BIALL Conference 2010
Tina Reynolds of Drivas Jonas Deloitte, writes about her experiences of the BIALL Conference 2010.
My time in Brighton began Wednesday lunch time with a stunning buffet at the Pre Conference Seminar. I decided to attend this introduction to law in the Crown Dependencies purely out of interest as it is not directly relevant to my work. The seminar was very informative and as the discussion of how much more sunshine the Channel Islands receive than England progressed, my jealousy grew! The legal systems do have some similarity with that of England and Wales but are quite different in a number of ways. This is a topic that I found really fascinating and which I hope to look into in the future.
After the seminar there was a short break and then I went to the dinner organised by the Membership Committee. It was a good start to my conference as both the seminar and the dinner were relatively small so I could ease into the conference with an informal meeting.
I had been to smaller conferences before but this was my first large multi-day conference; as well as my first time at the BIALL Conference. It was slightly overwhelming at first and I would suggest that all first-timers attend the pre-conference dinner and sign up for the ‘buddy’ scheme. A number of people arranged to meet their buddy in the sessions and also for the first evening dinner. It helps to know a few people although everyone was very approachable.
As well as the formal sessions there are a number of short demonstrations within the exhibition. These were very useful as many were presented by companies with which I currently deal. In addition, the opportunity to visit current and potential suppliers (and pick up some freebies) was much appreciated as was the raffle on the Saturday where I won the much coveted Wildys owls but missed out on the infamous Barrister Bear!
The first session of the main conference was David Gurteen speaking about working in a 2.0 World where he suggested that we are moving from the read/write web to a more participatory model and that as such we need to understand the power and value of the tools we use – becoming ‘people 2.0’.
A session which was of particular interest to me was by Michael Martin of CILIP discussing CPD. He discussed the advantages of a commitment to training and CPD for the employee but also the employer and gave some examples of reflective practice.
One session which was very interesting was the joint session between LexisNexis and Irwin Mitchell discussing their collaboration discovering the needs of users and working together to meet those needs. This is something which sparked off some interest when reporting back at work.
Fiona Fogden gave an extremely interesting session on contract negotiation discussing the importance of getting value from a contract rather than just haggling to the lowest possible price. This session was of particular value as I am beginning to take on dealings with more suppliers and would like to gain more expertise in this area. This was useful as it lead to me thinking about contracts in a different way – with protection of your base position and creative thinking now being of much more importance.
Harriet Creamer gave a presentation which encouraged us to get more involved in transactions and to ensure that we really understand the way in which our firm works and what particular areas of the firm are doing. This is not just in terms of subjects areas or information needs but also in terms of hourly rates and levels of employee who will work on particular projects. It is also important to get an understanding of which jobs make money and why as we can only help if we understand the strategy and business model upon which the firm is based. This is something which I aim to follow up as although I have good knowledge of the information needs of the teams within my firm, I am not as clear on their methods of working and billing.
The session which inspired me most was Using wikis as cost saving tools. This seems to be a really interesting way of sharing information. The use within the Information team was the most helpful as this would be a much better way of my Information Unit sharing supplier and product details with as little duplication as possible. The idea of allowing shorter and more productive meetings with the preliminary discussions having already taken place was also a very attractive prospect.
The presentation on the transition from law school to the workplace was of significant interest as I studied Law at undergraduate level so another perspective on that training helped pull things into focus. The range of materials provided by commercial suppliers was also a surprise. These are documents which I am likely to make use of as an introduction to some topics within my firm.
Amanda McKenzie gave an extremely useful presentation on the Legal Services Act and the possible implications of the new government on its implementation. This was a very timely session as I had been asked to prepare some work on the impact of regulation on professional services firm which this could feed into. She discussed the possible alternative business structures and how the Act could impact on Information Professionals (an example being the possibility of being made partner).
A discussion of a BIALL Conference is never complete without mentioning the extra-curricular activities. The First Night Dinner was really good – I ended up on a table with really interesting and friendly people and was able to last out the night! The following evening at the BIALL Annual Dinner we all sat together again and enjoyed our Pimms!
In conclusion, the BIALL Conference was a useful way for me to make contacts and keep up-to-date within the legal sector as my current job is in a related area (property). All of the sessions were interesting and I was able to pick up a number of hints and tips to take back to work. I found it really interesting and would like to take this opportunity to thank CLIG for their sponsorship.