet it feels like yesterday! The learnings are fresh, and we are continuing to receive feedback on the event that is actionable, as well as celebratory.

I want to spend a few minutes in this column putting the pieces together of my learnings, as a leader, from ILTA>ON.

First, though, I want to acknowledge the incredible efforts of the ILTA volunteers, business partners, and staff who made ILTA>ON possible, as well as the speakers and attendees who participated. The richness of content and commitment to making new connections and re-kindling long-time ones was astounding! Thank you, one and all!!!

Second, I want to recognize the winners of ILTA’s Distinguished Peer Awards! Thank you for your contributions to your organizations, ILTA, and the legal community as a whole!

Now down to learnings and takeaways.

With tracks ranging from leadership development to knowledge management to legal service delivery and so much more, there were learning opportunities for everyone who attended. I wished I could have attended every single live session! (Someone out there please master time travel! Or find me Hermione Granger’s Time Turner!)

I am going to focus today on the keynotes. Each keynote on its face provided incredible insights and value. However, taken together, the keynotes provided a prescription for leading in the legal field in this time of change and stress.

On Monday, we looked at project failure. Stephen Carver took us inside NASA, an organization synonymous with the achievement of ambitious goals using science and technology. Stephen’s often harrowing accounts of failures at NASA and how those failures, as costly as they were, ultimately resulted in success was powerful and emotional.

Tuesday’s keynote featuring best-selling author Jia Jiang took us on an often-humorous journey through 100 days of rejection. (The donut story alone is “worth the price of admission,” folks!) Jia’s touching immigrant story, woven together with the fear of rejection, which I think we all shared, delivered a message about the ability of humans to overcome adversity and make delicious lemonade out of sour lemons.

On Wednesday, we turned the lens inward to the practice of law. Richard Punt of Thomson Reuters offered six predictions for the business of law and supporting technology. Well-grounded in deep industry experience and supporting data, these predictions need to be kept close at hand as you plan for 2021 and beyond.

Haley Altman and Avaneesh Marwaha of Litera, along with a panel of legal technologists, spoke to us Thursday about the rewards of bold action. We heard in theoretical terms about the importance of both bold vision and bold action, then heard from leaders who had taken risks and reaped the rewards for their organizations.

Finally, on Friday, Gina Buser of Traveling Coaches led a much-anticipated panel of leaders from three of the Big 4. The session’s theme focused on disruption in the business of law, and the panelists were forthcoming about the competitive landscape from the perspective of the Big 4. Whether law firms view the Big 4 as competitors or collaborators, whether law departments see the Big 4 as outsourced providers or business strategists, everyone in legal needs to understand how legal services can and will be delivered in the future.

Now, let’s take these together. My lesson is this: well-armed with data and insights about the competitive landscape and some reasonable predictions, leaders who are willing to learn from past failures (as well as successes), who are open to experiencing rejection for a good cause, and who can communicate and execute on a bold vision are positioned for success both personally and organizationally.

And as I look back on ILTA>ON 2020, I see that lesson played out in reality as the ILTA community responded to unprecedented change and challenge to make an event where everyone succeeds in learning and growing.

See you next year in Las Vegas!

Joy Heath Rush