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Message from Kimitoshi Yabuki, BIC Chair, January 2021

Kimitoshi Yabuki Dear BIC Friends,

It is my privilege and sincere honour to wish you each a Happy New Year in my capacity as Chair of the Bar Issues Commission (BIC) for the next two years. After a very difficult 2020, we are all looking forward to a more promising year in 2021 and beyond. Using this opportunity, I would like to report our goals and team to all of you.

First, we, the BIC, planned to organise our BIC 15th year anniversary in Vilnius in May last year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IBA decided not to hold its Mid-Year Meeting and Annual Conference in 2020. We missed many opportunities to meet and exchange friendship with each other. On the other hand, we joined many web meetings and seminars, and the Annual Conference was implemented online for the first time in IBA history, which attracted enormous numbers of participants and ended up with a great success. The year 2020 would mark an entrance into a new era for the IBA and the BIC.

Second, simultaneously, we, the BIC, have worked with the member bars and law societies to strengthen the IBA as the world association of lawyers and to truly become the “Global Voice of the Legal Profession” through discussions with the other constituents of the IBA over the strategic plan for its future. 2021 will be the first year to implement the strategic plan and we are very much looking forward to continuing to be engaged in these efforts within the IBA.

Third, we, the BIC, would like to render efforts to tackle the problems that civil societies are facing such as COVID-19, judicial independence, global climate change and disasters and judicial corruption. Each of our civil societies in the world suffers from these problems and there are huge tasks to which we, the lawyers’ organisation, are expected to contribute to solving.

Fourth, we, the BIC, also need to work together with our member bars and law societies, on the common issues such as independence of lawyers, lawyers’ wellbeing and mental health and internationalisation of lawyers’ practice.

Moreover, fifth, I feel that we, the BIC, need to assist developing bars to get organised and to protect their independence by way of enhancing our outreach programs, such as holding seminars and meetings with them to listen to their voices. We should not leave any of our member bars and law societies in the world behind.

The BIC has four internal committees: the Policy Committee, the BIC Regulation Committee, the International Trade in Legal Service Committee and the Bar Executives Committee. We, the BIC as one team, will dedicate our best efforts to achieve the aforementioned goals.

Furthermore, joining me are nine experienced and enthusiastic Officers who are also committed to the continuing development of the BIC. I introduce you to them below and invite you to meet them or contact them via our Officer web page:

  • Deborah Enix-Ross is the BIC Senior Vice-Chair and is a past ABA representative on the Council from New York. Deborah is a member of the Management Board and the PPID Steering Group in addition to Chairing the BIC Policy Committee.
  • Ken Murphy is the BIC Junior Vice-Chair, the Director General of the Law Society of Ireland, and the immediate past Co-Chair of the BIC’s Bar Executive Committee. His key responsibilities are to Chair the BIC Nominations Committee, to act as BIC Treasurer, to represent the BIC on the Audit Committee, to serve as the Vice-Chair of the Policy Committee and the BIC representative to the SPPI.
  • Claudia Seibel is a Senior BIC Officer and represents the Deutscher Anwaltverein on the IBA Council. She is the BIC Regional Liaison (Europe) and the Project Liaison Officer.
  • Steven Richman is a Senior BIC Officer and serves as the North American Regional Liaison, the BIC Membership Officer (Credentials Committee member) and the BIC Representative to the LPD.
  • Berit Reiss-Andersen represents the Norwegian Bar Association on the IBA Council. She is the BIC Regional Liaison (Europe) and the HRI Council Liaison Officer.
  • Alberto Navarro is the BIC Regional Liaison (Latin America) and represents the Colegio Publico de Abogados de la Capital Federal on the IBA Council.
  • Tshepo Shabangu represents the Law Society of South Africa on the IBA Council. She is the BIC Regional Liaison (Africa) and the Regional Fora Liaison Officer.
  • Fiona McLeod is a past Council representative of the Law Council of Australia. She is the BIC’s representative to the IBA Diversity Council, BIC Regional Liaison (Australasia), BIC Website and Communications Officer and Liaison to the BIC ITLS Committee.
  • Jonathan Herman represents the Federation of Law Societies of Canada on the IBA Council and is the immediate past Chair of the BIC Regulation Committee. He is the Liaison to the BIC Regulation Committee and assists the North America Regional Liaison.

I would also like to report that George Artley, our BIC Project Lawyer, has assisted us tremendously in various projects together with Sara Carnegie, Director of the Legal Projects. Lastly, we, the BIC, have great staff in the IBA London Office and I always appreciate how Becca Verhagen and Rebecca Ruler have hugely contributed to us.

How can you engage with the BIC?

Attending a conference/webinar – the BIC is excited to be offering the first ever BIC webinar series taking place throughout the year. The BIC leadership is working closely with the London office to plan the logistics of these virtual events and to offer high quality webinar sessions relevant to bar leaders joining us from around the world. Further details will be shared with you as they are confirmed.

Downloading resources or signing up for our Programme for Excellence. Bar Associations in South Africa, India, Japan, Ukraine, Russia and Indonesia are benefitting from assistance and training on matters such as ethics, complaints procedures, anti-corruption and trade in international legal services. Please contact Becca Verhagen for further information at (becca.verhagen@int-bar.org) or see www.ibanet.org/barassociations/BIC-resources.

Asking for assistance and letting us know your issues. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my fellow BIC Officers should your bar association or law society be facing issues of concern.

Working with the IBA more widely on consultations such as on 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.

I am delighted to work with you all in continuing to strengthen the BIC and to coordinate our efforts with the IBA as a whole.

Best wishes,

Kimitoshi Yabuki

Chair, Bar Issues Commission (BIC)