The question.

AuthorHirsch, Stewart
PositionAsk the Authorities

My memo to our 95 partners with the agenda for our business development retreat just went out, and three senior partners have already informed me that retreats waste time and money. My managing partner and I created the agenda, and the firm needs this retreat. These three, and likely others, are poisoning the well. Suggestions?


Monica Latin, Esq.


"Retreats-are-a-waste" partners are at every firm. I offer three suggestions:

  1. Never beg anyone to come. You won't change the naysayers' minds. They will, eventually, see that they might be missing something important because they are, in fact, missing something important. Make sure that by the time you send the announcement around, the majority of partners are on board and their voices will drown out the doubters.

  2. Have a big purpose--a mission that changes the game for your firm and your partners. A few may argue about the perceived value of retreats but you can make it difficult to argue the importance when the shared mission is significant.

  3. Bring in an outside, professional facilitator. Every partner in your firm, including the managing partner, has a particular bias or point of view that makes it difficult--if not impossible --to objectively guide an important dialogue among 95 partners, or maybe even five partners for that matter. Create an environment that encourages each partner's input and welcomes the expression of all points of view.

    One more thing--don't be cheap. If you are going to take the time to host a partner retreat, make it special and build a shared anticipation and expectation of success.

    Monica Latin is a trial and appellate lawyer who chairs the business litigation practice at Carrington Coleman in Dallas.

    Katie Reagan


    Having worked for global firms, I can attest to the importance of business development retreats. These retreats provide the time and the environment that is needed to quickly and easily identify numerous cross-selling opportunities. How can you convince partners at your firm to support a business development retreat?

  4. Ask internal advocates to support you in spreading the word on the benefits of such retreats.

  5. Showcase success stories internally (intranet or memos) from past business development retreats.

  6. Visit as many attorneys as possible. Explain how their attendance presents a great opportunity to clearly articulate the firm's targets and prospects.

  7. Get attorneys' feedback while the...

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