The Lawyer Forward Conference in 2017 is gonna be one heck of a brain-sploding party!
[Find the full agenda here: LFATX2017 schedule]
Our conference has been driven by three important assumptions:
Boring doesn’t teach.
You should be uncomfortable.
Those three principles define the Lawyer Forward experience, and it is definitely an experience.
We want to change you, and help you face the change in your practice. That means shaking your brain up a bit, breaking your assumptions, and requiring you to participate. This is not a passive experience, and that’s by design.
Boring doesn’t teach. How many conferences have you seen that feature subdued lawyers reading code sections off of a Powerpoint slide? I appreciate the work of the presenters at those conferences, but they’re being set up for failure. That teaching model just doesn’t keep engagement, and you deserve a better learning environment.
Community matters. I’ve had several new attendees tell me they were shocked by the community feel of the Lawyer Forward group. Part of that is the personality of attendees, part of it is the culture we’re tried to create, and part of it is by design. We actually have a “member success committee,” which is a fancy term for people who are specially chosen to make everyone feel welcome. Do not come expecting to hide in the corner. Unless you’re doing yoga, we just don’t allow that.
You should be uncomfortable. This is probably my favorite principle. We don’t do things for shock value, but we wouldn’t mind if we jostled you a bit. Especially if that jostling leads you to change. We’re facing a lot of crazy in our practices, and it’s time we dug in and got smart about our responses. This conference helps you do that.
If you value an environment that challenges you, teaches you, and makes you feel part of something, it’s time to sign up for Lawyer Forward 2017.
If you’re still on the fence and want to know more about the conference, let me tell you about the format and how it helps you. Then I’ll tell you about some of our great speakers.
Lawyer Forward is different because we use two unique teaching formats:
- The TED-style Talk: Rather than long, unfocused lectures, the TED-style talks are 18 minute breakdowns of one topic meant to shake you up. My one direction those TED-style speakers is that they have to break assumptions, and they do that by talking law, practice management, mindset, health, and human story. These will prime you for change.
- The Small Group Workshop: One attendee called these sessions “law school, only nicer,” and that’s intentional. The small groups are led by one facilitator who comes with a subject and outline, but the substance is also driven by the people in the room. Rather than lecture, the facilitator leads the group through a conversation meant to make you think. These groups are perfect for substantive law and training workshops.
In both speaking formats, you’ll see a culture of challenge and of care. Our speakers are instructed to teach, not to sell, and you’ll love that focus on education. (Admittedly, we’ve had speakers veer from that standard, but that has only strengthened our resolve to focus on teaching. We’re always improving, and we hope you’ll do the same.)
Nothing has been as satisfying as having friends come up to me after the conference and say the event has changed their lives. That’s the value of asking hard questions, and the teaching formats we use make that possible.
Every year we try to push the boundaries and give you a unique learning experience. Our speakers make that happen.
Before I tell you about this year’s speakers and the great content they’ll be providing, let me reveal something amazing to you: these amazing instructors come on their own dime. Literally.
One of our goals is to keep this event affordable and accessible, and that would not be possible without our speakers. We pull volunteers from the great Lawyer Forward community, crowd-sourcing from our peers whenever possible.
And we also invite friends from around the country to come hang out with us. These are like-minded souls who give of their time, their giant brains, and their coin to bring you something new. They value the community feel of this group as much as we do, and I hope you’ll all make them feel welcome and valued.
Okay, on to the list of speakers…
Do you know Ed Kless? Because you should. Ed is the Senior Director of Partner Development and Strategy at the Verasage Institute. That’s a cool title, and it basically means he spends his days teaching big ideas to smart people.
Ed has also jumped on the podcast bandwagon and hosts a great show called the Soul of Enterprise with our friend Ron Baker (whose book The Firm of the Future changed the way I see law practice). Take some time to learn more about Ed here.
In an amazing show of his giving nature, Ed has agreed to give a TED-style talk on the morality of the timesheet AND to lead a workshop on implementing value pricing. As much as he wants to break our brains, he has committed to put them back together in a practical session you won’t want to miss.
You know our friend Michelle. She has been a big part of this community since the first year of this thing. She scared us with great information about appeals in year one, and she taught us the nitty gritty of trial practice.
This year, Michelle has agreed to share something personal and incredibly impactful. I think we all wonder at how she manages to stay so focused, and you’ll learn how in her TED-style talk. The lessons for you will be vital as you face the long road toward awesomeness.
Michelle is a founding partner at O’Neil Wysocki and has been practicing family law for 20 years. She’s board certified and knows a thing or two about family law appeals. As one lawyer so aptly described her, Michelle is a “lethal combination of sweet and salty.” You can learn more about Michelle here.
Christine helps people make babies.
It’s true, just check her website. She’s knows all kinds of stuff about assisted reproduction and adoption, and really focuses on helping the LGBTQ community build happy families.
But that ain’t easy, and in this session Christine will go over some of the legal hiccups involved in these decisions. Where two parents create some crazy, three can really stir the legal pot. Christine will help us filter through it all.
Ivan has been at this lawyering game since 1993. He’s a wanderer, serving several counties across Texas. In his workshop, Ivan will help us understand how the heck he does that, managing multiple dockets in multiple counties, all while not losing his mind.
You’ll see that Ivan has a freaky ability to stay cool under pressure, and that temperance no doubt helps him deal with the crazy e-filing rules of 10 different counties (don’t even get me started). Learn more about our buddy Ivan here.
I often use the term “ninja” in a figurative sense to describe really skilled lawyers, but Nika may actually be a ninja. She wouldn’t tell you of course, because ninjas are secretive people, but I just love that she’s such an interesting person while simultaneously being a JD. It is possible!
When she’s not MMA’ing, Nika works at Avvo as Director of Strategic Insights. This year, she’ll be sharing some of those insights in a TED-style talk about the millennial consumer. As often as we focus on the Baby Boomer generation aging into retirement, we have to remember that millennials are now our customer case. Nika will help us break the millennial code.
(And she’s one of us, having graduated from the University of Texas School of Law before taking the rest of her wacky journey. I’d drop a “Hook ‘Em” in here, but I wouldn’t want to start an internecine Lawyer Forward war.)
I once heard that there are only a few people in the legal space who really know anything about operating online, and that Mike Ramsey is one of them. No doubt about it, in a world of fly-by-night internet marketers, Mike is the real deal.
Mike is president of NiftyMarketing and its us-focused arm, NiftyLaw. A regular speaker at Mozcon (the event for people who actually know about this stuff), Mike is a wealth of information. And he’s proudly Idahoan, which I love about him.
This year, Mike will be sharing his ideas on taking on big projects and managing a team through them. Seriously, this is gonna be great. Learn more about Mike over here.
I really, really like Kim. She’s smart, shares, and appreciates what we’re trying to do with Lawyer Forward. Trust me when I say she’s a person you want cheerleading for your cause.
She also happens to be a great lawyer, part of Fraser, Wilson, and Bryan in Stephenville, Texas. Kim will bring a hotly-debated topic to the conference this year: modification of geographic restrictions in Texas. This is one of those areas that I never know what a judge will do, and Kim will help clear the air in her workshop session.
If you’ve ever been to the Lawyer Forward conference, my guess is that you already know Traci. She’s always the first to make others feel welcome in our group, and this year she’ll tell us how that kind of engagement has changed her practice.
Traci revealed last year that she struggled in her practice, but that she turned that around by seeking out like-minded lawyers and creating lasting relationships. Between her #hellonheels and #lifewiththeboy posts, we’ve all come to know and love her crazy life.
Succeeding with social as Traci has is not the mystery you think it is. She has built a career by being herself, loudly, and she’ll tell you how in her TED-style talk. This one’s gonna be good.
Do you write briefs in your practice? Because you should.
Jason was literally the first law-person I can remember meeting. He was a student at Texas when I applied, and as a guy with a previous career and several kids in tow during law school, I wanted his perspective. So we met at the law school, where he was pushing t-shirts promoting a little-known presidential candidate from Illinois (“conlawprof for prez” was the tagline, if I recall).
Jason has moved from the seedy world of t-shirt vending to the marginally-more-respectable world of lawyering. He’s appellate counsel at Bell Nunnaly in Dallas, and his Twitter account is the place for nerdy references and rants about grammar. A former English professor, Jason has become known as one of the great legal writing minds online. Learn more about Jason here.
In this practical workshop, Jason will teach us the art of the brief – why they give you an enormous strategic advantage, and how to write them well. These are persuasive tools that can push courts to your side of the argument. We don’t use them enough, especially in family practice, and Jason will show you why and how we should change.
Hailing from the hidden corners of Missouri, Dave has built a unique practice. As his website puts it, “The Freedom Center of Missouri (FCMo) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to research and public interest litigation in six key areas: freedom of expression, economic liberty (the right to earn a living), property rights, religious liberties, limited government, and government transparency.”
It hasn’t been easy for Dave to create a firm he believes in. He takes cases for advocacy purposes, not just for business purposes. But a firm built on causes is possible, and Dave will show us how in his TED-style talk.
I’d rather not go on about me, because you probably already know more than you wanted to. All you need to know is that I got made fun of last year for tearing up while explaining how much I care about this group and everyone in it. I’m a sarcastic schmuck, sure, but I do want your life to get better.
And that’s what I’m talking about this year. We all get in ruts, but I want to address our assumptions about finding a groove in our work. As nice as it sounds, it can be a disaster. I’ll tell you why, and how to shake things up, in my starting TED-style talk.
We love Nicole, and inviting her means we get to use the word “disruption.” That’s like two home runs in one hit. Love it.
Nicole is host of the Gen Why Lawyer podcast and owner of Abboud Media. She has interviewed many great minds on the changing nature of law practice, and will show you how change doesn’t start where you think it does.
When I asked Kathryn to lead a group workshop at this year’s conference, we had some trouble nailing down the subject. She just knows too much! After practicing for more than 20 years in Texas family law, Kathryn has all the bumps and bruises to prove she’s walked the walk.
Rather than give her the easy out of a “what to do” presentation, we decided to push for a “what not to do” chat. We’ve all made mistakes, but Kathryn will show us where the biggest pitfalls are, and how to gird yourself up against the crazy that follows. Through processes you can duplicate, Kathryn has stayed out of hot water. Learn more about her work here.
Greg Hitt is one smart dude. He’s been practicing family law in Austin since the early 90s and spends a lot of time on litigation. Read about Greg’s work here.
In talking about this conference, Greg landed quickly on the idea of non-parent standing. Why? Because none of us gets this right. There are debates to be had about rights and policies that protect them, but you’ll be surprised by the proper way to handle non-parent standing after Greg’s small group workshop.
George is Vice President of Business Development at Clio, and this year he was involved in a very special project. This year, Clio released its first edition of the Legal Trends Report. The report gathers data from Clio users to help firms make better business choices.
News of the Legal Trends Report met with a lot of healthy skepticism (see here, here, here, here, and here). The larger question we’d like to address in this group workshop is what data to track and how to use it.
Papa is an attorney for all of Texas. The guy just travels. And on these travels, he is running into international issues more and more often in his family law cases. These are opportunities to stand out as a capable advisor and lawyer.
Through cases involving Hague Convention rules, international support, and adoption, Papa will show us where to look for correct law, and how to solve the international puzzle. Learn more about Papa’s work here.
Bobby is the do-it-all lawyer, taking cases in a diverse set of litigation-focused practice areas. He’s board certified in four areas: criminal, family, juvenile, and family law mediation. This diverse set of experiences helps him learn from one practice area and apply those lessons to another.
In this workshop session, Bobby will teach us the tricks for moving cases along quickly. Clients value completion more than I think most lawyers understand, and you’ll learn what tools other practice areas employ to wrap up the case. Read more about Bobby on his site.
Another veteran of Texas practice, Michelle makes her home in Groesbeck. She covers several practice areas, but she’s been particularly busy lately working on CPS cases. And in this group presentation, Michelle will walk us through a complicated debate: mental health as a basis for terminating parental rights.
This is an issue ripe for debate. The policy issues are significant, and the chance of creating bad law through special cases is real. You don’t want to miss this one.
Jake tries a lot of cases. He’s a family law attorney who seeks resolution early, but will try cases when required. And he does it all with very little printed paper.
I’ve tried to do this. It hasn’t worked very well, but Jake’s small group session will cover tricks for getting it done. You can run a paperless trial.
Because who doesn’t love Fran? She’s been with us from the beginning, and has created a nice practice in Houston focused on mediation. After handling so many family law mediations, she can tell you what drives her crazy.
What do you do to prepare for mediation? Anything? Many family lawyers just show up and try to bill on other cases. Instead, you can do things that will turn the mediation in your client’s favor. Learn how in this great small group session.
With speakers like these, how could you not want to join us for Lawyer Forward ATX2017?
We’ll be adding a few more speakers, but this gets us about 80% there. Here’s what else you’ll get as a Lawyer Forward attendee:
- 12-18 CLE credits (depending on how many sessions you get to and whether you catch other session recordings afterward)
- Access to video recordings of all TED-talk sessions
- Follow-up webinars with small group speakers, where available
- Lunches provided on day 2 and 3 of the conference
- Snacks and available water available throughout the conference
- Mike and Angela’s Awesome Mix Volume III (our annual soundtrack for the event)
This is a unique experience that you’ve surely heard lots about before now. I encourage you to talk to friends who have attended Lawyer Forward and ask whether it’s worth it. If you think it is, get on board.
We’ll be offering a discounted ticket through December 1, 2016. After that point, they’ll go up by $100 as we add more attendees. Frankly, I’d be fine if they all go for the lower price. The later we get, the more it costs me to add people, so please get on that quickly.
Join us for #LFATX2017
Get 12+ CLE credits and a chance to learn from the best in the biz
If you have any questions about the conference, please feel free to contact me…