President’s plans for 2017 - 2018

The great American lawyer and legislator Daniel Webster once said

“ The law has honored us; may we honor it ”

During my term as IBA President, I want to emphasize the critical role of lawyers in civil society, in creating the Rule of Law in every aspect of life, big and small. Not only in major human rights work: every transaction we undertake, every dispute we resolve, builds the Rule of Law and binds us together. With this in mind, the priorities for my term of office are as follows:

The Future of Legal Services

A Task Force will be established to address anticipated dramatic changes in the manner in which legal services are provided (eg due to use of artificial intelligence and the impact new technologies will have on client needs and behaviour). The Task Force will explore steps to be taken by the regulators, law firms in order to prepare for such changes. I plan to encourage the participation of all the IBA entities in exploring and addressing these challenges and to compile resources to be made available to IBA members to assist them in facing the issues that will define our profession moving forward.


Security of data is a growing issue of concern to law firms and their clients, and is becoming a more significant issue in the management of a practice. Hacking and cyber-criminality are reaching new levels of activity and sophistication, and network security is only as strong as its weakest link. The evidence from such attacks is that law firms and individual lawyers must implement high standards not only for the deployment of technology but also for the organisational processes by which they run their businesses. I will establish a Task Force to produce a set a recommended minimum professional standards and guidelines, applicable to any practitioner worldwide, which can be followed to help protect from breaches of data security, give clients the best possible assurances, and thereby to help protect the reputation of the profession.

Judicial Integrity

I plan to give continuity and to support the IBA Judicial Integrity Initiative launched by my predecessor. The Task Force will focus on a certification of compliance with certain standards and measures that reduce the likelihood of practices that undermine the effectiveness and legitimacy of the judicial process.

Digital Hub

The IBA will continue to develop a new line of its operations enabling those who cannot attend events in person to participate online in the life of the Association. At the same time, the IBA will carry on expanding its offering of multimedia content, serving both its membership and the general public around the world.

Raising the IBA public profile

The IBA will continue to raise its international profile, in order to receive more coverage in international media as the global voice of the legal profession on cutting edge issues. The media and protocol functions within the London office will be strengthened to help achieve this. The IBA should also strengthen its relationships with key international and regional organisations, such as the UN, WTO, ICC, EU and World Bank, as well as with national ministries and agencies in significant jurisdictions such as the BRICS countries. Meetings and delegations with these organisations and countries will be a focus.

Regional Young Lawyers Discussion Group

Over the past 18 months, the IBA and the CEELI Institute in Prague have jointly sponsored this project, which has brought together a diverse group of young lawyers from the Middle East for a series of three-day meetings, during which participants met, came to know one another, and employed communication techniques that enabled them to speak honestly, exchange views, examine applicable principles of international law, and jointly explore difficult, emotional issues affecting Israel and Palestine.

During my presidency, the work of this project will continue in various ways while respecting the privacy of those participating.

Raising the IBA public profile

The IBA will develop a presentation tool available to lawyers, which will explain to lay audiences the reasons for and the principles of the Rule of Law. There will also be a booklet created with the purpose to outline a basic training for those individual who presenting with this tool, which will assist them in answering frequently asked questions.

Climate Change Justice and Human Rights

The report of the President’s Task Force on Climate Change Justice and Human Rights (/PresidentialTaskForceClimateChangeJustice2014Report.aspx) has provided critical and ground-breaking recommendations to deal with the legal effects of climate change. My intention is to support the existing Working Groups (on model statute of remedies and on adaptation report) to finalise the pending projects by and present the results at the 2017 IBA Annual Conference, taking place in Sydney.

Ongoing Priorities:

  • Continue to integrate in-house counsel into the activities of the IBA through a restructured Corporate Counsel Forum and through the opportunities presented through the LPD, SPPI, HRI, regional fora and BIC programmes.
  • Encourage gender and geographic diversity within all IBA divisions, committees, entities and leadership.
  • Continue to work towards attracting Bar Associations that are not yet IBA members, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Asia
  • To increase the IBA’s outreach to younger members and potential members such as law school students, and to encourage the Committees to launch more scholarship initiatives. The IBA should continue to emphasize its development of the distance learning programmes.
  • Increase the benefits, customer services and value for money offered to our members by the Association. In 2017-18 the IBA will work with selected bar associations to sponsor young lawyers from developing countries to attend the Annual Conferences in Sydney and Rome.
  • Through the work of the Human Rights Institute and the Rule of Law Forum, continue to promote the rule of law, provide technical legal assistance and protect the independence of the profession.
  • Work to gain outside funding for the HRI Charitable Trust and to continue to gain outside funding for the support of the IBA’s outreach programme.
  • Continue to conduct an extensive and focused membership campaign.
  • Improve the image of the legal profession by enhancing the image of the IBA.
  • Continue to offer the extensive programme of high-quality, self-funding specialised conferences, and the high-quality committee sessions at the Annual Conference.
  • Continue to improve the service to our Group Member law firms and provide a fresh programme for the Annual Summit in June as well as for the Women’s Group Members’ Leadership Summit in March.
  • Continue to work to maintain the Association’s strong financial position through diversifying revenue streams and controlling costs.
  • Continue to increase the quality and content of both the IBA’s printed and electronic media.

Martin Šolc
IBA President