Panel discussion

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Every time you moderate a panel discussion on the impact of covid19 on regulatory compliance, a part of you dies.

Along with computer-based training and continuing professional development, the panel discussion — jammed between workshops at an all-day conference as a filler, like those dreary Inside Africa segments that run on a loop on CNN for business hostages at the Singapore Hilton — is one of the great blights of a corporate life quite overwhelmed with them. This is not to say the keynote sessions either side are a whole lot better, but hearing an assemblage of junior partners, industry association counsel and random change management consultants mumble about the impact on market stability of MiFID trade and/or transa

... Sorry, where was I?

As we move into the millennium’s second decade, a new career genre has emerged through LinkedIn’s oily midwifery: the panel discusser. These are people who spend most of their working lives attending, moderating or speaking on panel discussions. Now, for a junior partner in an offshore law firm it might be a quick way of burnishing credentials within the community of corporate agency and trust services professionals. Fair enough. But for the middling executive director in an in-house legal function, let alone one in the Legal COO team, it is harder to understand who lets them out so often — or, for that matter, pays them — much less, why.

No topic is too arcane, no minutia of the regulatory landscape too wretched, no panel-member selfie too prostrating of one’s self-esteem to be beyond the siren call of the LinkedIn timeline, to which they will upload images of co-panellists gurning awkwardly on a low stage before a roomful of bored associate directors. “Great panel discussion today about the EMIR refit! So thought-provoking!”

What do panel discussers imagine their network will make of their news? Do they expect it will be flooded with envy, or jealousy, or remorse at the sparkling debate it now discovers it has missed?

The JC was meant to appear in a panel discussion recently on the topic “compliance challenges of reg tech” — a topic about which he knows, and cares, very little.[1] As it happens, he clean forgot to go – neatly illustrating the “compliance challenges of meatware”, a subject about with which he is a lot more expert.

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  1. I know what you are thinking: like most topics.