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Many practitioners I talk to think ADLSi is already irrelevant and should give up and throw in the towel.  Although the reasons behind these views are varied, a consistent comment is that NZLS is forging ahead and ADLSi seems to be going nowhere.  This is not an unreasonable assumption after months of silence, no new exciting obvious initiatives and some worrying changes like the abolition of the small practice collegial activities.

ADLSi has 2 groups of members in my view (and without access to any lists to verify my suspicions). The first group who I will call the “Form Huggers” are those  who are members for pragmatic reasons ie the forms discounts and who may not really care who is President or on Council. I have a suspicion that this group does not open Lawnews or other correspondence and so they are less likely to come across a voting form and even less likely to send it in).  The second smaller group who I will call the “Chancery Lovers” is committed to the organisation, to independence, to collegiality, to having a voice and who believe an independent ADLSi is a good thing.

I have not been on Council for the last year and have experienced ADLSi as a regular member would and not as an insider.  Customer Experience is the most important trend which is impacting business and all member organisations across the world and the offerings and communications from ADLSi have seemed like no experience at all.  The impression was of inactivity, lots of kissing babies in LawNews and then a triumphal arrival of the new baby (namely the constitution and new name). The experience of the Form Huggers has I suspect been very underwhelming.

I am sure the work on the name and constitution was in fact substantial and that the team has been very busy, but they broke the number one rule of customer experience which is creating an experience and creating engagement with the members. The selection of a new name was always going to be controversial and needed careful handling and consultation. It was daft to think they could produce a new name and get buy in from the Chancery Lovers without respectful consultation.  I understand that a sub group of Council even excluded other Council members in this process.

I remain of the view that an independent ADLSi has a valid role on behalf of the entire profession, as an unfettered independent voice, but this needs to be a loud voice not a wimper. A year ago the Council approved a strategy with a bold vision but the whole year has been wasted arranging the deck chairs. There is much that can be done to play nicely with NZLS, which is to the benefit of all across the country.

I am really concerned about the future of our young practitioners and the law students coming through. The profession across the world is undergoing enormous change and revolution, yet we are still preparing them for nineteenth century jobs. Read my 3 articles in NZLawyer (which are on this blog site) to see more about my concerns. This group is going to be responsible for our pensions and buying our goodwill and we need to do a better job looking out for them now.

It really is:

Time to put up or shut up.

Please vote for me if you want to see some action, some presence and some progress. If you are a Form Hugger please use your vote rather than leaving the decisions to a minority.

Jennie Vickers