August 30, 2018 ILN

Chair's Column

By Steven M. Richman

This will be my last column in International Law News as Section Chair, and I want to take the opportunity to talk about our conferences. The focus on corporate social responsibility, and the fusion of aspects of public and private law, was a theme that hopefully will persist in our programming, policy, publications, and projects. We are all human rights lawyers, and those in private practice must be attentive not only to soft law considerations but also to actual hard law, as disclosure statutes, contract obligations, and corporate mission statements are now accommodating human rights.

ABA Paris Sessions. At the Paris Sessions, June 7–10, the Section of International Law presented a program on ethical issues relating to corporate social responsibility and the role that lawyers in private practice can, and should, play. I moderated a panel that included representation from the Law Society of England and Wales, LexisNexis, and Debevoise. This remains a core component of the Section’s position within the ABA, not just to host its own conferences but also to participate in meaningful and substantive ways in broader ABA events. We continued such discussions at the Distinguished Guest roundtables in Chicago at the ABA Annual Meeting.

Life Sciences Conference. Immediately after Paris, the Section held its first specialty conference devoted to life sciences in Copenhagen. Two former Section Chairs, Lisa Savitt and Mike Burke, participated on a closing plenary that I moderated on corporate social responsibility in the life sciences. ABA President Hilarie Bass attended, as did former ABA Secretary and former American Bar Foundation Fellows President Cara Lee Neville. Not only did we hold an important conference in Scandinavia where we have had active members in the past, but also we strengthened our ties with the academic community, with a strong contingent of attendees and speakers from St. Louis University Law School, led by our International Contracts Committee Co-Chair Dean William Johnson.

Canadian Bar. I represented the Section at a Canadian Bar Association partners’ roundtable discussion on artificial intelligence and ethical issues for law firms, held in Toronto on June 20.

Chile. I also represented the Section along with Marcos Rios and Fernando Jamarne on a bar leader visit to Santiago, Chile, where we had not been for over a decade, to thank the Chilean law firms for their sponsorship in New York and continued support for Section activities. Among other things, we responded to a request from the Justice Minister to provide certain information related to monitoring of U.S. lawsuits in which the U.S. State and Justice Departments are involved. We also met with deans of several law schools and in a managing partner roundtable, discussed changes in the provision and delivery of legal services.

Puerto Rico. We also fulfilled a long-standing promise to engage in Puerto Rico, where Max Trujillo and I represented the Section, with tremendous assistance by former Inter-American Bar Association President Carlos López López. We met with the chief judge of the federal district court, as well as members of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, and senior leaders of the Puerto Rico Bar Association.

ABA Annual Meeting. At the ABA Annual Meeting in August, we hosted leaders from international bars and our bar colleagues from around the world to discuss issues of mutual interest, such as cross-border ethics, artificial intelligence, the delivery of legal services, and issues affecting women lawyers, among other topics.

ABA Membership Model. As various constituent entities within the American Bar Association continue to broaden their activities in the international arena, the Section continues to position itself as the principal member section devoted exclusively to issues of international law. We have reached out to various sections and other ABA stakeholders to coordinate activity and make our expertise and resources available. This needs to continue. Similarly, as the ABA embarks upon a new membership model, the Section must adapt. This will entail careful examination and restructuring of our Section calendar and events and looking for opportunities to partner on a greater basis with entities both within and beyond the ABA.

In this last Chair message from me, I thank all of you in the Section for making this a rewarding year. Thank you to the volunteers on our Executive and Administration Committees and on our Council and our staff for all they do.

It has been a privilege and honor to serve, and I look forward to continuing to advance the work of the Section as a Delegate in the ABA House of Delegates and as a representative of the Association to the Union Internationale des Avocats (International Association of Lawyers), as well as a member of the ABA Representatives and Observers to the United Nations Committee.

All best wishes to the incoming team of officers. And to all our members, this has been about you, so thank all of you for your participation.


Steven M. Richman

Chair, ABA Section of International Law

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.