Kirsten Schlenger reflects on the Annual Meeting INBLF held on Oct 16, 2015
October 28, 2015 | Written by Kirsten Schlenger
Global Connections: Kirsten Schlenger reflects on the Annual Meeting of the International Network of Boutique Law Firms (INBLF) held October 16 to 18
Managing Partner Kirsten Schlenger founded the INBLF’s Women’s International Network (WIN) four years ago, primarily to diversify the membership and leadership of the INBLF by attracting and retaining top female leaders. At this month’s Annual Meeting of the INBLF in Miami, Kirsten attended the WIN inaugural event. Following are her reflections.
We gathered in the “edgy” mid-century Florida modern Vagabond Hotel which just two years ago had been an infamous house of ill repute. Avra Jain, the keynote speaker who developed the property and is on a mission to remake and reenergize the MiMo neighborhood of Miami, was inspirational, reminding me that having a passion for what I do—provide legal counsel on business immigration problems and challenges—is what makes my legal career so satisfying. The following panels on building your brand were equally engaging, interactive, fun and useful all at once, with a particularly helpful one from a stylist. I was especially thrilled that two of our newest WIN/INBLF members are serving in top roles with their State Bar Associations where they dedicate themselves to women’s leadership. WIN drew them to the INBLF.
The panels on branding and on forecasting global trade trends were enlightening. As a college Chinese studies major I was particularly interested in the panelist who spoke on China. She reminded us that China is here, there, and everywhere; ensuring the survival of the Chinese Communist Party is their leaders’ top priority. And meeting with a smaller group of INBLF colleagues specializing in employment law and insurance law emphasized how little we know about the details of each others’ areas of expertise. And yet, overriding principles such as client confidentiality and how to deal with government agencies who presume that all of your clients are lying and cheating, are common to our businesses.
Many of our INBLF members practice law in and manage smaller firms. As a Managing Partner I eagerly brainstormed with colleagues on common issues in our businesses—primarily attracting and retaining top talent, going paperless, using technology effectively, promoting associates to partner, being global to meet our client’s needs.
Which brings me to one of the main reasons I joined this international network of highly credentialed, experienced and excellent attorneys. Increasingly our clients demand global service for their worldwide immigration needs; the INBLF is our solution to being global while remaining excellent at our core business of counselling employers on US immigration law. As I sipped wine on the boat chatting with friends from Spain, posed for photo booth pictures with friends from Cyprus, Silicon Valley and New York , greeted my Swiss friend and his wife who just arrived for the Saturday night dinner, or ate Joe’s Stone crabs with friends from Australia, Hong Kong and New York, or danced with friends from the UK, Canada and France, Boston, or sipped Scotch at a tasting with San Francisco, Colombia, Brazilian and Miami friends, I felt warm and comfortable within this network of friends and professional colleagues. I am confident that they will serve our clients as we do, quickly, cost effectively and with the highest quality service.
It’s “hard work” building a brand and maintaining a local and global business, but someone’s got to do it.