President's Message

Hackathons. When I first heard this term - and before feverishly Googling for context - it struck me as harsh, and a little diabolical! However, I quickly learned that this activity is not only an innovative and productive way to approach opportunities and challenges, but also incredibly creative and fun. Recently, I had the opportunity to dive further into hackathons - how they work, types of organizations that are deploying them, and how these intense brainstorm sessions can be used to address pain points and enhance the client experience, particularly in the legal industry. As my colleagues and I recently shared, (Hacking the Future of the Legal Industry Through Innovative Ideas), hackathons do not have to focus on gregarious, brand new issues - they can be effective on existing issues that require modification, expansion or enhancement to a current process.
In June, the LMA Southeast Region Board hosted a meeting in the great city of Boston (special thanks to our friends in the LMA Northeast Region - especially our hosts at McDermott, Will & Emery's Boston office, Peter Johnson, and Jim Durham - for their support and time!) and embarked on a hackathon focused on enhancing and developing an all-encompassing communications plan. The end result was to produce an actionable plan that would move us forward in improving our communications within the Southeast region.  Planted in Beantown, it was only appropriate to split up into three teams - Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. Each group was equipped in advance with an overview of our current communications process as a region, which also included feedback from our LSC leaders, as well as guidelines (a scoring card). Each team upheld a commitment to keep the end product grounded in the key themes that the region deployed earlier in the year: empower, engage, connect -- collaboration and support -- innovation and evolution --  communication and transparency.
I was overly optimistic going into this exercise, as we are fortunate to have an incredibly talented and creative board. However, the results of this exercise absolutely blew me away! Over roughly an 8 hour period,  each of the teams headed out of the four walls of the McDermott conference room, and set up shop in the many sunny common areas and vibrant cafes in Boston's financial district. The creative juices were flowing. I had the pleasure of bouncing from team to team, listening in on what the teamsthought would be most impactful and actionable. We came back together with fresh ideas and each team provided a thorough and thoughtful plan. In the end, each team's score was close - but the Boston Celtics won by a mere point! As a collective board, we immediately agreed to several action items to improve our communications - including better use of our social media forums, development of an editorial calendar, a new newsletter template, and a "call for content" process - to offer members a forum for publishing and sharing content - among others.
I hope this inspires you to "hack" ideas at your firms and/or other organizations with which you are involved. Hackathons - not just for the tech savvy giants!

Amy Norris
2018 LMASE President