LVNx Crystal Ball Answer
Marlene Gebauer 0:21
Welcome to The Geek in Review, the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.
Greg Lambert 0:28
And I’m Greg Lambert. Well, Marlene, I just got back from the legal value network experience or the LVNx conference in Chicago. And man, I just had a lot of fun catching up with a number of old friends and colleagues who haven’t seen in in a few years for some reason, I’m not sure why we haven’t hung out. So but, but it was great hanging out. And you know, really listening to these folks that are in Legal Operations and pricing and LPM. I think they just really have their finger on the pulse of what’s driving change in the legal industry, you know, especially from the expectation from the client side and the firm side on how these matters are managed. It was really fun.
Marlene Gebauer 1:13
It’s always nice to hear from the clients and how they perceive things. I think that’s extraordinarily helpful.
Greg Lambert 1:19
Yeah. So while I was there, I also did some recording of our crystal ball questions. And I handed out some of our Geek in Review stickers. I have some stickers. Listeners, reach out to me and let me know if you want one.
Marlene Gebauer 1:36
Yeah, well, you certainly did better than I did on the recording and the sticker and out. I unfortunately had had a bit of a fail on both of those things when I was at Ulta. But I vowed to do better next time.
Greg Lambert 1:53
Well, it’s a it’s a learning experience.
Marlene Gebauer 1:56
It’s it was a learning experience. Like do not put all your stickers in one person is really what the learning experiences. And make sure you check your levels well before you to record.
Greg Lambert 2:07
That’s just a good life lesson all the way through.
Marlene Gebauer 2:11
It really is true. Yes, true. So this week, we bring in Martha BReel. So this week, we bring in Martha Brielle, from Cooley as well. So this week, we bring in Martha Brio from Cooley. She’s the co chair for the 2022 iltacon, which was held in National Harbor. Martha talks to us about all the planning that went into holding a post COVID conference and what to do when a conference sells out as iltacon did this year.
Greg Lambert 2:39
So first up, we have Kate Boyd who recently went over to Cinti advisors to work with our friend Ryan McClead. And we got her to sit down with me while I was at LV annex and answer our crystal ball question. Now Marlene you had interviewed at iltacon effort. But we found out that the the audio wasn’t wasn’t quite up to snuff. So although Kate kind of fought me on it, I finally got her to sit down and rerecord her answer. So we’re gonna Yeah, thanks, Kate. So we’re gonna listen to Kate’s answer. And then we’re gonna jump right into our discussion with Mark seborrhea.
Kate Boyd 3:21
Hi, this is Kate Boyd, I’m with Sente Advisors. In the next three to five years, I think we’re gonna have a new generation of professionals entering and moving up the ranks in the legal profession. And I think they will have survived and thrived in an a different environment that is much more focused on clients, and what do clients need? How do we create kind of teamwork? And how are we very pragmatic about how we solve problems together? And I think that’s, I think that’s gonna create new ranks of professionals in the legal industry, and some new opportunities for people to step forward and have fulfilling careers.
Greg Lambert 4:08
Now, are these going to be people that are new to the industry? Or is there going to be some type of revamping of the industry?
Kate Boyd 4:15
Good question. I imagine it’s gonna be a little bit of both. I think there’s a lot of people that are circling around the industry in different roles who are going to be stepping forward. And then I think there’s gonna be blurring of lines between industries. I think we’re gonna see people coming from financial arenas, accounting, stepping in and really thriving, maybe even other tech industries and thriving in ways that they they don’t even know yet.
Greg Lambert 4:44
Kate, thank you very much.
Kate Boyd 4:45
Marlene Gebauer 4:49
We’d like to welcome Martha Breil, Legal Service Delivery Manager for Cooley LLP and co chair for ILTACon which was recently held at National Harbor. Martha, welcome to The Geek in Review.
Martha Breil 4:59
Thanks Marlene. I’m glad to be here.
Greg Lambert 5:01
So Martha, this was, I believe, your second year as the ILTACon. co chair. So you handled really, you handled both of the coming back from COVID meetings that ILTA has held. First of all, I want to I want to ask you how stressful personally who was dealing with the issues of holding an in person conference in the era of, of COVID.
Martha Breil 5:26
It was pretty stressful. And I kind of think I was crazy to volunteer for it in the first place. But somebody needed to do it. And really, I’d been a longtime volunteer with ILTA and for ILTACon in the past, it’s a great organization, as I’m sure we all know. So I wanted to do my part to try to help it maintain itself through the pandemic. And I’m not overstating that, for those of you who don’t know, trying to keep a nonprofit up and running is no small feat in and of itself. And then you add a pandemic, which pretty much kills your cash cow, the the large conference annually that you’ve been doing for years and years, and you’re in pretty dire straits financially, so somebody needed to step up and do it. I thought I could do a good job. In relation to the stress, it was stressful. But I think in the grand scheme of things, it is, well, we’re doing what we can to make this work. And we’re just going to be adaptable and flexible, and try our best and not get too wrapped up in the drama. And for the most part, it didn’t keep me up at night, which is a good, a good thing. We went forward and I it was successful both years. I think it was a smashing success this year. And of course, I’m biased. But But this year was more fun than it was stress last year was an equal balance of stress and fun. But largely speaking, both conferences were successful.
Marlene Gebauer 6:55
Yeah, I mean, I can tell you just from my time there, and I wasn’t even there for the whole time. I mean, people were just so happy to see one another. I mean, you could just it was just palpable in the air. Just everybody was just really, really in good spirits.
Greg Lambert 7:10
Yeah. And this year, it was completely in person, right? There was no hybrid conference.
Martha Breil 7:17
Correct. It was completely in person. Yeah, everybody was just delighted. I didn’t realize how many friends I had through ILTA. And at the conference, but I went with four new colleagues who had never Cooley colleagues who had never been to an Ulta con before. And like just I couldn’t even get through like the hallway to get to my room. Like, forget it. We’re done. We’re going to bed. Let us know. Let us know when you finally get through like just talking to people and reminiscing and just seeing faces. And it’s so special. After the last two and a half years. It was great. It’s always fun to be there. But this year was particularly special just to see everybody the things that we used to take for granted. We don’t yet take them for granted anymore.
Marlene Gebauer 8:05
Now you were saying how hard it is to kind of keep a nonprofit afloat. And the you know, the conference is really the big moneymaker for the organization. Well, the 2022 conference was officially sold out. How excited were you when you realized how much the ILTA membership embrace coming back to the in person conferences? quite excited.
Martha Breil 8:26
In fact, I think that might have been my most excited moment. I really like did I hear right? It was creeping up. But for the massive registration happened it really in the last three weeks before the registration deadline and then extended after it until literally like you said Marlene, it was at capacity. We couldn’t let any more people in we we would have loved to but we were beyond fire codes. And you can’t really mess with that. Because no, you can’t. That would be a bad way to restart iltacon Post pandemic. But joking aside, yeah, I was pretty excited. And we knew it was good. But within the last week, it went through the roof. And I was delighted. A lot of people put a lot of hard work into this volunteers, the ilta staff. ILTA has been working with probably half the staff that they ideally need to pull something like this off. So just having it be this successful was just so rewarding. And it just made me very happy. Because these are my friends as well as my colleagues.
Greg Lambert 9:31
Right. And I know that you’re obviously a volunteer for this. How was it being as or how were the other volunteers handling this? The stress of this as well? How much did you get to rely upon the team of volunteers?
Martha Breil 9:48
Very, very, very much. We had a fantastic team of volunteers which makes my life and my co chairs very much easier than it would be otherwise. Yeah, most of our we call them team coordinators, they lead the session Planning Committee, and each are signed in their, you know, area of subject matter expertise to a team of about six coordinators, who they are responsible for organizing and managing. And they put together collectively the session content. The team leads, we call them the team coordinators, they were fantastic. They for the most part, they took care of most of the incidental things. So it wasn’t a problem when it did get to myself and my co chair, Scott David, it was things that we needed to intercede on, it wasn’t the day to day stuff, they handle that. So we didn’t have to. And that was a huge blessing. The team was fantastic. This something this large, certainly is not attributable to any particular individual, I played a role, Scott played a role. But if the team that was supporting us didn’t play their part, we wouldn’t have been able to pull up ILTACon off. So it was a fantastic team. You know, I was blessed to work with them. And I’m I’m hoping at some point in the future, I’ll get to work with them again, in some capacity.
Greg Lambert 11:10
Now the the fire, we’ve mentioned that you are capped out with the the number of people that could actually register and attend by the fire code, were those normal pre pandemic numbers, or did the pandemic lower the the number of attendees that you were allowed to bring in?
Martha Breil 11:31
A little bit of both the pandemic are limited the selections that we made on space, for the opening reception, particularly, we could have had a larger space had we imagine that we would have that many people in January, but there was no way that would have been a very, very bad strategic bet and a part of ILTACon because once you commit, you sign a contract, and you’re obligated to pay for the space. So they couldn’t make that commitment in January. And they didn’t have any flexibility later, when we realized that we were at where we were. But also though, I believe my stats are right here. This was a third most well attended iltacon ever. And I think it’s an I think there have been maybe about 35 to 40 At this point, depending on when you start counting really ILTAC on and the you know, the earlier iterations of it. So it was a well attended conference by any standards, the only conference that was actually sold out. And I’m pretty sure these are that’s the correct status. The third most well attended conference, we we had to cap it at 2950, so about 3000 people.
Greg Lambert 12:38
That’s That’s great attendance. So wonderful attendance, of course, you know, the attendees are a large part of the conference experience. But also the vendors are another large part of the conference experience as well. And so how did the vendors handle the conference this year, were there were there any unforeseen challenges or, or even successes that she found on the vendor side of things?
Martha Breil 13:02
More successes this year than challenges, they were great at supporting like the there’s different membership levels, they were great at signing up for membership levels, they were great about trying to get space in the exhibit hall. So we had no problem filling that we might have had a couple of couple of tense moments on who gets what spot. But luckily, I don’t have to deal with that. They were out in full force. And the other nice thing that I heard from a number of vendors, and we also call them business partners, was the people who have been going to iltacon for as long as I have, which is about a decade now who are on the business partner side. We’re saying you know, this is an unsolicited in my my part, they were just coming up to me and saying, Look, this is the first conference when we have felt like we’re completely first class citizens, we’re not being treated any differently than any other ilta or iltacon. Attendee or member. And that means a lot. And it’s been a long time coming. So I heard more of that. Then what I’m sure did happen, which was, you know, some I’m sure there were complaints from everybody, right? You never hold anything this large without somebody having some legitimate or maybe illegitimate, who knows some issue some complaint. That’s just the nature of who you talk to. Yes. Right. Exactly. 100%. So I’m sure there were complaints. I honestly can say I didn’t hear any from members or business partners, aside from something incidental, like we didn’t have enough food at the closing reception. Okay. Yeah, duly noted. There wasn’t enough food, but you know, if that’s the if that’s the only complaint I heard, and the whole time I was there, I’m gonna consider that a massive win.
Greg Lambert 14:49
Well, I went to I wasn’t able to go to ILTA. I went to the AALL conference earlier in the summer. And I think one of the comments that was made About the vendors because typically there’s some type of rollout or announcement or you know, there’s some launch that vendors use that occasion to, to do. But I think, and I don’t even know if this is a pandemic issue, but I think we’ve seen less and less of that, as vendors have done these more iterative rollouts of upgrades. Was there any, any you don’t have to give specific names? But were the vendors using this to make major announcements or launch products here at ILTACon?
Martha Breil 15:35
I don’t believe so. It’s interesting. When you asked me that question. I don’t know of any. There may have been.
Greg Lambert 15:42
It’s not just you.
Martha Breil 15:44
Yeah, it Yeah. Yeah. But no, and certainly not in like grand fashion. I wouldn’t have known about that. But no, I’ve gotten so many emails, I couldn’t keep up with all of them. But I I scanned most of them prior to the conference from the different vendors. And I don’t remember anything about like, massive new release and changes. I know. Westlaw and Lexis are introducing some new, pretty new functionality and their platforms. But as far as I know, they weren’t using ILA as the place to announce that in any grand fashion.
Greg Lambert 16:19
Okay, but yeah, definitely. We’re sorry. No, I was gonna say, I think that that’s kind of the the new normal to hate to use that phrase. But I think that’s, that’s an old style of launch. And I think now that they’re, they’re pretty much using their own internal methods, rather than waiting for these conferences to do so. I just wonder if it’s now. I mean, that’s true. But I just wonder if there’s something that as associations look to how we adapt going forward, if there are incentives that that might be out there, just just me thinking out loud now.
Martha Breil 17:00
Yeah, yeah, no, that’s an interesting point. And I think it might be something the folks planning for the future built account should consider because there’s an opportunity there for sure you get that many people in person, and you get potentially the right people like the C level folks who are there for the G 100. And the G 200. And you have like, the audience that you probably want to reach at some level, not, you know, the weeds level, but on the strategic, the strategic changes to the platforms that CIOs care the most about, I would think that would be a great opportunity to to leverage that in conjunction with like the global 100 or global 200. Sorry, I’m using acronyms. There to lead the largest law firm leader is that who attend ILTACon?
Greg Lambert 17:46
Yeah. Oh, speaking. I’m going to hit you with with a question. You probably don’t have the numbers for international attendees. Did you have a lot of international attendees?
Martha Breil 17:57
Oh, goodness, I should have gotten the actual stat. But
Greg Lambert 18:00
Yeah, I just got you out of left field on that one.
Martha Breil 18:02
No, no, that’s okay. It’s something I’m interested in. It’s something we’re really been trying to push the international reach of ILTACon into both South America and across Europe and Australia and New Zealand as well. But I don’t have I don’t have the stats. I can say. I know. There were two people who are ILTA volunteers from Brazil who attended spoke and yeah, Barbara and her colleague, Marianna also was there. And she participated as a volunteer on the ILTACon conference committee. I was fantastic. So I know, there were at least two attendees from Brazil. And I think they had a third colleague there too, but I, I wouldn’t swear to it. And there were there were people from my colleague from the UK came as well. So the international presence were was there. There certainly were a lot of non American accents, if that’s any indication, but I know there’s a lot of expats here and all of that, but it was
Greg Lambert 19:05
All those Canadians that came down.
Martha Breil 19:06
All those Canadian. I know, I know. What are they thinking? So but I, you know, that would be an interesting follow up. If I can find a stat for you. I’ll post it and you can share it in the notes.
Marlene Gebauer 19:22
All right, we’ve been talking about how you and the volunteers and the vendors are have been very excited about the conference. So what has been the feedback from members post conference? Was there a demand for you know, expanding demand for any specific topics for the next conference or for post conference educational sessions?
Martha Breil 19:43
The one I’ve heard the most buzz about was around the Legal Lean Six Sigma workshop that we did on Thursday. It gave you a white belt. And I think the next level of belts yellow, so how to continue that between now and the next iltacon. And we’re working with the, I guess the speaker who, the person who headed up the workshop to figure out how to do that between now and next year, and potentially extending workshops like that on the Thursday to give people enough reason to, like stay Wednesday night and get something a little different out of their attendance at iltacon. So that’s what I’ve heard the most buzz about in terms of follow up. And, of course, Marlene and I used to volunteer on the other side of ILTA, which is not the conference, but just the recorded content that ILTA provides year round. And there’s always opportunities there to pick up on the themes that are the hottest, and then follow up the trend with the virtual workshops, and whatever media they decide to use podcasts even. And, and deliver content that way. But the one I’ve heard the most about is the Legal Lean Six Sigma and continuing that kind of offering, as we think about more process maturity in the area of law.
Greg Lambert 21:07
Yeah, I could see why that’s popular.
Marlene Gebauer 21:09
Yeah. That’s very interesting. It’s, you know, obviously, it’s a great topic. And I mean, it’s also really smart to have it at the end. Because I can tell you, it was interesting. I was there through through Wednesday, and but I talked to people who a lot of folks stayed the whole time. And you know, oftentimes at conferences, that’s not the case, you know, people will, will leave early. And I know somebody who presented at the last session on the last day, and I presented at the last session on Wednesday, and I was very nervous about like, Oh, are we going to get enough people and we got a full house, this person on Thursday got a full house. And I thought that was terrific, and really spoke to the fact that people were really, really engaged and just wanted to get the most out of it.
Martha Breil 21:56
Yeah, we were really excited about that, too. Because it does, thank you put a lot of time and effort, both on the planning side of it and as a speaker, and have hardly anyone in the audience is is a let down. And we’ve been trying for years to really get people to stay that Wednesday night. And and I think we’re about at a good approach to making that happen in a way that adds more value. So yeah, this was the first year for workshops. So I think next year, it’ll be even better.
Greg Lambert 22:28
Good. So let’s talk about your experience at the at the conference. So we know you, you put a lot of yeah, a lot of work up front with with the planning and getting things going. I’ll ask you what, what my wife always asks all the kids when we finish something, it was like, what was your favorite part of the conference? So I’m gonna ask you that what what did you enjoy most about it and start with that?
Martha Breil 22:55
Sure, I think I just enjoyed really like seeing, getting the like, onstage, before the opening keynote, and just seeing everybody sitting there was just so powerful. And that that I did enjoy, although I would never have thought I would enjoy speaking in front of that many people. Luckily, it was short. But nevertheless, it didn’t. I wasn’t even like really nervous, I was just impressed and just excited to see everybody. And then continuing that just the inner like talking to people collaborating, networking about challenges that work and sessions, just having the opportunity to connect in person and have real conversations about the challenges and what may work and what may not work that you can’t really have in the virtual world, we just first we don’t have time, there’s just too many distractions. And second, you just have a report, at least I do. Maybe some people are better at having that report. Virtually I have a report if I’m talking to somebody, like appear from another firm or an organization where you can talk in person and read body language and be a little bit more open and honest and not worry about, I don’t know somehow getting it to the wrong person and offending someone or so forth and so on. So that’s I mean, that’s what I just enjoyed that whole experience and, and being able to kind of carry on the conversations for the for the week. I also really enjoyed just meeting the my peers at my firm who I’d never met in real life, including one of one of whom actually reports me never met her in person until iltacon. Which is crazy. That would be nuts three years ago, but it’s it’s normal now. So those were my kind of most memorable moments.
Greg Lambert 24:45
Was there anything and I think are you rolling off of the as one of the chairs for the conference? Are you still working?
Martha Breil 24:53
I am done. Yeah, I’m officially volunteer, retired. I tell everyone.
Greg Lambert 24:58
So any any word Is of wisdom for the the two souls that are going to take the mantle for next year or one. Whereas next year is going to be and what advice would you give the folks that are taking your place?
Martha Breil 25:15
Oh, so it’s going to be in Disney in Florida. Orlando. At the Swan and Dolphin resort and advice. Oh, goodness gracious.
Kate Boyd 25:29
Words of wisdom.
Greg Lambert 25:30
It’s too late to say no, but
Martha Breil 25:32
yeah, right. Right. Don’t do it. What are you thinking? No, both both. My my co chair, Scott David. He’s, he’s he was a great partner all year. And he Yeah, we worked alongside each other. And that’s why iltacon has two chairs, or that’s why they call them co chairs just because it helps like that first year, you’re learning. And he learned a ton and he was a fantastic partner. And Rodney Mullins is joining him as his co chair. Rodney has been on the ILTACon Planning Committee, leading those teams I mentioned earlier as a team coordinator for probably about five years now. So he’s a fantastic person to step in, in terms of advice. You know, there’s some logistics advice that would make things smoother. No one cares about that. But just enjoy the experience. Be open to ideas, Listen, before you talk, and don’t come in with preconceived notions on all things. But you allow for possibilities. And I think once you do that good things happen.
Marlene Gebauer 26:36
Those are good words of wisdom. You say?
Martha Breil 26:38
Well, I hope so. Don’t feel wise. So take it or leave it, everyone.
Marlene Gebauer 26:46
All right, so so we have come to the time in the podcast, where we asked our guests what we call the crystal ball question. So can you please pull out your crystal ball and peer into the future for us? And let us know what you see on the horizon when it comes to ILTACon and other legal conferences in the next three to five years?
Martha Breil 27:05
Well, I’m very, very optimistic about conferences in the next five years, I might not have been before the pandemic because there was a lot of chatter and the it there was there was a lot of like, kind of talk about whether or not younger generation saw the point in conferences. And I think we have the answer to that now. They do, because there were a number of people emerging in their professional years. And they attended ILTACon this year and made up part of the 3000 attendees that we had, I think we have an opportunity to continue them. But that potential forward if we approach conference planning correctly, and allow for different ways of delivering messages that possibly get alternative formats, if you will, that get away from the traditional expert classroom kind of thing and allow for expertise to be more of a shared experience, rather than being talked at. So I trying to figure out how to do that effectively, in a conference setting is going to be a challenge because a lot of those rooms just aren’t logistically set up to do that. But I think if conferences evolve in a way that allows for more of that, there’s a real potential for continuing to draw people in and having that in person experience in the learning opportunities and the networking opportunities that are important for both in individuals professional development, and are also important for organizations to build the best employees they can and ideally to retain them by, you know, investing in their development and allowing them to actually attend stuff like that, to grow and learn. So I think this is a rambling answer. But if that’s my you know, this is my future. projection for it is I think conferences will do well, I think they do need to sort out how to make them more engaging and effectively offer alternative formats to the like the head table and the speaker thing because I think that wears then, and I think it wears thin faster with people and the younger generations.
Greg Lambert 29:23
Again, more more words of wisdom. So Martha Breil from Cooley, And now the past co chair of ILTACon, we thank you very much for coming in and taking the time to talk to us.
Marlene Gebauer 29:36
Thank you, Martha.
Martha Breil 29:37
Thanks so much for having me. It’s been fun. Thanks, Marlene. Thanks, Greg.
Marlene Gebauer 29:43
Well, you know rambles can be nice and I think this one was definitely a nice one. I loved hearing, getting the inside scoop from from Martha about ILTACon and all that goes into it. And I also thought was interesting. She’s talking about trying to pivot away from the panels or the talking heads type of thing, because that’s actually something that we did in the session that I was participating in. That was very much. We were talking, we were walking, we were, you know, asking the audience questions, we were polling them. So a lot of different things going on, to keep the audience engaged. And I think and hope that they really appreciated it.
Greg Lambert 30:26
Yeah. And I think she’s right, in that, you know, especially, it was a question that a lot of us were asking, before we even heard of pandemic was the how do we keep the younger members engaged, because they have a different experience and different expectations. And yeah, learning style for when it comes to conferences, it’s their approach to educational presentations, or, you know, they they come at a different angle than us. And so any changes are probably going to be needed as we go forward. And I think this year, you know, this year, I think people were very hungry to get back in person. Yeah, I’m going to be curious to see how things go next year, and to see whether or not you know, that type of energy and engagement for this type of in person conferences is going to continue? I hope it does, because I enjoy them. But it’d be interesting to see how next year’s conferences go as well.
Marlene Gebauer 31:35
Well, I’m glad to hear that they’re looking, again, at doing workshops. I think that’s, that’s another area where I think I think that that everybody feels that there is a specific sort of value associated with that. And I mean, if you you know, in this example that she gave, if you’re getting your white belt, I mean, you’re you’re attending and no, you’re getting something concrete coming back. So
Greg Lambert 31:59
there’s, there’s out, you know, there’s outcomes, there’s rewards, right? And, and so it’s definitely something I think people are more excited about those types of programs and just sitting back and listening to four people in a moderator.
Marlene Gebauer 32:18
Being a joke, there was four people in a moderator because
Greg Lambert 32:21
we’re super rare. Yeah, I’ve been I’ve been I’ve been on one of those jokes. So
Marlene Gebauer 32:27
I think we’ve been on a few of those jokes.
Greg Lambert 32:30
Well, thanks again to Martha Breil from Cooley and ILTACon for coming in and sharing her experiences with us.
Marlene Gebauer 32:38
And of course, thanks to all of you for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter,
Greg Lambert 32:52
And I can be reached @glambert on Twitter.
Marlene Gebauer 32:55
Or you can leave us a voicemail on The Geek in Review Hotline at 713-487-7270 and as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca Thank you, Jerry.
Greg Lambert 33:07
Thanks, Jerry. All right, Marlene, I will talk to you later.
Marlene Gebauer 33:10
All right, bye bye.