Have you registered for The Future Is Now: Legal Services conference yet? Sign up by 5 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, April 20, or you’ll miss key insights from our expert speakers!
Join hundreds of legal professionals from across the U.S. on Thursday, April 21 to discuss how they are evolving their practices to deliver to value today’s legal consumers want.
In this video, Commission staff and conference moderators Erika Harold, Stephanie Villinski, and Mark Palmer dive deep into the topics that will be covered by our lineup of industry thought leaders and share what attendees can expect to learn at The Future Is Now.
When: April 21, 2022, 12 – 4:15 p.m. CDT
Where: Virtual conference
What: Speakers will deliver 15-minute TED-like talks and participate in interactive town hall sessions on topics impacting the future of the judiciary and the legal profession.
CLE: 4.0 hours of professional responsibility CLE credit in Illinois is available (3.0 hours of professional responsibility CLE and 1.0 hour of diversity and inclusion CLE).
Speaker lineup: https://thefutureisnow.2civility.org/2022-speakers/
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00:01:19 When today’s consumers seek legal help, what are they looking for? In other words, what’s the value that they seek from an attorney, and how has that changed over the years?
00:04:34 Why do you think lawyers sometimes have a difficult time communicating their value to consumers?
00:06:06 What excites you about the value proposition that our speakers are going to discuss at The Future Is Now? What are the biggest takeaways?
About Erika Harold
Erika Harold is the Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, where she oversees programs and initiatives to increase the civility and professionalism of attorneys and judges, create inclusiveness in the profession, and promote increased service to the public.
About Stephanie Villinski
Stephanie is the Deputy Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. She helps to execute operations and programs within the Commission by leveraging technology and project management processes.
About Mark Palmer
Mark C. Palmer is the Chief Counsel of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. Mark strives to serve judges, attorneys, law students, and the people of Illinois with a dedication to the quality of justice and the rule of law.
Recorded on April 13, 2022.
Learn more about The Future Is Now conference here.
Erika Harold 0:00
I’m Erika Harold, Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. Since 2016, the Commission has brought together legal professionals from across the state at our annual conference, The Future Is Now: Legal Services. This year, we’re thrilled to host the conference virtually on Thursday, April 21. Things have changed a lot since 2016, and the legal profession is no exception. The services, counsel, and accessibility that clients are looking for in a lawyer have evolved, and it’s up to us to keep pace. When we were exploring topics for the 2022 conference, the theme of value was top of mind. In the age of LegalZoom and alternative business structures, what’s the unique value that attorneys can provide clients, and are we doing a good job of communicating that? I’m here with Stephanie Villinski, Deputy Director of the Commission, and Mark Palmer, our Chief Counsel, to discuss why we selected this important topic for this year’s conference and what attendees can expect to learn. The Future Is Now will be held virtually on April 21. Registration is open at thefutureisnow.2civility.org but closes on April 20. And importantly, CLE is available for attendees. Let’s jump in. Stephanie, when today’s consumers seek legal help, what are they looking for? In other words, what’s the value that they seek from an attorney? And how has that changed over the years?
Stephanie Villinski 1:31
Great question. Thank you, Erika. As you mentioned, LegalZoom is one of several options for clients these days to get help online without even talking to an attorney. If a client is going to use a lawyer, instead of maybe just doing it on their own online, they want to know what value the lawyer will provide. I do think a lawyer can add a lot of value. One of the biggest things is when discussing your issue with an attorney, the lawyer is trained to see not only the issue presented, but also beyond that, why has the client gotten into this situation? Are there other legal issues that aren’t being addressed? Is there another way to solve the problem? It’s really more of a holistic representation. I think this a great value add that you can’t necessarily get just from looking at and building out documents online, and I think such holistic representation can also minimize litigation in the future.
Erika Harold 2:51
Mark, what are your thoughts on that? What do you think that legal consumers are looking for out of their lawyers right now?
Mark Palmer 2:59
We often hear of access to justice and the problem that presents, but I think we tend to underappreciate the value and the importance of those words. Think how the world has changed in the last 20 years and how potential clients looking for lawyers already have access to statutes and ordinances, case law, forums, blogs, legal Q and A’s, and even online videos. We might have access to resources for the problem that we’re addressing to a degree, but our access to justice problem persists. As a quick example, think of somebody who’s seeking a divorce. They can find very useful court-approved forms and even online guides to walk them through the process of being a self-represented litigant. However, the counsel they’re going to find in engaging with the lawyer can rise to higher levels of addressing the needs surrounding that separation—be it child custody issues, estate planning, social services and counseling, what led to the divorce, what’s next for the parties involved, and so on and so on. This is where the delivery of legal services can bring value and even bring justice. It must start with the legal profession to get the legal consumer to realize that the ROI is coming from the lawyer instead of maybe downloading a form.
Erika Harold 4:34
These are really interesting observations. Why is it that you think lawyers sometimes have a difficult time communicating this value to their consumers and to their clients?
Mark Palmer 4:44
I think a major player in attorneys’ difficulty in communicating their value starts with the disconnect of communication that’s been growing for the last 20 years. Again, it’s been greatly accelerated over the last couple of years in the pandemic. You have very new forms of engagement taking the forefront, which have much to do with technology. This has pushed the consumer along in how they prefer to engage in the marketplace, including the legal marketplace. As legal professionals resist, these things are slow to change. The disconnect in communication makes the value proposition from the lawyers’ side even harder from the start. However, legal professionals who do develop more familiarity with the capabilities at their disposal to find new opportunities will find those opportunities. They will have better organizational efficiencies. They will have improved client experiences, and consumer expectations can once again find what I like to say is “the meeting of the minds” again, and the market for turning to lawyers for help can be opened up again and realized by the legal consumers.
Erika Harold 6:06
Stephanie, what excites you about the value proposition that our speakers are going to discuss at the conference?
Stephanie Villinski 6:12
I am really excited because I think this is a great time for this conference. We are two years from the beginning of the pandemic. We’re starting to come back to the office, so the workspace is in a different place. And I think it is a great time for attorneys in the profession, in general, to take stock and reflect on where we are headed. The practice has changed over the past two years. It’s not going back to exactly how it was. Mark’s point to just communicate with the client excites me because it’s a basic principle, but the notion that starting the conversation with the client with more of a values-based mindset will help us learn what that even means and what the client really wants. Obviously, as lawyers, we know if it’s an eviction case, they don’t want to be evicted. But what else is there? There’s a lot more there. I’m just excited for people to hear people who are doing that in their practices and what that looks like.
Erika Harold 7:16
Mark, what do you think the biggest takeaways are going to be? What excites you about this upcoming conference?
Mark Palmer 7:21
Well, I like to think whatever position the attendees are coming from—from judges to law students, from solo practitioners to corporate lawyers—we see them from all over the country, and even the world, like we have every year from The Future Is Now conference. I really hope they embrace the lessons from the speakers and from fellow attendees. To be frank, that’s where the town halls have an important role in the afternoon. I hope they use these conversations to reorient the way they deliver legal services, or at a minimum, how they look at how they do that. Client expectations around why they should turn to legal professionals in the first place have evolved immensely to the point that we not only should reevaluate the nature of our work but we must. I really want attendees to lead the change for ourselves, for our organizations, to consider why and how we are doing what we do, to deliver value beyond our clients, even to our community, to our bar associations, to our leadership roles, both now and in the future. I’m really excited to hear the wide array of speakers this year, and the spark of energy they’re all going to bring to each of us.
Erika Harold 8:44
Well, there should definitely be valuable takeaways for every attorney and every practice area. As a reminder, The Future Is Now will be held virtually on Thursday, April 21. Registration is open at thefutureisnow.2civility.org, but it closes on April 20. We will include the link in the notes. Importantly, attendees are eligible to receive 4.0 hours of professional responsibility CLE credit in Illinois, including 3.0 hours of general professional responsibility, and 1.0 hour of diversity and inclusion CLE. We hope to see you on April 21.