Around the Section of International Law - September 2017

Dear Colleagues,

I know you all share my concern for our friends and colleagues in Houston, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, the Caribbean, Mexico and all others impacted by the record-breaking storms Harvey and Irma. The ABA has set up a special website for donations. For those joining us in Miami next month I hope you will join us for the 1 mile walk/5K run. All monies raised from these events will be donated to relief efforts. We will also provide attendees with other opportunities to send assistance to the hurricane impacted areas. If you are interested in other volunteer activity during the Miami conference, let us know.

Speaking of Miami, we are still looking forward to hosting our Fall Conference there October 24-28 at the JW Marriott in the downtown Brickell area. We are pleased to open the Fall Conference with a fabulous dinner cruise for those interested. Other featured events include a behind-the-scenes cargo tour of the port of Miami, special pathways programming, a reception at the Perez Museum on Wednesday, Committee Dinners followed by Women’s Business Law Network Sweet Endings Dessert Reception on Thursday, Chair’s Closing Reception at Jungle Island Hospitality Night on Friday. We will recognize UN Day on October 24 at the Fall Meeting as well. Our co-chairs, Joseph Raia, Melissa Pallet-Vasquez and Cristina Cardenas, together with our staff, have been superb.

Just before the Miami Fall Conference we have a one-day primer on Caribbean in San Juan module. As of now, we are still going ahead with this program. We hope that by proceeding with this special program in San Juan we will not only show our support for the legal community there but also bring some additional attention to the issues they are facing—both before and after the storms. This outreach is part of an overall outreach in the Caribbean Basin.

In addition to meaningful networking opportunities, in Miami, the Fall Conference will feature more than 65 panels highlighting different aspects of the theme of the conference - “Doing Business in the Americas in the New Global Economy: A New Dawn in the Hemisphere.” These panels will feature speakers from around the world on a variety of topics. In addition, for those of you needing ethics credit, programs requested for ethics CLE are noted in the following pages. We are also excited to hear from our exceptional luncheon speakers, including: Luis Almagro, Secretary General, Organization of American States, and President Julio Frenk, University of Miami. On Wednesday morning, we are excited to hear welcome remarks from Carlos A. Giménez Mayor of Miami-Dade County.

As I have emphasized, we are all human rights lawyers now, and I have pursued opportunities to represent the Section in promoting the rule of law and human rights in the commercial context. Recently, I was privileged to serve on a panel sponsored by the New Jersey Bar Association on September 11th with Jonathan Finer, Chief of Staff and director of Policy Planning under Secretary of State John Kerry, and chaired by John Farmer, former Attorney General of New Jersey and a Section luncheon speaker. The program addressed foreign policy under the new administration, and related issues of the rule of law. I will be speaking at SMU later this month on the same topics.

Planning for our specialty conferences this year is proceeding. We will be in Singapore next May for a day and a half conference on international arbitration (coupled with an ILEX trip to Indonesia), in Copenhagen next June for a day and a half conference on life sciences and our Africa forum, which is in progress.  We are also working on our 2018 Spring Conference in New York. Program acceptances have already gone out. I am pleased to note that we have taken an innovative to organizing programs to balance between traditional business/finance and dispute resolution programming on the one hand, and programs that include and transcend those areas. For example, we will have a special track of programming on international family law, and another on cyber and artificial intelligence issues.

As you may know the ABA is planning a program in Paris next June – we have submitted two programs for that conference. One of corporate social responsibility and the other with the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, Center for Human Rights and the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section on rule of law issues.

Many other initiatives are in the works but this should give you a feel for the breadth of our programming, projects and publication activity this year. I mentioned our collaborations on programming with the ABA Rule of Law Initiative but also want to mention the collaborative process we have enjoyed in drafting statements in conjunction with the ABA President’s office, including most recently (1) expressing continued support for the work of the United Nations’ Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala; (2) expressing concern about apparent threats to the independence of the legal profession in Tanzania, including the shooting of the president of the Tanganyika Law Society, apparent bombing at the offices of a law firm and attempts to dismantle the Tanganyika Law Society; and (3) expressing concern of violations of human rights being committed in Myanmar against the Rohingya population. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has labeled the latter violence a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Again, I hope to see you in Miami for the Fall Conference and many of you in San Juan. Miami is open for business and we look forward to a productive, informative and enjoyable few days.

With best regards,

Steven M. Richman
Chair, ABA Section of International Law


Section Member Volunteers in Houston

By David Schwartz, Section Communications Officer

While lawyers frequently clean up other people’s messes figuratively, earlier this month I had the chance to travel to Houston to assist in the literal cleaning of that city after Hurricane Harvey. The devastation is tragic. The rapid growth of mold after flooding means that almost everything touched by water in people’s homes must be thrown out. As a result, people’s entire lives are displayed on their front lawn. I had the chance to help one family clean out their home of all their belongings that were not affected by the flood and then remove the sheetrock and wood flooring that got wet during the flood. I attach a picture of me during the removal of the flooring, proudly wearing my Section hat and shirt. To see how the ABA is helping communities suffering from the results of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and how you can participate in these efforts, please visit the ABA Disaster Response and Preparedness webpage.


Report on the Annual Meeting

By Michael H. Byowitz

The 2017 ABA Annual Meeting – which was held in New York in August – has been widely acclaimed as the best ABA Annual Meeting in many years. A large part of the success of this year’s Annual Meeting was the inclusion of a special set of programs – entitled the CLE in the City Series – which showcased the expertise of New York area lawyers in many fields.

CLE in the City was the brainchild of then ABA President (and former Section Council Member) Linda Klein, who recruited former Section Chair Mike Byowitz of Wachtell Lipton to develop the program. Mike in turn recruited former NY State Bar Association President Steve Younger of Patterson Belknap to serve as his Co-chair. Aided by then Patterson Belknap associate Lia Brooks and paralegals Rebecca Rabinowitz, Nicole Hammons and Stephanie Coggins, Mike and Steve were able to attract unprecedented collaboration with the local bar associations and legal community in New York. CLE in the City was co-sponsored by dozens of local and affinity bar associations in the New York metro area as well as more than 50 prominent law firms with New York presences. The programs –developed by track chairs recruited by Mike and Steve – were held on Thursday, August 10, and the morning of Friday, August 11. CLE in the City consisted of 12 tracks of specialized programming held in midtown Manhattan at major law firms (Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Baker Hostetler, Kelley Drye, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Paul Weiss, Wachtell Lipton, Weil Gotshal, White & Case and Willkie Farr) and a number of other special venues (the United Nations, the New York City Bar Association, the New York International Arbitration Center, and Fordham Law Center). For the first time ever, individuals from the local area (New York, New Jersey or Connecticut) who were not otherwise registered for the Annual Meeting were allowed to register for one or more of the CLE programs offered (most tracks offered three programs, and almost all of the programs offer 1.5 hours credit). Over 1200 people pre-registered for one or more of the CLE in the City programs, and more than 900 were not otherwise attending the Annual Meeting. Most of the programs were videoed and will be made available as a member benefit to ABA members.

The Section co-sponsored two of the 12 tracks of CLE in the City programs: The United Nations Track and The International Dispute Resolution Track. Both tracks were very successful.

UN Track: The United Nations Track of programming was held at the UN on Thursday, August 10, and at Paul Weiss on Friday, August 10. In a first for the ABA, two of the three programs hosted at the United Nations were held in a conference room usually reserved for working sessions of the UN General Assembly. The third program at the UN was held in a separate room of the UN Delegates Dining Room, and the fourth program was held at Paul Weiss. All of the programs at the UN, which required advance registration, were quickly sold out; and each of the four programs attracted more than 100 people. Track Chair Mark Alcott and Amy Eggert of the ABA staff working with program chairs Bruce Rashkow, Richard Field, Marilyn Kaman and Tiffany Williams presented outstanding programs that included:

  • A program on the role lawyers will play in achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals with UN and ABA officials who have been involved in promulgating and promoting those goals,
  • A lunch program featuring the President of the UN General Assembly, who made a presentation and responded to questions
  • A conversation with the Deputy Legal Counsel of the UN which included an enthusiastic exchange with ABA members attending the program, and
  • A program on a new global agenda for women in which a distinguished panel discussed the United Nations’ goals of empowering women and girls worldwide, including examination of 21st century challenges to women’s and girls’ full participation in leadership roles, pay equity, peace processes, and freedom from violence, especially in war zones.
  • International Dispute Resolution Track: The International Dispute Resolution Track was held at the New York International Arbitration Center on Thursday, August 10. Track Chairs Hagit Elul of Hughes Hubbard and Peter Sherwin of Proskauer arranged for four outstanding and well-attended programs including:
  • A program with prominent arbitrators and academics speaking on the continuing creation and evolution of arbitration rules providing for emergency applications at the commencement of the arbitration and whether and when they work in practice
  • A program with prominent practitioners and academics speaking on methods that a losing party can employ to try to avoid enforcement of an international arbitration award and counsel’s ethical obligations and restrictions in doing so
  • A lunch program with Catherine Amirfar of Debevoise & Plimpton (formerly Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State) sponsored by Debevoise and
  • A program presented by the Section on a pending treaty on the international enforcement of judgments internationally with Section Chair Steven Richman serving as moderator and prominent speakers from the Legal Advisor’s Office (U.S. Department of State), two prominent academics and a former Section Chair who practices extensively in the area
  • The other tracks in CLE in the City included:
  • Antitrust – programs on the pending NCAA case (whether colleges can agree not to pay players), international merger review, and interplay of antitrust and innovation with lunch speaker Marvin Price, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, US Department of Justice
  • Commercial Litigation – programs offering insights from experts on winning strategies for commercial litigation pre-trial and at-trial and on the evolution of specialized commercial courts with lunch speakers Hon. Colleen McMahon, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York and Hon. Barry R. Ostrager, Justice, Supreme Court of the State of New York, Commercial Division
  • Construction Law – programs providing an introduction to construction law, and addressing advocacy in mediation and leveraging recent rule changes, with a presentation (and tour of) the Lincoln Center construction project (led by Lesley Rosenthal, General Counsel of Lincoln Center) and a lunch program with Patrick McGeehan, William Berkowitz and Peter Vosbikian of FTI Consulting
  • Corporate Governance (organized by track chair and former Section committee chair David Silk) including programs on corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions and securities law with a lunch program featuring Martin Lipton of Wachtell Lipton speaking about the effects of shareholder activism
  • Family Law – programs on making divorce less taxing and successful therapy models
  • Financial Restructuring and Insolvency – programs on out-of-court exchange offers, municipal and sovereign restructurings and major issues on appeal with lunch speaker Tom C. Baxter, Jr., Sullivan & Cromwell LLP (previously Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Federal Reserve Bank of New York)
  • Financial Technology – programs facilitated by longtime Section leader and track co-chair Ingrid Busson-Hall, Head of Financial Regulation at PayPal, and Kevin Petrasic of White & Case that covered a range of hot topics, including faster payments, speed to market issues for start-ups and investors, the potential effects of Blockchain, and the use of "assisted intelligence" in RegTech, with lunch speaker IBM Watson (accompanied by John Douglas of Davis Polk).
  • The Legal Profession (with particular reference to solo and small firm practitioners) – with programs on cybersecurity, judicial perspectives on ethics and artificial intelligence with lunch speaker New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.
  • Trial Practice – programs presenting a mock trial, re-enactment of an infamous trial, and a study involving videoing of actual jury deliberations in real civil cases in Arizona (the latter presented by the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation) with lunch speaker Hon. Jed S. Rakoff, United States District Judge, Southern District of New York

White Collar Criminal Law – one program organized by track chairs John Savarese of Wachtell Lipton and David Zinn of Williams & Connolly, moderated by Andrew Ceresney of Debevoise & Plimpton (former Director, SEC Division of Enforcement) with high ranking officials from the Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, and the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, as well as a prominent external counsel and a senior corporate counsel of a major financial institution speaking on a wide range of topics including trends in the current administration and areas like penalties, corporate criminal liability, regulatory pile ons, and cyber.


The ABA-SIL at the G7 Meeting of Lawyers

Submitted by Mattia Colonnelli de Gasperis

Patrick del Duca, the Section’s Membership officer, worked with Mattia Colonnelli, a Section Division Leader, to facilitate and help organize the participation of the ABA President at the G7 meeting among bar associations whose nations were participating in the G7 conference. Mattia accompanied and assisted President Bass during her stay in Rome, and expressed her appreciation for the Section’s cooperation on this project.

Mattia Colonnelli de Gasperis, immediate Past Chair of the SIL Legal Practice Division and of the Europe Committee, facilitated the participation of ABA President, Hilarie Bass at the first G7 of Lawyers in the history. The event was organized by the Consiglio Nazionale Forense (Italian National Forensic Council) under the auspices of the Italian Presidency of the G7 and was held in Rome, Italy, at Palazzo della Cancelleria (Chancellery Palace).

The topic of the G7, chaired by the President of the Italian National Forensic Council, Andrea Mascherin, was “Security and hate speech. Personal Safety and Data Security: Rights in the Age of Social Media.” Each delegation of the legal profession of the G7 Countries presented and discussed a Country Paper whose main subject was the defense of individual rights against the risks of online data manipulation (fake news) and the spread of hate speech, violence and cyberbullying. In particular, in addition, the delegations of the legal professionals of the G7 Countries were chaired by René Basque, President of the Canadian Bar Association, Vincent Berthat, Conseil National des Barreaux, Michael Griem, President of the Frankfurt Bar Association, Masaaki Sawano, Vice President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, and Christina Blacklaws, Vice President of The Law Society of Great Britain.

The G7’s works opened and closed with the keynote speeches by Maria Elena Boschi, Deputy Secretary of State to the Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Laura Boldrini, President of the Italian House of Representatives, and Andrea Orlando, Italian Minister of Justice.

Important Italian and international legal experts, together with the representatives of the legal profession of the G7 Countries, discussed the guidelines aimed at strengthening international collaboration. Among these, Raffaele Trombetta, Ambassador and G7/G20 Sherpa to the Italian Prime Minister; Guido Alpa, Professor of Civil Law and Past President of the Italian National Forensic Council; Ledi Bianku, Judge of the European Court of Human Rights; Giovanni Buttarelli, Chair of the European Data Protection Supervisor; Giovanni Canzio, First President of Corte Suprema di Cassazione (Italian Supreme Court of Cassation); Giorgio Lattanzi, Vice President of the Corte Costituzionale (Italian Constitutional Court); Salvatore Sica, Vice President of the Scuola Superiore dell’Avvocatura (Italian Superior School for Lawyers); Eugenio Albamonte, President of Associazione Nazionale Magistrati (Italian Association of Magistrates); Francesca Bignami, Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School; Nunzia Ciardi, Director of the Postal and Communication Division of Italian State Police; Peter Petkoff, Managing Editor of the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion; Anton Giulio Lana, President of Unione Forense per la Tutela dei Diritti Umani (Forensic Association for the Protection of Human Rights); Antonello Soro, President of the Italian Data Protection Authority; Stephane Jaquemet, Regional Representative for Southern Europe of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Liviu Olteanu, Secretary General of the International Association for the Defense of Religious Liberty; Mario Ricca, Professor of Intercultural Law.

The G7 closed with a joint declaration by the representatives of the legal profession of the G7 Countries’ aimed at strengthening the international strategy which – respecting the constitutional rights to free speech and privacy – is aimed at protecting personal dignity and security from false information and contrasting discrimination based on race, religion or gender in the age of digital communications technologies.


Earthquake Relief Efforts in Mexico

Contributed by Lisa Ryan

The Carlos Slim Foundation (Fundación Carlos Slim), a non-profit organization founded by Mexican businessman and philanthropist Carlos Slim, has agreed to match 5 to 1 every peso or dollar donated to the Mexican Bar Association for earthquake relief efforts in Mexico. The funds will be managed by  the Mexican Bar Association's non-profit arm, the Fundación Barra Mexicana A.C., a civil organization that is monitored by the Mexican Transparency Committee.

If you would like to make a contribution, either on behalf of your office or in your personal capacity, please find the information for the Fundación Barra Mexicana's account below:

Bank's name: BANORTE IXE BANCO
Beneficiary: FUNDACION BARRA MEXICANA A.C.
Account number: 1709585-9
CLABE (if needed): 072180000170958590
Swift code: MENOMXMT

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