Already an IBA member? Sign in for a better website experience

Message from Peter Koves, BIC Chair, January 2020

Peter Koves Dear BIC Friends,

I would like to share with you some of the BIC’s achievements and successful projects from 2019.

2019 in focus

The BIC was able to provide an opportunity for our Member Organisations to discuss the IBA Reform and Strategic Planning Processes, and together we were able to provide valuable input to both initiatives. The BIC continues to support both processes and is dedicated to implementing each measure, which has and will result from them. We will strongly co-operate with the other IBA Constituents in these efforts.

The IBA Annual Conference, held in Seoul, was an outstanding success for all divisions of the IBA, with the BIC making a significant contribution to the programme and receiving excellent feedback on its sessions.

In 2019 the BIC’s own activities were also very successful. The BIC’s conference series (which are now built into the BIC Budget with the great help of Carola van den Bruinhorst, IBA Treasurer, and Lucie Risley, IBA Finance Director) are going from strength to strength. The “Globalising Your Practice” series held two extremely successful conferences in Costa Rica and Fiji. The Fiji conference was the main attraction of the Annual Conference of the Fiji Law Society, which was attended by more than 200 lawyers. The keynote speaker at the opening of the conference was the President of Fiji, whose presence represented a major step towards ending the fractious relationship that has existed between the Fiji Law Society and the government. The conference was widely publicised in the Fijian press. Alongside the conference, the BIC was able to assemble the executive body of the South Pacific Lawyers’ Association, which hasn’t met in the last 5 years. There they were able to discuss their plans for the future, which the BIC will assist in implementing.

In September 2019, Dr George Artley joined the IBA’s London office in the newly created role of BIC Project Lawyer. In the 14 years since its creation, the work of the BIC has expanded steadily to encompass a wide range of activities. Today these include capacity-building projects with emerging bars, pioneering conferences in international trade and legal services, and legal research on contemporary global challenges facing our profession, amongst others.

The purpose of George’s role is to act as both a project manager and a conduit, able to oversee and coordinate the successful delivery of BIC projects, as well as to make sure that members of the BIC are kept up to date on work that is being done, and opportunities for new projects and collaboration as they emerge. He also works in close collaboration with the Head of BIC in London, helping to ensure effective coordination between the administrative and project-focused aspects of the BIC’s work. Please contact George at george.artley@int-bar.org

Climate, environment, and sustainable development have risen to the top of the global agenda in recent years, and the legal profession, like any other, has to respond. Legal education will play a crucial role in this response, something both the IBA and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have recognised. As a result, the IBA (comprising the BIC, Academic and Professional Development Committee, and Environment, Health and Safety Law Committee) have come together with UNEP to develop a model curriculum for continuing legal education in environmental law, one designed to be adapted and delivered at an individual jurisdictional level, which was launched at the end of 2019.

The curriculum covers the knowledge and skills necessary to litigate effectively in, and provide advisory services relating to, environmental law. It also seeks to keep lawyers informed of developments and emerging issues in this field. Following the IBA Council’s endorsement of the curriculum at the Annual Conference in Seoul in September last year, the next step will be to roll it out across three regions: Africa, Asia- Pacific, and Latin America. Volunteers have been found in Africa and Asia, though a pilot bar association from Latin America is still being sought. The next stage of the curriculum’s development will be the subject of a closed session of the Latin American Bar Leaders’ Summit in Cartagena this March.

The BIC, reflecting its growth and development over the past 12 years, has consolidated its position on the IBA Management Board, enabling it to progress in a co-ordinated and structured way to give further service to Member Bars.

In 2020, the BIC ITLS Committee is planning two regular “Globalising Your Practice” conferences, and two extraordinary ones. The regular conferences will be held in Jakarta and most probably Luanda, Angola (we are waiting for the confirmation form the Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association). Jakarta will be the debut of the new BIC conference series “Ethics and Professionalism” which was already piloted in Vietnam. The BIC is also in discussion with the IBA Cuba Initiative to organise an extraordinary conference in Cuba financed by ILAC.

The BIC Policy Committee deserves a special mention. Currently the following projects are in the scope of its work:

  • working group on unregulated legal services;
  • guidelines for bar associations on professional indemnity;
  • guidelines and procedures for drafting and approving IBA resolutions; and
  • challenges presented for legal services regulation by trade negotiations in an era of technological change.

In 2020, the BIC Regulation Committee will remain active in designing and presenting innovative educational programming in the area of professional regulation at the Bar Leaders’ Conference and the IBA Annual Conference. The Committee will present a session entitled “Walking the Tightrope: Just Because It’s Legal, Does That Make It Right?” at the Annual Meeting in Miami.This panel will discuss the extent to which lawyers should take into account public policy and the public interest when giving otherwise lawful and ethical advice. Topics to be addressed will include nondisclosure agreements and tax shelters. The Regulation Committee has also reached out to other BIC Committees presenting on related topics in Miami to offer its support for those sessions.

The Committee will collaborate with relevant IBA staff relating to the regulatory implications of the recent IBA report on Anti- Bullying and Harassment in the profession. The new Chair of the Committee and the immediate Past Chair have discussed with IBA Policy Staff how the Committee can help. This project will commence in February 2020.

The BIC is now planning a 5th Latin American Bar Leaders’ Summit on 24th - 25th March in Cartagena, Colombia. The closed meeting will concentrate on Model Environmental Law Curriculum discussions: it will be conducted in Spanish and a Spanish version of the model curriculum will be circulated in advance. The open plenary session will focus on the role of media in the independence of the legal profession.

The BIC holds an Annual Bar Leaders’ Conference each year alongside the Mid-Year Meetings. 2020 is an anniversary year for the Annual Bar Leaders’ Conference, and the BIC Leadership together with our host bar association is planning to organise a very special event for our BIC members. The sessions will be dedicated to the history of the previous Bar Leaders’ Conferences and the future of the legal profession the same time.

A special Gala Dinner for the attendees will be held at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, and all guests attending the Anniversary Gala Dinner will be presented with a small token to commemorate the fond memories of the previous 14 events.

How can you engage with the BIC?

Attending a conference – from the 15th Anniversary Bar Leaders’ Conference in Vilnius in May, to the regional conferences in Indonesia and Africa, and the IBA Annual Conference in Miami, we hope there will be an opportunity to see you in person. This 15th Anniversary Bar Leaders’ Conference will give an opportunity to look back to topics addressed in sessions at the previous 14 Bar Leaders’ conferences such as: the independence of the legal profession and bar associations, bar associations as guardians of the rule of law, core values and lawyers’ ethical rules, the role of the bars in training, and bar associations in crisis situations, an assessment of what changes have taken place, whether those problems have been solved, and what could happen in the future.

Signing up for our “Mentor programme”. The Annual Conference Buddy/Mentor programme was developed to match long-standing IBA delegates (referred to as Buddies or Mentors) with new attendees to the IBA Annual Conference in order to guide and support them in navigating the diverse variety of outstanding sessions and events available. This programme facilitates communication between new attendees and Buddies/Mentors to organise meetings during, and in advance of, the conference. Buddies/Mentors signed onto the programme are asked to dedicate a portion of their time to share their experience of how to prepare for an IBA Annual Conference with new attendees. The programme was first piloted at the IBA Annual Conference in Seoul (2019). The Diversity and Inclusion Council is taking the programme forward through its Annual Conference Buddy/Mentor Working Group.

Asking for assistance and letting us know your issues. Please do not hesitate to contact BIC Officers or me should your Bar Association or Law Society be facing issues of concern.

Working with the IBA more widely on consultations, such as Guidelines developed by the BIC’s Policy Committee, taking part in the work or panels of our specialist committees, or assisting our Human Rights Institute. Additionally, if you have a project idea for the BIC, we encourage you to connect with us and share your thoughts.

Please contact Diana Kharchenko for further information at diana.kharchenko@int-bar.org.

The BIC would like to lead the discussions within the IBA about the core issues troubling the legal profession, whether it is a threat to diminish the core values of the legal profession, or any regulatory issue creating concerns at any forum within the IBA, be it a Council meeting, Presidential Task Force, or other venue.

I look forward immensely to working with you all in 2020.

Best wishes,

Peter Koves

Chair, Bar Issues Commission