Defense Counsel Journal

President's Page - Volume 88, Number 4

Volume 88, No. 4

January 26, 2022

Silverglate_Spencer_2021_sized Spencer H. Silverglate

Spencer H. Silverglate

Spencer Silverglate is the 2021-2022 President of the IADC. He is a partner at Clarke Silverglate, P.A. in Miami, Florida. Spencer has a national reputation for handling complex business, insurance, and employment disputes and for defending high-stakes personal injury and product liability claims and mass and class actions.


I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. 
This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never
knew it till now . . . . Come further up, come further in!

C.S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia


As I write this column for the Defense Counsel Journal, several IADC members have just returned from an epic, high-altitude hiking adventure in the Peruvian Andes. When they unfurled the IADC flag atop a 16,000-foot summit, they must have marveled that their friendship, tested and strengthened as they climbed up and into the rugged, snow-capped mountains, would not have developed but for their engagement in the IADC.

Their story is not unique. IADC members have traveled the world together, but the connections strike deeper than travel. We have co-counseled cases, collaborated on projects, joined each other’s law firms and companies, and attended the weddings of members’ children—in at least one instance, children who married each other after meeting at an IADC event. For more than 100 years, we have encouraged and learned from one another, we have faced perilous, uncertain times together, and we have laughed and cried together. Mostly, we have laughed. And in the process, relationships—real relationships—have been forged.

Of course, IADC membership is not inexpensive, and members must justify their involvement to their law firms, companies, and colleagues. Unfortunately, relationships can’t be measured on a graph or calculated on a spreadsheet. To address that concern, a cross-section of IADC members recently were asked this question: What one thing could the organization do to increase the value of your membership? The responses were virtually unanimous: increase business referrals

Armed with that input, the Board of Directors announced two “wildly important goals” for the coming year: (1) increase member satisfaction with business referrals and (2) increase member engagement. The two goals are closely related: engagement leads to relationships, and relationships lead to referrals. 

How do referrals flow from relationships? IADC members are the best of the best of the worldwide civil defense bar—advocates who represent business and insurance interests across the globe. Our clients are sophisticated users of legal services. They choose counsel the same way one would choose a surgeon—not from a glossy brochure, slick website, or smooth elevator pitch, but based on a referral from a trusted advisor. And it’s amazing how often the trusted advisor asked to make the important legal referral is an IADC member. No less amazing is how often those trusted advisors recommend their IADC colleagues with whom they have relationships.

It pays to develop relationships with your fellow IADC members; they are the trusted advisors to leading companies around the world. And it pays for your fellow IADC members to develop relationships with you as you begin to Think IADC First as a trusted advisor to your own clients.

But it all starts with engagement. Like anything in life, you get out of the IADC exactly what you put into it. So here’s the message of this column—engage! Don’t wait to be asked—raise your hand and volunteer. This is your invitation—the table is open to everyone. 

Engage how? Join Substantive Law Committees that fit your practice areas, volunteer to speak and write (including for this great publication), participate in virtual offerings, and when safe and authorized to do so, attend in-person meetings. IADC relationships can be maintained from afar, but they blossom in person. 

If you have questions about how to engage, ask your IADC Ambassador. Don’t have an Ambassador? No problem. Just reach out to the Engagement and Retention Committee and one will be appointed for you.

Already engaged in the organization? Great! Now go further up and further in. Ask for opportunities to increase your involvement. Seek leadership positions. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. The more engaged you become in the organization, the more your relationships will multiply and deepen.  And business referrals—both to you and from you—will flow naturally from those relationships.

I’ll conclude with a word of caution. Many members report a strange phenomenon as they develop deep and lasting relationships with their IADC colleagues: their friendships become more important than the referrals. The IADC members pictured with the association’s flag at the top of a mountain might say it this way: new members join the IADC for the referrals, but they stay for the relationships. Either way, the first step is engagement

I’ll see you further up and further in.