Several property lawyers who had planned to attend international real estate conference MIPIM have expressed concern over the rescheduling of the event.
The conference was originally billed to take place in Cannes, Southern France, between March 10 and 13. However, Coronavirus fears prompted many attendees to pull out, leading organisers to reschedule the event to early June.
Norton Rose Fulbright and Morrison & Foerster were among the firms to have pulled out of the event, while Reed Smith and Pinsent Masons said they were considering their positions.
CMS, the only law firm sponsoring the event and one of the law firms slated to attend, said it was ”monitoring the situation closely and still considering our position.”
But several lawyers who were still due to attend told Legal Week, the U.K. arm of Law.com International, that they were rethinking their attendance in light of the change.
One head of real estate at a large international firm said that it “might have been easier for the event to be cancelled altogether this year” as rescheduling it is an “inconvenience” for their real estate team.
The partner said all 30 lawyers on their team who were meant to attend now have to consider rearranging their diaries around the event, and push back scheduled trips and meetings with clients.
The partner also said that they remain “skeptical that the virus will no longer be a threat by June”, adding that if things get worse, clients might still back out of the event in June which could lead law firms to do so too, or for the organisers to cancel the event at the last minute.
As a result, the partner said the real estate team at their firm is still unsure whether it will attend. The partner also expressed concern over being able to book hotel rooms for their team as June is the start of a prime season for tourism in Cannes.
A head of real estate at another firm said that while the rescheduling of the event would be a “great opportunity to meet clients who do attend”, reorganising their team’s diary for June will be a “logistical nightmare”.
The partner added the rescheduling could double the costs for their 20-lawyer team to attend as they need to cancel their current transportation and hotel bookings, and book new flights and hotel rooms for June.
For another real estate head at a third firm, the rescheduling was “disruptive” and “slowing the momentum of deals” as lawyers need to reschedule their own client meetings.
The partner added that it was costly to their firm, especially in terms of flight bookings. The partner said that some of the practice’s 50 lawyers attending the event, some from as far afield as Australia and the U.S., had already made holiday plans for June that now have to be rescheduled for the event.
However, another head of real estate at another law firm saw a silver-lining to the disruption, saying: “On the bright side, I’ve got the free-est week ever next week, it feels like a bank holiday!”