From the Executive Director - December 2010
Welcoming the brightest and best of the next generation
It has long been a dream of mine to include and involve the brightest and best law students around the world in the work of the International Bar Association. So it was with enormous pleasure that we announced in November the launch of student membership, for the first time in the Association’s history. It is, I believe, one of the most important steps the Association has taken, because students of the law have the potential to provide such an important partnership with us.
In many ways this is simply a natural extension of the Association’s work and reach. While our membership is – and will always be – most characterised by leaders in the profession, whether in private practice, corporations, academia, or on the bench, there are of course leaders in each generation. It seems more relevant than ever to introduce those of the younger generation to the ideas, issues and practical challenges of international and cross-border law while they are still studying.
Student membership includes a number of benefits and opportunities. First, it allows access to the large and ever-growing online resources of expert knowledge contained in the papers, speeches, video-content and websites of our committees, conferences and publications. Second, it enables students to contribute to and publish their own articles in a student newsletter, or on the website. You can see some of these online already, on subjects ranging from summary adjudication in international arbitration to the interpretation of proportionality in international criminal courts.
Third, it encourages students to raise and discuss issues with one another through online platforms, building an international network with other like-minded students across the globe. Fourth, it enables student members to build their resumes by taking part in online writing and advocacy competitions, by putting themselves forward for student officer positions, or helping with the work and research of our senior committees. We see student membership perhaps above all as an opportunity for the bright young enthusiasts of the law to bridge the gap between their academic legal education and their future professional practice, helping to prepare them better by broadening their education and establishing contacts at an early stage.
‘Our focus on education, which has always been one of the IBA's most important endeavours, will continue to develop’
As part of our launch, we have entered into a new partnership with the International Law Students Association (ILSA). An exciting element of this partnership will be to bring us close involvement with the renowned Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the world’s largest legal advocacy contest. Each year this competition engages students from over 550 leading law schools in over 80 countries. Their interest in international law makes them natural partners, and we hope that our involvement will encourage many of these students to take up our offer of IBA membership.
As with becoming a full member of the IBA, student membership is accessible through our website, and is available at the nominal cost of £20 a year. We hope that those of you who know or work with talented young law students – perhaps in your own family! – will encourage them to join. This launch coincides with a second exciting development in our education programmes for younger lawyers, in this case particularly for those in their law graduate and associate years. Our online LLM, conducted in partnership with the College of Law of England and Wales, has grown in the few years since its launch to become one of Europe’s largest LLM programmes. Its distinctive emphasis on practical learning – on aspects of commercial law from M&A to arbitration to intellectual property – in modules with content developed and enhanced by contributions from some of the world’s leading law firms, has proved especially popular. This success suggested the potential to also offer this LLM as a full time course based in London, and we are introducing the first of these, starting in January 2011. The number of students already signed up to take part in this first run of the full time LLM is an encouraging early indication that it may come to emulate its online counterpart.
In ways like these, we will keep working to ensure that our focus on education, which has always been one of the IBA’s most important endeavours, will continue to develop, equipping lawyers of all age groups to be better informed and prepared to deal with the complex and everevolving issues of cross-border work and practice and, of course, enabling us to strengthen further our contribution to the needs of our clients.
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