WLN Annual Board Report 201831 October 2018
This is a redacted version of our 2018 Directors’ report given at the WLN conference in Raleigh, NC on Fri 21 Sept 2018.
The last year has seen further development in the management and membership of Warwick Legal Network, a first-time Legal 500 listing, an innovative WLN Academy training event, a new book and plenty more work, all in pursuit of growth of work referral and improved services for our members. This note is just a summary, which we hope helps you keep an overview.
Since August 2017, we have welcomed into our network:
- ALV Andrade, Lacaz & Vasconcelos Advogados (São Paulo, Brazil) – led by Guilherme Daher de Campos Andrade, Fábio Lacaz and a growing team;
- Estudio Willa Abogados & Consultores Tributarios (Buenos Aires, Argentina) – led by Andres Willa with Agustina Roca and their experienced colleagues; and
- Corrieri Cilia (Birkirkarra, Valletta, Malta) – co-founded by Jonathan Corrieri and Silvio Cilia with a dynamic team.
In March we announced our agreement with ALA colleagues to work in alliance across both network, thus extending our referral coverage to another 10 countries in the fast-growing region of South-East Asia. This followed attendance by Stuart Miller at the ALA annual conference in October 2017 in Thailand. Since then, we have welcomed ALA Chairman, Aloysius Wee to our meetings in Dublin, Barcelona (WLN Academy) & Raleigh. Several of our colleagues will attend ALA’s 2018 annual conference in Vietnam in November. We are pleased to note early signs of work referral and training initiatives, and look forward reporting further on these themes soon.
Candidates for membership - in addition to the above, we have active discussions underway with (non-WLN) colleagues from several more countries – including for example China, Israel, Italy and Luxembourg. We’ll keep you posted on those discussions as they develop and we are optimistic of a positive outcome.
The work of our new Committee for the Americas, led by Chris Erb (Pennsylvania, US) has identified several firms in the US and Canada as possible future members – but our discussions with those firms are still at a very early stage. We’ll continue to engage on this topic. And a similar pattern is emerging in South America with the help of our new members.
As we stressed in our 2017 annual report: “please be assured, that we will seek at all times to strike the right balance, between really knowing new members well, and increasing WLN’s geographical footprint. We all value the depth & quality of WLN’s ‘internal’ relationships; we believe that it adds real value to our client service on cross-border tasks; and we do not intend to sacrifice this…..”
Outgoing members: it is always sad to lose members of WLN, for whatever reason. This year we have said farewell to Bussoletti Nuzzo (Rome) and Ennova Law (Edinburgh) and we wish them every future success.
Legal 500 listing
Following discussions with the publisher, we were delighted in June to announce that WLN is now listed in Legal 500. The WLN Board hopes & believes that, over time, this will prove to be a significant benefit to all WLN member firms. As one of the leading and most influential worldwide law firm and legal business publishers, the Legal 500 commands:
- a large readership among the legal community;
- great respect; and
- a very significant following among the buyers of legal services.
It will not have escaped the attention of most members that the WLN Dublin conference in early March quickly gained its own name: the “We Made It” conference. Almost buried by Storm Emma, half our delegates had to abandon their travel, while those that did “make it” were nevertheless enriched by great speakers with engaging content. We repeat our thanks to Ronan Hannigan and all at host firm Noel Smyth & Partners, who rose to the challenging circumstances amazingly well and were just the perfect hosts!
In June there was an innovative WLN Academy / WLN Next combined event held in Barcelona and kindly organised by WLN Director, David Elvira Benito and his team at Bufete Mañá-Krier Elvira. Sessions were held on ‘Brexit – What Next?’ and ‘EU Distribution Agreements’ with informative speakers and very well received content.
We have just published the WLN Raleigh conference report - and if you're interested to read more & see the photos, please click here.
If you have any feedback about recent conferences or wish to offer suggestions, please let us know.
We shall continue to look for further opportunities to offer shared training and networking opportunities for WLN members together with our ALA colleagues.
Upcoming WLN conference dates, reminder:
- 21-23 March 2019 – Milan, Italy – click here for details.
WLN Management review - ongoing
We reported 12 months ago on the dialogue with member firms and changes in WLN management. That process has continued in the meantime. Most recently we increased the number of Board members from 7 to 9, in order to represent a wider range of member firms and cope with the increased challenges of membership spreading geographically. Elections have been held and we have welcomed as new directors:
- Frank Engelhard (Wuppertal, Germany) in late 2017;
And following more recent elections:
- Gautam Khurana (New Delhi, India);
- Mario van Santvoort (Brussels, Belgium); and
- Randy Whitmeyer (Raleigh, NC, USA).
Pursuant to our 2016-17 management review: John van Loo became a joint Managing Director of WLN with effect from January 2018. Changes have also been made to the articles of association.
We were very sad to lose Raffaele Torino from the Board this year following the decision of his firm to leave WLN. Raffaele actively served the interests of WLN’s membership and his cheerful contributions are missed – but we look forward to spending time with him in Milan in March 2019.
Work referral remains at the core of WLN membership and we are engaging regularly with Liaison Partners to track the nature and value of recent referrals among our member firms. With this information, we can better understand the value of membership, seek out trends that might be worth pursuing and speak to membership candidates with greater confidence. Your regular updating of referral data in the Members Area is essential to the future success of this initiative. Please keep recording WLN work referrals, both in & out. Thank you to those who have done so recently!
A copy of the WLN 2017 Annual Financial Statements has recently been circulated to all Liaison Partners and can also be downloaded in the Members Area.
The Board would again like to thank especially Susanna Grichtmaier (Germany) and Alberto Lama (Italy) for their ongoing efforts; all contributors of articles to our website, and we repeat our above thanks also to our Barcelona colleagues for hosting the successful WLN Next training event in June.
The Academy aims to educate, entertain and raise the standards of our knowledge as lawyers internationally in areas of relevance to our clients & the work we do for them. Our lead director in this area is David Elvira, so please contact him with any suggestions or queries.
WLN shareholder agreement book project
Here at last, the book has been printed and we will shortly circulate details of its launch. We unveiled it to our delegates in Raleigh. It covers 17 countries and considers the place of shareholder agreements in local law and in particular the status of agreements on voting rights. The Board thanks all the chapter authors for your hard work, but especially Carlo Gurioli for the original idea and the ongoing patient drive towards completion; and Gloria Vinyals for all your cheerful help in getting the book printed in Spain.
WLN social media
We published a video in 2018 – “What does WLN mean to you?” which contains contributions from several members firms. Thanks to all who took part, it has been very well received.
WLN’s website security has been upgraded this year and whilst this is “under the skin”, we hope that your user experience has been positive.
We update our website regularly (at least weekly) with content, news items and articles of various sorts, from members and guests. Visitor numbers to WLN’s website have increased considerably, for example the figure in July 2018 was up by 78% compared to the same month in 2017. We feel that this figure can continue to rise, with even more regular content to add from our members – so, how can your firm contribute? Let us know any time please.
Find us also on Twitter: @WLNadvocate and #WLNadvocate.
Some of our members will recall a strategy paper which the Board put forward for discussion at our Eindhoven conference in 2013. When considering what we might do in the period ahead, we might allow ourselves a moment to consider, what we have achieved in the last 5 years since that paper. For example, we have:
- Initiated & regularly held Board elections, to ensure the renewal of the leadership of WLN through its chosen member-directors;
- Relocated and transformed the management of the network without materially adding to the cost per member firm;
- Extended membership beyond Europe to India, the US, Brazil and Argentina – with more to come – and we see that two of our latest WLN directors come from those recent member firms;
- Created the WLN Next and WLN Academy initiatives to ensure that our associates have a platform of their own and so that cross-border skills training has a clear profile in WLN;
- Continued our programme of intra-WLN secondments supported by the annual Jorge Maña Award;
- Begun to record the value of work referrals – but there is much still to do in this regard;
- Held successful conferences in 11 countries including several client events.
The Board is excited about the future potential for WLN, for so long as we enjoy your active support and participation. So, if you want to help in any way, please contact us! As usual your feedback on this report is welcome too.
The Directors of WLN
For more information, contact:
Stuart Miller, WLN Managing Director
t: +44 7812 062487
John van Loo, WLN Managing Director