The show must go on
By Pat Monks, Attorney at Law in Huston, Texas
I had the privilege of attending my 5th Congress of the Legal Protection International aisbl (Formally known at RIAD). I first came across the organization RIAD in 2014, when someone in Canada made the connection that our organization, the Group Legal Services Industry was like Legal Protection International aisbl. My first congress was in Brussels in 2015. I was delightfully surprised at the reception that I received.
The subject that year was online mediation. I was intrigued how successful the Europeans had adapted an online platform that was far advanced from what we had been using in the United States. I attended the Congress in Montreal, Dublin and then in Berlin last year. I was on board with attending in the Hague this week. Unfortunately, the world pandemic became a potential problem. Our GLSA conference in Puerto Rico this year was cancelled. My State bar association conference was cancelled and postponed until next year as well. I thought we might not have a conference in October in Holland.
It seems the LPI had everything arranged to provide both a virtual as well as in person congress, then things got worst. The organization was faced with the only option of a Virtual online Congress. It is almost impossible to have an entire seminar online. But the Show must go on. Most webinars are possible up to an hour or two at the most. However, the LPI pulled it off. Not only was the Congress informative, but it was also interesting and very interactive.
Since 2015, I have been attending these Congresses and I learn something new and interesting that helps me in my practice in the U.S. I have met and learned from some great new friends in Europe and South Africa. Their experience has provided a perspective that a Texan would not be able to obtain in his own reading.
The event was held in real time. On October 15th, the conference opened for me at 7:00 am. President Simon Warr opened the Congress from his home library and presented our first speakers Dr. Maxim Baer and Dr Iris van Domselaar. The topics dealt directly with the legal protection lawyer. These topics dealt with the same issues concerning provider attorneys for legal plans in the U.S. I found the topics to be in more depth and detail than many presentations we have had in the U.S. The Congress used both the Hopin event platform and Slido voting platform in real time. This voting platform enabled the speakers to adjust and respond to the group’s comments during the presentation. It was better than the usual Q and A. It was an interactive process that facilitated real discussion for the issues presented.
At the conclusion of day one, we normally have a cocktail party and visit one another. Nothing can replace an in-person meeting. But there was something nice about seeing everyone in the meeting room. The Hopin platform allowed for private conversations and private engagement of conversations concerning the topics. It was not much different than catching the speakers for a short chat on their way out the door. However, nothing beats an open bar.
My second day, reveille was at 2:30 am Friday October 16th. Since this is in real time for Holland time, I was up early for the call. I experienced something like Jet Lag. But I only had to travel from my bedroom to my library in my home in Clear Lake, Texas.
I found the second days topics to be even more interesting. The need to embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the practice of law became clear. It was clear to me; that AI will not replace lawyers. But lawyers that do not embrace and utilize AI will be replaced with lawyers that do. The discussion elaborated on some of the pros and cons of installing an AI platform in a law office. The positive is there will be a reduction in administrative staff over time. The negative is the learning curve and monitoring of the AI platforms. One mistake can be replicated thousands of times and be costly.
The T-shaped lawyer was explained by Prof. Elaine Mak. To sum up, the T-shaped lawyer is the modern-day lawyer that completely integrates the law with an application of the use of technology to accomplish what is needed in today’s legal climate.
Artificial Intelligence and digital technology are the future. Attorneys are afraid of change. The panelist emphasized the need for empathy in the legal profession. How can you provide the attention and concern for the client, yet administrate the clients legal matter efficiently? Clients are not necessarily looking to hire lawyers and legal protection programs. They are interested in providing efficient solutions for their legal problems. As access to justice becomes a real problem in the world, the demand for efficiency and cheaper solutions increases.
The congress ended on a great note. Simon, Antje, and Silvia Onos deserve so much credit for pulling off a complete congress in an impossible situation. The GLSA could not go forward this year. But we can learn from this experience.
We conducted our first collaborative joint webinar in September with GLSA and LPI. This is the beginning of a truly international collaboration with world legal protection groups. Furthermore, a new format was discovered and perfected.
Until this year, if a member missed a congress, he missed the congress. The success of this new streaming service has now opened the door for both the LPI and GLSA to provide a conference experience to members in real time. Nothing beats the experience of an in-person experience. But now we have a working model that was established by LPI. This will allow all members of both organizations to participate and experience the presentations that were not available in the past. We can now provide real value for our members who may not be able to attend a conference/congress in person for any particular year.
Once again, it has been a privilege for me to participate in another successful LPI congress. The LPI aisbl stepped up their efforts to provide a first-class experience for their members. Pandemic or not, the show must go on. I currently serve as a board member of the GLSA. Both groups are very special to me. And I always learn so much from every Congress. I have made some good friendships and enjoy the presentations. I will be there in Vienna next October 29, 2021 come hell or high water. You are welcome to join us in Santa Monica California next April as well.
(Houston, Texas, October 20, 2020)