August 21, 2018 ILN

Chair's Column

By Steven M. Richman

Conferences are an opportunity to implement our mission of promotion of the Rule of Law, of education of and contribution to the international legal community, as well as outreach to places where we do not regularly go. Rule of Law, or more particularly, stability and respect for judicial process, remains essential to international business and the well-being of the international community. Our conferences continue to contribute to that, particularly through their quality of content, interactions, and broader impacts.

Annual Conference. We had a successful Section Annual Conference in April 17–21 in New York City, as well as our pre-conference Section Retreat in Princeton, New Jersey, and our post-conference ABA Day at the United Nations. The opening plenary, with world-class speakers involved in matters of reconciling the rule of law and management of global risk, resonated throughout the conference. Some of its themes were picked up by Dr. Daniel Ellsberg in his keynote at Thursday’s luncheon. At Friday’s luncheon, attendees—particularly those from outside the U.S. legal system—gained insights into how the Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York, and a federal bankruptcy judge, address issues of international and foreign law.

No one wanted to leave the Rainbow Room on Wednesday night until the lights kept flashing. The Bryant Park Grill, in the heart of the heart of New York City, pulsated with myriad conversations to conclude the conference, after which many attendees went to the after-hours location to dance the night away. In between, the agenda packed in a day of skills training across disciplines, a Pathways program, committee meetings, participation by our international partners—the International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA) and the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA)—in presenting panels, and scores of panels addressing cutting-edge issues, from bitcoins to cybersecurity to humanitarian crises.

Singapore Conference. The Singapore conference is designed to be part of the ILEX visit to Jakarta and as part of presence in Southeast Asia. Focused on investor state arbitration, the Singapore conference is a beginning of a longer conversation among practitioners, businesses, government officials, and scholars to improve investor-state arbitration at a time when it has been the subject of debate, but its value to global commerce remains vital. It is also an opportunity to network with others from within the region.

South Africa Conference. The regional conference in Cape Town will fulfill a commitment to our Africa Committee and is part of the philosophy of maintaining a presence on that continent. It will focus on issues related to anti-bribery, ADR/arbitration, climate change, human rights, risk management, and more.

Copenhagen Conference. The Section has long had significant participation from Scandinavian attorneys, and the choice of a conference in Europe to be in Copenhagen is an effort to restore that participation. In consultation with the local bar, the subject matter for the conference is life sciences. The life science sector is amongst the fastest growing sectors, both economically and technically. The Section’s life sciences conference in Europe will cover anticipated legal issues related to intellectual property, data protection, technologies, and litigation.

ABA Paris Sessions. Still to come are the Section’s panel and participation at the Paris Sessions commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We will focus on the continuing theme of corporate social responsibility and the fusion of public and private lawyers in the area of human rights.

ABA Annual Conference. We are also preparing for the ABA Annual Meeting in August in Chicago. The Section will organize and host the ABA’s meetings with our distinguished guests from around the world in our annual roundtable, covering a variety of topics of current interest to the organized bar.

The Section’s value, though, is more than the sum of its conferences. We often focus on conferences from the logistical standpoint, but it is important to note their broader political, economic, and social values. We rely on our committee work and the Section’s overall mission to promote the Rule of Law. These visits and conferences must be seen as the beginning, or continuation, of a longer conversation that involves practitioners, businesses, government officials, and the organized bar as we pursue the Section’s mission to offer assistance and training to, as well as learn from, each other across our areas of jurisdictions.

You are welcome to join us at our upcoming conferences and in advancing the Rule of Law. Every Section member, every individual who contributes to our committees, is part of that effort, and you are all to be recognized. You are the Section and the Section’s achievements are your achievements. We look forward to having you involved in the year ahead and seeing you again soon.

Steven M. Richman is a Partner at Clark Hill PLC, where he practices domestic and international commercial law, and is Chair of the ABA Section of International Law 2017–2018.