Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending an event organised by the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC) for in-house lawyers, barristers and clerks (or practice managers, directors etc.). The aim of the event was to increase and improve all round awareness and understanding of the needs of in-house lawyers and the Bar’s capability to meet them.
The first thing I should say is that this was an excellent initiative by the IBC. The Bar as a group has been very poor at promoting itself to this highly significant and influential segment of the market, so the IBC deserves to be commended both for the initiative and for some top class organisation and execution.
But I am not going to write about the event itself. I should make absolutely clear that this is not any reflection on its quality. On the contrary. As I said, it was very well conceived and executed. There were insightful and expertly delivered presentations, from experienced, senior in-house lawyers, a barrister and an academic. There’s no doubt about it: the event itself was a great success.
However, as I listened to in-house lawyers talk about the challenges facing them – internal pressures to articulate their value, the need for external lawyers to understand their business, be commercial, not reinvent the wheel, recognise what value means from their perspective, and so on … – it struck me that anyone, like me, with an interest in the commercial legal market who puts any meaningful amount of time and effort into engaging on social media will know these things inside out. If you are reading this – and the chances are you are – it is likely you fall into this category and will have nothing to learn from my reciting these well-versed issues.
For my part (and maybe I flatter myself) I felt as though I knew more about the challenges facing in-house lawyers than the in-house lawyers presenting to me. To be clear, I am not and never have been any kind of lawyer, in-house or otherwise. It is only fair to add that while I have learnt much through digital channels I also have a huge advantage from my fortunate involvement in the LBC Wise Counsel program for in-house lawyers. But that in itself came about through social media connection, which underlines my point.
But what is my point ? It’s this: it exasperates me is that people continue to ask me what is the actual value of social media and how do I get the time to use it. My answer is invariably another question: how do you have the time not to use it ?
I hope this serves as a good illustration.