Discovery Symposium 3.0 Program Announced

Our annual Discovery Symposium (now in its third year) for corporate legal departments is a real labor of love for several of us here at Counsel On Call. A lot of time and consideration -- much of it with our in-house clients -- goes into the creation of the sessions, identifying the proper experts to speak and attorneys who will get the most out of the program, as well as creating an environment in which in-house attorneys are comfortable sharing their stories of trial, success and failure.

We're very excited about this year's program and our group of attendees. Some of the highlights:

  • Leading off with a panel on the challenges presented by Social Media today and tomorrow. Our knowledgeable friends from FedEx and International Paper, along with Barry Willms, will lead the discussion.
  • Search Validation, Intelligent Coding and Smartly Reducing Data Sets, a panel that has been in development for some time and a topic we've addressed in previous events. But this year there's certainly a heightened interest/debate about this topic due to the New York Times article on the subject that went viral, so we're looking forward to getting deep into this subject.
  • Breakout sessions led by Cox Communications, Fidelity Investments and Southwest Airlines, as well as a session led by some of our Team Leaders, who will get into the finer points of creating effective, cost-saving discovery processes.
  • Ten-minute 'snapshot' presentations from six of the leading in-house attorneys who oversee discovery processes at their respective companies. Each will offer at least one 'lesson learned.' 
  • Our annual discussions on relationships with outside counsel, pricing structures, budgeting and technology tools. We get a lot of 'stories from the field' during these sessions and there's always ample audience participation.

The format/size we've created -- small panels, 40 corporate legal departments, 65-75 attendees -- truly seems unique in the dialogue it generates and best practices it fleshes out. It should be another great event and we're excited to host everyone in Nashville again.

PAR Conference Demonstrates Progress

Last week, I had the privilege of attending and speaking at The Project for Attorney Retention’s (PAR) annual conference in Washington, D.C. There were attorneys from various practice areas from across the country in attendance and the event was a great success.

As I listened to managing partners and general counsel discuss the importance of having attorneys working on a flexible basis, including reduced hours, I had to take a moment to reflect over the last 11 years (April marks Counsel On Call’s 11-year anniversary). In our formative years during hundreds, if not thousands, of conversations, the questions I would invariably get, with all sincerity, were "Who would do this? Who does not want to be a partner?" I will always remember receiving one e-mail stating that I was ”crazy” and that I would fail as there is “only one way to practice law.”

I also remember meeting amazing attorneys who were made to feel they had no value because they opted out of the traditional path. Those attorneys kept me going.

At the PAR conference, it was clear that very talented attorneys now choose to practice in a “non-traditional” way, and the focus was on how the profession should embrace and encourage this choice. That’s certainly an initiative I’ve been and will continue to get behind. PAR has done an excellent job of bringing these issues to make real change happen and keep the conversations alive. Realizing that our “little” company isn’t so little anymore – and that our attorneys worked in 33 states for dozens of law firms and Fortune 100 and publicly traded companies in 2010 – serves as proof that more and more people are realizing that there is indeed more than one way to practice law. Today, so many talented attorneys choose to practice in what used to be thought of as a non-traditional manner.

What a difference a decade makes… and that difference is changing the profession for the better.