Singapore – May & June 2012

I was at Singapore on two occasions for business.

Eddie Law of eLawyer had an extra ticket to the Marcus Evans Intellectual Property Conference at Marina Sands Bay. Since the conference is related to my field of practice, I accepted the offer so that I can meet other fellow IP lawyers. Further, it’s been a while since I dropped by Singapore.

Never did I know that this conference was an expensive conference. It was attended by many in-house lawyers of well known multinationals and large companies. I was told that practising lawyers who wants to attend must be a sponsoring firm. Such firm pays around US$10,000 to US$40,000!

I must first explain the differences between an in-house lawyer and practising lawyer. The former works in an entity to advise the company of legal matters whereas the latter is a lawyer who works or owns a legal firm. I’ve heard of companies who set up law firms to service their own company and also other companies. But let’s not complicate matters here.

In-house lawyers are important to a practising lawyer because they are one of the sources for business. On the other hand, in-house lawyers sometimes need practising lawyers’ help if they are unable to cope, requires expert advice on a certain piece of work or to confirm or support an in-house lawyer’s point of view. However, there’s a trend now for in-house lawyers to do everything themselves.

Going back to this conference, the event had some speed dating elements. It had seminars throughout the day but there will be a session everyday where the event organisers pair up the sponsoring firms with the in-house lawyers of their choice. It was a one-on-one meeting. In this 20 minutes meeting, the sponsoring firm is given the opportunity to introduce and pitch their firm.

Of course, you are not guaranteed any businesses from in-house lawyer. Whether you will get any depends on a lot of factors such as your area of expertise, your personality and also luck. I learn that not all in-house counsels can give you work. Some in-house lawyers take care of certain areas and regions. For example, I met an in-house lawyer from Hong Kong who only takes care of Australia and Philippines for debt recovery litigation. He doesn’t need a Malaysian Intellectual Property lawyer.

One of the most interesting seminars of the event is by eBay on how they engage Governments to lobby their positions. Constant engagement with the relevant officials help a lot. Something I need to learn to oppose the new s. 114A Evidence (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2012.

After 2 days, it was time for me to go. I went home with a handful of name cards.

Interesting name..

I usually send an email to the people I met thanking them for their time and also to ask them whether they would like to be part of my mailing list. The response varies. Some don’t reply, some reply. Sometimes those you expect them to reply don’t reply but those you don’t expect them to reply, replies. Life is funny in that way.

The purpose of me asking them to be in the email list is for constant engagement. Constant engagement is important in marketing. You need to be in people’s minds all the time. Also, when sending such emails, it is useful to have your name and email as the sender instead of having your firm’s name/department and general/marketing email. Sending using your name and email encourages response. Your audience is not interested in replying to your firm’s general email.

Anyway, it’s been more than 3 months since the conference. I didn’t get any business from the contacts I met. It takes time and luck to get business from conferences. I’m glad to make the trip down.