The network now extends to 120 cities worldwide. There were 110 delegates at the Miami meeting, hosted by our Florida member, Akerman, the largest law firm in Florida.
There were two business strands to the conference: one on digital communication as it affects law firms; the other on internal Interlaw business, including new initiatives to provide information to clients in different industries, to meld firms' activities closer together in joint tenders, to ensure the continuing quality standards of member firms and so on.
To highlight two of the presentations on digital communication: one was on the dry but essential topic of cyber-security: how to assist clients who were the victims of hacking (or prevent them from being one in the first place) and ensure the law firm wasn't part of the problem. Perhaps the best titbit to come out of this discussion was to make sure that a client which was being investigated for a breach channelled all its subsequent internal communication relating to the breach through its lawyers, so that it benefited from legal professional privilege. The other one which was memorable involved using the Facebook pages of personal injury claimants to defeat their damages claims for personal injuries through evidence of what one might at its most generous call exaggeration. Some amusing examples were cited, perhaps the most disturbing of which was the case of a man suing for his depression having been caused by the company allegedly at fault for the end of his son's promising basketball career - due to the upset he couldn't sleep, couldn't engage socially, couldn't get out of bed etc.. His case collapsed on production of a Facebook photograph of him attending a fancy dress party the previous week dressed as "Super-sperm". I have the photograph if anyone seeks inspiration.
The conference also features what are called Special Business Teams, in effect meetings of specialists. I chair the Banking and Finance group and - watch this space - we are about to produce a report for clients on aspects of taking security worldwide.
But at the risk of opening myself to sarcastic remarks, there's no doubt the strength of the organisation comes from the social events. There is a remarkable family-like atmosphere to Interlaw meetings from all the networking events. This leads to the organisation's probably greatest strength: the knowledge that your client's affairs are being dealt with by a friend abroad, who will give that client the best of service because that foreign lawyer has to look you in the eye the next time he sees you in a few months' time. And yes, the events were fun - Miami is not a difficult place to enjoy yourself.
And one final point: everyone, absolutely everyone, wanted to discuss the referendum (which took place two days after the conference ended). From China to Venezuela to Bahrain, all knew about it and were fascinated or at least intrigued. I must have given the same spiel forty times to the same enquiry from different parts of the world. And all had some sort of view of their own from their own circumstances.
For more information about Interlaw and how it benefits Morton Fraser and its clients, please contact us on the details below.