Co-Chairs' note, April 2020

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Stephen Bowman
Co-Chair, Law Firm Management Committee

Rolandas Valiunas
Co-Chair, Law Firm Management Committee

Greetings to all,

We hope you and your families, friends and firms are staying well and that you are successfully navigating the troubled times in which we find ourselves. Our global profession is joined as never before by our common challenge of dealing with a public health emergency and the resulting business and economic emergency. While different countries and regions are at different stages in their Covid-19 journey, we are all following each other’s progress through news reports from around the world.

In his March message to the entire International Bar Association membership President Horacio Bernardes Neto described the members as ‘servants and agents of the global economy’. Within the IBA our Law Firm Management Committee is, in a very real and tangible way, the servant of the profession itself. Our Committee has long been a trusted source of insights and information on all the various aspects of law firm management. That service to the profession has historically been rendered mainly through our conference programmes, and all of us who have spoken on panels or volunteered to be a table host at our management café programmes at the Annual Conferences have met lawyers from all over the world who have come seeking guidance on their own management challenges.

In recent years our webinar programmes have been instrumental in bringing the IBA’s programming into the online video age, and we continue to set the IBA standard for those programmes. Our webinar on Covid-19 crisis management on 19 March was singled out by President Bernardes Neto in his message and he included a link to the archived version of that programme. High praise, honestly earned. I invite you watch the recording of the webinar here. The webinar attracted about 800 registrations and took place a mere eight days after the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 outbreak to be a global pandemic. Literally, a crisis response by our Committee to the immediate and urgent needs of law firm leaders across the globe.

This month, our webinar ‘20/20 Vision for 2020’ established a new record high for registration numbers and we are offering another webinar on April 21, ‘Personal Tales from the Wild Side: The Lawyers’ Survival Guide to Covid-19’ which will run on the IBA’s new webinar platform.

What is more, this is our second e-bulletin of 2020, substantial contributions have been made to our Committee section of the IBA website dealing with crisis response and the impact of the pandemic on legal practice and our firms, and we continue to plan for future conferences and webinars – it adds up to an unprecedented level of engagement and up-to-the-minute contributions of knowledge and experience for the benefit of our membership.

As we all think about the main pillars of our own law firms – our people, our clients and the tools and technology we use in our practices – I am sure we are all finding it hard to balance the myriad challenges that confront us throughout the working day, the urgent, and the medium and long-term issues and implications of the crisis – the important. By now, in most parts of the world we have migrated to some kind of new normal. The urgent issues of shifting to work at home, limitations on access to offices, files, colleagues, clients, government offices, courts, widening adoption of new communication tools and so on have to some degree been worked out. I expect that many of us are now finding a little more time to sit back and think more analytically about how all this is going to affect our continuing levels of work, our clients’ needs going forward and our cash flow over the coming months. These are the important issues that face us all. They call for calm and clear-eyed honest analysis.

At the end of the day, it is the important that needs our steady attention. In maintaining that attention we need to remember that the teams and firms that we manage look to us for calm, wise and reassuring leadership. So do our clients, who see us as their trusted adviser. That is our role now, and it will remain our role when we all emerge from this crisis. As members of the Law Firm Management Committee please do draw on the resources that your fellow members have contributed to our programmes, publications and website, and please think about how you can contribute, both within our Committee and in your own firm and community.

Good health and best wishes to all

Stephen Bowman and Rolandas Valiunas


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