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Looking at the annual conference through international eyes

Marco Antonio P. Gonçalves

On March 19, I left Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, to attend my second LMA1 Annual Conference, once again as the sole representative of my country. My first LMA conference, last year in Chicago, was a defining moment when I learned, among other things, that I was not alone in the legal marketing world. I know this sounds a bit cliché, but the fact is that I can clearly divide my professional life into before and after joining LMA and attending the annual conference.

In Atlanta, my expectations were more than fulfilled. One of the many things that caught my attention during the LMA 21st Annual Conference was the opening video2, a humorous look at the life of the legal marketer. It was quite funny, but it showed challenges currently faced by legal marketers in Brazil and, I am pretty sure, in other Latin American countries. We still have to deal with lots of window dressing, as many in law firms still believe that marketing is just about events and magazine ads. And that initial scene about designing the firm’s holiday card and the always “great” feedback from the partner’s daughter, it was so realistic that it almost gave me the chills.

Although countries like the United States are years ahead in terms of legal marketing, the main challenge of dealing with lawyers remains the same everywhere. It is truly a global challenge and a very good reason for legal marketers around the world to interact and learn from each other.

The keynotes were fantastic. It was amazing to listen to Dr. Maya Angelou give quite an international opening for the conference, starting with a song composed of languages from around the world. Her unique keynote was very well complemented in the next day by excellent contributions by Harry Beckwith and, especially, Keith Ferrazzi. When I attended last year’s conference, I stumbled upon Ferrazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone,”3 bought it and read it twice (and also brought it to Atlanta to be signed!). So it was an awesome surprise to have him as a keynote. He talked about lots of practical ideas that really help, especially legal marketers struggling to make lawyers understand that we are on their side. True relationships, at least on the professional side, can be invaluable in helping us overcome those invisible barriers that exist between us and them. After Angelou’s keynote, I might say that Ferrazzi showed us some ways to become great composers ourselves.

With many interesting sessions to attend, the one I enjoyed most was the Friday morning session led by Mark Greene, chair of the LMA Strategic Alliances Committee, a roundtable on legal marketing best practices in continental European countries. Caura Barszcz (France), Claudia Schieblon (Germany), Silvia Hodges (representing Italy) and Eric Gardner de Béville (Spain) talked to a completely packed room about the current state of legal marketing in their respective countries. Eric joked that the conference’s opening video was originally shot in Spanish and then dubbed into English. This only shows how global are the many situations represented in that video. And a packed room shows that there are many legal marketers, most from the United States, interested in learning about other jurisdictions. This session was the first of its kind and I considered it to be a success. I do hope that future LMA conferences continue to have such an international flavor.

Meeting Others, Making Contacts

Besides the opening video, the keynotes, the educational sessions and the gala at the Georgia Aquarium, all of which were fantastic, the main course of the event, at least for me, was its networking side. This is by far the one reason to consider when thinking about attending an event like the LMA conference. Although it might be considered by some as an expense, actually it is an investment with a very good ROI. Once again I had the chance to interact with many different legal marketers, not only from the U.S. but from many different countries. Interestingly, although the number of non-U.S. attendees is quite small, those attendees represent many of the shakers and movers of legal marketing in their countries. So, they are representing many other professionals from their countries’ legal marketing networks. The relationships and opportunities that come out of such interactions are tremendous. And, as happened in last year’s conference, I received a very warm welcome and also got to know a lot of people responsible for running LMA, such as members of its board and committees and also the excellent folks at LMA’s association management company, The Center for Association Growth.

On Friday night we had an international dinner with around 20 people, including not only international members but also members of the LMA board and staff. We all gathered at South City Kitchen for an amazing night with great food and wine and, of course, lots of conversations (and photos!). The noise level was quite high and showed how enthusiastic everyone present was with what I consider to be an already traditional event for international members during the LMA conference [see “Delegates Explore a World of Differences at Inaugural International Roundtable”, Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing, March/April 20064].

The Friday dinner was a great way to end a conference that gets better every year. And, together with other efforts like the session on international legal marketing best practices, LMA is showing that it is paving its international way. I am engaged in helping this become a reality and I do hope to have more international faces in future conferences. The time has come to eLevAte5 LMA to become a truly global legal marketing association.



  1. Vide
  2. O vídeo encontra-se disponível, em inglês, no YouTube, em
  3. O livro encontra-se disponível no Brasil pela Editora Campus.
  4. O jantar contou com uma mesa redonda entre os participantes e foi documentado na matéria Delegates Explore a World of Differences at Inaugural International Roundtable, publicada na edição de março/abril de 2006 da revista Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing.
  5. Referência ao termo elevate, usado na divulgação da conferência anual de 2008, que a LMA realizará em Los Angeles, entre os dias 12 e 15 de março.
Sobre o artigo

Veiculado no site:
  • Professional Management Network [23/05/2007]

Veiculado nas publicações:
  • Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing [Abr-Mai/2007]
  • PSMG Magazine [Mai/2007]

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