If you want to better use technology at your law firm, mark your calendars for October 21st and 22nd for this year’s Legal Marketing Association Tech West Regional Conference, an annual event for law firm marketing and technology professionals. The co-chairs of the conference, Adrian Lürssen of JD Supra and Jasmine Trillos-Decarie of Stoel Rives LLP, joined the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast to talk about the idea behind the theme, “Leveraging Technology as a Means to an End Within Law Firms,” and share a preview of what speakers will cover.

Where the inspiration for the theme came from

“A Means to an End” is a topic Adrian first thought about when he was invited to speak at a digital media conference. While he was waiting to go on stage, the presenter before him was explaining to the audience that general counsel go to Wikipedia to learn more about law firms. Adrian noticed that almost everyone in the audience took notes during that datapoint, which he found interesting. When it was his turn to go on stage, one of the first things he did was ask the audience what they had written down, and it was exactly what he suspected: “Our firm needs a Wikipedia page.”

Adrian recognized that the real takeaway was that firms need to create and be quoted in quality content that editors will then add to Wikipedia. Creating a Wikipedia page was just the first step, yet many attendees thought of it as the be-all and end-all. From Adrian’s perspective, the real goal is to figure out how you can use technology to support your success, rather than use a shiny tool only because someone said so. Using technology isn’t the goal; it’s a means to a greater end.

This story has served as inspiration for Adrian and Jasmine as they’ve planned the LMA Tech West Regional Conference. Fundamentally, it’s still a tech conference, but they’ve approached technology as one kind of tool that can support initiatives large and small. The spirit of the conference is learning how to leverage technology, as opposed to adopting it without understanding it in a broader way.

Why technology alone won’t solve firms’ problems

Law firms have a tendency to identify a problem and say, “What tool can we buy that will magically fix it?” The history of customer relationship management (CRM) is a good example of this. Firms want to track clients, communicate with them and ensure they get the right information; multimillion-dollar CRM tools that claim to do all of these things seem to be the solution. However, these programs are often left to gather the digital dust when nobody understands or uses them.

This isn’t the fault of the technology or even individuals at the firm. It’s caused by an overreliance on digital tools, without truly understanding how to use them effectively—and that’s the knowledge gap that Jasmine and Adrian hope to address at Tech West. Buying a trendy tool won’t solve the problem at hand if you don’t first create a plan for implementing it, and speakers at the upcoming conference will share their insights on how they’ve done that at their own firms.

How this conference is different from other tech conferences

Many of this year’s speakers have submitted proposals that have nothing to do with technology, and that’s not a mistake. Jasmine and Adrian want to help professionals develop the skills to wield technology better, whether or not those skills have anything directly to do with tech—an unusual viewpoint for a technology conference. Discussions will not only cover technology, but also the general skills that all people need in order to use it effectively, such as organizational skills.

It wouldn’t be a legal technology conference without a CRM panel, but rather than go the usual route, the discussion will actually be about motivating people internally. The social media discussion will include very specific and tactical ideas for firms to implement. The panel on competitive intelligence will include insights from someone who’s conducted thousands of client feedback interviews. Adrian and Jasmine have restructured the conference education delivery model, and it should be a new and powerful experience for attendees.

Who should attend the conference

Although LMA Tech West obviously deals with technology, it’s not only for people who have extensive tech experience. It’s also the perfect opportunity to bring together legal marketers, business development professionals and technology specialists so they can learn from one another and share tools and insights.

Adrian and Jasmine hope attendees will leave the conference with an understanding of the importance of technology in the work they do. If business development and sales people don’t leverage the tools and client data available to them, they’ll have a harder time selling their firm and its services. Marketing technology professionals can’t support the overall goals of the firm without similar data and tools. Technology plays a crucial role for everyone in legal marketing, and the Tech West Regional Conference is an opportunity to learn how to use it more effectively.

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