The annual IBA conference: a cornerstone in the international development for firms

For the first time in 25 years, the annual conference of the International Bar Association (IBA) was held in Paris. The primary purpose of this conference is to promote the development of international law and its role in business and society. It is the privileged place to enable its members to access solid business development opportunities.

With more than 5,000 delegates, representing 130 jurisdictions and 2,700 organizations (law firms, companies, governments, regulators), the IBA’s annual conference is undoubtedly the largest event that allows legal professionals to meet and share their experiences and expertise. It is also the ideal time for lawyers to create or strengthen professional relationships on a global scale.

Transforming the event into a powerful development tool: The annual challenge for law firms

Over the last 40 years, law firms have responded to the globalization of business in several ways. While some firms have developed by opening international offices or merging with foreign entities in key regions, others have preferred to forge strategic alliances. Whether they choose the path of networks organized under a common brand or that of formal or informal “Best Friends” partnerships, the quest for an international footprint is lively. These collaborations enable law firms to offer their clients local expertise while maintaining a global approach.

Behind each strategic choice lies an unwavering will to meet clients’ needs and serve their interests internationally. However, this ambition is tempered by the desire to increase their business volume through cases and matters referred and sent by their colleagues. It is this search for balance that shapes the vision of international development for each firm.

Starting from this commonly held will, the IBA conferences and especially the annual conference are a privileged moment to develop and consolidate the firms’ professional networks.


Anticipation, preparation, and follow-up: the keys to success

For the event to be truly effective, anticipation and preparation are key.

It is essential to define a clear strategy in advance to maximize the return on investment of this event. This starts with a clear definition of the objectives to be achieved. What types of firms to target, on which markets? What are the selection criteria, besides legal practices: size, rankings, CSR policy, managerial approach, or innovation strategy?

Once your objectives are clearly defined and you have identified the firms to meet with, then work on the mapping. For each appointment taken, study the profile of the lawyer and the firm thoroughly, not forgetting their recent news. But it’s not just about meetings! Select the essential conferences, plan lunches, dinners, and events to optimize your week.

There’s no magic recipe, but a well-thought-out balance between appointments, conferences, and social events maximizes meetings and exchanges.

“We shape our tools, and thereafter they shape us,” declared John Culkin, an American communications professor at Fordham University in New York. Generative AI will transform and mold the law firms of tomorrow.

There’s an urgent need to train lawyers, marketing and communication staff, and newcomers starting their professional careers in these solutions. It’s crucial to identify the tools and implement them within firms. Instead of fearing these practical and value-adding solutions, let’s have faith in our professions and use them to our advantage!

For the game and especially the investment (in time and budget) to be worth it, the follow-up will be key.

The true value of the IBA is not measured by the number of business cards exchanged but by relationships built, nurtured, and consolidated over time. This intuiti personae takes on significant value and will determine what actions to take after the meetings.

In the backstage of the upcoming weeks, a methodical quest takes shape: to cherish and strengthen the recently woven ties. Each firm, each team, each person met deserves tailor-made attention. Beyond relational follow-up, the raw data will then reveal the true ROI, whether short or long term. For many, this step is already an obvious one, a week exploited to its maximum. For others, it is a decisive turning point, the dawn of a bold international strategy.

The annual IBA conference is a powerful tool for law firms seeking to expand their influence internationally. With meticulous preparation, active participation, and rigorous follow-up, firms can maximize the opportunities offered by this event, thus strengthening their positioning on the global legal scene. Ready to play the game?


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