Denver Bar Association
June 2011
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Ignite the Legal Profession: What’s Your Big Idea?

by Alli Gerkman


ive minutes. Twenty slides. Fifteen seconds per slide.

There aren’t too many rules at Ignite events. Inspire your audience or scare it. Make ’em laugh or make ’em cry. If you find yourself presenting at an Ignite event, the approach you take is entirely up to you, as long as it can be captured in five minutes, 20 slides, with 15 seconds per slide.

Ignite events started in Seattle in December 2006, when two people from O’Reilly Media decided it would be fun to mix networking, beer, and big ideas. The result was the first of many Ignite events, not just in Seattle, but around the world. Colorado is home to at least three city-based Ignite events—in Boulder, Denver, and Fort Collins.

In 2010, several people attending the American Bar Association’s TECHSHOW in Chicago organized an “Ignite Law” program for people interested in the future of law practice. Sixteen lawyers, legal editors, and practice management partners presented to a full room on topics like “What a Law Firm Can Learn from”; “The Big Law-Solo Partnership: Outsourcing Innovation and the Lessons of Tommy Supreme”; and “Agile Legal Management: What Law Firms Can Learn from the Software Industry.”

This year, I managed to get my hands on a ticket to the sold-out second year of Ignite Law in Chicago, which gave the stage to such legal tech leaders as Carolyn Elefant, Kevin O’Keefe, and Dennis Kennedy, and covered topics like “Apps for Justice: Code to the Rescue”; “(Lack of) Privacy 2.0: Law in the Age of Transparency”; and “Bespoke Legal Services in an Off-The-Rack Culture.” The overarching theme of the night was technology, which was fitting, given its connection to TECHSHOW.
Each presenter, in rapid succession, presented his or her idea. The presentations were illuminating, inspiring, and occasionally controversial, but the conversation they generated in the room and throughout the conference was even better.

If You Go: Ignite Law “The Future of the Legal Profession,” June 9

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at CBA–CLE, 1900 Grant St., Suite 300.

There is no cost to attend for DBA members. Food and beverages will be provided. RSVP to or (303) 860-1115, ext. 727.

If you’re interested in presenting or want more information, please email Alli Gerkman at

Ignite Law was not my first Ignite event. I have been to events in both Boulder and Denver, and every time, I’ve walked out holding tight to a spark. Maybe it was the kind of spark that leads me to improved email inbox management, or maybe it was the kind of spark that changed the way I looked at a broader issue, like online privacy. But each time, it sparked some kind of change in my life, big or small. I guess that’s why they call it Ignite.

Ignite empowers ordinary people to put forth extraordinary ideas that, when shared with the right mix of people, can transform an industry. This is why we’re bringing an Ignite program to the Denver Bar Association for Member Appreciation Week. We know our engaged and diverse membership has no shortage of opinions on what the future of the legal profession will look like, so the DBA is giving members the opportunity to lead that conversation.

I guess that leaves only one question: What’s your big idea about the future of the legal profession?

You have five minutes. Go! D

Alli Gerkman is a program attorney and manager of online content and development at CBA–CLE, which includes running CBA–CLE’s blog, She is particularly interested in how different online and offline educational approaches can help adults—in particular, lawyers—learn and develop professionally over the course of their careers. To that end, she has blogged about conferences and continuing legal education since 2008, which also happens to be how she first stumbled on Ignite-style events.

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