Miami 2015 - Post Conference ReviewMiami is a warm, vibrant and relaxed American city with a Latin American attitude, largely due its Cuban influence and population… and this was our chosen location for the 2015 conference. The ocean facing skyline is famous around the world as are the bars and the large Mojitos on Ocean Drive. But it also offers a diverse culture from the beaches, to Bayside Market and Lincoln Avenue shopping areas, various marinas and the wealthy urban districts of Coconut Grove and Coral Gables adjacent to the more bohemian Little Havana district. Downtown Miami is home to the largest concentration of international banks in the United States, and many large national and international companies and large high rise condominiums (with many new ones under development), which are also close to the main highways heading south to Key West and Key Largo. Many delegates used this conference opportunity to combine business with pleasure and to have some snorkelling time in these areas.
The conference hotel was the Four Seasons Hotel on Brickell Avenue - conveniently located to the nearby Mary Brickell Village with its bars, clubs and restaurants and within a few blocks of a Metromover (elevated railway) station.
The conference program included many informative discussions and presentations, including presentations from external presenters, as well as social events, with numerous opportunities to meet World Link for Law colleagues and some firms that are considering membership.
Rising above Miami’s skyline, the Four Seasons Hotel Miami is an urban oasis in the heart of the city’s bustling financial and entertainment district. The hotel was calm, cool, chic and comfortable. The most popular area for delegates was probably the outside bar area late in the evening or the pool deck with its palm trees and hammocks, where it was nice to relax after the conference sessions.
The conference hotel
|The imposing and serene Four Seasons Hotel|
|The pool area. To the left, Mr Lars Espersen (Denmark), probably making his way to his sun-lounger.|
The conference business programmeThe meetings were held on the 6th floor in the Miami room of the hotel (and its reception/coffee break area) with large glass panel windows overlooking Brickell Avenue. The room was set up in ‘cabaret’ style, rather than ‘classroom’ style, which is more relaxed and enabled members to have seated mini-meetings during the breaks.
After the President’s welcome, John Goldman, a partner of New York member firm Herrick, Feinstein LLP, New York and the co-chair of his firm’s sports law group, provided an overview of the issues and processes involved in sports franchise acquisitions and highlighted lessons learned from those investments that were successful and those that were not.
Nelson Slosbergas (of the eponymous local law firm member in Miami) introduced local business magnate Alan Ojeda, CEO and owner of Rilea Group, to provide an informal insight into the Florida real estate market over the years; Rilea’s involvement, evolution and also some side issues in the current market, which is currently very buoyant. Currently, among others, his company is involved in ‘The ‘Bond’ development on Brickell Avenue. Nearby the Squire Group are making a huge investment in retail and real estate developments adjacent to Brickell Village.
After the first coffee break, David Lorenzo, an external specialist US business development consultant for professional firms, provided an interactive presentation called: “Client attraction strategy for lawyers” which also included, for every delegate, a copy of his book: Career Intensity: Business Strategy for Workplace Warriors and Entrepreneurs”. Some members also had pre-arranged one-to-one meetings with him after his presentation.
James McCourt of member firm O’Mara Geraghty McCourt, Dublin, Ireland and Past President of The Law Society of Ireland made a presentation about the current issues affecting the Irish lawyer. The purpose of his presentation was to identify some proposed legal service reforms and others already on the statute book as they affect the Irish lawyer in their day to day practice, from the perspective of a lawyer who was influential and representative of the legal profession in Ireland (and continues to contribute in various roles).
Next, guest speaker Alfredo Tamayo of Packman, Neuwahl & Rosenberg, a Coral Gables, Florida based law firm made a presentation about the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA): The objective of FATCA is the reporting of foreign financial assets; withholding is the cost of not reporting.
Later in the afternoon on Thursday, Chaz Rainey of member firm Rainey Legal Group of Las Vegas, provided an illuminating presentation about Nevada’s law governing the licensing and operation of medical marijuana establishments, of which he was instrumentally involved. In the US, it seems, the growing incongruity between federal and state law is creating a troubling environment of legal uncertainty, while also creating highly profitable business opportunities for those willing to brave the uncertain legal environment.
On Friday morning after the Annual General Assembly of World Link for Law, there was a presentation about the future strategy of World Link, with opinions obtained by voting form, later circulated to those members unable to attend the conference.
Before lunch, William Nagel of Chicago member firm Krasnow Saunders Kaplan & Beninati LLP, made a data privacy law presentation (mainly from a US perspective but an increasingly important global issue for businesses. With multiple laws, jurisdictions, technologies and business models, it is difficult to navigate the bewildering maze of data breach laws and regulations. We learned about key factors that increase the risks of a data breach and how to respond to breach incidents. The presentation provided guidance on: collecting and using personally identifying information for marketing purposes, sharing data internationally, and responding to data breach incidents.
During the conference sessions there were various short recent new member ‘introduction’ presentations from: Neil Montgomery (Montgomery & Associados, São Paulo, Brazil); John Munger, (Munger Chadwick, P.L.C., Tucson, Arizona, USA); Alan Foster (Foster Nicholson Jones Lawyers, Melbourne, Australia); and Juan Prado Bustamente, (Estudio Llona & Bustamante Abogados, Lima, Peru).
On Thurday afternoon, there were also an International Arbitration group; and International Tax group meetings.
Comments from some of the delegates
“As relatively new members and attending our first conference, I greatly enjoyed meeting everyone and making new friends.”
Navin Kumar, Naashree Associates, New Delhi, India
“A good combination of nice social events, a good business programme, and a great opportunity to meet fellow international lawyers.”
Chaz Rainey, Rainey Legal Group, PLLC, Las Vegas, USA
“A great event, extremely useful, and good to meet so many other member lawyers to discuss and share similar business ideas, while also learning more about international legal issues.”
Alan Foster, Foster Nicholson Jones Lawyers, Melbourne, Australia
“My first conference and it was excellent, both the speakers and the venue. I am very pleased to be part of World Link for Law. I have met great colleagues from jurisdictions all around the world, which will certainly turn into really useful contacts.”
John Munger, Munger Chadwick P.L.C, Tucson, Arizona, USA
“There was positive camaraderie in the gatherings, shared experiences about our law practices and a willingness to promote the aims of the association through informative presentations and discussions on a wide range of issues.”
Neil Montgomery, Montgomery & Associados, São Paulo, Brazil
“It was a pleasure for me to meet many other World Link members, in Miami, which was a valuable and memorable experience for me.”
Adriana Hernandez, Bryan, González Vargas & González Baz, Mexico City, Mexico (observer non-member delegate)
Wednesday – pre-conference dinner (27th May)
Before the conference on Wednesday evening there was a pre-conference dinner at the nearby Argentinian ‘PM’ restaurant. It was very warm (about 35C) and many guests had been travelling long distances, so it was very pleasant to be able to eat and drink outside, as planned and meet existing and new friends and colleagues.
Thursday – South Beach dinner (28th May)
After the first conference day, as we were based ‘downtown’, it only seemed appropriate to go to South Beach for an external dinner; so we boarded a private bus to take us to the ‘trendy’ Avalon restaurant on Ocean Drive. Mojitos awaited us and a very pleasant dinner. Many stayed on in the area and arrived back by taxi in the early hours.
Friday - social events (29th May)
On Friday afternoon, after our al fresco lunch, we boarded our private open air double deck bus for a tour of the city, visiting the downtown area, Coral Gables, Little Havana, and across to South Beach and Ocean Drive, stopping for time out on Lincoln Avenue before returning to the hotel for dinner in the evening.
On Friday evening there was a gala dinner at the conference hotel, preceded by a pre-dinner drinks reception, where many margaritas were consumed and after dinner there was the famous World Link for Law fun quiz. The winning table comprised: Wim Bulthuis (Netherlands), Francisco Rodrigues da Silva (Portugal), Nelson Slosbergas (USA), Juan Prado Bustamante (Peru), Barbaros Karaahmet (USA), Peter Jakobsen (Denmark), Navin Kumar (India) and James Badcock (Switzerland). Afterwards, many retired to the bar outside by the pool area.
Saturday – full day excursion (30th May)
On Saturday, it was hot and warm for our morning excursion to the edge of the Everglades National Park. We boarded our private fan boat for a short journey to see and understand about the Everglades eco-system and its continuing protection. It was slightly unfortunate that we were not able to venture beyond the immediate canals into the watery grassland due to a seasonal drought. After a wildlife show, we returned to Miami for lunch and then onto a Miami bay harbour cruise.