Over the course of the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced fundamental, wide-sweeping changes in nearly everything we do, including how we work, how we learn, and how we communicate. Like the rest of society, LES has adapted to this shift, moving our member meetings online and producing an influx of recorded webinar content for on-demand viewing. While these changes first came as a shock, LES – and our entire ecosystem of participants – has done remarkably well in adapting, and in some cases has even reaped significant benefits. As we look to the future, the possibility of returning to in-person networking and meetings fills us with excitement, yet we also believe that many facets of our new, virtual environment are here to stay. We have big plans to embrace them in the coming year, and we look forward to offering our members even more ways to engage.

Member Meetings Accessible Around the World

Historically, LES has focused on in-person meetings, featuring direct interaction, expertise sharing, and networking. We hope to get back to those in-person events that have long been the beating heart of our organization. However, the past year has also revealed some benefits of moving meetings to a digital space. Local chapter events that were once attended only by those in the geographical vicinity are now open to national, even international, audiences. To channel my inner Steve Jobs, this compels us to “think different,” knowing that anything we offer at the local level immediately becomes accessible to a global constituency, which allows us to leverage a correspondingly diverse assortment of ideas, topics, presenters, and networking opportunities.

LES International’s bylaws state that Society members can register and attend events around the globe, no matter their home Society – a benefit that is now significantly more relevant. LES USA and Canada has already welcomed members from LES Scandinavia, Israel, and Italy to our 2020 Annual Meeting and some of our local meetings, and we look forward to many more members of the global community joining us in the coming months and years, as we look toward a future of hybrid events.

New Ways to Communicate

We aim to continue offering rich, online experiences that expand the reach and accessibility of LES content, beyond our member meetings. Our focus now is on rolling out a diversified content ecosystem over the course of the coming year with communications that take us away from just traditional emails and webinars and open up the possibilities for delivering informative, engaging content for our members. The launch of this blog is the first step, providing a new forum for announcing major LES news and updates as well as industry thought leadership. As the year unfolds, you’ll also see the continued build-out of our space with added resources and the shift from heavy email communication to more social media updates. If you aren’t already following us on LinkedIn, you can do so here to stay up to date.

I’m also happy to share two exciting content developments that will be rolling out later this year. Long-time members will likely recall The Intersection, a regular column in our monthly Insights newsletter. With Insights phasing out, you’ll see the content formerly shared there appear elsewhere, including in a new newsletter that will include The Intersection articles. We’re working closely with the current team of Intersection authors and hope to share the first articles with members this Spring. The Intersection is devoted to caselaw summaries of recent court decisions affecting the substance and practice of licensing.  LES welcomes member contributions to this column; ideally, we would like to have a balanced group of law firms making regular contributions of the same high quality that we have always seen in The Intersection.  If you are interested, please email us at [email protected], with attention to Louise Levien.

Next, and equally exciting is our work to deploy a new virtual community networking platform, which will offer discussion groups according to industry sector, professional field, affinity groups, and key topics of interest to LES members. Stay tuned for more on that in the coming months.

Introducing Content Themes

No doubt the way in which we’re communicating with our members is changing, and we’re excited to make our interactions timely and engaging. Now, let’s take a moment to discuss the type of content we have in store. LES is developing a system of “content themes,” each of which will examine major topics of interest in varying levels of depth, in a variety of formats. For example, the theme of “Valuation in the Context of Deal-Making” will be developed across a range of channels, including via webinars, social posts, in white papers, and in discussion groups on the new networking platform. We are also exploring adding a podcast – we’d love to hear your thoughts about whether that would be a valuable addition.  We will add further themes based on your ideas and suggestions, as well as themes we see emerging from current and planned LES activities such as proposals submitted for the 2021 Annual Meeting. Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement about our content proposals portal, currently in development!  If you have ideas for content themes or interest in developing a podcast, please email us at [email protected], with attention to Ian DiBernardo.

A Hybrid Future

The events of the past year have compelled us to be creative and flexible in how we communicate. While we all hope for a return to normalcy in the coming months, many aspects of our new virtual world are here to stay. Virtual communication offers great potential to extend our reach and boost member engagement. While we look forward to a future that welcomes back in-person events, we are also embracing the ongoing potential of the virtual online world and all it has to offer for the LES community and beyond.

Stay tuned for many exciting things to come, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up to date.

About the Author

Gillian Fenton, President and Chair, LES

Gillian M. Fenton, Esq., CLP has been a member of LES (USA & Canada) since 1992. She has served in a variety of roles, including as member of the LES Insights Editorial Board and later Chair of the Editorial Board; as a volunteer mentor for the LES Foundation International Business Plan Competition, and as Director for Communications and Publications. Gillian is presently President and Chair of the Board of LES.

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