October 23, 2012


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Making Partner

It's Up or Out No More as Alternatives Shake up the Traditional Partnership Model

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On the Horizon for Law Practice Management

by Tom Grella

By the time you read this page, planning for ABA TECHSHOW® 2008 will be actively under way and, for many, ABA TECHSHOW 2007 will simply be a great memory. However, as I am writing this, the 2007 conference is still fresh in my mind—and it was such a huge and overwhelming success I feel compelled to convey what I learned through my attendance and involvement with the conference's planning board.

ABA TECHSHOW is, in my opinion, the best legal technology conference in the world and, in its own way, unquestionably one of a kind in service to legal and legal technology professionals. This year's board particularly exemplified many of the leadership and management principles that I have tried so hard to expound upon in this column throughout the year. While I talk and write about these principles, the board exemplified them well.

In his book True Professionalism, David H. Maister says there are three types of members in any organization:

  • Losers—This term refers to those with no interest in a shared vision or meeting common goals, who have no real interest in either the future or the "here and now," except as it might affect themselves.
  • Cruisers—These individuals seem to have an interest in organizational success, but they only see the "here and now" and lack understanding of short-term sacrifice for long-term success. They might experience short-term successes but be shortsighted in the long run. This type of person is on "cruise control."
  • Dynamos—These are the people who focus on both the short term and the long term, understanding that short-term sacrifice leads to long-term viability and success.
The word "dynamos" describes the ABA TECHSHOW 2007 Board and its leaders, Dan Pinnington (2007 Chair) and Tom Mighell (2008 Chair). It also describes our Section Director Larry Smith and his staff. In the 2007 conference, these dedicated volunteers and staff realized our most successful event ever, but beyond that they have positioned the conference—and the LPM Section—for the future. Here are two ways they have done so.

First, by partnering with other entities to take portions of ABA TECHSHOW "on the road," the 2007 board has moved forward with plans to address the needs of many of our target audience who are not in a position to attend the annual Chicago conference, but still yearn for the valuable content offered there.

Second, the board recognized that, in keeping with the ABA's goal to better serve solo and small firm lawyers, ABA TECHSHOW could provide more resources specific to solo and small firm lawyers—and the board also knew that doing so would require collaboration. So it created a "Solo and Small Firm Day," with the ABA GP|Solo Division as co-sponsor of the track. The Section is grateful to GP|Solo Division Chair John Macy and his officers and staff for working with us toward a common goal, and unquestionable success. Paraphrasing Longfellow, we really did discover that strength is in union.

ABA TECHSHOW is an important means for our Section to help lawyers serve clients. Next year, we strive to improve even further on our success. I hope that you will be able to attend on March 13–15, 2008, at the Hilton Chicago.