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'We tried to inject fun and humanity' - how TerraLex's global meeting went virtual

Attendance at network's first-ever remote biannual meeting tripled, prompting a rethink on the value of the technology

TerraLex photo winner

One of the winners of this year's annual photo contest, which had the theme 'stay at home' experiences

Law firm network TerraLex is permanently incorporating virtual meetings into its events programme after its hastily rearranged remote global meeting attracted triple the number of attendees than would have attended in person. 

The two-day conference — which was held last week — clocked up 644 registrants from 73 countries compared to around 200 delegates who would have been expected to attend the Oslo conference, which was cancelled in mid-April due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lawyers love to network; but needs must.

Registration is now open for the American Bar Association’s Virtual Annual Meeting, which takes place in July; and the International Bar Association is planning ‘a unique and dynamic virtual annual conference’ in November after pulling the plug on its Miami 2020 meeting.

While the largest meeting of in-house lawyers ‘is still happening’ in Philadelphia this October, according to organisers the ACC, there will be an option to attend virtually.

The cancellation of TerraLex’s Oslo conference — which has now been moved to 2021 — left the network with six weeks to put together its first Virtual Global Meeting, after it was decided to stick to the original dates of 10-12 June.

“The first thing we did was to evaluate which elements of our in-person meetings were most valued by our members, and then we determined ways to replicate some of these features online,” said Terri Gavulic, chief business officer.

“We decided that we could not — and should not — expect people to stay in front of their computer screens all day for three days, so limited the live sessions to networking events. All other content was pre-recorded and made available on-demand.”

There were around 25 live networking sessions involving practice groups, industry sector teams, managing partners, regions and special interest groups, including IT and HR professionals.

The pre-recorded on-demand content was released on a daily basis rather than all at once while the live events featured Zoom break-out sessions of smaller groups alongside plenary sessions featuring up to 100 people.

The keynote presentation by Dr Julia Jones, founder of The Music Diet workplace wellness consultancy, was pre-recorded with a small group of TerraLex members and staff serving as the surrogate audience to allow for audience participation.

The theme of the annual photo contest was ‘stay at home’ experiences.

“Wherever we could, we tried to inject fun and humanity into the meeting,” said Gavulic.

TerraLex’s 163 member firms include Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney (US), Brodies (Scotland), Duncan Cotterill (New Zealand), McMillan (Canada), Kelvin Chia Partnership (Singapore), Lindahl (Sweden), RPC (UK), Kikkawa Law Offices (Japan), Hylands Law Firm (China) and Pinheiro Mourão Raso e Araújo Filho (Brazil).

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19 June 2020