Top 10 Hottest Law Firm Retreat and Partner-Training Topics

Law firm retreats have changed in the 25+ years I’ve been presenting at them. There was a “money’s no object” philosophy in the high-flying extravaganzas in the 1990s and early 2000s. Then the industry fell off a cliff when The Great Recession hit ― after keynoting nearly one retreat every single week throughout 2007, I think the scant few programs I spoke at in 2008 were those where the firms couldn’t get their deposits back. Firms hunkered down, saved their money, and decided they’d get back to learning and socializing when the crisis blew over.

Fortunately, there’s been a recent resurgence. Surprisingly, in the interim, in larger firms, much of the responsibility for hiring the speakers migrated from the marketing department to the firms’ powerful new in-house professional-development professionals. 

What’s interesting is how mergers and consolidation has affected the firm-retreat industry. Think back to when large firms had 250-500 lawyers and a handful of offices. In those situations, getting everyone together to learn and socialize was a reasonable endeavor. Firms had a single primary location, with some smaller locations whose lawyers would typically fly in to the home office where the retreat would be sited.

Today, it’s not uncommon for firms to have thousands of lawyers and dozens of far-flung offices around the globe. It’s become cost-prohibitive or logistically infeasible to shut down a global firm for a few days, so the lawyers can schmooze. But without sufficient direct personal interaction, it’s harder to create a truly unified culture, and becomes less likely that lawyers will form the close relationships that facilitate cross-selling.

What hasn’t changed is the desire for practical and effective marketing education. And most of the most-popular topics 20 years ago remain hot today, with some modern additions.

Based on personal conversations with over 100 marketers and administrators seeking speakers for their firm retreats, here is my list of the Top Ten Most-Popular Marketing Topics:

  1. Networking Tips (Practical tips to help motivate good behavior and reduce social discomfort)
  2. LinkedIn for Lawyers (Drafting a powerful profile and using LinkedIn effectively)
  3. Social Media and Online Marketing (Telling your story online, e.g. LinkedIn, Google, Avvo, Twitter…)
  4. Client Service Strategies (Learning how to improve a firm’s service efforts)
  5. Focused Marketing (Finding a specialty niche or industry to dominate)
  6. Personal Branding (Standing out in a crowded marketplace)
  7. Developing an Individual Marketing Plan (Setting long- and short-term goals)
  8. Business-Development Techniques (How rainmakers turn contacts into clients)
  9. Cross Selling Strategies (How to effectively diversify your work for a client)
  10. Client Roundtables (Hearing the clients’ voices, aggressively moderated to avoid generic platitudes)

Also very hot, but outside of the Marketing category:

  1. Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Law (Preparing lawyers for what’s coming in AI)
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health for Lawyers (Increasing awareness and showing lawyers how to get help for themselves and others)
  3. Pricing Strategies (How to analyze profitability for new-business opportunities)
  4. #MeToo and Sexual Harassment Education (Building awareness and a positive culture)

If you’re ever in the market for firm retreat or training speakers, please feel free to contact me for vetted speakers on all of these topics.


Interested in booking Ross Fishman for your retreat, marketing training, or Ethics CLE program? See for more info.

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Ross Fishman law firm marketing training, keynotes, firm retreats, and ethics CLE presentations.