DLA Piper’s $3-Million Meeting at Sea

It definitely beats a boardroom.

By: Marisa M. Kashino

What’s a law firm to do when it grows so big it can’t find a suitable venue on land to host a meeting of all its partners? The 4,200-lawyer firm DLA Piper’s solution is to charter a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

The legal behemoth, which has a large Washington office among its 100-plus worldwide locations, is hosting a four-night excursion aboard the ship in May. The partners will set sail from Barcelona and head up the coast to Nice. Sure, difficulty finding a big enough hotel may have sparked the idea. But there’s also little doubt that the idea of a Mediterranean cruise sounded much more appealing than hunkering down in a Marriott conference room for a weekend.

The main purpose of the cruise is for the partners to get to know one another better and find opportunities to work together. Meetings and focus groups are scheduled throughout the trip. But there will be time for fun, too. The firm hosted a similar cruise in 2008, and social events included winetasting, mini-golf, and rock climbing.

Of course, none of this comes cheap. The firm chartered Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, which belongs to the Freedom class of ships. According to Royal Caribbean’s website, chartering a Freedom liner for four nights during peak season, March through August, costs $3.1 million—not including booze.

For that much money, here’s hoping there are no norovirus outbreaks—and, more important, that everyone brings appropriate swimwear.

This article appears in the May 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.