Executive Director's Report

Global Goals

Program Supports Exchanging Legal Ideas on an International Level

Posted Feb 25, 2005 10:22 PM CDT
By Robert A. Stein

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Inspired by the notion that a worldwide exchange of legal ideas and programs would lead to a heightened level of global understanding, the ABA House of Delegates created ILEX in 1968. The goal of enhanced international understanding has motivated ILEX’s programs ever since and has stimulat­ed many new projects in response to emerging global issues.

Inspired by the notion that a worldwide exchange of legal ideas and programs would lead to a heightened level of global understanding, the ABA House of Delegates created ILEX in 1968. The goal of enhanced international understanding has motivated ILEX’s programs ever since and has stimulated many new projects in response to emerging global issues.

The most recent ILEX program, a highly successful briefing trip and symposium held Jan. 23-28 in London and Paris, brought together U.S. and European leaders of the legal profession to examine issues of international commercial dispute resolution. The invitation-only delegation, led by International Law Section Chair Kenneth B. Reisenfeld of Washington, D.C., included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer and ABA President Robert J. Grey Jr. I was also privileged to participate in this delegation.

The delegation met with senior officials of the House of Lords and the Royal Courts of Justice, the Inns of Court, the Palais de Justice, the French Ministry of Justice, the London Court of International Arbitration and the International Chamber of Commerce, as well as with leading judges, barristers, avocats, and world-renowned experts in international dispute resolution.

Cooperative partners in this exceptional program were the Law Society of England and Wales, the Bar Council of England and Wales, the Ordre des Avocats à la Cour de Paris (Paris Bar Association), and the International Bar Association. The briefing trip combined private sessions with open roundtable discussions on emerging issues in international litigation, arbitration and ADR, including:

• The increasing convergence and interplay between litigation and arbitration in civil-code and common-law countries.

• Experiences with parallel proceedings, both between arbitration panels and the courts, and between the courts of several countries.

• Prospects for the creation of an appellate mechanism in large commercial arbitration disputes.

• Prospects for a supreme court in England and Wales to replace the House of Lords as the court of last resort.

Reaching the Top

Since its inception, ILEX has arranged numerous such briefing trips throughout the world. One of the most valuable aspects of the ILEX exchange is the access it enables participants to have with top government officials, business leaders and leaders of the legal profession to examine the legal environment and business community in each country.

The ILEX country briefing trips for legal professionals provide participants with firsthand knowledge of the legal and judicial systems of the particular host country or region, often focusing on trade and investment issues. In addition to providing a unique opportunity for delegation members to interact with legal, business and governmental leaders of the countries visited, these trips also provide opportunities to develop personal and professional contacts throughout the world. ILEX organizes these trips in coordination with the government or bar association of the host country, specifically drawing on the expertise of section members.

ILEX also has other exchange programs, including a program for foreign lawyers, judges and scholars to meet with legal professionals in the United States. As a U.S. government-designated sponsor, the ILEX program certifies foreign lawyers’ eligibility for exchange visitor status under the J-1 visa. The American Bar Association also facilitates the issuance of J-1 visas for international lawyers who have been invited here to receive practical training at U.S. law firms and legal offices.

ILEX also arranges meetings for prominent international lawyers, judges and scholars with ABA staff and legal professionals in the States. This service allows international legal professionals to learn about the U.S. legal system and particular areas of U.S. jurisprudence, as well as the role and function of the ABA.

ILEX has established an excellent record of service to the ABA, the legal profession, the U.S. government, international organizations and foreign bar associations. For more information, please contact the section’s outstanding staff director, Leanne Pfautz, at 202-662-1661 or via e-mail at pfautzl@staff.abanet.org.

The American Bar Association’s international activities have grown exponentially in the past 10 years. The ABA is a leader in advancing the rule of law around the world. One of the earliest ABA in­ter­national programs is the Section of International Law’s International Legal Exchange Program.

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