What’s the story with the Construction Lawyers Society of America (CLSA)?

So what’s the Construction Lawyers Society of America (CLSA)?

There’s been quite a bit of conversation (and some confusion) regarding the CLSA. This is a new honorary association of top construction lawyers. The invitations to leading lawyers across the US and around the world went out a little while ago.

As is often the case, the selected lawyers asked their firms’ marketers whether CLSA is a legitimate honor. That’s the right question to be asking, because so many of these “honors” are simply bogus money grabs by directory publishers who simply sell costly trophies, plaques, and website badges to any lawyers who’ll buy them.  Superficially, these organizations can look similar, making it difficult to tell which ones are worth participating in.  I’ve written and spoken pretty extensively regarding my disdain for the fake honors and their waste of marketing dollars.

I’ve been getting so many questions from marketers regarding whether they should recommend CLSA to their construction lawyers who’ve received an invitation that I thought it’d be helpful to simply post my thoughts publicly. Here’s the short answer:

CLSA is legit.

I actually know CLSA very well. 

It was founded by the same people who run the well-established 3500-member Litigation Counsel of America (LCA), see litcounsel.org.  I personally believe that membership in the CLSA should be considered a (1) legitimate honor, and (2) great networking opportunity for the lawyers who’ve been selected and choose to actively participate. 

Full disclosure – Fishman Marketing has worked closely with LCA for 5+ years — Fishman Marketing rebranded LCA, developed LCA’s website, and I’ve presented marketing programs at their last 8-10 national semiannual conferences. We also developed the branding and website for CLSA, see http://www.constructionsociety.org/.

CLSA is brand new, so there’s no long track record to look at.  That being said, I know the commitment of the LCA professionals to make it successful for its members (“CLSA Fellows”).

Generally, there are two reasons to accept an invitation into this type of organization:

First is the credibility the association bestows.  That is, is your membership considered a significant professional credential.  For example, if you’ve been selected as a member of the American College of XYZ, lawyers and sophisticated clients understand that you’ve been vetted by a legitimate institution. It’s CLSA’s intent to build a strong brand for CLSA, to help its Fellows market.

Second, and arguably more importantly, is the personal networking opportunities that lead to referrals. Unlike the honorary groups that are pure directories (e.g. Super Lawyers), this type of organization encourages in-person attendance at their regular conferences — which are always at fabulous resorts.  I just spoke at the inaugural conference at the 5-star Terranea resort in Rancho Palos Verde, CA, and will be presenting regularly at CLSA’s future programs as well. The attendees clearly had a great time (some photos are below).

I can speak to the credibility of the people behind CLSA. They’re some of the most customer-oriented people I know. That is, although CLSA is new, I know their commitment to making CLSA successful and providing value to its members.

The founders of the CLSA consulted with me for over two years before launching. They have had 2-3 researchers pouring through bios for the past few years and have also taken suggestions for nominations from current Fellows and industry experts.

They created an invitation list of 1,000 elite construction lawyers and rising stars and began sending out invitations based upon a variety of factors, including sub-specialties, geographical distribution, potential speakers and authors, and Diversity, which is a core CLSA value.

The CLSA gives lawyers with outstanding credentials who are not already in an exclusive group (e.g. the American College of Construction Lawyers, ACCL) the opportunity to be part of one, although obviously there’s going to be some overlap.

I view the CLSA as an additional accolade and not a substitute, and the founders believe strongly that these honorary credentials help create opportunity within the construction law specialty.

Feel free to contact me directly any time if you have any questions, or I’d be happy to simply put you in touch with the CLSA founders.

Ross

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