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Some thoughts on IBA

IBA consists of over 80,000 individual lawyers representing some of the world’s most prominent law firms as well as 190 bar associations and law societies spanning across 170-plus countries

Some thoughts on IBA

The International Bar Association (IBA) stands as a venerable institution that has indelibly influenced the global legal landscape since its establishment in 1947. This organization, with a mission rooted in the preservation and advancement of the rule of law on a worldwide scale, serves as a unifying force for legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies across the globe.

The IBA has traversed a remarkable journey over the past 75 years, evolving from an association primarily of bar associations and law societies to one that now includes individual international lawyers and entire law firms as active members. Today, it boasts an extensive and diverse membership of over 80,000 individual lawyers representing some of the world’s most prominent law firms. Additionally, it includes approximately 190 bar associations and law societies spanning across more than 170 countries.

Chief strength of the IBA lies in its extensive expertise and the support it extends to the global legal community. Through its vast and diverse membership base, IBA wields significant influence in shaping international legal reforms and the future of the legal profession on a global scale. This influence permeates not only policy development but also the broader legal discourse, shaping the legal world’s trajectory.

My engagement with IBA’s programs over the past decade attests to my unwavering commitment to personal and professional growth in the legal field. These initiatives encompass a broad spectrum of activities, including seminars, conferences, workshops and potentially educational courses, all designed to enrich the knowledge and skills of legal practitioners.

The cornerstone of IBA’s seminars and conferences is to provide a profound academic dimension to the lives of professional lawyers. This dimension is vital, as it forms the basis on which their legal expertise is built. Lawyers are not just practitioners of the law; they are also highly academic individuals, who need to possess a deep understanding of the legal theories, principles and doctrines that underpin their practice.

Legal landscape is a dynamic realm where IBA has emerged as a pivotal institution, serving as a beacon of educational enlightenment for legal professionals. The IBA’s seminars and conferences are thoughtfully designed and meticulously curated to cater to the unique academic and intellectual needs of lawyers. These events offer a platform for the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences, bringing together legal experts, scholars and practitioners from around the world.

Recently, IBA concluded its annual conference for 2023 in Paris. However, there are areas where IBA can improve and continue to be a trailblazer in the legal community.

IBA functions as a mediator in numerous international disputes, amplifying its influence on a global scale. The question that naturally arises is: Why doesn’t the association further leverage its considerable influence?

I would like to ask IBA President Almudena Arpón de Mendívil Aldama to enhance the experience of its members in several significant ways. Firstly, IBA can provide its members with tools that evoke a sense of pride and recognition within the association. This might include the issuance of official ID cards or badges, which not only serve as symbols of membership but also make members more easily recognizable at IBA events, fostering a stronger sense of community and facilitating networking.

Furthermore, there is a pressing issue concerning IBA members, who encounter challenges when attempting to secure visas for international travel, especially for attending IBA conferences. It is disheartening to witness instances where members have permission to attend these prestigious events, but bureaucratic visa procedures in host nations stand as insurmountable barriers. The IBA could leverage its diplomatic influence and efforts to facilitate the visa application process for its members, ensuring their seamless participation in IBA conferences and global legal discussions.

IBA can further contribute to the professional growth of its members by assisting those who wish to pursue additional courses from international universities. This could involve forging partnerships with universities, securing scholarships or tuition discounts and offering guidance to members on selecting suitable courses to enhance their legal expertise. Lawyers and legal professionals require continuous academic growth and professional development to navigate the complexities of the legal landscape effectively. IBA can facilitate this by offering high-quality educational programs, legal resources and platforms for knowledge sharing.

The question of whether the IBA should incline toward commercialization or steadfastly uphold its core values is a matter of considerable importance. Presently, there is a perception among some members that IBA might be straying from its original purpose. This concern arises from the observation that the association imposes substantial membership fees, with a significant portion of these funds seemingly directed toward what some consider extravagant expenditures, such as organizing events in luxury hotels and incurring excessive expenses for participants.

IBA should also broaden its perspective to encompass social and human rights issues. The legal profession holds a pivotal role in advocating for justice and human rights, and the IBA, with its global reach, can be a significant force for positive change in this regard. By actively engaging with social and human rights causes, it can fulfill its broader responsibilities to society.

Hence, the leadership of the IBA should play a crucial role in steering the organization in the right direction. It should consider the concerns of its members and work collaboratively to ensure that the association’s resources are used wisely and in alignment with its core values.

The author is a member of the Supreme Court Bar and has been practicing corporate law for around three decades. He is also a personal member of IBA