I address in particular those members who were unable to travel to London for the Annual General Meeting and Spring Conference 2006 of Consulegis, as those who were present will have vivid memories of an excellent conference. A record number of 168 participants (including members, partners and guests) attended the meeting which was held in the sumptuous surroundings of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel.
The Spring Meeting is arguably the more important of the two meetings we hold annually, as of course, it encompasses the formal Annual General Meeting of Consulegis EEIG. Thanks to the efficiency of our Manager, Dr Roland Ermini, the formal parts of the meeting are usually dealt with speedily, and without controversy, and this year was no exception.
We were delighted to welcome as new members:
Linder Myers, Solicitors Mrs. Joyce Cornfield-Mazur
Manchester / United Kingdom c/o McMillan Binch Mendelsohn
Guests came from as far as China, India, British Virgin Islands, but also from Greece, Italy and Switzerland.
The conference was addressed by two notable speakers, firstly by Mr. Shi Jianxin, Minister Counsellor from the Chinese Embassy in UK who spoke with authority on “The current economic development in China” and then by Dame Stella Rimington, the former Head of MI5 the domestic branch of Britain’s Security Service. Dame Stella provided a fascinating insight to the world of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism, and received a resounding ovation for what was regarded as one of the most entertaining talks to have been delivered at our conferences.
All conferences are different. Each has a “flavour” of its own which derives from the characteristics of the country, city, or region in which it is held. Much work is undertaken by the host firm in conjunction with the Consulegis secretariat in preparing for a conference, and it is no coincidence that the best regarded conferences are those in which there has been considerable thought and forward planning .
I find it particularly gratifying that over the years there has been little sense of host firms trying to outdo each other with “bigger and better” conferences. Host firms can be relied on to act responsibly, and although hosting a conference is an opportunity to showcase one’s firm, members who volunteer to embark on the major task of hosting a conference do so principally to foster what is fundamental to this organisation - the maintenance and development of close personal and business relationships. What matters most is not splendour and sophistication (and cost!) but local character, and an insight into the life and culture of the host country. This is particularly the case as Consulegis expands into less developed areas as part of its strategy of growth towards becoming a truly global organisation and our deliberate policy of holding conferences every couple of years outside Europe
What distinguishes Consulegis from other organisations is the genuine calibre and quality of the people who are its members. The social component is the cement that binds the association, and connects so many diverse individuals from many countries, from firms large and small, covering the whole spectrum of law as it is understood and applied in different jurisdictions.
The traditional format of the conference provides ample scope for a mix of work and relaxation, business generation and social interaction. Increasing importance attaches to the specialist break-out groups who are thus able to focus on specific issues. Good conferences prove to be educative as well as entertaining – it is comparatively easy to find a speaker who can talk with erudition on a specialist subject that is really of interest to a small fraction of the audience; much more difficult to entertain the majority, but something which Jonathan Wood and his team achieved with commendable success.
For most members the conference commenced on the Thursday evening with a cocktail party at the offices of KSB Law. On the Friday evening supper was taken at The Collection a lively and sophisticated venue which buzzed to the conversation of the 140 members of the Consulegis party.
Saturday saw a break with tradition in that the session revolved around an informal Question and Answer session between the Board and the sizeable number of delegates present. Although the number of questions submitted in advance was low, there was a lively exchange of views. Much of the session was devoted to the issues of strategy, marketing, and how Consulegis can develop and create increased business and a greater commercial return for its members. There can be no doubt even to the most jaundiced and critical observer that Consulegis is thriving, and growing from strength to strength. The pace of development may be slower than some would like, but as Chairman of the Advisory Board I make no apology for the time it takes to ensure that growth in numbers is achieved commensurate with the maintenance of the quality and calibre that is the hallmark of this association.
The conference wound up with a Gala Dinner which really lived up to its name. The ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental was a fitting setting for a superb dinner with unforgettable musical entertainment provided by the “Three Waiters”, accomplished Opera singers masquerading as waiters!
Our bi-annual conferences are the vital ingredient that makes Consulegis the special and highly successful network that is. Business commitments and travel difficulties, not least the cost of travelling to distant venues, preclude or deter members from attending conferences. I do, however, urge as many as possible to make the effort to do so. Only then and there can you appreciate to the full strength and vitality of the network and realise maximum benefit of membership of this exclusive club.