2020 Conference Values and Goals
As we organized the 2020 Annual Conference on Legal Issues in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing—in the US and Beyond, we set out in writing the values and goals that we believe have characterized our prior gatherings. We hope that these values and goals will continue to guide our work as we plan for future conferences. These values and goals can be useful to keep in mind as we define our own roles in the conference planning process and as we choose participants as plenary speakers, panel moderators, table talk discussants and workshop leaders.
- Collaborative. Our main overriding objective has been to foment a collaborative international community of lawyers working in the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. We may be on different sides of issues, transactions or other matters. We may “compete” for the work, or our clients “compete” for the deals, and we may even see each other on the other side of one or more disputes taking place in the sector. But while we vigorously carry out our work, our conference is a time when we put down our pens and come together to organize and participate together as a group.
- Inclusive. We purposefully aim to have a lot of active and diverse participation from those who are offered formal speaking roles at our conference. We aim to bring as many voices to the table as possible and so we encourage you to help us gather a wide range of speakers coming from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Relatedly, we try to avoid having the same folks speaking on multiple panels if at all possible. Some of our conference attendees are traveling from far distances at their own expense. Where that is the case, we try to make sure that those attendees are rewarded with formal speaking opportunities if at all possible.
- Conversational. Those in the audience at our conference often have as much, if not more, expertise than those who have been offered formal speaking roles. In years past, we tried to offer a speaking role to at least 50 percent of our conference attendees. With our growing numbers, however, that goal has become much harder to meet, and we now aim to provide a speaking role to approximately 25 percent of our conference attendees. So we want to make sure that each moderator and panelist speaking at our conference engages in a conversation with, not at, our conference audience. That means that we actively seek to ensure that all panelists are heard and that we reserve significant amounts of time in each panel or segment for the audience members to ask questions and offer their own expertise.
- Respectful. We inevitably have some issues arise in our conference that may spark controversy and highlight areas where people’s views may differ. We aim to be the most inclusive clearinghouse for issues facing the legal profession in the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing. This means folks may not see eye to eye on everything. But we are here to listen, learn and permit healthy discourse to occur, while being professional and courteous at all times. We respect each other’s points of view and conduct our conference accordingly.
- Thoughtful. As we organize our conference, each of us relies upon the work of the others. Hence, although we are all terribly busy, we do our best to juggle and honor the commitments we make and, where we cannot, we do our best to inform the relevant people and to help locate someone else who can undertake the work. Honesty is the best policy and it is inevitable that some things drop through the cracks, where we then pull together to gather up the pieces and make them right again.
- Communicative. The themes for the panels have been carefully chosen. Each panel should have its own logic and purpose. It is paramount that the theme leaders, the moderators and the panelists keep in mind that “mission drift” could result in more than one panel essentially addressing the same topics -- which is to be avoided. We value our “product” and want to be sure we deliver what we promised and do not steal the thunder of others. During the planning process, our theme leaders may remind us gently if we have wandered into territory that others are meant to cover. Or we may find that several panels are aiming to secure the same speakers, a situation better addressed and resolved sooner rather than later. It is easy for these unintended consequences to occur, as many themes or issues relate to each other. Our own interests and passions can also interfere with keeping on the “straight and narrow.” So that we can work together to stay on point and bring as many voices to the table as possible, we encourage everyone to be highly communicative, during our regular planning calls and otherwise.