Ally Law’s first AGM in India concluded on March 9, with 150 attendees (80 delegates, 25 guests and 45 corporate executives) and 51 member firms in attendance. Over the four-day conference, members elected Björn Welinder (Lindmark Welinder, Sweden) as Ally Law’s 2019-2021 president, admitted new members in Denmark and Bahrain, welcomed seven firms attending their first AGM and met with more than 30 multinational corporations.
In 18 substantive sessions and 12 social events, we strengthened relationships with fellow members, forged new client connections, and shared best practices to improve marketing, business development, service delivery and firm management. Our deepest thanks to Ramesh Vaidyanathan and everyone at Advaya Legal for hosting this meeting. From the roster of excellent Indian speakers to the numbers of high level corporate executive attendees to the magical closing dinner and trip to Agra, members will never forget this magnificent meeting. Link to 2019 AGM Photos
Summary of key take-aways:
Our current financial status is strong. Ally Law ended 2018 $20,000+ better than originally budgeted, due to more new firms, higher levels of work flowing between firms, larger meetings and effective cost control. The 2019 budget is on track and was funded without an increase in dues, which have not been adjusted since 2014. Referral reports for the prior year have not been finalized but income is expected to be down from 2017 levels, mostly due to the conclusion of two large litigation matters.
Ten new firms were added in the last year. Three departed due to acquisition. The strong emphasis on expanding the network continues, with the goal of reaching 90 members by 2021. In the next year, recruitment efforts will be focused on the Americas, Africa and key European jurisdictions. Members discussed the possible extension of the network exclusivity waiver to include central America and Africa. It was noted that the waiver has been a positive factor in Asia Pacific recruitment, as most major markets here now have strong firms as members.
Several new marketing resources were presented. These included an expanded guide on how to best deploy the Ally Law brand with member examples; specific talking points for use when introducing Ally Law to clients and contacts; a client‐facing PowerPoint template to support members in presenting Ally Law and to clients or corporate contacts and Making the Most of the AGM, a how‐to brochure to help members get maximum benefit from t face to face meetings.
The 2019-2021 Executive Board was elected. In addition to Björn Welinder as President, members elected Paul Franke (Moye White LLP; Denver, Colorado) as First Vice President, Eric Krathwohl (Rich May; Boston, United States) as Treasurer and Roger Franklin (Edwin Coe; London, United Kingdom), as Secretary. Serving one-year terms as Vice Presidents are Erich Gibel (Gibel Zirm; Vienna, Austria), Ronald Hack (Evans & Dixon; St. Louis, United States), Marc Landis (Phillips Nizer; New York, United States), Ewa Lejman (Izabella Żyglicka and Partners; Katowice, Poland), Martin O’Hara (Much Law; Chicago, Illinois), Andrew Parlour (Russell Kennedy; Melbourne, Australia), Paola Sangiovanni (Gitti and Partners; Milan, Italy) and Ramesh K Vaidyanathan (Advaya Legal; Mumbai, India).
Members thanked Alfonso González Uribe for his exemplary service as Ally Law’s 2017-2019 President and conferred lifetime Honorary Membership status to Louis Philippe Orban, the long-time Belgium firm founder.
2019-2020 Strategic Projects. Björn Welinder presented several key initiatives:
- The President and First Vice President will visit current members over the next two years to help increase awareness and engagement with Ally Law.
- The Policy Committee has been reestablished and will be reviewing membership requirements, commitments and compliance.
- The Marketing Committee will create a pro forma internal agreement for members working together on client pitches or RFPs and recommend standard criteria for use in evaluating RFP and pitch opportunities.
- The Marketing Committee will also develop regionalized versions of the client PowerPoint, a roster of vetted marketing and BD vendors and profile successful examples of members working together on group business development efforts.
- A one-day marketing meeting aimed at North American marketing directors and marketing partners will be held on July 26 in Toronto, with a fly-in/fly-out format and chaired by Torkin Manes.
- The online referral reporting portal will be expanded to allow reporting to take place year-round, so that members can enter matters sent or received as they occur.
- The Executive is working with the Executive Director to solicit competitive bids from other association management companies, to benchmark Ally Law’s support service costs.
Ally Law’s 30th Anniversary. A program to recognize this important milestone was discussed. Members will be provided a 30th Anniversary logo for use over the next year. Firms have been asked to provide vignettes that illustrate the benefit their clients and firm have realized because of the network. Members will be asked to reference Ally Law’s anniversary in community or pro bono efforts related to legal access over the next year. At the 2020 AGM, these materials will be presented via video and print materials, along with a historical timeline of our organization, in a special gala function. External media coverage will be sought and the vignettes will be repurposed for client-facing marketing efforts.
Highlights from 18 general session and smaller group meetings during the AGM and client conference are summarized below:
- Leadership Q&A: Newer members asked how to best maximize their Ally Law relationship. Suggestions including visiting member firms when traveling to other cities; sending someone new inside the firm with the delegate to attend regional meetings and using Global Matters blogposts from time to time with firm social media efforts, to demonstrate the added depth and breadth available to clients as a result of Ally Law membership.
- Cross Border M+A member meeting: Members gathered to share their firm’s expertise in cross border M+A transactions. The group also discussed how they could use technology to work together more effectively when several firms are coordinating on a multi-jurisdiction deal.
- Cybercrime member meeting: The attendees discussed cybercrime facts, figures and trends; identified the types of entities often faced with these issues; described the more common threats and shared best practices for preventing cybercrime.
- Doing Business in India: Our host firm Advaya Legal gave a high-level overview of the current legal, industry and regulatory landscape in India,
- Sports in India: Ravi Krishnan, CEO and co-founder of Stepathlon, an Indian corporate wellness company spoke on the rapid growth of sports enterprises in the country and the need for global legal service providers.
- Digitization and Governance Transformation in India: Jaijit Bhattacharya, CEO and founder of Zerone Microsystems, discussed the impact of the digital revolution on corporate governance, particularly in the financial/payments space.
- Corporate Compliance and Internal Investigations: Sharma Sonal, general counsel of Atos India, led a client panel discussion of compliance challenges including data breaches, the security of personnel involved in investigations, and how to best work with related vendors.
- Data Protection Laws: A Comparative View in Key Jurisdictions: Advaya Legal led panelists in a review of global privacy laws. Going beyond the GDPR, MNCs are taking a careful approach to data collection, storage and management, with an eye toward conflict-free innovation.
- Evolving Role of External Counsel in the AI-Powered Age: Shahana Basu, Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs for Max India Limited moderated a client panel focusing on the benefits of AI for law firms and their clients, including contract creation and NDAs, and the risks of moving too rapidly to AI solutions.
- Managing Disputes Across Jurisdictions: Practical Tips Member firm Duensing Kippen led a discussion of cross-jurisdictional disputes. By gaining a clear understanding of the parties’ goals and attitudes, outside counsel can help clients identify the best path to cost-effective, less-acrimonious resolution of disputes — and avoid “last-man standing” litigation.
- Regulation in a Fast-Growing, Tech-Based Economy: Our special keynote speaker was retired Supreme Court Justice B.N. Srikrishna, known as India’s go-to jurist for critical rule-of-law issues in India. Now serving as chair of the Financial Sector Legislative Reform Commission, he addressed the effort to understand and regulate fintech and similar platforms.
- Best Practices in Leveraging the Ally Law Network: Small and mid-sized firms often have few or no in-house marketing support. That’s where Ally Law can help! This panel explored how to raise Ally Law’s profile at your home firm, using the network as a recruiting tool, inter-office visits, and much more.
- Skills & Techniques for Managing Law Firms in the Disruptive Age: A panel of Ally Law managing partners discussed how each handle disruptive factors when running their firms. These factors relate to technology and generational differences in values, behaviors and preferences. They shared tips to help millennials feel part of the mission and new models for work.
- Women’s Networking: Practical Tips and Strategies: Women delegates discussed the benefits of attending networking events outside your own city, finding smaller groups or opportunities for one-on-one conversations, and forming a core 25-50 person contact list to focus ongoing efforts.
- Succession Planning for HNW Individuals: A member panel discussed succession planning issues that arise with very mobile, high-net-worth families. In addition to identifying opportunities to protect assets and ensure seamless transfer of wealth, panelists gave specific examples of “must-know” issues.
- Law Firm Expansion: Virtual or Brick & Mortar: Whether a firm’s presence is digital or face-to-face, strategic expansion initiatives should be governed by the clients’ needs and best interests — now and in the future. That was one of the conclusions reached by this member panel, which also discussed firm culture and tech solutions.
- Collaborative Technology: This panel explored the many platforms available to law firms to support and streamline collaboration. Not all tech is created equal and familiarity with the tech doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the right tool for the job. Get on board the tech train — but carefully! Later, participants attended a demonstration of docyard, a collaboration platform in use at Moye, White (Denver) and Russel Kennedy (Melbourne and Sydney).
- India’s Approach to Joyful Living: As the cradle of numerous spiritual disciplines, India has much to teach us. Prarthna Saran, President of Chimaya Mission, is a renowned scholar and speaker who asked delegates and guests to reconsider our definitions of happiness and success. She then led the audience of nearly 100 in a silent meditation. Most attending lawyers finished the session without checking their phones!
2019 regional calls were announced:
|Date||Time + Location||Event|
|25-Jun||3 pm Melbourne time||Asia Pacific Call|
|26-Jun||14:00 London time||EMEA Call|
|27-Jun||12 noon New York time||Americas Call|
|4-Sep||14:00 London time||EMEA Call|
|5-Sep||4 pm Melbourne time||Asia Pacific Call|
|21-Nov||12 noon New York time||Americas Call|
2019 meetings were also discussed:
2019 INTA Reception
May 20, 2019, 5:30 – 7:30 pm: Hosted by Rich May
Boston, Rich May Offices
2019 Marketing Meeting – Fly In/Fly Out
July 26, 2019: Hosted by Torkin Manes
Sheraton Gateway Hotel @ Toronto Pearson Int’l Airport
2019 Americas Meeting
September 19-21: Hosted by Varnum
Grand Rapids, Michigan. JW Marriott – Click to book your room
2019 Asia Pacific Meeting
October 17-19: Hosted by Boase Cohen & Collins
Hong Kong, Conrad Hong Kong – Click to book your room
2019 EMEA Meeting
2020 AGM – Save the date
May 20-23: Hosted by Kornfeld LLC
Vancouver, Canada. Fairmont Pacific Rim