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Chicago 2013 - Post Conference Review

 

The 2013 World Link for Law Annual Conference was held between Wednesday 24th and Saturday 27th April 2013 in Chicago. The conference was well attended by many members but in particular by many prospective members, some of whom had travelled from as far as Peru and Argentina. As an international city with every available amenity, but without ‘zero attitude’, Chicago provided a pleasant and relaxed conference environment.

The conference included informative presentations, workshops, special interest group meetings as well as various social events, with numerous opportunities to meet World Link for Law colleagues. In fact the general feedback from the delegates was that it was one of the best ever recent conferences, helped by interesting presentations from some newer members and external presenters.

The impressive view of Chicago on the edge of Lake Michigan.

 

The conference hotel

The conference was held in the contemporary Sofitel Water Tower Hotel – small by American standards, yet chic and comfortable. It is located a few blocks from North Michigan Avenue (also known as the ‘Magnificent Mile’) with its wide range of major retail stores, but also close to the bars, cafés, restaurants and boutique shops around North Rush St, which had a distinctly European style. The high rise John Hancock Centre is also nearby.


The dramatic angles of the Sofitel Water Tower Hotel.

 

Looking down on the Sofitel from the Signature Room (bar/restaurant) on the 95th floor of the neighbouring John Hancock Centre.

The conference business programme

After the welcome Wednesday evening- pre-conference dinner at McCormick & Schmicks opposite the Sofitel, on 24th April (after the board meeting) the conference started on time at 9.25am on Thursday.

After the introductions, a panel team (of R D Yant, Dina Bradford and Fred Kaplan of local member firm Krasnow Saunders Kaplan & Beninati LLP, USA), led a discussion on the legal issues involved in a hypothetical investment transaction involving the acquisition and financing of commercial real estate in the United States. This was followed by an illuminating presentation by Lawrence M Kaye of Herrick Feinstein LLP, New York, concerning the recovery of artwork looted during the Nazi era from a legal practitioner’s standpoint. Stephen Rosen of Collyer Bristow LLP, London, UK, provoked a discussion about the UK and EU issue of the inter bank lending rate liability consequences for banks, followed by senior in-house counsel, Michael J. Bolton of Baxter Corp, based in Deerfield near Chicago. After lunch there was a presentation by Bradley Hausewirth and Matthew Resch, Wagner, Falconer & Judd, Ltd, Minneapolis, USA and Cristiana Stoica of Stoica & Asociatii, Romania about trends in International Arbitration leading to a conference workshop session to discuss a hypothetical arbitration issue and potential formation of a World Link special interest group. Additionally the Tax Law Special Interest Group held a meeting in a nearby conference room after the afternoon break.

The Friday sessions were mainly concerned with World Link issues, member interaction and practice management issues. After the Annual General Assembly, members discussed a new initiative to encourage involvement in World Link by young lawyers in member firms. Tony Firth explained the concept of the May 2014 conference in Amsterdam, which should also include a visit to Leeuwarden to meet with some World Trade Center Association members for invited member lawyers from various jurisdictions.  

Anthony Barsamian of Hutchings, Barsamian, Mandelcorn & Zeytoonian, LLP, Boston, USA provided an insightful presentation on performing business audits and forensics to better understand clients.

The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest provided a short presentation about the benefits of participating in cross border chambers of commerce.

Finally there was a multi-group workshop concerning cross border negotiation and cultural awareness issues. Through a hypothetical situation, created and led by James Dawe of Dawe & Christopherson LLP of San Francisco, USA and supported by Philippe Bedard of KBRC & Associés, Paris, France, we learnt how to navigate the challenges and opportunities of language and culture as it relates to transactions from personal perspectives and also the perspectives of others, with the aim of building bridges to improve communications.

 

A presentation about minimizing risk in global medical product liability litigation   by guest speaker, Michael J. Bolton, Senior Counsel of pharmaceutical company Baxter Healthcare Corp, Illinois.


Exchanging recent opinions before the conference, overlooking Chestnut Street.

 

Monika Lefler of the Lohn Law Firm, Budapest and Coralie-Anne Tilleux of Everest, Belgium.

Coffee break time networking.. a good time to exchange experiences and business ideas.

More coffee break time.

 

A pose in concentration by Bob Mostar of Pryke Lambert Leathley Russell LLP, Richmond, Greater Vancouver, Canada.

 


Comments from some of the delegates.

“It was great to see everyone in Chicago and also to meet some new World Link members! There was a good balance of learning, networking and social activities. It was very enjoyable”
Rosa Maria Arasa, Arasa & de Miquel, Spain

“We stayed in a spectacular hotel; we had great meals; we were entertained with just the right mixture of culture and sightseeing and, as usual, the group was a delightful combination of personalities, interests, practice experiences and potential business connections”
Bob Mostar, Pryke Lambert Leathley Russell LLP, Richmond, Greater Vancouver, Canada

“Great city, nice hotel, good organisation; and good company”
Peter Jakobsen, Linde & Altschuler A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark

“I really enjoyed my first World Link conference. I was a little bit apprehensive at the beginning but I was immediately made to feel very welcome and I have developed some good contacts during my time in Chicago”
Monika Lefler, The Lohn Law Firm, Budapest, Hungary

“One of the best of recent conferences, mainly due to a very interesting combination of presentations and sharing legal, business and cultural experiences”
Dr. Michael Streit, Rae Hillers, Dr Streit, Dr Behrends & Coll., Oldenberg, Germany


Thursday social events (25th April)

There was a guided walking ‘chocolate tour’ on Thursday morning for spouses and guests kindly co-ordinated by JoAnn Dawe of San Francisco (wife of former World Link for Law President, Jim Dawe).

On Thursday evening, after the conclusion of the first conference day, many delegates went for an informal drink in the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the nearby John Hancock Center with great views over Chicago and Lake Michigan. Afterwards there was a group dinner, attended by about 65 delegates and their guests at the Saloon steak restaurant. After the main course an amusing magician, Randy Bernstein, entertained us.

Looking South, down Michigan Ave, from the Signature Room  
A memorable, dramatic sunset during pre-dinner drinks
   
  A steak dinner at the Saloon restaurant, then a magician provided some post dinner entertainment. From left to right – Veronika Kazakevich (Moscow) and Stephen Schott (Washington D.C.)  

 

Friday social events (26th April)

On Friday afternoon, after the conclusion of the conference at lunchtime, there had been a choice of pre-booked events – either a guided and exhilarating Segway ride around the Museum campus/Millennium Park, or a guided visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.

On Friday evening there was a gala dinner at the conference hotel, preceded by a pre-dinner drinks reception and after dinner the famous World Link for Law fun quiz!

Charles Valente acted as tour co-ordinator (checking his group on the bus ready to leave)

The ‘anxious’ pre-Segway briefing, mainly due to lawyers signing disclaimers!

By the Millennium Park fountain

 

More of us by the fountain, but more symmetrically formed!

 
Posing for a group photograph…nobody fell off!  
     
 

 

 
In the Chicago Art Institute

An educational and interesting guided tour with free viewing time before it closed

At the Friday night dinner after the conference


A very relaxed Valeriu Stoica (Bucharest) in the centre!

   
  Time to prepare before the fun quiz!  

Saturday excursion - City tour and architecture river cruise (27th April)

We were incredibly lucky with the Saturday tour weather, having selected a few days before, a large open top bus instead of two single deck old style trolley buses – fully enclosed, full of character but with restricted window views. It was clear blue skies as we headed off around the city, stopping at a few landmark places for photographs.

After a casual Italian style lunch, we were collected by a trolley bus to take us to the dock on the Chicago River to go on an Architecture River cruise. Afterwards delegates and guests made their own way back to the hotel walking up Michigan Avenue, meeting for dinner in the evening at a nearby restaurant before saying their ‘goodbyes’ until the next conference.

Some of our group assemble outside the hotel, ready for the city tour

On top of the bus after visiting the Chicago Mirror Ball

On top of the bus in the city…sunny (luckily) but not warm, but with great views of the city on a nice day

Taking pictures of the city by the Adler Planetarium, before a pasta and chicken lunch at Francesca’s

Italians singing Italian at an Italian!

Getting on the Trolley Bus after lunch at Francesca’s restaurant

All aboard for the Architecture River Cruise

Waiting to board the Architecture River Cruise on the Chicago River

On the Architecture River Cruise… time to relax.

Many thanks to Philippe Bedard (Paris), Kurt Blickenstorfer (Zurich) and Peter Kirpensteijn (The Hague) for some of the photographs presented in this review; and also to the partners and staff of Krasnow Saunders Kaplan and Beninati LLP of Chicago for their assistance and support in important parts of the organisation of the conference and various events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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