Life beyond the Internet

The Internet is all set to become the message pushing, contact warming, all-around marketing good guy. And lawyers will soon have their Web sites, home pages and interactive interfaces buzzing and whirring, and their bespoke message will be super RAM raided down the corporate throat.

Gone is the need for client warming and cuddling (my personal favourite) – just whack your message down the information superhighway and your client care and marketing effort is over.

So MIPIM, like all international conferences where people meet and exchange ideas, is dead. After all, the event was really just a jolly in the sun.

If that really is the case then why do us Scots bother to do it at all; why spend all that money five years in a row to attend the MIPIM conference?

MIPIM may be growing tired, with an over emphasis on service providers, but for six years, and I expect a few more yet, it has offered a matchless opportunity to meet the broadest range of European contacts in a relaxed atmosphere.

Everyone is at MIPIM to talk business, make new contacts, and maybe get a tan. In Leeds or London you struggle to see six or seven clients and contacts a day, old or new. And I bet none have a sun bed.

At Cannes you'll probably meet those same people over a single hour. And if you are well prepared, this huddle will be at your breakfast bash. Clients will not only be happy to see you – they're not footing the bill – but more than likely delighted to be brought together.

With effort and perseverance everyone can make new business contacts Europe-wide and further afield, the type of business links which both firms and clients would not normally make through day-to-day dealings out of the UK.

MIPIM teaches you not to dismiss anyone – the vice-president of the Lima Chamber for Development may have Scots grandparents with an ill-tended Scottish property portfolio.

MIPIM has proved to be a rewarding way of making vital personal contacts and a place to say thank you to clients. And while the English profession attends in force, few Scots lawyers have taken up the challenge. For the past two years the majority will have missed the growth of a major event.

MIPIM may be a jolly, but for those who make the effort and attend those breakfast meetings or midnight cocktails, walk the stands and say hello it can be rewarding.

The Internet is doubtless going to be important for the legal profession but it is no substitute for these events and saying "It's good to see you. What about lunch?" Clutching your mouse and waiting for the good times to roll will not do.

Four more years may see the cyberspace big bang but we will still trudge the Croisette. As they say around here, you can take a Web site up a mountain but you can't make it eat Lamb Provencale. See you in Cannes.