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IBA Annual Conference 2019, Seoul ‘I know that I know nothing’: lessons to lawyers

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Thursday 26 September 2019

Introduction: Do I know that I know nothing?

The first commandment of Eduardo Couture’s ‘The Lawyer's Commandments’ states: ‘1st) Study. The law is constantly transformed. If you don't follow in its footsteps, you'll be a little less lawyer every day’. Practitioner lawyers face this challenge every day. With a lot on their daily schedules, it is hard enough for attorneys to deliver to their clients. Let alone keeping updated and studying law. Therefore, together with the Young Lawyer’s committee, the Academic and Professional Development Committee thought that having a discussion on how Universities and attorneys may face and succeed with challenge could be valuable

This discussion was moderated by:

Bruno Maggi  Brazil (bmaggi@kmma.com.br)

Sebastian Ramos  Uruguay (sramos@ferrere.com)

The panellists were:

Adekubi Ogunde Nigeria (kunbi@wemimoogundeandco.com)

Francisco Esparraga  Australia (francisco.esparraga@nd.edu.au)

Yoon Hee Kim  South Korea (yhekim@shinkim.com)

Morton Herschderfer  Australia (mherschderfer@collaw.edu.au)

Section A: Challenging cultural barriers and traditional approaches

The speakers discussed the necessary skills to approach and deal with clients in different jurisdictions, mostly when cultures are very different. This can become a cultural barrier which must be overcome.

Equally, they discussed how the interaction among young and more experienced lawyers can solve new problems, merging traditional approaches with disruptive ones.

According to research carried out by the State Bar of Texas, the failure to communicate is the second most common complaint made by clients (http://www.texasbarcle.com/Materials/Events/8208/111351_01.pdf). Rethinking methods for getting in touch with clients is crucial, especially on topics regarding technical information that clients usually don´t understand.

Adekubi Ogunde and Yoon Hee Kim shared their experiences of dealing with clients from different jurisdictions and concluded that it is very important to know and understand your client’s culture, because this will help the attorney communicate better with your client and provide them a more satisfactory outcome.

Section B: What are law firms and law schools doing?

The speakers discussed what law firms and universities are doing to provide legal education to attorneys, as well as the programmes and courses they are offering, and approaches they are taking, to help attorneys continue to be updated.

Francisco Esparraga and Mortion Herschderfer told the audience about the different workshops and curricula their respective law schools are providing to law students, in order to give them an ‘almost’ real experience of dealing with clients and supervisors. Esparraga also highlighted the importance of ethics in dealing both with clients and with your colleagues.

Section C: How to balance the specific knowledge with the broad perspective needed to solve the current complex legal cases.

The speakers discussed the paradox of being increasingly specialised in determined areas of practice and, at the same time, having a broader view of Law and the commercial and strategical aspects of clients’ projects.

The background/inspiration for this discussion was Steve Jobs’ famous quote:

‘In college, I decided to take a calligraphy class. It was beautiful. Historical. Artistically subtle in a way that science can´t capture. None of this has any hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh Computer, it all came back to me, and we designed it all into the Mac’.

The challenge discussed by the panellists was that many lawyers tend to focus only on understanding case law and regulation, but do not consider other factors, such as cultural differences, which may be critical for a case.

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