Take a bite: get in front of the camera with Crafty Counsel

Ben White discusses Crafty Counsel, a new online platform specifically for in-house counsel featuring bite-sized learning videos featuring presenters from law firms and other organisations. He explains how you can get involved, and what to expect from the filming day. There are also Q&As with two in-house lawyers who have already been before the camera.

What is Crafty Counsel?

Crafty Counsel is a Ted Talks-style platform built for in-house counsel, which I launched in October 2017. I was trying to solve a problem I’d experienced when I moved in-house, namely, how to access relevant and engaging learning and development resources.

Who do you feature?

We have around 100 90-second videos on Crafty Counsel today. Many of these feature lawyers working in law firms, predominantly giving technical legal updates in their areas of expertise. However, an increasing number feature in-house counsel. Being able to hear directly from our peers is absolutely critical, I think, and Crafty Counsel videos can have a really important role to play in keeping in-house counsel abreast of the latest thinking and developments in legal operations; sharing career advice; and offering focused advice on personal development.

How can I get involved?

We want to hear from in-house counsel with a story to tell. That might be a reflection on key decision points in your career; legal developments relevant to your industry; operational improvements you’ve made in your team; or something else entirely.

To give examples, future videos in the pipeline will be covering: mentoring; leadership; and managing cross-border reporting lines (in other words, what to do if your boss lives in San Francisco!). Recent videos have explored what makes a great in-house counsel; crisis management; and what lawyers can learn from software developers, amongst other topics.

Why bite-sized content?

We deliberately set out to be different to a long webinar or client briefing. We want to make content that lawyers actually want to watch: a video you would watch at lunch, while cooking or in the gym; just like a Ted Talk.

For that reason, most of our videos have been just 90 seconds long. It is quite amazing what you can pack into that if you are prepared!

That said, we’ve also begun experimenting with slightly longer-form content. We now record a scripted 90-second ‘manifesto’, followed by a more discursive six- or seven-minute interview on the same subject. Other new formats are also in the pipeline…

What preparation is involved?

Before production, we’re closely involved in the creation and curation of the content. Presenters write their own speaking notes or scripts – it’s their manifesto, after all. But there’s invariably a discussion around content choice and messaging with me, and I go through all the scripts in advance with the presenters.

For the 90-second videos, we can offer an autocue for a script; however, many presenters prefer to prepare some broad notes and then just speak from memory.

One ‘must do’ tip is to practise on a camera phone in advance and ensure that your presentation can get in under 90 seconds.

What’s the filming experience like?

The filming itself is low on pressure, high on professionalism and energy. We typically film in our studio near the Barbican in London, once or twice a month. The central London location means that it’s pretty straightforward for many presenters to get to. We aim to take as little time as possible out of your day: I usually recommend leaving one hour for filming, and we’ll get you out in less time than that.

We have a hair and make-up artist on site. There’s usually a lot of joking and informality in the studio. Our creative director, Rosie Collins, has a gift for putting presenters at ease. You really see that in the behind the scenes photos that we regularly share on LinkedIn .

One camera-shy presenter recently said: ‘If you could pass my thanks on to your team, it would be appreciated. They made something I wasn’t overly looking forward to a pleasure to be involved in.’

What happens next?

We usually turn the video production around within two or three weeks, and always give presenters an opportunity to review before publishing.

The videos are then published on our website and LinkedIn. Most presenters enjoy sharing the videos themselves on LinkedIn, and they often generate comment and (supportive) debate.

We’re also happy for presenters to embed the videos on their own organisation’s websites, as long as we are asked in advance and there is an attribution and link back to the Crafty Counsel website.

How do I join in?

If this sounds interesting to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch! We’re always looking for more in-house counsel presenters: .

Q&A with Ed Goold, counsel and COO at Ohalo

Why did you decide to present on Crafty Counsel?

Ed GooldThere were a number of overlapping motivations for me. First, I felt that my journey from private practice into tech was something which could yield insights for the Crafty Counsel audience. Second, my (re-)training in software development had also given me a number of ideas about how law and coding might fit together, which I thought were worth sharing. Third, it was great publicity for Ohalo and what we do around automated data compliance.

What did you do to prepare?

I started off by thinking about where the greatest interest lay for the audience. I then drafted some speaking notes that touched on the broad themes that I identified. The biggest job was practising, which I did in front of my laptop’s video camera.

What was filming like?

It was really good fun – very relaxed and informal, though professional too. We even managed to cope with the ferocious midsummer heat!

What did you think of the final result?

I was really pleased with it. My message came across clearly and the overall impression was very positive.

What has the reaction been to the video?

The reaction has been great. Whether it is familiar folks getting in touch with me, or people who I haven’t come across before, the messages have been really positive.

Watch one of Ed’s videos

Q&A with Nicholas Eldred, director, NE Consulting Services and former group GC & company secretary at the BBC and Christie’s

Why did you decide to present on Crafty Counsel?

Nicholas Eldred

Crafty Counsel is an excellent way to reach busy professionals, with important and timely updates on law and professional practice. I like the way that updates are given: easily digestible video shorts which can be readily consumed and played again as required. As a consultant GC, I thought it an excellent channel for me to reach new audiences. I have had good feedback so far and have been pleased to see the platform grow and prosper.

What did you do to prepare?

I did a number of dry runs at home in front of the mirror to get the tone right and arrive at the right length. Lawyers are not known for their brevity, so it was an interesting exercise to squeeze everything into 90 seconds. As it turned out, I think I ran in slightly under.

What was filming like?

Slightly daunting at first, as it felt a bit like recording a Radio 4 Just a Minute episode: no hesitation, deviation or repetition allowed! Although I used to work at the BBC, I haven’t done much in front of the camera. However, once I relaxed into the format, it was fine, and I largely forgot the camera was rolling.

What did you think of the final result?

I don’t think I am best judged to say, but others have told me that it looks good and I presented well. I’ll settle for that!

What has the reaction been to the video?

It has been pretty positive. I did a piece about a GC’s role in handling a crisis and people have commented about how calm I was in the video. That’s nice feedback to have as my first message in the piece was to remain calm when a crisis hits!

Watch one of Nicholas’ videos

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