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From the Co-Chairs, Law Firm Management Committee, October 2020

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Hello everyone,

As 2020 continues its turbulent passage through our lives, we hope you and your families, friends and firms are staying well and that you are successfully navigating this unprecedented time.  Much has changed since we published our last e-Bulletin in May, with the summer seeing spikes in Covid-19 infection rates in some regions and steady increases in others, while some, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, experienced the twin relief of fewer infections and summer weather.  Many of us are now seeing the infection relief and summer weather disappear together.

Many lawyers and their firms around the globe have seen their practices continue with greater stability and success than they had anticipated.  Remote work, videoconferencing tools and the ongoing real needs of our clients have combined to give many lawyers more reason for cheer than they had expected in March and April.  But as we enter the last quarter of 2020, with winter coming for many of us, and the global infection rate rising, we are looking with trepidation at staff and lawyer morale and mental health and the medium and long-term prospects for our economies and practices. What we thought (or at least hoped) would be a temporary disruption has turned out to be much more than that.

Against that unsettling backdrop, our Committee has been more active than ever before.  As the IBA's in-person conference programs have been cancelled or deferred, our ambitious webinar program has reached lawyers around the world safely, quickly and at no cost.  Indeed, it is a remarkable thing to say, but true nonetheless, that we are more connected globally than ever before.  Videoconferencing does not provide the same ‘bandwidth’ as in-person meetings, but the ability to see people, hear their voices and see where they live and work on a regular basis has allowed us to maintain and build relationships around the world without leaving home.

In the ten-week period between January 1 and the World Health Organization's declaration of the global pandemic on March 11, our committee offered one webinar and had a number of others scheduled for the weeks and months to follow, but in the 29-week period from March 12 to September 30 we have offered 13 – almost one every two weeks.  You can watch them by visiting the Law Firm Management Committee’s homepage.  And we have an impressive list of proposed topics for the future.  We also led the IBA's two-day Legal Business Development Global Virtual Summit in early September.  Our sub-committees have all been active in conceiving and organising these events as well as organising sessions at the upcoming IBA 2020 – Virtually Together Conference and supporting the development of our database of material addressing law firm management issues across their domains.  Our annual Moscow conference in December has been replaced by a series of webinars that are running through autumn, but our flagship London conference scheduled for November has had to be cancelled for this year, so the next London conference will be held on November 19, 2021. 

Of course we are all now eagerly looking forward to the Virtually Together Conference in November.  It will provide a unique opportunity to attend more sessions than we normally can, with the conference schedule stretched over four weeks and with no traffic and transit issues to navigate. We have an extensive list of sessions that we are offering this year, both as primary sponsor and as a supporting committee.  Every topic has a new and special relevance as we try to understand what the current pandemic and the economic and social consequences will mean for our firms, our people and our clients. With good audio, good video, your own comfortable workspace – and no jet lag – please join us.  Every session will be followed by a session networking hub, to accommodate the kind of post-session discussion and social interaction that we are used to in a normal conference setting.  We are also having our usual open forum session, Law Firm Management Committee Networking in the program, on 5 November at 1400 GMT. It is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the committee and our work, and to get involved.  Everyone is welcome!

We are all sorry to be missing the excitement and the ‘buzz’ of the traditional conference, but being virtually together for a month will nevertheless give us many opportunities to learn and to meet others who share our challenges and aspirations.

Good health and best wishes to all,

Stephen Bowman and Rolandas Valiunas
Co-Chairs, Law Firm Management Committee

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