Last week marked the Meritas 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM), bringing together hundreds of lawyers from the international network’s member firms. Hosted in Chicago, the AGM featured numerous member presentations, networking opportunities, and keynote speakers Arne Duncan and David Chizewer.
The Business of Law
A key focus of the Meritas AGM was the Business of Law, or in other words, everything else that goes on at a firm that isn’t direct legal work. From firm growth strategies to mentoring junior lawyers, from mental health to client relationships, the Meritas AGM offered attendees opportunities to discuss a broad range of topics with firms from around the world.
“One of the most interesting things about Meritas events—like the AGM—is that they’re great forums to share the experience of so many other firms,” explains Luca Citton, president at Boughton and Meritas board member.
“Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of overlap in practice management issues facing law firms,” says Citton, who’s also the chair of the Meritas Global Firm Management Forum, “but by bringing together so many members, we can learn from each other’s experiences. Staff initiatives that worked; initiatives that really didn’t work… Legal developments that might present opportunities in other markets. That sharing, discussing, and learning from everyone’s experience is quite powerful.”
Practice management isn’t the only area where the Meritas AGM offered members opportunities to share and discuss. Sub-group meetings also brought members together, such as the Women’s Leadership Congress.
“This year was the first in-person meeting of the Meritas Women’s Leadership Congress,” says Leslie Whittaker, associate at Boughton. “Women and men from around the world came together to candidly discuss ongoing gender equality issues within the legal profession. It wasn’t just about problems: we also brainstormed solutions that we can implement in our law firms to support women’s success. We had particularly insightful conversations around unconscious biases about gender and active ways to interrupt those to build better businesses.”
The Future of Law
Part of the Meritas AGM also covered the future of the legal industry. And not surprisingly, one of the biggest topics on people’s minds was generative AI.
“Generative AI is here,” says Citton. “The speed with which tools like ChatGPT have gone from a novelty to something that could change the way lawyers work is nothing short of staggering.
“And given experts are predicting the continued rapid improvement of these tools, each firm will have to factor them into their client value proposition, as well as their general workflow,” says Citton.
“All and all, it’s going to be a very interesting period for a lot of firms.”
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