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Top 10 Most-Popular Law Firm Retreat and Marketing Training Topics

Firm retreats are cyclical. When times are good and money’s flowing, firms are happy to spend money to get together, renew relationships, and refresh their culture with educational and social events. But during downturns, recessions, or a global pandemic, firms hunker down, hold their cash, and hope to ride it out. Travel budgets are slashed. Retreats are canceled or kicked down the road.

I remember the “money’s no object” philosophy in the extravagant retreats in the 1990s and early 2000s. But when 2008’s Great Recession hit, the retreat industry fell off a cliff. I’d been keynoting a firm retreat nearly every single week throughout 2007, and then it all collapsed.  The scant few programs I spoke at during 2008 were those where the firms couldn’t get their deposits back. Firms decided to stop socializing until after the crisis blew over. Things picked back up for a time, then the cycle repeated itself when COVID shut everything down.

Fortunately, there’s been a slight resurgence recently. Firms are starting to organize retreats; organizations are moving more conferences back in person. And it’s reinvigorating the vital relationships. People form meaningful relationships in person, not by Zoom.

Firm Consolidation Makes Retreats Even More Important

What’s interesting is how mergers and consolidation have affected the firm-retreat industry.

Think back to when a “large” firm had 250-500 lawyers and a handful of offices. It was pretty easy to get everyone together to learn and socialize.

Back then, firms had a single primary location, with some smaller satellite locations whose lawyers would typically fly into the “home office” or “mothership” where the retreat would be sited.

Today, it’s not uncommon for firms to have thousands of lawyers and dozens of far-flung offices around the globe. It’s become cost-prohibitive or logistically infeasible to shut down a global firm for a few days, simply to help the lawyers schmooze. But without sufficient direct personal interaction, it’s hard to create a truly unified culture. It becomes less likely that lawyers will form the close relationships that facilitate teamwork or cross-selling.

What hasn’t changed is the desire for practical and effective marketing education. Most of the most popular topics 20 years ago remain hot today, with some modern additions.

The Top Ten Topics

Based on conversations with over 100 marketers and administrators seeking speakers for their firm retreats, here is my list of the Top Ten Most-Popular Marketing Topics:

  1. Networking Tips (Practical ways to motivate good behavior and reduce social anxiety)
  2. LinkedIn for Lawyers (Drafting a powerful profile and using LinkedIn effectively)
  3. Social Media and Online Marketing (Telling your story online, e.g. LinkedIn, Google, Avvo, Twitter…)
  4. Client Service Strategies (Learning how to improve a firm’s service efforts)
  5. Focused Marketing (Finding a specialty niche or industry to dominate)
  6. Personal Branding (Standing out in a crowded marketplace)
  7. Developing an Individual Marketing Plan (Setting long- and short-term goals)
  8. Business-Development Techniques (How rainmakers turn contacts into clients)
  9. Cross Selling Strategies (How to effectively diversify your work for a client)
  10. Client Roundtables (Hearing the clients’ voices, aggressively moderated to avoid generic platitudes)

Also very hot, but outside of the general Marketing area:

  1. ChatGPT, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of Law (Preparing lawyers for what’s coming)
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health for Lawyers (Increasing awareness and showing lawyers how to get help for themselves and others)
  3. Pricing Strategies (How to analyze profitability for new-business opportunities)
  4. #MeToo and Sexual Harassment (Building awareness and a positive culture)

If you’re looking for a firm retreat or training speaker, CALL ME ASAP at +1.847.921.7677! 

Watch my law firm speaker demo video for more information.


Interested in booking Ross Fishman for your retreat, marketing training, or Ethics CLE program? See

Contact Ross directly at, or 1.847.921.7677!