The benefits of group-specific retreats.

AuthorGolivesky, Michele

Executing successful retreats for group-specific audiences such as women, minorities and top clients need specific planning and strategy that differs from firm-wide or partner retreats. This article discusses the reasons why law firms decide to implement group-specific retreats, as well as the logistics and the unique return on investment measurements used for these retreats.

Women's Retreats

Erin Meszaros, chief marketing officer at Burr & Forman LLP, recently wrapped up her firm's first women's retreat, which included more than 50 attorneys as well as several clients. Meszaros began planning the firm's women's initiatives in January 2012 and held the first meeting in May.

Female attorneys from five offices meet via videoconference every month to discuss various topics that women need in their tool belts to be successful in their professional and personal lives. From these monthly meetings, Meszaros and her team gathered feedback from surveys and discussions with participants; they discovered that the women in the firm each had their own goals that defined success. Thus, the retreat's theme, "How to Break Your Own Glass Ceiling," was formed, providing an event that fully connected with the variety the women in the firm were looking for: business development tools, goal-setting checklists, networking tips and personal-professional life balance topics.

Meszaros attributes the success of their two-day retreat to preplanning and analyzing the input from their group-specific audience. The retreat planning team was able to structure the retreat around how they could help every woman in the firm achieve her self-identified goals.

Meszaros' experience in women's retreats spans back to her time as the CMO at Powell Goldstein, before its merger with Bryan Cave, where she planned a women's retreat in New Mexico throughout a long weekend.

Diversity Retreats

As a part of many firms' commitment to promoting diversity and inclusiveness, annual diversity retreats take thoughtful planning and implementation. Daylong or weeklong retreats create opportunities for attorneys to share and uncover common experiences, network with firm leaders and develop connections for the future. Planning for these events usually entails meticulous selection of keynote speakers, retreat message points and small-group discussion topics.

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP held its second annual Diverse Attorney Conference in Washington, D.C., this year, where the focus was on...

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