Closely Held 2nd IBA Virtual Entrepreneurship Conference takeaways

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Nicole Van Ranst
Newton Law, Belgium; Corporate Counsel Forum Liaison Officer, IBA Closely Held and Growing Business Enterprises Committee


From Monday 22 to Friday 25 March 2021, the IBA Closely Held and Growing Business Enterprises Committee held its 2nd IBA Virtual Entrepreneurship Conference on the topic of ‘Innovation and entrepreneurship in the next normal’, with invaluable input from seven IBA sister committees which added to the diversity of the topic.

This year’s program and the format of the sessions was inspired by our in-person conferences and we aimed to get as close as possible to their participative format. Our ambition was to create a virtual twin of our previous, in-person global entrepreneurship conferences.

All attendees were given an interactive, valuable experience, both from a professional and social/networking perspective. They were able to exchange their views and experiences in small groups on a variety of topics, such as virtual M&A transactions, new fields of activity and services for our firms. The efficient IBA staff made the participants flow smoothly in and out of these many break out rooms, and it was handled like a Swiss clock, not like the technological challenge it really was.

The ‘break out room moderators’ did an outstanding job to keep the debates interactive and on topic.

We discussed the outlook for the next normal law firm: it is clear that the pandemic and lockdown measures have also had an impact on the general well-being of the members of our law firms.

While we all agree that Zoom is great and efficient, we also have come to realize that the back-to-back meetings are exhausting. Our associates are eager to get back to the office and we need to disconnect from time to time.

But a Closely Held meeting does not reflect the 'Closely Held spirit' if there is not a good combination of serious topics and breaks for networking.

Simonetta Agnello Hornby was our closing guest. An Italian novelist and domestic violence solicitor, Simonetta took us on a tour through her fascinating life journey taking her from Sicily to England.

We closed our virtual conference with discussions about food, drinks, travel, sports and free time. Even though Zoom is an imperfect tool to gauge human emotion, the friendly chats, smiling faces and great bottle of wines were clear indicators that the IBA Closely Held and Growing Business Enterprises Committee is one big happy family.