TOM MIGHELL is a lawyer, technology consultant and noted blogger and author. He is Chair-Elect of the ABA Law Practice Management Section.
Thomas L. Mighell takes the helm as the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s 2011-12 Chair on September 1. We asked Tom what brought him to this moment and about his plans for the coming year.
How did you get involved with the LPM Section? And what led you to take on such an active role?
I entered the LPM Section through ABA TECHSHOW. I was initially invited to speak at the annual legal technology conference as a result of a conference I attended in . Later, I was invited to join the 2005 TECHSHOW Planning Board. And the rest, as they say, is history. Being the technology geek that I am, meeting people just like me in the Section and at TECHSHOW made me feel included and welcomed. At that point it was hard not to get involved with the Section.
During my time on the TECHSHOW Board, I had the opportunity to go to the Section’s regular meetings, and I observed firsthand the great networking that was taking place among people who recognize how important it is to educate lawyers on practice management topics. I have always secretly wanted to be a teacher and helping lawyers learn about the business of the practice of law—which encompasses technology, marketing, management and finance—was really appealing to me.
After serving as the 2008 Chair of ABA TECHSHOW, I also chaired the Section’s Education Board, the entity responsible for coordinating seminars and all educational content provided to our members and others. I spent a number of years as a member of the Section Council, and was honored when the Section selected me to eventually serve as LPM Chair.
What do you feel are your primary challenges as Incoming Chair?
I think the most serious issue affecting the LPM Section is membership, but I prefer to think of it more as an opportunity than a challenge. The decline in membership across the has many causes, one of which is the tough economic period that began a few years ago. We’d like to bring more people into the Section, and I think the appeal should be obvious, especially to current members.
I would think every member would also want to be a member of the LPM Section; there’s no better place to find resources that every lawyer needs to run his or her practice. But I realize that not everyone is aware of the benefits of LPM membership, so I welcome the opportunity to reach out to other entities to show them the true value of membership in our Section.
You’re a well-known legal blogger, author of the book iPad in One Hour for Lawyers and coauthor of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools & Technologies. How do you envision taking advantage of today’s technologies during your year as LPM Chair?
The LPM Section already does a pretty great job of using technology to deliver content to members and others. Both Law Practice magazine, which is now available in interactive digital format, and our monthly webzine Law Practice Today regularly deliver fantastic practice management content to our members. Plus, we’re on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LawPracticeTips—have you “liked” us yet? We’re also on LinkedIn, at http://linkd.in/iKtLXT, and if you’re brave enough to venture onto Twitter, then be sure to follow @LawPracticeTips while you’re there. We’re definitely taking advantage of social media outlets to connect with our members and others in the legal community.
However, I’d really like to further increase the interaction between our Section actives and the rest of our membership. One of the great benefits of being in the LPM Section is the ability to learn from our experts on marketing, management, technology and finance, but unless you come to one of our meetings, your opportunities to do that are few. So I want to find a way to create an online community that provides a forum for people to learn about practice management and improves engagement with our members. Look for more announcements on that in the coming months.
What one thing would you most like to see accomplished in and for the Section during the coming year?
Gee, I only get to mention one thing? Well, as noted previously, a couple of years ago I wrote a book with Dennis Kennedy on collaboration tools. I think that collaboration is a critical part of getting things accomplished effectively, so I’m making the idea a centerpiece of my year as LPM Chair. I’ll be asking each of our delivery boards and committees to commit to at least one project this year where they collaborate with someone else—another delivery board or committee, another section in the ABA, or even another state or local bar association—to provide practice management content to our members or others. I really believe this will be a great way to reach out to new segments of lawyers beyond the Section, and provide much needed practice management education in the process.
What is the very best thing about being an LPM member?
That’s a hard one, but I’ll continue to sound like a broken record and say the best part about being a member of the LPM Section is the amazing number of available practice management educational resources. Lawyers have plenty of places to find quality continuing education in their substantive areas of interest; however, I think it’s much harder for lawyers to find good education on the how of operating a law practice. Most law schools didn’t do a very good job of preparing us for running a business, and so we’ve got to find a way to get caught up. In pursuit of that goal, the LPM is a valuable partner indeed.