July 01, 2018 ILN

Meet Incoming Vice Chair Joseph L. Raia

What attracted you to business litigation and dispute resolution as key focus areas of your international legal practice?

Strategic planning and advocacy. Assimilating the facts, evaluating the law, and developing a strategy designed to achieve client goals are the work of the advocate. The process is challenging, energizing, and fun. And then there is the oral advocacy–the performance art–the adrenaline rush.

What are some key considerations and challenges for legal practitioners and their clients in today’s global marketplace?

These are disruptive times. Multiple forces are pushing back against free trade and open borders, even international conventions and agreements. Yet, business isn’t going to stop crossing borders. Goods, services, and people will continue to move in international commerce in pursuit of lower costs, expanding markets, and other opportunities. Now more than ever, strategic planning must take account of the international rules of the game and whether they are being honored. Where do you want to resolve disputes, not just geographically but also whether in court or arbitration? If arbitration is the method, which arbitral tribunal will work best for you? How do you plan to bring your counter party within the jurisdiction of the tribunal you’ve selected? What amount of time will be required before you begin the court proceedings or dispute resolution process? If you obtain an award, how are you going to enforce it across borders? These are not afterthoughts. They deserve serious consideration and planning at the beginning.


How did you get involved in international law?

I am a Miami lawyer, and international work follows the many people who come here. If you know the law, see the issues, and do the work, then international law will find you.

As the Secretary/Operations Officer, what are some of your responsibilities?

Every Section officer shares the same goals of keeping the Section on the track set out in the Strategic Plan and of supporting the leadership of the Chair and the work of the Vice Chair and Chair-Elect. I serve as the Secretary/Operations Officer. Section bylaws describe the role as, “the Chair’s principal deputy for the internal operations of the Section.” Consequently, the Chair shapes the role. The Secretary serves on the Administration Committee (the governing body of the Section) and on the Executive Committee (which manages operations when the Administration Committee is not in session). Consequently, the Secretary can have a voice in all Section operations. And, most fun of all, the Secretary prepares the minutes of the meetings of the Administration and Executive Committees and of the Council.

What have been some interesting projects that you enjoyed as a Section Officer?

I have assisted in updating the Section’s bylaws, and I participated in the development of the Section’s Strategic Plan and now the strategic communications plan. The strategic communications plan is the final component of the Section’s new Strategic Plan. It includes how the Section might improve its messaging and leveraging of social media. A principal goal of mine for this year is to help the Section adopt a strategic communications plan that will direct more effective communication of our Section’s mission, purpose, and accomplishments, to our members, the big ABA, and the broader international community.

What do you see ahead for the Section and its members?

The Section will continue to move forward, and it is great to be part of the excellent work being done by its members, committees, and leaders in practicing the art of international law, advocating for the Rule of Law, and building a network of like-minded international professionals.

Joseph L. Raia is a shareholder at Gunster and is the ABA Section of International Law Secretary/Operations Officer for 2017–2018. He will be the Section Vice Chair for 2018–2019.