Planning has already begun for next spring’s Dealer’s Choice Law Firm Summit – the premier conference for CEE-focused private practitioners – which, for the first time ever, will take place in London, along with the CEE Deal of the Year Awards Banquet.
The Dealer’s Choice conference will be co-hosted by Slaughter and May, which has been involved for many years with CEE Legal Matters’ annual regional GC Summit conference for senior in-house counsel. We reached out to Slaughter and May Partner Jonathan Marks and Business Development Manager Justina Omotayo to discuss the event.
CEELM: Why did Slaughter and May decide to sponsor the Dealer’s Choice event next year?
Jonathan: We have enjoyed working with CEE Legal Matters and supporting the annual CEE GC Summit, and we found the Dealer’s Choice really useful last year in Prague, providing us with the chance to catch up with a number of law firms and meet new ones. I was on a panel at that event and enjoyed the discussions with the other panellists on how to manage referral work. When CEE Legal Matters suggested that they wanted to do the Dealer’s Choice program here in London next year, we thought it would be quite a good way to provide support for the CEE Legal team and continue to raise our profile with law firms in the region.
As you know, the way that we work in the CEE region is different from some other major international firms. They have offices in the region, while we work with the leading independent firms in the area, and so for us, an event that is focused on law firms as well as clients is a very good way of keeping up with them. Something like this is a valuable chance to work with people in terms of panel participation, attending the sessions, and of course socializing with people as well.
Justina: An event like this is also in alignment with our international strategy. We are committed to and invested in this region, working with international clients operating in CEE in conjunction with our colleagues in CEE law firms. We have been working with CEE Legal Matters for a number of years now; this shows a coordinated relationship and is not something new for us. The Dealer’s Choice event hosted in London is a great opportunity for us and provides a sense of how our relationship with CEE Legal Matters has developed over the years.
CEELM: At last year’s Dealer’s Choice event in Prague did you make new contacts, or was it mainly maintaining existing relationships?
Jonathan: Yes, we added to our contacts. I find that it is all helpful. Last year the event was followed immediately by the GC Summit, so I could meet in-house as well as external lawyers. Even things like CEE Legal Matters’ Birthday party in Budapest last Autumn, which I came to, provided us with the opportunity to meet people informally – we have had follow-up meetings with a number of those firms as well as visiting various other firms during my stay. So we do make contacts and sometimes get pitch opportunities too.
It is very time efficient. To have everyone gathered in one place is a really good way to work around the room. If you are going to see individual firms or they are coming to us, you don’t get the same momentum. Compared to if you are actually there for a day or so and can connect with a range of people.
CEELM: Is it more valuable for your firm to have the event in London than somewhere else?
Justina: It provides our audience the opportunity to engage with the wider Slaughter and May team outside of the CEE region. That would be one of the key benefits of hosting it in London. Although we have key partners involved in CEE, it allows partners from the wider firm that wouldn’t necessarily make a trip to the region to get involved.
Jonathan: It is good for us but also for the other delegates who can market to UK-based clients and firms whilst they are here.
CEELM: As you are the official host of the Dealer’s Choice event, do you have any initial thoughts on topics or content?
Justina: No specifics have been set yet on which topics in particular, but possibly on the importance of networking, and best practice when working with relationship firms.
Jonathan: It is still early days, but I think having it in London also gives it a lead into the UK legal technology scene. We have a new initiative called Collaborate, which involves us working with a number of legal technology suppliers. We could have something on during the day with a legal technology aspect.
Justina: An example would be Luminance – an AI company that we are invested in. They could potentially be involved in one of the discussions alongside our innovation team.
Jonathan: We may also consider a panel with GCs or a session on what GCs look for in their lawyers or something similar. I think what has been good about the various CEELM legal events is getting in front directly with clients. It would also be a good opportunity to have a dialogue on best practice on cross-border M&A and financings.
CEELM: What do you think is the primary value to firms and lawyers coming from the continent?
Jonathan: If I was a firm from the region coming to London I would want to make the most of it. The program itself will be exciting, of course, whether it’s legal technology or insight on how to get referral work or best practice on cross-border deals, etc. There is also an opportunity, as I mentioned, while they are here, to meet clients who might be based in London. If they are lucky, the weather may be good, which is always a bonus, especially if they are staying for the weekend.
CEELM: Thank you so much. We’re excited to see you, and everybody else, next spring!
This Article was originally published in Issue 6.5 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.