2011 Skills Symposium

January 8, 2011

Under a swirling sky swathed in shades of the most vivid purples and golds and heavy with the threat of an imminent storm, delegates assembled at Kloofzicht near Johannesburg on Sunday 30 October 2011 for a unique legal conference that aimed to challenge, delight and inspire.

As the conference began, the lightning and thunder now in the distance, a rainbow provided an optimistic backdrop and we were underway. The premise of the programme is to share – sharing insights, best practices, experiences, ideas and to build from sharing to something practical and useful. Delegates at this event come to learn, not from being told what to do; but from being involved in an extended conversation over more than two days that is intended to help each of them find and define their own way.

The delegates, all In-house lawyers from some of South Africa’s greatest companies and institutions, were brilliant; their attitude, appetite and contributions were immense throughout and it was a privilege for us to be part of their world. The fact that at coffee and meal breaks they stayed in their discussion groups to continue their debates was evidence of something important and special happening. It was a joy to be with them.

The programme takes a truly in-depth look at in-house strategies, operational best practices, resourcing, relationships with external law firms and, crucially, individual personal development and growth.

To facilitate this we had a team of important and highly respected General Counsel and presenters from the UK and South Africa to share, but never to lecture, and in addition we benefited from the fantastic support and insights of five sponsoring law firms* and a publisher** who throughout the event contributed, encouraged and debated the most important issues of the day for legal services in South Africa.

As a melting pot of ideas and inspirational people (including the delegates) I have seldom experienced anything better in my professional life.

As the event drew to a close on the Tuesday afternoon, one delegate shook me warmly by the hand “you have changed the way I think about my profession and the contribution I can make” she said. Feedback like this is very humbling and spurs us on to further establish the programme more deeply and more widely.

Will you be part of it in 2012?

*Bowman and Gilfilan, Norton Rose, DLA Cliffe Decker Hofmeyr, Webber Wentzel, Eversheds

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