Reflec­tions on a Suc­cess­ful Mer­i­tas Annu­al Meet­ing – Char­lotte, North Carolina

Rep­re­sent­ing Swaab, Mary Digiglio and James Skel­ton recent­ly attend­ed the 2024 Mer­i­tas Law Firms World­wide Annu­al Meet­ing in Char­lotte, North Car­oli­na, USA.

The meet­ing offered unpar­al­leled oppor­tu­ni­ties for rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the glob­al Mer­i­tas net­work of 172 firms across more than 89 coun­tries to recon­nect with friends and col­leagues and to devel­op new relationships.

The meet­ing start­ed with the sec­ond annu­al in-per­son meet­ing of the Women’s Lead­er­ship Con­gress (WLC), host­ed by the Wom­en’s Lead­er­ship Coun­cil of which Mary is a mem­ber. Keynote speak­er Lau­ra Best – CEO of Pas­sion Col­lec­tive pre­sent­ed a ses­sion focused on empow­er­ment and pas­sion recon­nec­tion. Through her Shine mod­el she pro­vid­ed a roadmap to reignite pas­sions and inte­grate them into the dai­ly lives of teams when atten­dees returned home to their firms. At the inau­gur­al WLC awards Melis­sa Bus­ley of Dunn Car­ney LLP was recog­nised as Woman of the Year’ for her excep­tion­al con­tri­bu­tions to the legal field, com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice, men­tor­ship, and advo­ca­cy for women in law, and Shel­don Stokes of John­ston Alli­son & Hord PA was also recog­nised as high­ly rec­om­mend­ed in the cat­e­go­ry. Jonathan Polin of Howard Kennedy was recog­nised for his com­mit­ment as an ally to the advance­ment of women in the law.

The wel­come recep­tion was held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, with inter­ac­tive exhibits to thrilling iRac­ing sim­u­la­tors and the Pit Crew Chal­lenge, in which James excelled, and allowed atten­dees to recon­nect infor­mal­ly before pro­gress­ing fur­ther with sub­stan­tive ses­sions the next day.

Attend­ing sev­er­al practice/​industry sec­tor group meet­ings and net­work­ing events pro­vid­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to share insights on law firm man­age­ment, AI, inno­va­tion, tech­nol­o­gy, cur­rent chal­lenges, and oppor­tu­ni­ties with­in the legal industry.

The keynote address, deliv­ered by New York Times best­selling author John Hart, explored the pow­er of com­mu­ni­ty and the val­ue of work­ing togeth­er. It remind­ed us that suc­cess often comes from tak­ing risks, stay­ing per­sis­tent, and fol­low­ing our pas­sions – while being part of a sup­port­ive net­work. Also infor­ma­tive were the Lever­ag­ing Automa­tion and AI to Cre­ate Val­ue’ pan­el­lists, Patrick Arkins, Alber­to Estrel­la, Robin Eklund, and Dan Bel­lope­de, who shared invalu­able strate­gies and expe­ri­ences from their own firms for automat­ing legal process­es – from client intake, research, mat­ter man­age­ment to billing. Atten­dees dis­cov­ered how automa­tion can make tasks cheap­er, faster and more accu­rate with­out com­pro­mis­ing quality.

At the Emerg­ing Lead­ers meet­ing, Char­lotte Whit­worth of Howard Kennedy LLP was wel­comed as the new Chair of the Mer­i­tas Emerg­ing Lead­ers Advi­so­ry Board. While James Skel­ton will assume Char­lot­te’s for­mer role as Chair-Elect. Mol­ly Cam­po­long of Robin­son Gray in Colum­bia, South Car­oli­na, USA, will be tak­ing over as Sec­re­tary, replac­ing James in that position.

The Swaab team looks for­ward to con­tin­u­ing these con­ver­sa­tions with Mer­i­tas col­leagues over the next 12 months until the next annu­al meet­ing, to be held in Mex­i­co City in 2025.

Until then, Swaab and the Swaab Mer­i­tas Mem­ber Con­tacts, Mary Digiglio, Marc Bad­dams, and James Skel­ton extend a warm invi­ta­tion to all our Mer­i­tas col­leagues to attend the ANZ Region­al Meet­ing, 17 to 19 Octo­ber 2024, here in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia​‘Gadi­gal Coun­try’ & Taron­ga Zoo​‘Cam­merai­gal Land’. 

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