#LawFest is on the face of it entirely inconsequential. On Friday 19 and Saturday 20 August, just over fifty people came to a small theatre in Cheltenham Spa to participate in what might have looked on the surface a rather self-indulgent experiment.
The wrong time of year, the wrong place, no obvious purpose, no CPD. And however warm and positive is the twitter flurry, is that not also the 21st century equivalent of chip paper? Neither is #LawFest a commercial success in any meaningful sense of that word. It is frankly impossible to make it so. So why do it?
There are five reasons and I will share them briefly with you:
- If you set out to make money from an event it will ultimately conform to accepted norms and become generic or derivative. Making money is vital for some things, but it should never be vital for all things. To create something different, it has to feel different and then you live with the consequences that it will take time for people to accept it, but I want us to feel different, because I want us to feel we can make a difference.
- To make a difference there must be an element of risk or jeopardy; you cannot go off the beaten track and always be comfortable. At #Lawfest I am as uncomfortable as the participants, we are in it together. To share an experience is the beginning of a process to create a community. The people who have seen and felt #LawFest won’t forget it. If you have had an emotional response to something positive, you will not unlearn how that felt. We have changed each other and we are better for it.
- Our contributors are world class. To be in an intimate space and make an intensely personal connection with brilliant people is inspiring, literally inspiring. I want people to have that intensity of feeling.
- There is little or nothing available for lawyers that is about their creative development as people. I would like it to be different. #LawFest wraps people in a gentle ambition to explore their creativity. To learn is the essence of sharing. Traditional training is typically about sharing knowledge, #LawFest is about sharing a response to the experience of others and reflecting on how we have responded.
- To learn is to be present. To be present is to feel a sense of time and place. To create a sense of time and place difference is key. #LawFest will always be different, it has to be and even if it is just the balloons or the hay bales or the music, you know you must be different in this space too.
To everyone who came, and I mean everyone – thank you for your trust, thank you for your kindness and thank you for helping me learn too.
To our brilliant contributors: Claire Lomas, Kay Scorah, Fiona Laird, Martha Leyton, Hilary Gallo, Martin Shovel, George Freeman and the music of bang-on, IM beats and JC jazz, thank you for sharing something so special with us.
Entirely inconsequential? I hope not, but that is not down to me now. Take care.