Around the Section of International Law - Summer 2019

ABA International Members,

On August 13, my term as Chair of ABA International will be complete and I will turn over the leadership to the next team, starting with Lisa Ryan as the new Chair.

Highlights from a Wonderful Year

Looking back over the past year brings lots of smiles, memories and friends to mind. We reached out to our members in Asia with a very successful conference in Seoul on October 17-19, which featured receptions at Yulchon Law Firm, Korea University Museum and Samcheong-Gak. Our efforts were aided by the support of Korea University Law School who hosted the meeting, the Korean Bar Association, the Seoul Bar Association, and Conference Executive Committee members Jai Lee, Chung Hwan Choi, YI Choi and Philippe Shin, and Claudia Hong as Executive Secretary.

Next we went to Mexico City for our Americas conference on November 7-9. We opened at Castillo de Chapultepec, followed by evening events at Museo de Arte Moderno and Presidente Intercontinental. Again, its success reflected hard work by members of the Executive Committee, Rene Mauricio Alva, Eduardo Benavides, Susan Burns, Enrique Garcia, Melina Juarez Segura, Andres Nieto, Luis Uriel Perez, Ben Rosen, Carlos Velasquez-de-Leon and Eddie Varon Levy. Also helping was Patrick Goudreau (one of my deputies this year and for the past three years) and Patrick Del Duca (the Section's Membership Officer).

Speakers at the Annual Conference in Washington DC on April 9-13 reflected the "Other Voices" theme. They included the author of a book on the impact of lunch counter sit-ins on the civil rights movement and how they transformed public opinion. Another speaker was the oldest daughter of Malcolm X who described the often misunderstood role of her father. One of the most touching moments was when she described being at her father's assassination. A third speaker covered the efforts of a group of women in Berlin during World War II to collect strategic data that was a significant help to the allies. Executive Committee members were Dunniela Kaufman and Clifford Sosnow (two Canadian attorneys who helped raise sponsorship), Renee Dopplick (who helped identify reception locations), Mike Burke (former Chair who shared his experience and knowledge), Corinne Lammers,  Peter Quinter,  and Robin Kaptzan (another of my deputies).

The Oxford Conference commenced on June 30 at Oxford Union Debate and continued through sessions on July 1 and 2, followed by Evensong in London and dinner at Middle Temple. It featured five ABA Presidents, four Supreme Court Justices and Bar leaders from England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland and was one of the most memorable events I have ever attended. More about this conference follows below. The Executive Committee members for the conference were Stephen Denyer (who served as Chair), Isabella Bunn who made most of the contacts for us at Oxford, Jeff Golden (former SIL Chair who also received a lifetime achievement award from the Section at the closing Blenheim Palace dinner) and my colleague Adam Farlow (my friend for most of my leadership years in the Section).

Our International Legal Exchange (ILEX) delegation visited Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus this year. Led by Co-Chairs Christopher Kelley (who has traveled over fifty times to the region to teach) and Bob Lutz (a former Section Chair who was in Moldova for a Fulbright Award), we observed and met with leading figures in three countries who are developing their legal systems to compete in global markets. It was particularly interesting to observe the differences among the three since they have different political philosophies and ties.

If you have enjoyed Around the Section this year, it is because of the hard work of the Section’s Communications Officer, Caryl Ben Basat, who has edited, formatted and polished it.

Finally, let me thank my deputies this year who have provided a wealth of information and advice -- Alan Gutterman (my collaborator on over ten books), Patrick Goudreau (who served as Programs Officer for AIJA and was a great help with programs), Robin Kaptzan (who gave us insights from China), and Mattia Colonnelli de Gasperis and Hermann Knott (who gave us the European perspective).

ABA Membership Renewal

For those of you who have not yet renewed your membership, I encourage you to do so before the end of August. The ABA’s new membership model and streamlined dues structure provides outstanding value at rates that are, in many cases, lower than the rates for the 2018-2019 bar year. Go to, and don’t forget to add the International Law Section.

Leadership in Law and Practice on Both Sides of the Atlantic

The venerable Oxford Union, with its two-hundred-year tradition of hosting debates, was the venue for our first event on June 30, a debate entitled “This House Believes that Modern (Western) Democracy No Longer Supports the Rule of Law.” It featured prominent speakers from both sides of the Atlantic. Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, with its classic buildings accented by the leafy green landscape of early summer provided the perfect backdrop for exploring cutting edge issues impacting the legal profession through a series of engaging speakers and panels.

One theme that resonated throughout several panels was the tension between populism and the elites and the effect that tension is having on preservation of the rule of law. That theme arose directly, in panels exploring government’s role in preserving and promoting the rule of law, and indirectly in other panels such as those addressing the role of technology in making the law more accessible to ordinary people. Another closely allied theme was the importance of trustworthiness in both the commercial and public sectors. Speakers addressed the future of the corporation as a mechanism for implementing profitable solutions to human problems and the importance of the rule of law in facilitating international commerce. The status of women lawyers and inclusiveness initiatives generally were also addressed by two different panels.

At the conclusion of the conference, our sojourn into London began at The Temple Church, the church of the Inner and Middle Temples, to hear Evensong, a 470-year-old choral music liturgy performed in Anglican cathedrals in the early evening. We then continued on to The Middle Temple, one of the four Inns of Court, for a wonderful dinner.

Read select panel summaries prepared by student rapporteurs from St. Louis University School of Law.

Also, thanks to LexisNexis we have podcasts of panels from the conference, which are available at

Networking and Knowledge-Building in the New Bar Year

We have some terrific things planned for the coming year, focused on you: doing our part to help you grow as professionals and bring value to help you maximize your experience and engagement as a Section member.

To start the year off, we have an innovative Forum in San Francisco on International Startups from September 12-13, during which we'll hear from leading experts on a range of legal issues for emerging companies expanding internationally. Highlights will include:

  • A keynote by Tammy Albarran Deputy General Counsel of Uber
  • A "fireside chat" of General Counsels leading companies in rapid international expansion, led by Doug Mandell, the first General Counsel of LinkedIn, and including Phil Rothenberg, General Counsel of Sonder, and Sabrina Ross, Global Head of Policy (Marketplace) at Uber
  • A keynote by Olga V. Mack, Blockchain Strategist, Author, Speaker and Women's Advocate
  • A CFIUS discussion, featuring three members of the CFIUS panel
  • A VC panel, featuring Omar S. Alam, Senior Corporate Counsel - Salesforce Ventures, and Sameer Desai, Assistant General Counsel (Health/Tech) - Johnson & Johnson
  • Insights into locales making significant investment in the emerging growth ecosystem – including Quebec, Chile, Ghana, Hong Kong, Ireland, and Israel - and the opportunities this provides for our attendees’ clients

Visit the San Francisco Forum page for more information and to register.

Immediately following the San Francisco Forum, we'll head up to beautiful California Wine Country for the Section's Leadership Retreat.  We'll spend the weekend talking about such topics as the strategic vision for the Section, the role of Section leaders and how to become one, and tips to help our Committees be as successful as possible as well as to address some of the challenges they may face over the course of the year. On Saturday afternoon, spend your afternoon riding horseback or cycling through a vineyard, kayaking down the famous Russian River, or making cheese. And we'll top it all off with dinner at a vineyard as the sun sets over the stunning Sonoma County hills. Visit the Retreat page for more information and to register.

In October, join us in Hong Kong for a Forum on Navigating the Life Cycle of a Cross-Border Deal, in which leading experts will take attendees through a series of plenary sessions covering what every practitioner needs to know in cross-border deals. This Forum will take place during HK Arbitration Week, and is a "must" for any lawyer involved in international business!  Highlighted speakers will include:

  • James Allen, Secretary General, Asian Corporate Governance Association
  • Jessica Bartlett, Director, Financial Crimes Legal APAC, Barclay’s
  • Stephanie Cheung, Chief Legal Officer, Melco Resorts & Entertainment
  • Sarah Grimmer, Secretary-General, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre
  • J.E. Jamison, Deloitte China's General Counsel
  • Kenneth Koo, AsiaPacific Co-Head, Citi M&A
  • Simon Lai, Joint Secretary/Group General Counsel, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited
  • Jo Levy, Vice President & General Counsel, Asia Pacific & Japan, Intel Corporation
  • Albert H.K. Wong, CEO, Hong Kong Science Park, and many more!

See the Asia Forum page for additional information and to register.

Planning for our Annual Meeting in New York in April is well underway!  We have an incredible Planning Committee in place with representatives from more than 130 major law firms around the world, including more than 70 of the major New York firms. With a theme of Empowerment, our largest meeting of the year will be focused on you, our members. For the first time, we'll be offering a full day of programming on Tuesday focused on empowering you in your careers and your lives, including developing a personal brand, alternative uses of a law degree, personal finance for lawyers, and much more! We'll then have three full days of programming organized in tracks including: International Dispute Resolution, International M&A/Securities Law/Corporate Governance/Shareholder Activism, International Trade/Economic Sanctions/Export Control/Customs, and International Technology /Cybersecurity/AI/Fintech/Data Privacy. Other potential tracks are: Corporate Social Responsibility/Supply Chain/Anti-Corruption, Anti-Money Laundering; International Finance/Capital Markets; White Collar; Immigration/Asylum/Migration/Talent Management; Individual Rights/Diversity/Gender Equality/19th Amendment Centennial; Environment/Energy/Transportation; Judiciary Around the World; Regional Development – Americas/APAC/EMEA; Public Interest/UN; and Antitrust. Work with your Committee(s) and submit your program proposals for consideration by September 9!

In addition to these fantastic meetings, we'll also be holding a Forum in Costa Rica in March 2020 on Corporate Social Responsibility, and in Ireland in June 2020 on Law, Technology, and Innovation. Interested in joining the Planning Committee for either of these meetings? Contact Chair-Elect Lisa Ryan at:

Throughout the course of the year, we'll also be commemorating the Centennial of the 19th Amendment, and have some exciting things in store!

Mexico City Special Event

The Section’s Mexico City Chapter is pleased to announce its co-sponsorship, along with BMA and COMEXI, of “Towards a World Parliamentary System”, a special program on Thursday, August 29, 2019 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Auditorium of BMA (the Barra Mexicana), at Varsovia No. 1, Col. Juarez, 0660 Mexico City. This event is exclusively for members of BMA, ABA SIL and COMEXI and is free of charge. There will be presentations in Spanish on a variety of topics, including Absolute or Shared Sovereignty, Climate Change and Global Governance, and a Review of Article 109 of the U.N. Charter. I look forward to seeing all of our Mexico City Chapter members there.

Finally, thank you for the privilege of letting me serve you as Chair of the International Law Section and congratulations to Lisa Ryan and the incoming Section Officers and leaders!

Robert L. Brown
Chair, International Law Section