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2019 ICSC Law Conference Recap

ICSC LogoLast week, over 1,500 members of the retail law industry came together at this year’s 49th International Council of Shopping Center (ICSC) U.S. Law Conference that was held in San Diego from October 23 through October 25, 2019. Those in attendance ranged from counsel from outside law firms, in-house counsel, paralegals and many others involved in the retail industry, including several first-time attendees.  With over 70 sessions along with over 150 speakers, 58 round-table discussions and numerous social and networking events, the Conference literally had something for everyone.  

Nancy Davids Speaking at ICSC 2019This year’s conference was led by our very own Nancy Davids, who was the Conference Chair, after co-Chairing last year’s conference.  Nancy’s year-plus-long planning efforts paid off – the conference was incredibly successful under her leadership and offered a new, more engaging format, a keynote speaker who brought down the house (more on that below), substance benefitting everyone – from beginners to the most experienced retail lawyers.  For three plus days, there was a “buzz” of connectivity with clients, industry experts and opposing counsel alike.

Sessions took one of four formats, General Sessions, Workshops, Peer to Peer Sessions and Seminars.  The different formats gave attendees the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions and exchange ideas surrounding both broad and specific topics.

Blindspot Book CoverNancy and her ICSC planning committee took a risk by having an “out of the box” keynote by Dr. Mahzarin R. Banaji, a research psychologist at Harvard University who specializes in researching and teaching about unconscious bias.  She is the co-author of “Blindspot:  Hidden Biases of Good People”.  Dr. Banaji kept the audience of about 900 engaged for her 1.5 hour presentation which demonstrated how intelligent and well-meaning people unknowingly perpetuate biases in everyday interactions.  She highlighted how our “blindspots” can affect business decisions, from hiring and promotions to client interest.  It was as cutting edge as it was eye-opening.  If you are interested in getting a sense of Dr. Banaji’s work, you can visit

Although most people could not avoid mentioning the fear of another recession and it was hard to ignore recent filings of some anchor tenants, the overall retail industry outlook felt cautiously optimistic.  Attendees used the conference as an opportunity to collaborate on ways to creatively “break down the big box”, provide solutions on leasing to some non-traditional retail uses, and discuss the entrance and expansion of e-tailers to the bricks and mortar world. 

The Law Conference offers an amazing opportunity to all those in the industry to learn, brainstorm, network, foster existing relationships, and create new relationships.  Goulston & Storrs was well represented this year with several members of the retail team speaking, including Melissa Rivers, Vanessa Moody, and Marty Fantozzi.  Alana Rusin, Cristina Addy, and David Rabinowitz led round-table discussions and other retail team members were in attendance including Karen O’Malley, Jenn Rogers, Dan Rottenberg, and Marty Glazer.

Planning has already commenced for next year’s 50th Anniversary of the ICSC Law Conference which will be held in Orlando, Florida on October 14th-16th and will be co-chaired by another director at Goulston & Storrs, David Rabinowitz. David will then be the Conference Chair of the 2021 Law Conference in San Francisco.  Stay tuned!

Related topics: Leasing, Real Estate, Retail, Retail Sales