The following numbers provide an excellent indication of the success achieved at the AGM & Spring Conference in Barcelona from 23. – 26. April 2015: A total of 147 participants (including partners and guests) representing 53 member firms attended the conference upon invitation by the hosting law firms BAa Advocats, Dorfmeister & Partners - Legal & Tax and Dr. Frühbeck Abogados!
In keeping with tradition, the unofficial part of the conference commenced with the Early Arrivals Dinner on Wednesday evening. But despite the fact that this evening was not part of the regular conference program, 32 participants attended and took the opportunity to prepare themselves for the forthcoming days in Barcelona with great regional food.
Thursday, in the past usually considered a day for people to become acclimatised after an often long journey, was a working day for more than 50 delegates and guests before the official start of this year’s Spring Conference. At the pre-meeting get together on the subject of “Practical issues on Latin America as an investment target: The Free Trade Agreement” the attending CONSULEGIS members presented their country and their law firms. Following the informative presentation were individual meetings with the respective country representatives. The Advisory Board Meeting took place in parallel with the pre-meeting. After six hours the Board Meeting drew to a close with several new developments and decisions regarding the future of CONSULEGIS.
In the meantime all of the delegates had now arrived, and everyone met in order to walk to the location of the evening Welcome Reception together. During the walk the delegates were able to marvel at their surroundings and impressive buildings in beautiful spring weather. But the highlight of the evening was still to come at the destination: Muhba, Museu D`Història de Barcelona. This building was not only an amazing sight to behold; the sound of a choir singing in an ecclesiastical setting also reached our ears. Afterwards, just a few metres away, satisfaction was waiting for the most discerning of palates – with tapas, canapés and plenty of wine.
The AGM 2015 was top of the agenda for the next day. In addition to the many presentations, the re-elections were the focal point of the day. As already reported, there were five seats on the CONSULEGIS Advisory Board to which new members were to be elected. But the candidates were first kept on tenterhooks while Sra. Rosa Barberà (Barcelona Bar Association’s Vice Dean) extended the delegates a warm greeting to the Bar Association in Barcelona. This was followed by a speech and a warm welcome by Pedro Pais de Almeida, Chairman of the Board, and Honorable Sr. Germà Gordó, Conseller de Justícia de la Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalonia’s Justice Minister). Thereafter, the guests and new member firms present introduced themselves in a few words to the audience.
Afterwards, the Managing Director, Anke Brauns, took the microphone and completed the statutory business formalities in her usual rapid fashion. All points to be put to vote were unanimously approved. Now the time had come: The candidates had an opportunity to give a short speech to those delegates entitled to vote, with the aim of possibly tipping the scales in their favour with pertinent statements. The election was followed by the group picture and an extended coffee-break, during which delegates had time to speculate on the outcome of the election. The votes were then counted in secret, under strict observation.
To boost excited anticipation in the run-up to the coming meeting, Brian Kahn reported on the planning for the forthcoming Autumn Conference in October in Cape Town / South Africa. Anke Brauns then gave an impressive presentation of the changes and new developments that have been implemented, or that are in planning, in the area of marketing and strategy. Following this, the Dr. Marx Award Winner 2014, Anna Porebska from our member firm in Warsaw/Poland, provided a brief report on the results of her work and received an obligatory cheque and certificate from committee chair Pedro Pais de Almeida.
Now the big moment had arrived – the result of the vote was ready and the members listened carefully to them as Pedro Pais de Almeida read them out. In brief: The 5 new members of the Board, appointed until 2019, are:
- Julian Cockain-Barère, France (re-elected)
- Jeffery Daar, U.S. (new)
- Fernando Hernández Gómez, Mexico (re-elected)
- Gad Matalon, Italy (new)
- Irmtraud Wendland, Cologne/Germany (re-elected)
Once the result of the vote had been announced the members could indulge in culinary delights, while for the previous and newly elected Advisory Board Members the next task was on the agenda – the election of the Chair, the two Vice-Chair and the Ombudsman. After they had retired for a short time, the results were announced to those present, accompanied by much applause.
Following the general elections the Board also held elections and results were as follows:
- Chair of the Board Irmtraud Wendland
- Vice-Chair Fernando Hernández Gómez & Julian Cockain-Barère
- Ombudsman Dr. Henrich Schleifenbaum
Furthermore, that the Advisory Board unanimously decided that Pedro Pais de Almeida and Michael Newman will be granted the title of “Honorary Member” for their loyal, dedicated and efficient service during the past years` as CONSULEGIS Board Member and Chairman.
Thereafter, the Specialist Groups convened for their meetings and, following and interesting and informative 1,5 hours, the day drew to a close at the Barcelona Bar Association with delegates enjoying a coffee together and the Speed Networking Session of the Young Lawyers Group, which was held for the first time. The aim of this informal session was to get to know one another better using set cards and to forge a “bridge for discussion” between the younger and longer established members. This was indeed a great success and delegates even heard new things from members they had known for many years.
In the evening the delegates gathered at 130 for dinner together. After an evening full of stimulating discussions, good food and time spent together, some members retired to the hotel while others went on to enjoy the city’s lively nightlife. But despite the short night, the Business Development Meeting the following morning still attracted a really large number of participants. To start, a lecture on the subject of Ms Eugenia Navarro: Professor of Legal Marketing and Strategy at ESADE Law School was given. Afterwards Anke Brauns gave a detailed presentation of the new website features and how to use it. There furthermore followed a live presentation of the database and the intranet. Julian Cockain-Barère explained to the audience the background to the pre-meetings using the European Regional Meeting in Toulouse 01/2015 as an example. Next, the issue of the webinar was addressed by Jeffery Daar and Fernando Hernández Gómez in their roles as representatives of the first webinar group. An attempt was made to answer all of the questions pertaining to this issue and to already win candidates and speakers for the next webinar in advance. After 2 hours the several tours were the next subject on the agenda.
In the evening the delegates gathered at FESTA MAJOR DINNER for the farewell dinner. Once they had arrived, those present were treated to an impressive example of successful teamwork – in the form of a multi-storey human tower. Following a short walk the delegates entered the wonderful rooms of the venue and the evening could officially commence.
However, before the vote of thanks could be given to the three hosts, two other gentlemen had to be thanked first. These have not only been known to all of the delegates for many years as Board Member, Chairman or even member of the network – but also as good friends that had been taken into the hearts of many of those present. The new Chair, Irmtraud Wendland, was supported by the two Vice-Chair during the vote of thanks. However, actions are usually louder than words – namely the subsequent cordial and friendly embraces.
Afterwards, due attention was again placed on the delegate’s wellbeing, and the lively activity and discussions around the tables were accompanied by regional music. At the end of the evening – and therefore almost at the conclusion of the AGM & Spring Conference 2015 – it was time to thank the hosts. Collectively, and with a great deal of work and effort, all of the delegates had enjoyed an unforgettable time!
We thank Josep Solsona, Raquel Buendia and Astrid Dorfmeister for hosting this wonderful meeting and for the unique experience in Barcelona.
The next CONSULEGIS Autumn Conference 2015 will take place in Cape Town October 8th to 11th 2015.