International Law Firm Networks Should Have Fun

I’m a big fan of international law firm networks.  I think the “good” ones can offer great value to their members, in terms of in-bound and out-bound referrals, as well as significant education and networking opportunities.  But none of this happens without close, personal relationships.  And relationships are formed in person.

I have had the good fortune to speak at a lot of these programs, all over the world.  And one thing is clear — in the best networks, the members really enjoy each others’ company.  The active members typically shlep to one or two conferences each year, typically requiring as much as a week out of the office each time.Duck Tour crop

Although they may be held in nice hotels or exotic locales, it’s still hard work.  The conferences are often 16-hour days, with breakfast at 8:00, presentations starting at 9:00 and running all day, with networking, dinner, and some social activity later that can easily run past midnight (local time), which can be particularly brutal for someone who just flew in from across the globe.

Although air travel is no fun these days, international travel is even worse.  But they fly in anyway, because without it, business isn’t accomplished. So the savvy organizers do their best to ensure that the programs are educational and entertaining, to make the conferences worthwhile.  And they organize fun activities to facilitate networking and bonding after hours.

I spoke this week in Austin, Texas at the Legus International conference, on the topic of “How to Market International Law Firm Networks Effectively.”  In the audience were lawyers across the US and as far south as Argentina and Peru, east to Denmark and the UK, and west to Shanghai, China. The programs were excellent, including insightful presentations by Altman Weil’s Ward Bower and Zeughauser Group’s Peter Zeughauser. 

But it’s the bonding BBQ dinner at The Salt Lick and other evening events that solidifies the relationships. Here are some photos from the chilly post-conference Duck Tour. Clearly, the lawyers enjoy each others’ company. And that’s what makes the international networks work.

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