News and media

More than 200 firms bring law to the fore at HM Connect annual conference in Gleneagles

Gleneagles finally hosted its biggest event of the year yesterday when more than 200 law firms gathered there for the annual HM Connect Conference, which focused on the major issues facing high street and rural firms around the country – and how to fire an arrow.

HM Connect (formerly Connect2Law) is the leading support and referral network for law firms in Scotland.

The conference, which tackled the challenges thrown up by changes in the legal market, and highlighted the innovation and forward thinking being shown by firms as they turn these challenges into opportunities.

Anne Macdonald, Lead Partner of HM Connect, said: "The conference is a great barometer of the state of the legal market across Scotland, and yesterday reaffirmed our belief that many high street and rural firms are thriving, not just surviving. The value of the strong roots that many firms have in the communities they serve cannot be underestimated, but it's clear that new entrants to the market appreciate this and have set up with the same values.

"The most important thing for all firms is not just to rely on those roots, but to think of fresh ways to generate new shoots, whether that be through the attraction of new talent, new methods of service delivery or developing more niche areas of law. Hopefully the stories and lessons shared at yesterday's conference will have provided some inspiration to all of our member firms."

Chairman Douglas Mill, of Douglas Mill Consulting, opened the conference before Andy Poole, Legal Sector Partner at Armstrong Watson, looked at developments in the sector and their impact on high street firms.

HM Connect is driven by Harper Macleod, and the firm's Chief Executive Martin Darroch gave an overview of the current legal market in Scotland before Lorna Jack, Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland then tackled the question of how firms are responding to the change around them – and how the Law Society can help.

A series of breakout group sessions during the day allowed focused examinations of topics including: marketing and business development strategies; land registration updates; looking after high net worth individuals; and complaint avoidance.

Delegates were also able to wind down a little by trying their hand at some of the activities on offer at Gleneagles, including archery and air rifle target shooting.

Marie Curie Cancer Care was also in attendance, the charity's association with HM Connect having raised more than £18,000 over the past two years.

The afternoon session at the Conference saw delegates come together to think about succession planning, sustainability and thinking outside the box, with the Question Time style session throwing up some of the success stories and innovation coming from within the profession itself, rather than from experts outwith the legal sphere.