CEE Legal Matters readers will likely be familiar with Patricia Gannon as one of the founders of Karanovic & Partners. Since her withdrawal from the firm (reported by CEE Legal Matters on September 21, 2020), Gannon ran her own "holistic strategic advisory business" (as reported on October 12, 2020) and, recently, she announced she is working on a new social media app for lawyers – Platforum 9. We caught up with her to learn more about her new project.
CEELM: Let’s start with a bit of catch-up – what have you been up to these past couple of years?
Gannon: As you know, I was a founder of Karanovic Nikolic, now Karanovic & Partners, over 20 years ago. My role as a foreign lawyer was more focused on actually building the practice and developing it across borders and internationally. I have been around but more focused on ensuring a smooth transition as I exited the firm nearly two years ago to pursue my independent career. It was important that younger partners had an opportunity to do what I did in their own way, so I took the back seat for a while.
CEELM: Speaking of your individual career, what has been your focus with Gannon Advisory and what have been some of the biggest highlights/wins for you?
Gannon: To be honest, after an intensive 20 years building a law firm with almost 200 people in seven markets, I felt I needed a time out to decide what I really wanted to do next. Although I had offers from a number of firms and businesses, I knew I did not want to go back to that pace of life again. So I didn’t! I found a new purpose in my life and it’s an exciting transition, even more international and connected than before – and I love it!
The Gannon Advisory consultancy is a broad-based holistic advisory business that generally services law firms on their strategy, leadership, and business generation and development. I saw a gap in the market where small and mid-sized firms do not fully know what to focus on for the future growth of their business. I am happy to be able to assist firms in defining their future development and then actually coaching them in its implementation. It was a good reality check for me as I recalled the early days of development at my former firm. A time when everyone did everything and managed huge growth at the same time. Issues such as recruitment and retention of talent, development of leadership, quality control processes, and business generation are all being done by partners not trained in the matter. I enjoy engaging with young lawyers, helping them to understand themselves better, and seeing them develop their practice areas and client base.
CEELM: What about Platforum 9 – what was your inspiration for it?
Gannon: As I had already left the firm, I discovered that I was working from home all the time and seriously missed the social dialogue with colleagues and peers. None of the networks or platforms I was involved with could properly cater to the way I wanted to be connected. I realized there must be a more efficient way for lawyers to connect with each other. Not just meeting up randomly at a live conference and hoping for some referral work. There seems to be no tool to assist them to maintain the connection they made. So now I am building a social media app for the legal profession, which will allow members to participate in live forums that cover their practice area or area of interest.
This is the first global app of its type for lawyers of all types, and I am really excited by the response that I get from people all over the world willing to try it out and be part of designing it to make it as useful and fun as possible.
CEELM: You mentioned connectivity. What other gaps do you see in the legal profession that require bridging?
Gannon: I see huge generational gaps, where we still see old structures of management and organization dominating in a world they no longer fit into. Younger lawyers need more access to each other, to the topics that are relevant to their practice area, to develop their own client base within their firms, and to learn more about other legal systems and issues.
CEELM: How will it work exactly?
Gannon: Essentially, it’s a membership-based subscription model whereby individual lawyers join to connect with peers in their practice area or in any area of law they want to contribute to and learn about. Either desktop or mobile-based, you can actively participate in a live discussion or listen later, when it suits you. Third-party content from providers will be shared with the community as relevant.
It will be moderated by excellent moderators who are properly trained and know the practice area well, which means that in a short but effective session you will learn something new and relevant to your practice. There are many additional features that I have in mind but, right now, I am looking for volunteers to help me beta test it.
CEELM: Who's your target audience with the app and how are you planning to reach it?
Gannon: The target audience is broad, in that essentially all lawyers will be able to join, either from law firms, in-house, NGOs, legal tech, legal education, or policy. My hope, in particular, is that Platforum 9 will appeal to younger lawyers who do not have the same access to travel or meet each other internationally. I have soft-launched on LinkedIn recently and had so many views in the first week that I was encouraged. I will be using existing social media, personal connections, and international networks to reach target users.
CEELM: What's the game plan at the moment? At what stage are you with the app and what's your current timeline?
Gannon: I am currently fine-tuning the high-level features to be developed by the backend software developers. This will also be verified by the community that I am building, mostly through LinkedIn, so I hope your readers will reach out to me to get involved. It’s a super exciting opportunity to be part of something new in the profession.
CEELM: How do you believe your experience will help you in launching a social media app?
Gannon: My entire career has been about connecting the dots to develop business and individuals. In that way, I feel that this project is the culmination of my professional life. Of course, it’s at an entirely different level, which on some days seems overwhelming to me, but in its essence, it’s just a more impactful way to connect people. The beauty of having one career behind you is that, although you start something new, you are still not starting from the beginning. For me, it’s a continuation of my life’s work.
CEELM: And what do you still see as the biggest challenges ahead?
Gannon: There are so many challenges – some of which I can already imagine today and some, for sure, that I cannot yet anticipate. I am sure that social audio is not a simple tool to manage. My key feature is quality content. Platforms without quality content will fail in the long run. I am now searching for top-quality lawyers capable of moderating a forum. I need to motivate and train them so that they capture the essence of the subject in a meaningful yet interesting way, also involving others present in the session. I am working on this, currently, but if readers are interested in taking on this role for their practice area or topic they could also reach out to me.
The whole project is a work in process but it’s going really well so I am happy so far. Make sure to watch this space...