By Kristen Leis and Jon Mattson
Leading the 2020 Annual Conference Advisory Committee (ACAC) in a year like no other, Kristen Leis and Jon Mattson have seen the program through several stages — from creation, to rescheduling, to development and reimagining. With just weeks until the virtual LMA Annual Conference Reimagined (Oct. 19-22), here’s a preview of what you can expect from the eyes of the 2020 ACAC co-chairs.
How has the programming evolved since the event became a virtual conference?
Jon Mattson: Once the decision was made to reimagine the LMA Annual Conference, our goal was to create an immersive, virtual event experience that delivers the high-caliber educational programming and varied networking opportunities the conference is known for.
With that, the 2020 ACAC went back to the drawing board to reimagine the educational content we had, add new streams of programming relevant to today and create networking opportunities that would resonate with an online audience.
Kristen Leis: We had such a fun conference planned in Denver and maybe someday we will take our “run of show” out of the LMA vault and bring it to light again; but in some ways, this virtual conference is even better. We’ve all been through such a life-altering experience over the last seven months, that we really saw this as an opportunity to present the annual conference in a way that fits into what is becoming our “next normal.” While many of the conference elements are different, many are staying the same. For example, the sessions are still structured around LMA’s Body of Knowledge. The agenda includes timely presentations, TED-style talks, robust panel discussions, and peer-to-peer roundtables that have been adapted to where our industry stands today and what experts predict tomorrow will look like.
"We’ve all been through such a life-altering experience over the last seven months, that we really saw this as an opportunity to present the annual conference in a way that fits into what is becoming our 'next normal.'"
What session or sessions are you most looking forward to?
JM: Like Kristen said, so much has changed in the world and in our industry since the program was first developed. I think I am most looking forward to the all the new sessions we added that will help attendees tackle today’s reality. For example, I’m excited to hear how internal communications practices have changed in the session, “The Do’s and Don’ts of Virtual Onboarding and Integration” (Thursday, Oct. 22 at 12:30 p.m. EDT). I’m also looking forward to “How to Share Your Authenticity to Move DE&I Beyond Crisis Response” (Monday, Oct. 19 at 2:30 p.m. EDT).
KL: One other aspect I am personally looking forward to is the renewed focus on wellness that we have incorporated into the program. There are many offerings in this critical area — not just one or two sessions. There are sessions on practicing well-being through mindfulness, stress resiliency during uncertain times, managing anxiety in the workforce and the power of meditation and visualization. We’re also collaborating with the co-chairs of LMA’s Shared Interest Groups (SIGs) for a wellbeing-focused networking event on the first day of the conference.
JM: Another session that we are really looking forward to is our keynote with Baratunde Thurston. Everyone should mark their calendars now for his presentation (Monday, Oct. 19 at 12:15 p.m. EDT) and Town Hall discussion he is leading (Monday, Oct. 19 at 1:15 p.m. EDT). How often do we have the good fortune to have a futurist comedian, writer and cultural critic who helped re-launch “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” and also served as an advisor to the Obama White House?
KL: So true, Jon. We are so excited to have Baratunde Thurston join us virtually!
What are some key learnings you hope attendees will walk away from the conference with?
KL: To us, LMA’s greatest attribute is the community it’s members have created. A community means that we show up for each other, so there was no other option but to still have this conference — to connect, explore new ideas, hear each other’s successes and learn from mutual challenges. The programming is top-notch, of course, but the opportunity for face-to-face (virtual) conversations with peers and specialized service providers can’t be ignored.
What I really hope is that attendees make really meaningful connections. The LMA friends I’ve gained from attending conferences over the last 20 years have been with me throughout my career. What we have as LMA members, the community spirit and genuine mutual admiration and affection — it’s invaluable!
JM: How do I follow that, Kristen? I think I have a little tear in my eye. In all seriousness, there are a few perennial topics that we have covered in an elevated, reimagined and very 2020-way. I’d love for our attendees to gain career tips to take them “From Survive to Thrive,” as one session puts it (Monday, Oct. 19 at 1:15 p.m. EDT). We also have a real emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) issues that I think every firm can benefit from, regardless of their place along the journey. And every year I personally gain some great ideas from the sessions on what other firms are doing — like “Fastest Growing Law Firm Management Strategies” (Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 2:30 p.m. EDT) or “The Fab Five: Addressing D&I from All Perspectives Including Client's Perspective” (Thursday, Oct. 22 at 12:30 p.m. EDT).
If everyone leaves with even one or two great ideas from a peer, I consider the conference well worth the year plus in the making.
For more information on the conference agenda, the virtual experience or to register, visit www.LMAconference.com.
Kristen Leis has worked for some of the most well respected business law firms in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and the Southeast for over 20 years. She is currently the Chief Business Development & Marketing Officer for Parker Poe where she sets the strategy and oversees implementation for the client relations and business development, competitive and business intelligence, and marketing communications programs. Kristen maintains a niche focus on key client growth programs, client feedback initiatives, business development coaching and training, process improvement standards, and team building. She earned her B.A. from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and her MBA with a concentration on Leadership and Management at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte.
Jon Mattson serves as the chief Marketing and Business Development Officer for Stinson, a law firm with nearly 500 attorneys nationwide. Jon is responsible for leading business development and marketing initiatives across Stinson's 13 offices nationwide, overseeing client generation, revenue growth and brand awareness, and supporting the firm's culture of client service. Previously Jon was the Director of Business Development at BakerHostetler and Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Tucker Ellis. Before coming to law firms, Jon spent most of his career in Big Four accounting serving in a unique blend of roles including external business development to some of the firm’s largest clients, a geography marketing leadership role, and a client service/timekeeper role within a state and local tax practice. Jon is a frequent guest speaker to the LMA International Conference and LMA chapters, LSSO, bar associations and other organizations on business development within professional services organizations. He received his BA in Economics from Eastern Illinois University and his MBA from Wake Forest University. He lives in Chagrin Falls, OH with his wife and two daughters.