Tom Grohman, Lane Powell PC
WLG Kemmler Award Recipient
How did you first get involved with WLG, and what led you to take on the role of historian during the network's early years?
My firm joined WLG in 1992 at the Mexico City conference. I was our firm’s representative at that meeting and came away very impressed by the quality and personality of the delegates in attendance and have been attending conferences as a delegate ever since. My role as editor of the WLG newsletter came at the request of Tom Harrold. Tom had started publishing a semi-annual newsletter reporting on goings-on at the semi-annual conferences and within member firms. When Tom became president, he asked if I would take over as editor of the newsletter. For a number of years I would take photos at each semi-annual conference for the newsletter so I became the de facto network photographer. I was rewarded by WLG with a digital camera.
While documenting the in-person meetings of WLG for many years, what did you learn about the value of the network and the connections among its membership?
I found a focus on fostering personal connections among member firm lawyers through face-to-face meetings such as semi-annual conferences, regional and young lawyer conferences, practice groups and lawyer exchange programs to be an invaluable resource. The personal relationships made through these face-to-face meetings enabled referrals to be made to a true colleague and friend in another jurisdiction rather than to just an unknown name on a website. It is this personal relationship that gives one confidence that any client referred through WLG will be very well served and taken care of by a trusted colleague and friend.
As a Key Contact Partner for 30 years, how has WLG participation impacted your practice and your firm as a whole?
Since joining in 1992, our firm’s international practice grew along with our membership in the WLG. When we initially joined WLG, our international practice primarily focused on inbound work for foreign companies. Since then, Seattle has matured into a world class city and technology hub. Along the way, our clients’ business became focused outside the U.S., requiring legal assistance around the globe. Through our WLG membership, we were able to attract and service those clients' international needs. The personal relationships that I and our other Key Contact Partners have made over the years have been invaluable in insuring our clients are well served when referred to a WLG member.
As we reflect upon our growth during our 35th anniversary, tell us about the changes you've seen in the network during the years you have been involved.
There have been many changes over my 30-year participation with WLG. First, the network has grown tremendously from about 15 firms when we joined to the now 61 firms representing cities in every significant jurisdiction. When we first joined, the group was managed by just the WLG president. Early meetings focused on debating bylaws (as only lawyers can do) and ethical restrictions on publicity and marketing in certain countries. Over the years, a board of directors, regional directors, practice groups, lawyer exchanges, a website and full-time administrative staff were added to form the WLG we know today. I believe the best days are ahead. Looking back, the growth and success of the past 35 years was achieved by the strong commitment of member firms and delegates to the group’s success. Over those years, WLG has shown the vision and strategic outlook to continually adapt to an ever-changing legal landscape around the world. WLG will surely continue to thrive and address the challenges of the next 35 years.