Around the Section of International Law - Spring 2020

From the Chair

Dear ABA International Law Section Members,

I hope the new decade is off to an incredible start for each of you. For many, a new year is a time for reflection and reassessment of our lives and our careers, to ensure we are on a path that will help us achieve our personal and career objectives. From the Section’s perspective, that means being right alongside you on your individual paths, wherever they may lead you.

Empowerment Theme

Our theme this year is Empowerment, which means being continuously focused on providing opportunities and tools to help you empower yourselves, invest in your future, build connections, empower others, be inspired and have fun in the process.

Listening to Member Feedback

I have had the privilege of speaking with many of you and listening to what you want and need in your bar association. I hope you’ll find we have taken a lot of that feedback on board thus far this year, building upon the Section’s strengths to deliver what you are looking for in new and innovative ways. To ensure we stay focused on what is most important to you, we have also launched a Membership Survey, which I encourage you to complete.

Innovative Programming

One of the principal ways in which we are delivering an innovative experience is in our programming. Across all of our conferences this year, we have sought to ensure diversity of viewpoint, delivering cutting edge strategies and techniques from a holistic standpoint, to enable you to be the best you can be in your careers. This includes having in-house counsel on nearly every panel at every conference, as well as other key stakeholders, like venture capitalists at our International Startup and Emerging Growth conference in San Francisco and CEOs at our Cross-Border M&A conference in Hong Kong. In New York, we’ll have an entire day of soft skills programming to give you the tools you need to win at client pitches, develop your personal brand, understand the different career paths available to those with a law degree, and much more, in addition to more than 70 incredible substantive programs. We’ve also innovated our programming format with TEDTalk style discussions and fireside chats, in venues like the NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center and the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre.

Thank you to our International Startup and Emerging Growth conference sponsors and exhibitors:
LexisNexis, Fragomen, Osborne Clarke, Covington, CCW Business Solutions, JAMS, and Dentons.

Thank you to our Cross-Border M&A conference sponsors and exhibitors:
Edgeworth Economics, Fox Rothschild, Fragomen, Grant Thornton, Hogan Lovells, JAMS, Kobre & Kim, Lee & Ko, Nardello & Co., Shin & Kim, and Yoon & Yang.

19th Amendment Centennial

This year’s focus also gives us an incredible opportunity to commemorate the 19th Amendment Centennial. We’ve partnered with LexisNexis and The International Foundation for Electoral Systems to interview women around the world on what the right to vote means to them. Video interviews will be disseminated over social media over the coming months, with a very special viewing at the NY Annual Meeting Empowering the Next 100 Years luncheon.

Multiple Opportunities for Engagement

In addition to our fantastic conferences, there are countless ways in which you can get involved, and see the Section in action, from the ongoing publication of some extraordinary committee newsletters to the development and advocacy of cutting-edge policy initiatives. I encourage you to get involved – join a committee, dial in to a committee call or webcast, attend a conference, write an article, or pursue a policy initiative. Deepen your knowledge of your practice area, explore a new one, and make connections; the opportunities are endless!

COVID-19 Update

We know you may have questions about the status of our 2020 Section Annual Meeting in New York in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The ABA and International Law Section take the health and safety of members and staff seriously. While the decision to attend a meeting is based on several factors personal to you, as of now we intend to proceed with the 2020 Section Annual Meeting as scheduled. The ABA and International Law Section are monitoring developments and guidance from a variety of sources, including the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, and U.S. state and local health authorities. We will continue to monitor the situation and take any necessary precautions in accordance with updates and regulations released by State and Federal health authorities. Should a change in the situation necessitate the need to cancel 2020 Section Annual Meeting, information will be posted on the Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on upcoming ABA meetings news page and sent to you at your email address in our records. Your meeting registration fees will be refunded as well.

Network and Knowledge-Building Opportunities

The tropical paradise of Costa Rica, which has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2021, was to have been the setting for the 2020 Americas Conference: Reimagining Corporate Social Responsibility from Wednesday, March 11 to Friday, March 13, 2020, at the Intercontinental Costa Rica in San Jose.  We had planned to gather thought leaders on corporate social responsibility (CSR) to discuss  its future  and  aid attendees  guiding  clients in this incredibly important area.  Topics included B-Corporations, 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 to hear the morning session of Olivares Muñoz et al v. Venezuela and a home hospitality night to get to know our Costa Rican hosts. Unfortunately, it became necessary to cancel the conference due to the Costa Rican government’s release of a COVID-19 elevated risk warning.

CSR issues are critical to our future; we are seeking opportunities to present these discussions to you in different formats throughout the remainder of the year. In the meantime, I want to thank the Conference Co-Chairs, Host/Planning Committee, speakers and sponsors for all of their hard work in  planning  the conference over the past year. This was an extremely difficult decision, but the health and well-being of our attendees, speakers, hosts and sponsors must come first.

Thank you to our Americas Conference: Reimagining Corporate Social Responsibility sponsors: 
LexisNexisBLPFragomen Costa Rica Immigration Services LLC Ltda.Cordero & Cordero AbogadosTaube Law, LLCAriasLatin CounselSferaColegio de Abogados de Costa Rica, and EY Law, S.A..

Join us in the heart of the world’s financial capital for the 2020 Annual Meeting from April 21-24, 2020 at the New York Marriott Downtown. The theme is Empowerment. For the first time, we will be offering a full day of programming on Tuesday, April 21 focused on empowering you in your career and your life, including developing a personal brand, alternative uses of a law degree, personal finance for lawyers, and much more! There will also be more than 70 incredible CLE programs over the next three days covering a broad range of current topics, from energy systems, cybersecurity, shareholder activism, the evolving international commercial courts and global arbitration centers, the changing landscape of the modern global workforce, climate finance, investing in legal cannabis, cross-border mediation under the Singapore Convention and exercising universal jurisdiction over human rights offenders to name just a few. For more information and registration.

Thank you to our 2020 Annual Meeting sponsors, exhibitors and cooperating entities (refer to pages 10-13 for a listing).

Given the information current as of March 10, 2020, the 2020 Annual Meeting in New York will proceed as planned. Early bird deadlines will be extended until March 29, 2020. Cancellations must be made in writing and received by the Section office by April 10, 2020 for a full refund of fees, less a $50 administration fee (reduced from $250).

Dublin at the dawn of summer will be the site for the 2020 EMEA Conference: Law Technology & Innovation from June 17–19, 2020. For those in Africa or looking for an African adventure, I encourage you to attend Africa’s New Era: Investment and Entrepreneurship in Accra, Ghana from August 30–September 1, 2020. Finally, we will welcome in the early days of autumn at the 2020 Los Angeles Fall Conference from September 9-11, 2020 immediately followed by the 2020 Section Leadership Retreat from September 11-13, 2020, both at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Stay tuned for more information and registration links for our summer and fall events.

Overseas Deal of the Year Representation Born at a Section Reception

Profitable personal networks are truly built one contact at a time. Picture this: eighteen months of work and countless hours, antitrust approvals, legal teams in five jurisdictions, court battles and the vigorous opposition of the target company and the controlling shareholder, yet by the end of 2018 the Carey team, led by Francisco Ugarte, had finally managed to successfully close one of the largest-ever M&A deals in Chile, a US$4.1 billion share acquisition of a non-controlling stake in a Chilean listed company by Carey’s Chinese client. And it all started with a toast in Brussels!!  At the ABA SIL Fall Meeting of 2008, at one of the social events, Francisco met an Australian lawyer and fellow wine enthusiast. The two of them chatted for hours about wine and exchanged business cards. Fast forward eight years, when the Australian lawyer contacted Francisco to work as Chilean counsel in an M&A auction in Chile. After four or five months the seller decided to cancel the auction but the Chinese client remained interested in the asset. In late 2017 the client contacted Francisco again and the Carey team managed to close the deal this time — the best Christmas gift of 2018. Thank you ABA SIL! To top it off, the deal was recently awarded “Overseas Deal of the Year” by the China Business Law Journal.

Championing the Rule of Law and Other Cutting Edge Policy Initiatives

In today’s global climate, with uncertainty clouding the political, economic, environmental and public health arenas, the Section’s steadfast focus on threats to the rule of law is a true beacon in the mist. SIL collaborated with the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI) on a recent policy achievement -  ABA President Judy Perry Martinez’s statement on the tenth anniversary of the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer. That statement acknowledges the crucial role that lawyers and legal professionals play in promoting the rule of law and human rights, underscoring the ABA’s commitment to the U.N. Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. It highlights recent attacks on independent lawyers in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey and Poland.

Other policy successes are the House of Delegates’ approval at the ABA Midyear Meeting of two SIL Resolutions – 104A, urging all nations to become party to the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation (also known as the Singapore Mediation Convention) and 104B, a resolution that originated in our International Animal Committee, urging governments to enact laws protecting Military Working Dogs.

Members should also take note of some other important policy statements recently issued by the ABA president. One is the statement in support of the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2020, which can be found here.

The other is a statement on the independence of the judiciary.

Creating Policy Initiatives – Three  Deadlines 

Creating new policy initiatives that address pressing international issues is a key Section function. We aim to produce high quality work, engaging the expertise of relevant committees and fostering opportunities for our younger members to get involved and learn how policies, statements and other actions are formulated and approved in the context of the greater ABA. To accomplish these goals, we have established three deadlines for receipt by Max Trujillo, our Rule of Law Officer, of Rule of Law (ROL) Letter requests, with accompanying ABA President statement drafts and evidence that relevant committees have considered those requests. The deadlines are:

  • For a routine request in respect of an event involving an international issue (such as an upcoming election) the ROL Letter request should be submitted at least ten (10) days in advance of the proposed statement publication date.
  • For a standard request in respect of a scheduled date or activity such as one listed on the Human Rights Calendar the ROL Letter request should be submitted at least thirty (30) days in advance of the date or activity.
  • For truly extraordinary / emergency circumstances involving unforeseen events the Rule of Law Officer must have the request at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance of the proposed publication.

Social Media Focus

Social media has become a key vehicle for communication. The ABA has a new Social Media Policy for its members. It is in our Leadership Portal, but can also be found here. Our Section has an official group on each of the LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter platforms. The list of those official groups can be found here. We also have over 40 additional LinkedIn groups; ABA International has over 28,000 members and most of the others are affiliated with our committees. We have a variety of additional Facebook groups as well. The Section has started to use social media as its primary form of communication. I encourage you to follow and join the Section’s official social media groups to stay abreast of current developments, join groups reflecting your interests, start discussions, broadcast committee activities and like and share posts. The best way to find your committee groups on LinkedIn is to look for “ABA International” or “ABA International II” and the name of the committee.

Meet Our Talented Team of Social Media Volunteers

The Section has an impressive team of three young lawyers helping to broadcast news about our conferences and activities in the LinkedIn committee groups. One is Emily Christiansen, a new Partner at Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP in Pennsylvania who focuses her practice on securities litigation, especially in the international arena. Emily interned at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and also spent two months in India as a foreign legal trainee with a corporate firm. Another is Bart Wasiak, an Associate in the London office of Arnold & Porter, who focuses his practice on representing sovereign States and private sector clients in international arbitration proceedings. Bart has counseled clients in investment treaty arbitrations under the ICSID and UNCITRAL arbitration rules and in ad hoc arbitrations in the energy, banking, mining and shipping sectors. The third is Katelyn Horne, who is an Associate in Arnold & Porter’s Washington, D.C. office. Katelyn concentrates her practice on international arbitration and public international law, representing sovereign States in investment treaty arbitrations and other international disputes. Katelyn served as an Associate Legal Officer to His Excellency Judge Hisashi Owada of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Thank you Emily, Bart and Katelyn for your assistance in generating enthusiasm and promoting Section activities on social media.

Committee Newsletter Showcase

Last year we began to highlight exceptional committee newsletters in Around the Section, to give additional exposure to authors and to provide members from other committees who might not otherwise see those newsletters with a chance to read and enjoy them. This month, we are featuring the January 2020 issue of the Cross-Border Real Estate Committee Newsletter. Whether by coincidence or in anticipation of the 2020 Americas Conference, the newsletter contains three articles on Costa Rican topics – “The New Requirement to Report the Origin of Funds in Real Estate Transactions in Costa Rica,” by Giancarlo Andreoli, “New Rules for Capital Gains on Real Estate Transactions in Costa Rica,” by Vittoria Di Gioacchino and “Would Costa Rica’s Economy, Real Estate Development, and the Agribusiness Industry be Impacted by the Potential Legalization of Cannabis?,” by Andrea Castro. There is also an article from India – “Overview of the Model Tenancy Laws in India,” by Avikshit Moral and an article on the vibrant city of Austin, Texas – “Tech, Tex Mex and No State Income Tax: Why Austin is Becoming a New Foreign Investment Hotbed,” by Emily Morris. The newsletter can be found here.

We also encourage you to take a look at the brand new Food + Ag Newsletter, published March 1, 2020 by the Food and Agriculture Task Force. The articles include “Opportunities in the Cannabis Industry: Peru,” by Fabiana Vittoria, “Identifying the Beyond: Restrictions on Labelling Meat Alternative Products in Canada,” by Denes Rothschild and Danielle Ridout, “Industry Shorts: Around the Globe,” by Susan Burns and “Committee Member Global Travel Notes (and Volunteer Opportunity) on Mushrooming in Bhutan,” by Nicole Cook. The newsletter can be found here.

Membership Survey

Our goal is to meet Section members’ continually evolving needs with new and innovative programming, speaking and networking opportunities, publications and more. You should have recently received a membership survey by email. If not, you can access it here. I urge you to voice your choice in the future of the Section by completing the survey. Also, as a spoiler alert, the survey contains a bonus question concerning a new name for this e-newsletter, with a prize for the winning entry!

ABA International Human Rights Award – Call for Nominations

The ABA is calling for nominations for its annual International Human Rights Award, established to honor and give public recognition to an individual or organization that has made an exceptional contribution to the advancement of human rights outside of the United States. Nominations for the 2020 award are due April 3. Learn more and submit your nomination.

Chatham House Presentation on the New Coronavirus Outbreak

Lane Porter, the Section’s Liaison to the World Health Organization (WHO), has provided a link to a February 26, 2020 video presentation delivered by David Heymann, the Chatham House Distinguished Fellow, Global Health Programme and the former Executive Director, Communicable Disease Cluster for WHO. The presentation is entitled “How Concerning is the New Coronavirus Outbreak?”.

I look forward to seeing you soon, in New York or another exciting Section conference venue.

Lisa Ryan
Chair, International Law Section