FY2020 Overview


Programming for year began with the “International Startup and Emerging Companies Forum: Pushing the Boundaries,” in San Francisco September 12-13. The programming featured experts from around the world providing cutting-edge strategies to navigating international legal issues for emerging companies. The panels had both inhouse counsel and venture capitalists, in addition to private practitioners and speakers included: Tammy Albarrán, Deputy General Counsel, Uber Technologies; Olga V. Mack, Vice President of Strategy, Quantstamp; Hans Tung, Managing Partner, GGV Capital; Amit Bhatti, Principal at 500 Startups; Phil Rothenburg, General Counsel at Sonder; Omar Alam, Director, Senior Corporate Counsel, Salesforce Ventures and M&A Salesforce; and Doug Mandell, Mandell Law Group and First General Counsel of LinkedIn; as well as lawyers from the Department of Justice, Department of Defense and Department of State. The 95 attendees represented 12 different countries.

The Asia-Pacific Forum in Hong Kong on “Navigating the Life Cycle of a Cross-Border Deal,” was held October 24-25. The programming covered what every practitioner needs to know in cross-border deals—international transactions have unique features, and the differences between Western and Asian cultures draw even more complexities. Leading experts provided a road map and cutting-edge strategies to navigate the minefields of negotiating, structuring, and completing a deal, as well as resolving disputes that can obstruct a deal. The Forum had over 110 attendees representing 21 different countries.

In fall, the Section also held various committee teleconferences on “The European ‘CFIUS’: Understanding the EU Foreign Investment Screening (EUFIS),” “Women in Technology: Law, Politics, Cybersecurity and the Fortune 500,” “International Court of Justice Action and the Rohingya,” and “Seeking Refuge from Climate Change” as well as a CLE webinar on “Serving the Foreign Client: How Local Attorneys Can (and Should) Become Global Lawyers.”

In January, there were five committee non-CLE programs, as well as a program Pakistan and Human Rights Defenders was held in light of this year’s Day of the Endangered Lawyer, January 24, which focused on Pakistan this year. The panelists provided a report on the current state of attacks on the judiciary, bar and other human rights defenders in Pakistan. Speakers included the Hon. Hussain Haqqani, former Pakistan Ambassador to the U.S.; Jalila Haider, Founder of We the Humans; Farahnaz Ispahani, Senior Fellow, Religious Freedom Institute and Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and Raza Rumi, Director of the Park Center for International Media, Ithaca College, Visiting Faculty at Cornell Institute for Public Affairs and Editor of Daily Times (Pakistan).

The International Law Section held a number of committee teleconference non-CLE programs in February recapping issues in 2019, as well as current hot topics. Additionally, the Section held its 10th Annual “Live from L: Space Law,” a program featuring members of the US Department of State Office of the Legal Adviser. The theme of this year’s program – space law—focused on the body of international and domestic law governing activities in space, as it exists now and as it might develop in the future. Speakers included Acting Legal Adviser Marik String, Assistant Legal Adviser, Office of Oceans, International Environmental & Scientific Affairs Kathryn Youel Page, Attorney-Adviser, Office of Oceans, International Environmental & Scientific Affairs Gabriel Swiney, Attorney-Adviser, Office of Economic and Business Affairs Michael Aktipis, and Attorney-Adviser, Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control Samuel McDonald.

The International Law Section had to cancel its 2020 Americas Conference in Costa Rica March 11-13, on “Reimaging Corporate Social Responsibility” due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a heightened alert in Costa Rica just before the program was set to begin. Thought leaders on corporate social responsibility (CSR) were planning to gather to discuss the future of CSR and aid attendees guiding clients in this important area. Topics included B-Corporates, CSR compliance and M&A transactions, prior consultation with indigenous communities, forced labor in the supply chain, adjudicating CSR obligations in investor-state arbitrations and more.  We had also planned a very special tour of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as well. One of the programs was held as a CLE webinar.

The Section held a number of committee teleconference non-CLE programs in March on hot topics and began its series of programming entitled “COVID-19: Its Impact on International Law and You,” which included “Navigating International Courts and Tribunals During the COVID-18 Pandemic,” “COVID-19: How Antitrust Enforcers Are Responding to the Global Pandemic,” Career Management for Young Lawyers in Turbulent Times,” “Derogation from Human Rights Obligations during the Corona Pandemic,” “The Impact of COVID-19 on International Trade,” “Pandemics and Logistics – Meeting the Supply Chain Challenges of the COVID-19 Crisis,” “Lawyer Well-Being – What Does It Mean and How Does One Get It?,” “M&A Transaction Under the Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” “Force Majeure and COVID-19: An International Perspective,” and “Effective Networking While Social Distancing.”

The Section has also formed a COVID-19 International Task Force, designed to the complement the ABA COVID-19 Task Force, with a specific focus on the international implications and ramifications of the pandemic. The mission of the International Task Force is to consider the impact of the pandemic on various aspects of international law and identify areas and ways in which the ABA can and should act to help effectuate positive change and progress in staving off and remedying the consequences of the pandemic. For the next 18-24 months, the Task Force will consider not only areas of need and opportunity in the current circumstances, but also the exit and beyond, to ensure that any lasting impact of the crisis in the international arena can be appropriately addressed.

The International Law Section canceled its 2020 Annual Meeting in New York and instead began holding the programs as webinars at the end of May. The more than 50 CLE and non-CLE webinars were held over six weeks with the theme of “Empowerment.” The focus of this year’s Annual Virtual Meeting was how the legal industry – in unprecedented ways – is being disrupted, including new non-traditional players in the market, the introduction of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), and changing dynamics in multiple areas. The programs also explored the means for lawyers to empower themselves to deal successfully with the changing landscape of the legal profession.  Leading experts offered insights on cutting-edge strategies and trends across the hottest topics in both public and private international law, including dispute resolution, finance, AI, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, M&A, FinTech, migration/immigration, white collar criminal, individual rights, cybersecurity, trade, environmental and national security. During the first week of the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting, including a conversation with United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu in a “Dialogue on Matters that Matter.”  More than 350 people tuned in to hear Ms. Nakamitsu talk about her career path and how it has shaped her work. Overall, more than 3,300 registrants signed up for programming during the Virtual Annual Meeting.

Policy and Rule of Law

In September, the Section, in conjunction with the Antitrust Section, submitted expedited comments to the Japan Fair Trade Commission on its Draft Guidelines Concerning Abuse of a Superior Bargaining Position in Transactions Between Digital Platform Operators and Consumers that Provide Personal Information, etc.; and the Canadian Competition Bureau’s Draft Model Timing Agreement for Merger Reviews Where Merging Parties Raise Efficiencies Claims.

In October, in conjunction with the Antitrust Section, submitted comments in response to the Peruvian Competition Authority’s Request for Public Comments Regarding its Draft Guidelines on Antitrust Compliance Programs. 

In November, in conjunction with the Antitrust Section, submitted comments in response to the Japan Fair Trade Commission’s request for public comments on the revised “Guidelines to Application of the Antimonopoly Act Concerning Review of Business Combination” (draft) and the revised “Policies Concerning Procedures of Review of Business Combination” (draft). 

At the end of December, the Section submitted joint comments with the Antitrust Section on China’s Draft Anti-Monopoly Compliance Guidelines.

In February, the Section submitted expedited joint comments with the Antitrust Section to the European Commission’s Competition Rules on Horizontal Agreements Between Companies – Evaluation HT 5454 and to the Parliament of India on its Draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019.

In June and July, the Section was engaged in a number of critical rule of law issues, including ABA President statements on the U.S. sanctions of International Criminal Court personnel,  new national security law in Hong KongGuatemalan judiciary, and ABA President letters to the Governments of Malaysia and Bangladesh on the treatment and protection of Rohingya people in those respective countries, to the European Union and its conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, as well as to the government of India regarding the imprisonment of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association President Mian Abdul Qayoom.

Social Media Presence

Since September 2019, the Section’s social media channels have gained many new followers.  On the LinkedIn Group page, the Section has 29,331 followers with an increase of 1,051 new.  In the LinkedIn company page the Section has 1,552 followers with an increase of 802 new.  On Facebook, the Section has a total of 4568 followers with 292 new.  On Twitter, the Section has 5,494 followers with 383 new.