What Is an Unconference Anyway?
An unconference is a loosely structured conference emphasizing the informal exchange of information and ideas between participants, rather than following a conventionally structured program of events.
In an unconference, there are no designated speakers, or lectures. It’s bringing the best parts of a traditional conference forward—connection, relationships and sharing ideas. It’s a way to emphasize and boost the impact of “hallway magic.”
An unconference starts with the premise that everyone is invited to participate, and to share their wisdom, insights, thoughts, ideas and struggles. It’s an opportunity to take off our masks and engage with another from a place of authenticity and honesty.
No question or topic is off limits! This is a space where all of you are welcomed. It’s a “come as you are” party.
We want to empower the legal community to have a hand in shaping its future. There are numerous challenges facing the profession and we believe that the way to stimulate creative problem solving is to provide opportunities for lawyers to connect with each other in an organic way and have authentic, honest conversations about the future of the profession.
Attorneys are often siloed in their day-to-day practice and don’t have opportunities to connect with the broader legal community. When a diverse group of lawyers comes together for an exchange of ideas, they discover that they share a lot of the same challenges despite their different practice setting or career stages.
At Shape the Law, our goal is to provide opportunities for legal professionals to come together and have these difficult conversations. We see that as the first step in effecting positive change in the profession. We place great emphasis on creating a positive atmosphere to help engender these conversations—an atmosphere that is radically inclusive and intentional.
What Happens at an Unconference?
An unconference is a participant-driven event. The day kicks off with mindfulness practices. This helps us find a space of calm and clarity, as well as distill the questions or issues we’re interested in discussing. We also do a few exercises to connect with the other attendees.
Each attendee is invited to share a question or issue by writing it down on a topics card. Then each person has an opportunity to briefly share this topic. We then create the day’s agenda in real time.
The beauty of an unconference is the lack of structure. We intentionally create the day in this way in order to facilitate idea generation and free exchange of information.