WLG | at large '22 Recap + Highlights

Published on Dec 15, 2022

Thank you for making WLG | at large a success this week. We enjoyed seeing you and hope you enjoyed connecting with your peers.

Each session is recapped below with links to related materials and recordings, where applicable. View the event page to see past participants.

WLG Meet & Greet

Attending lawyers and professionals met WLG President Scott Guan, WLG Responsible Business Forum Chair Janet Pahima, the WLG Staff Team, and other newcomers and had an opportunity to learn more about WLG. We offer a virtual orientation session quarterly.

Webinar: NFTs and Brands in the Metaverse

[View Recording]

Weibke Baars and Christian Tenkhoff of Taylor Wessing discussed the legal challenges and opportunities within the metaverse along with what the future may hold.

Key Takeaways:

1. The metaverse will become an interoperable network where people can easily transfer their avatars and goods between different worlds, making reality and virtual reality interconnected. This integration will make the separation between the two slimmer.

2. Brands such as Burberry and William Grant & Sons offer virtual counterparts of their physical goods in the metaverse. While several companies are seeing great success with this business model, there are growing concerns about how they can protect their intellectual property and trademarks in virtual spaces.

3. NFTs enable digital ownership of assets but do not equal owning the intellectual property of said art, item, etc. Due to the pricing and rarity of certain NFTs, they have become a social status in online settings. They can even be used to access exclusive benefits and social clubs in physical reality.

Looking Ahead to 2023: Key Issues for Law Firm Management

Member Firm Leaders Forum Chair Philippe Johnson of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg led a discussion on the current challenges law firms are facing, trends they are seeing, and what their plans are for 2023.

Key Takeaways:

1. Leaders’ sentiments related to the 2023 business forecast range from cautious optimism to apprehension, and vary by jurisdiction, but all are keeping an eye on the other countries they depend on for inbound investment.

2. Firms are taking steps to more closely manage expenses that are up due to a return to travel, in-person events and inflation in an effort to increase profitability.

3. While firms plan to continue to grow, they expect to be more deliberate and selective when adding to their teams and will ensure they don’t have underused internal talent in-house before hiring from the outside.

Preparing to Get the Most Out of Networking Events

[View Recording]

Nanci Ship of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg moderated a panel discussion with Alex Gomez of Hunton Andrews Kurth, Moira Huggard-Caine of TozziniFreire, and Yohan Sauves of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg on the three phases of in-person networking and practical tips for each.

Key Takeaways:

1. Pre-event: Strategically selecting which events you attend is the an important first step. Once committee, study the attendee list and speak with relevant lawyers and professionals in your firm to be prepared to speak to identified targets. Have your elevator pitch prepared.

2. During an event: Put yourself out there, read non-verbal cues to know which conversations to join and which people to approach, spend more time asking questions and listening than talking, and be conscious of your location (find the longest food/drink lines to increase the time you have to network with a captive audience).

3. After an event: Follow up is essential and should reference specific things from your conversations during the events. For targets you didn’t get to meet or who didn’t attend, take the opportunity to send an email to set up a coffee meeting.

You may also be interested in: Business Development Committee: The Art of an Introduction

Greenwashing: Avoiding Pitfalls and Complying with Regulations [View Recording]

Janet Levy Pahima of Herzog Fox & Neeman moderated a panel that talked about what exactly greenwashing is and current regulatory actions against it. Speakers included Ruth Dagan of Herzog Fox & Neeman, Clara Serva of TozziniFreire, and Dan Smith of Gowling WLG.

Key Takeaways:

1. Greenwashing is the practice of making unbiased claims and/or not reflecting your company’s full impact when it comes to marketing your products or services to attract investors or consumers, and the consequences of doing it are getting greater.

2. In a recent study, more than 80 percent of Gen Z consumers reported they treat any type of info from companies with suspicion. Companies need to consider and tell the story of their full impact - both negative and positive - when it comes to marketing. This includes, among other things, due diligence in their supply chain and investors.

3. ESG should be regulated just like any other that requires transparency, reporting, and integrity, such as quality control. We are seeing more and more scrutiny from regulators around the globe.

Webinar: The G in ESG [View Recording]

Joy Tan of WongPartnership moderated a panel on current trends in governance issues. Michael Tan from the Singapore Regulation Exchange, Thomm Abbott of the London Stock Exchange Group, Rebecca Bedford of MinterEllison, and Gregory Harrington of Arnold & Porter spoke.

Key Takeaways:

1. Companies need to implement policies to address environmental and social challenges, and in order to do so successfully, corporate governance and risk management systems are crucial. Governance is the first pillar in the global framework for ESG.

2. In Singapore, the Court of Governance says that sustainability, accountability, and transparency are the tenets of good governance.

3. The more boxes you check in governance, the higher the level of exchange you may qualify for on the London Stock Exchange.

4. There is an increased pressure on boards to "get it right” when it comes to risk disclosure, remunerations, gender diversity on boards and in management, and transparency in marketing.

5. US companies face governance issues at both the federal and state level, and now even stakeholders.

You may also be interested in: The E in ESG, The S in ESG

Speed Networking

We held two speed networking sessions, each which included two of our practice & industry groups whose practitioners collaborate regularly: Energy and Infrastructure; Banking & Finance and Venture Capital.

Cannabis Global Roundtable [View Recording]

The Cannabis group met for a global roundtable of updates on current legalization and legislation of cannabis. We heard from Evelina Norwinski of Arnold & Porter in the US and Jörn Witt of CMS Germany.

Key Takeaways:

1. While cannabis is fully illegal under federal law in the United States, more than 75% of states have their own rules for recreational and medical use of marijuana. This means that cannabis companies have no access to the banking system and cannot deduct business expenses on federal tax returns.

2. The current US adminstration has taken very limited steps toward addressing cannabis issues at the federal level, including pardons for simple possession, relaxing rules when it comes to governing cannabis research, and attempting to pass the SAFE Banking Act that would allow banks to offer services to cannabis businesses. Ultimately marijuana needs to be rescheduled as a lower class of drug for this to happen, and that is a lengthy and complicated process.

3. Similarly in Germany, narcotics law is federal but enforcement is driven by the states—depending on the politics of a state, some enforce drasticaly and some not at all.

4. Medical use was legalized in Germany in 2017, however there were no professional growers in the country until 2021. Germany relies heavily on the importation of cannabis from countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, and Portugal to supply its demand. However, under German law, they can only import from countries that have cultivation under state control in accordance with the UN Convention. Importation from Canada could be impacted because of this.

As always, we appreciate receiving your feedback which we use to produce future content.

We look forward to connecting with you online again soon. Our bimonthly events email highlighting activity in January and February will go out early in the new year. You can always keep an eye on our Events calendar to see what we’re adding for the beginning of 2023.

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