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

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Greetings to all,

At this time of year we normally reflect on the year past, and consider the year ahead. We take stock of what we did and we outline our plans for the future, but baseball legend and noted sage, Yogi Berra, was right when he said ‘the future ain't what it used to be’. In 2020 our world changed rapidly and radically. Few anticipated on 1 January where we would be by April, and where each of us thinks we will be six or 12 months from now will vary depending on where we are in the world, and how we think the continuing pandemic and its economic consequences will play out for our societies, firms and clients.

Our mission is ‘to be a leading global forum for the exchange of best practices in law practice leadership and management through sharing and discussing concepts experience, knowledge and trends on law firm and law practice management issues and topics’. That mission, and the work of the Law Firm Management Committee, has never been more important than in 2020. Our Committee has pursued that mission through e-Bulletins like this one, material collated in our section of the IBA website, webinars, our Committee's virtual conference programmes, and of course our extensive participation in the IBA 2020 - Virtually Together Conference last month. While we were disappointed that programmes in London and the Balkans were pushed out to the future, we were delighted by the Business Development Global Virtual Summit and the online edition of our annual Moscow conference. We learned that although change can be slow, adaptation is fast.

Taken as a whole, our output, and our outreach to the global community, was greater than it has ever been before. That is due to the tremendous dedication, creativity and hard work of our Committee members and officers. To those who contributed to making that success happen, thank you on behalf of all of our Committee members. To those readers of this message who attended our programmes, thank you for your participation and contributions. And to everyone, please think about how you can continue to contribute, and learn and build enduring friendships and business relationships in the process, in 2021 and beyond.

Law firm management largely revolves around three major subjects – people, clients and the infrastructure we use to practice law (offices and technology). We have been struck by how much the first of these three has absorbed our attention this year. The human connections between the people inside our firms and between our lawyers and clients have preoccupied all of us. Even discussions about technology and office space have revolved around what they mean for our people. And in the challenging environment of 2020 mental health and wellbeing have taken on a much greater importance than ever before. That will not change soon.

In the midst of all this we witnessed the global response to the death of George Floyd and the movements to do better in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion. The specific challenges of equity and inclusion vary from one society to another, but few societies, if any, are as equitable and inclusive as they could be and should be. The IBA has done extensive work on these issues within our profession and our Committee has been a contributor to that work. As law firm leaders and managers we will be called on in the coming year and beyond to do our part in our profession, our own firms and our communities to move the needle in a positive direction.

The Danish physicist Niels Bohr is quoted as saying: ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future’. But we do know a couple of things for certain. The health and economic crises are continuing and our Committee will continue to pursue its mission and do its work through the channels we have explored so successfully in 2020 and no doubt through new ones that are still to be invented. Please join us in that endeavour.

Good health and best wishes to all

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

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