The Advoc Europe Open Board Meeting this year took place in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 23-25 September  2016. It was held at the Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square, located in the Old Town of the city, which proved to be an excellent venue for the meeting of 40 Attorneys from 17 European countries and Australia.

As most of the Advoc European participants already know each other, each opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones is valued and appreciated.

The Open Board Meeting Saturday morning started with a welcome address by Invest Lithuania representative Mr. Lukas Inokaitis. His presentation focused on Lithuania - perfectly located at the center of Europe, with excellent infrastructures and a dedicated, highly qualified talent pool - making it the second most favourable country for investment in Europe. Some highlights of his presentation: a lot of IT companies are moving data and service centers to Vilnius and Kaunas, including Google soon; the automotive industry relocation is also expected; UK, USA and the Nordic countries are top investors. Current problem: despite of large and growing numbers of IT students, there is a lack of IT specialists and especially university teachers.  

The Meeting continued in brief overviews from each participant of what is happening in their country's  politics and economy followed by news from their law firms. Some participants are impressively old members of Advoc - since the 90s, some of the firms started in 1979 (!) and still growing, some splitting or merging. A lot of European countries dealing with the refugee crisis, some newer EU members on the opposite - dealing with vast emigration, the aging population and increasing government efficiency. Southern Europeans reviving after the financial crisis, Britain in the unknown stage of Brexit , Russia dealing with EU sanctions and foreign businesses leaving, while Cyprus and some others are happy about companies relocating within the EU.

The main part of Europe Open Board Meeting concentrated on discussing several key topics:

  • The way we see growth: we see more and more international interaction and need for cooperation.
  • How to bring the young lawyers into the Advoc networking: junior practice groups are scheduled for their meetings at a different time, it was suggested that juniors could attend these separate events, and in several years they will be bonding with the older members. The junior members might have a session on how they think Advoc will grow in the future.  Joint publications of young lawyers focusing on different jurisdictions could be produced. Bringing the young to the network meetings, letting them come forward with their ideas - the mix of younger and older members is always great and serves different purposes.
  • How firms are selected for Advoc membership: their expertise level, honesty and referrals, how to measure adequacy and maintain quality control of members. There should be communication between firms, and in case joint work is not possible, there should be a better way to complain and maybe even enforce useful rules. For example, when a member is not performing, there should be a way to quit  and bring in another member in that jurisdiction. Encouraging feedback of members would be a way forward.
  • How do we promote Advoc, how the network is differently used  for the purpose of branding and promotion of law firms: there are 50 members in Europe, they could use social media and focus on a different country by asking questions, getting answers about a different jurisdiction.
  • How to get listed in Legal 500: it was proposed that Advoc might discuss being listed together as a network. A workshop on how to be listed would be helpful and possibly will be organized by Advoc.
  • Advoc practice groups: some groups are not very active, maybe a smaller number of active ones where sharing of knowledge helping businesses grow would be more beneficial.
  • Reviews on Asian, American activities, how to reach the other global regions better: Advoc is a global network and needs to liaise together. There needs to be a senior member to help coordinate the network, it could be someone called a Global Coordinator. The Executive Committee needs to have someone who can be the glue of the organization - possibly a part time global coordinator who could also be looking for new members in different countries.  Efforts to reach more countries would be useful.

The productive Europe Open Board Meeting was followed by lunch, dinners and some great sightseeing tours in Vilnius, the Old Town of which recognized by the UNESCO as one of the most beautiful cities of the Old Continent.

Europe Open Board Meeting