I have been asked a lot about the idea for LawFest …and been told a lot that it is brave (which my head de-codes as “foolish”).
It is true that the idea started as a conversation about a particularly dull conference for lawyers – Politbureau talking heads at the front, overwhelmingly dull presentation slides, dull subjects and a dull space. Just row upon row of bored people with three priorities – to get the CPD reference, to hopefully see a friend and to get away early.
The conversation was about designing an event that was the antithesis of what we had just experienced. And so the idea of a not-in-London, summer, joyful and engaging event with a festival vibe took shape. However as we joked about the approach and the type of things we might do, friends and contacts started to encourage the notion.
In another part of my brain I have a longstanding grumble about learning and development for lawyers. I believe it has become so skewed to the self-serving needs of providers and so hopelessly generic, that the only certain results are that people will learn little and develop not at all.
Then there is the issue of the role of lawyers in society and in business today. If lawyers were to take to heart all that has been said about the changing market landscape it is a journey to hell in a handcart. Personally I don’t buy it. I don’t believe a profession of such talent, energy, drive and imagination can be anything other than a success, provided we are prepared to adapt, recognise weakness and exploit strength.
I am not pretending, by the way, that LawFest is the answer to all of these points, but I believe training is stale and learning has become a clichéd parody. Collecting CPD is not personal development, is not learning and is not anything except a small tick in a largely irrelevant box.
If we cannot be bothered to explore, to learn, to debate, to challenge, to dream and to create, how will we develop and how can we succeed?
The idea and the passion behind LawFest is to begin to challenge the personal development model for all lawyers.
In my view our greatest failing is not that we do not succeed, but that we fail to be curious about our potential and miss the opportunities that result to contribute more, create more, do more.
The ingredients for LawFest are inspirational people, some new ideas, some old ideas reshaped, a space to listen, to talk, to laugh and to try. There is no recipe for success, but with these ingredients it would be a great shame not to cook.
We still have places left. I would love you to be there. Please come.