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International law conference to explore global collaboration

An upcoming international law conference will not only cover important topics like global collaboration and foreign litigation, but – perhaps more importantly – the event will offer participants the chance to network with counsel from other jurisdictions, says co-chairperson Nikiforos Iatrou.

The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Section of International Law is presenting its 2014 North America Forum Nov. 17-18 in Vancouver, B.C. The conference has been divided into two “tracks,” called Collaborating Globally and Doing Business Within the Region, with five panels to be presented under each theme.

“From my point of view, the most valuable thing to be pulled from a meeting like this is the opportunity to meet international colleagues,” says Iatrou, partner with WeirFoulds LLP in Toronto.  “It gives participants the opportunity to meet in person with counsel from other jurisdictions. Frequently, lawyers are called upon to help clients find a lawyer in other jurisdictions, or they encounter an issue in another jurisdiction, and meetings like this allow people to create those in-person bonds that they later tap for information or they turn to as a resource.”

But, of course, there’s also learning to be done, says Iatrou, noting no lawyer wants to be "on the phone to the insurer because an issue was missed involving a foreign jurisdiction, whether it is at the deal stage or the litigation stage.”

The conference will cover off topics like cross-border ethics in a digital age; global litigation and connections to Canada; the challenges of defending foreign litigation; litigation in offshore jurisdictions; developing the energy trade between North America and Asia and more.

This year marks the introduction of the ABA’s regional forums format, says Iatrou.

“Historically there were two large meetings per year, and this is the first time trying this model,” he says. “What it’s designed to do is to bring together both practitioners from North America who generally work in business law and deal with cross-border issues and also attract international lawyers whose clients do business with the region.”

By organizing the event with a regional focus and broad topics, says Iatrou, the goal is to gather more participants.

One stand-out panel for Iatrou is called Offshore Tips for Onshore Lawyers: Litigation and Arbitrating Disputes in the Caribbean, and takes place under the Collaborating Globally track.

“This very interesting panel will act as a good example for how business lawyers in North America end up encountering cases that involve offshore jurisdictions,” he says. “Often there’s money locked away in offshore jurisdictions and we’ve got panelists from the Caribbean and North America who practice in the Caribbean talking about how to approach cases like that, which, for a lot of people, is very foreign territory.”

Iatrou says, “Overall, a lot of the panels acknowledge the international aspects of doing business and of litigating.” The conference speaks to new issues litigators are facing today, he adds.

“What we’re finding increasingly, specifically in business law, is the days of having neat, tidy commercial cases that just affect one group of people in one jurisdiction are gone,” he says. “With companies setting up shop and doing business in foreign countries or shipping their products all over the world, there are litigation risks and regulatory compliance obligations that they need to think about that maybe they weren’t thinking about 15 years ago.”

To learn more about the conference, or to register, visit the event website.

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