October 5, 2000

Hotel Lawyers Meet at Cornell

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Hospitality lawyers have been scattered about the Cornell campus as the School of Hotel Administration hosts the fourth Bickel & Brewer Legal Strategy Conference, which began yesterday.

Running through Friday, the event features lawyers and executives throughout the hospitality industry who will gather in the Statler Hotel Ballroom. The format for the three-day conference includes six panels which focus on important issues such as franchising, mergers and acquisitions and e-commerce, according to Prof. David Sherwyn, co-host of the conference.

“The purpose [of the conference] is to educate people on legal hospitality issues,” said Nancy Weislogel, coordinator of Internal Programs for the Hotel School. The event is open to anyone interested in the legal field and/or hospitality industry, she claimed.

Participating speakers represent a wide variety of experts in the field of hospitality law. Examples are Eileen Kirsch, vice president of General Counsel of Club Med Management Services; Ed Watkins, editor of Lodging Hospitality Magazine; and Michael J. Mahoney, director of Hospitality of Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. Speakers are not paid but are participating solely to help provide others with knowledge and to learn more about their field, Sherwyn said.

The law firm of Bickel & Brewer, known for handling legal cases affecting the hospitality industry, decided to move the conference from the University of Houston in Texas to Ithaca this year and co-host the event with the hotel school.

“They chose Cornell because it has the best hotel school in the world, and it was time to get it out of Texas,” Sherwyn added.

Among the other sponsors involved are Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, Altheimer & Gray, Lodging Hospitaliy and Hotel Business.

Attendees of the $995 event will consist of private practice lawyers, in-house counsel lawyers who represent the law interests of major companies and Cornell faculty and students. The Hotel School allocated money specifically to allow Cornell faculty and students to attend the discussion sessions. Total enrollment as of yesterday was 60 people, according to Weislogel.

“Students will be introduced to a bunch of people in the legal industry that they can have as contacts in the future,” Sherwyn said. Lawyers who attend the conference will have the opportunity to meet colleagues and share information with others without advocating specific issues, he added.

According to Weislogel, the conference will provide an opportunity for students to better understand current legal issues facing the hospitality industry, such as employment disputes and management contracts.

“We [The Cornell Hotel School] like to be the center of knowledge sharing for the industry and while we will not make money in this conference, we can add and learn from discussion,” Sherwyn said.

Archived article by Rachel Pessah