Letter From The President Of The International Bar Association

2004-10-01 01:00

To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

As President of the International Bar Association (IBA), I am delighted to share with you a new development at the IBA with regards to corporate counsel.

The IBA has a long and vibrant history since its founding in New York City in 1947. Its traditional work has been in encouraging developments in international cross-border commercial law and in protecting the rule of law and the independence of judges and lawyers around the globe. However, our more recent activities targeted to international in-house counsel have energized and expanded our work in this key segment of the legal profession.

Currently, the IBA is in the process of restructuring and has included within the new structure a corporate counsel only platform. The Corporate Counsel Forum (CCF) will come into full force in October 2004 at the IBA Annual Meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, and membership will be open exclusively to in-house counsel. IBA corporate counsel members will decide which events will be open solely to corporate counsel, and which will take advantage of the unique mixture of international private practitioners and corporate counsel within the IBA.

The aim of the CCF is to build a 'home' for corporate counsel within the IBA that provides unique and practical value to international corporate counsel. Its development is led by its Co-Chairs, Jan Eijsbouts, General Counsel, Akzo Nobel, nv, the Netherlands and Alberto Gonzalez-Pita, newly named General Counsel of Tyson Foods, Arkansas, USA. CCF Officers, together with the Corporate Counsel Advisory Board, comprised of leading international corporate counsel, which assist the CCF, have identified the following fundamental strengths of the IBA in relation to the needs of corporate counsel:

  • a truly global reach;
  • the unrivalled ability to interact with sophisticated, international private practitioners;
  • the opportunity to elevate the status of the profession and of in-house counsel through the showcasing of best practices for in-house attorneys;
  • an ability to be outward looking, while including interaction with private practitioners by invitation; and
  • a structure to interact with and influence governments and regulators on significant issues impacting the profession.

Part of the role of the CCF is to develop and support mutually beneficial strategic alliances with other in-house counsel associations, create a world-class CCF magazine, launch substantive projects addressing the needs of in-house counsel, continue its annual Conference for international corporate counsel (to be held in 2005 from 23-25 February in Amsterdam) and expand its series of industry specific General Counsel Roundtables.

Already, two invitation-only General Counsel Roundtables have been held, during which leading senior counsel of London, European and New York-based investment banks discussed the 'new' responsibility for banks after Enron and Parmalat; recent initiatives of the U.S. and Europe in managing conflicts of interest; the definition of 'legal risk' under the new Basle II Capital Accord; and responses to the growing divide between the regulation of financial services by the European Union and the United States. Additional Roundtables are planned for 2005.

As the IBA continues to grow in Asia and Latin America, we are looking to build strong ties with professional organizations in these regions. We are building long-term relationships and strengthening our ties with the Company Lawyers Association of New Zealand, the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association, the Shanghai In-house Counsel Forum, the Hong Kong Corporate Counsel Association and the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association. In addition, we are utilizing our traditional strength in North America to attract new general counsel members, and have initiated discussions with the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) to create greater value for corporate counsel in all parts of the world.

I encourage you to learn more about the IBA by visiting www.ibanet.org and attending one of our Annual or specialist Conferences. Active participation in the IBA through your support of our substantive projects and activities targeted to in-house counsel will bring value to your company and your role as in-house legal advisor. It will also contribute to our on-going efforts to improve the profession.


Ambassador Emilio J. Cárdenas