Harvard and Wiersholm joined forces during this year's IBA conference

Each year lawyers from around the world participate in the most important global gathering of the industry. This year the conference is held in Washington DC.

During the intensive week that is currently ongoing, the International Bar Association (IBA) gathers approximately 6000 representatives from the largest and most central law firms in the world in order to share knowledge, build networks and gain professional input.

Managing partner at Wiersholm, Nils H. Thommessen, is the only Norwegian on the Advisory Board of the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession (CLP). CLP seeks to develop the lawyer's role in a global context and is considered the leading research center of the legal profession.

Before the program started, the guests were invited for lunch at the Norwegian ambassador's residence.

On Monday September 19, Harvard and Wiersholm invited selected guests and contributors to the residence of the Norwegian ambassador, Kåre R. Aas. The ambassador helped organize the event, something Nils H. Thommessen stresses that he is proud of and grateful for. The purpose of this exclusive gathering was to discuss the value of the contribution and role of a lawyer and, not least, the changes our profession faces as the expectations are ever increasing. Legal directors from some of the largest global companies were attending at the roundtable conference in order to share what they expect from their legal advisors. In a world that is becoming increasingly volatile, unpredictable and complex – also from a legal perspective – the value of having the best lawyers is great.

Nils H. Thommessen was the moderator of the panel, which consisted of (from the left) Laura Stein (The Clorox Company), Jami Wintz McKeon (Morgan Lewis) and Lisa Hart Shepherd (Acritas). Photo: Wiersholm.

The academic program consisted of an introduction titled "Valuing Lawyers as Professionals and as Citizens" by Professor David B. Wilkins from the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School.

Nils H. Thommessen led the first panel, which dealt with the extensive topic of "What is Value in the New Global Age of More for Less; Measuring Quality as well as Cost". The panel consisted of Laura Stein from The Clorox Company, Jami Wintz McKeon from Morgan Lewis and Lisa Hard Shepherd from Acritas. The latter has in-depth knowledge of the clients' perception of value, from interviews with users of legal services during the past ten years. An important finding of this analysis is that the relation to and the communication with the clients are essential to their expectations and perception of what is adding value.

In the panel, led by David B. Wilkins, were (from the left) Ricardo Cortés-Monroy (Nestlé), Biörn Riese (Mannheimer Swartling) and Ursula Wynhoven (UN Global Impact).

The second panel of the day, led by David B. Wilkins, discussed the following: "What is the Value of Lawyers Solving the World's most Pressing Problems". The participants of this panel were Ricardo Cortés-Monroy from Nestlé, Biörn Riese from Mannheimer Swartling and Ursula Wynhoven from UN Global Impact. The big question is how lawyers can help businesses place focus on sustainable development.

Wynhoven strongly believes that corporate lawyers can act as so called "change agents" due to their increasingly stronger role as advisors for their clients and for in-house counsels that are part of the management of the companies they work for. They can therefore help ensure that the right choices are made when it comes to such issues as corruption and sustainable investments.

-The event exceeded all expectations, says Nils H. Thommessen. –We are very proud to have created this arena along with what lawyers consider to be the world's foremost academic environment. The collaboration with Harvard provides a unique boost and inspires us to become even sharper lawyers and professionals. We take with us exceptional amounts of insight and knowledge from this event and look forward to continue working together.

From the left: Christine Liæker Lindberg (Wiersholm), Laura Stein (The Clorox Company), Hakim A. Lakhdar (Harvard), Derek Davis (Harvard), Nils H. Thommessen (Wiersholm), David B. Wilkins (Harvard), Bryon Fong (Harvard). Photo: Wiersholm.

The collaboration with Harvard provides a unique boost and inspires us to become even sharper lawyers and professionals.