This year’s Consulegis Fall Conference led us to Brussels, the “European capital”, as EU representatives seated there like to call it. We booked a block of rooms in two beautiful and comfortable hotels with outstanding service: the Hotel Amigo (noted for its guest security measures) and the Royal Windsor. Both hotels are located very near the world-famous Grand’ Place with its imposing buildings dating back to the Middle Ages.
The meeting took place in the background of the EU’s new competition laws and their impact on legal practice. Four well-known speakers, Karel Van Miert, Anne Spiritus-Dassesse, Marie-Thérèse Peeters, and Patrick De Wolf – all from Belgium – discussed this topic from varying angles. On Saturday morning J. Chabert, the first vice president in the European Parliament, gave a comprehensive and highly regarded overview on the topic of Brussels in the European area.
About 110 participants (including accompanying guests) from 25 countries represented 57 firms. It was noted with satisfaction that the proportion of German participants was considerably higher than at previous events.
The Advisory Council chairman, Howard Palser, was able to greet two newly accepted firms. These were:
Quijano & Associates in Panama and the British Virgin Islands, as well as
Hernández Barbosa & Cuevas in Zapopan (Guadalajara), Mexico.
After greeting the guests and a brief report on finances and activities by the managing director, Jeffery Daar (Los Angeles), representing Dr. Jochen Grund (Freiburg), was able to announce that the “standard agreement” regulating Consulegis in-house business relations had been finalized. Members will receive detailed information on this project before the holidays.
Howard Palser reported on the Advisory Council’s decision to make considerably more funding resources (about €70,000) available for the marketing sector during the coming year. This professional help should enhance the awareness of our association and its members within target groups important for Consulegis.
By Christmas an advertising agency should be identified that will present a concept for approval by the Advisory Council meeting of 31 January 2005. At the same time a steering group should be formed with the task of coordinating implementation of the marketing and advertising measures decided by the Advisory Council. The contribution prepared by members in Germany and presented to the Advisory Council in first draft form in Brussels will be integrated into marketing plans.
All members should be given the opportunity to take part in proposals for the structure of an intermediate marketing plan.
A long overdue restructuring and simultaneous increase in membership dues should provide added financial resources needed for marketing.
The following three dues categories will be created, based on the number of partners and lawyers active in a law firm:
Group A Member firms with 1 – 5 lawyers (or specialists)
Group B Member firms with 6 – 20 lawyers (or specialists)
Group C Member firms with 21 or more lawyers and specialists
We refer to separate information now in preparation for further details.
Howard Palser again reminded conference participants of the ”core business“ initiative that aims to shape the image of Consulegis and its membership as a center of excellence for selected activity areas. Members were asked to fill out a survey so that reliable information could be compiled in this manner. Mr. Palser reminded the members that this survey should be filled out immediately. The secretariat will send out the questionnaire once more.
Finally Michael Newman (Los Angeles) explained the background of the Willis project already mentioned during briefings in recent weeks.
Following the conference the participants then took part in various “specialist groups”. The minutes of these groups will be distributed to you in the course of the coming weeks.
Beside the work, business relationships were intensively refreshed and new contacts cultivated in small groups and in individual discussions. Evening meetings in Brussels restaurants turned out to be ideal platforms. Everything could be discussed while sampling exquisite menus and simple food.
A small group of golf enthusiasts met on Saturday afternoon, and this interesting and very well organized meeting closed that evening with a worthy gala dinner in the elegant Solvay library of the ”Maison de L’Europe“.
We heartily thank the hosts and organizers of this conference, Christine De Keersmaeker and Marinus Vromans from the law firm of De Keersmaeker and Vromans, for the beautiful meeting in this interesting city.