Annual Meeting 2011

The ABA and Canadian Bar Put Their Special Relationship into Writing

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The U.S. and Canada share perhaps the longest unguarded border of any two countries in the world, running from the Atlantic Ocean across the North American continent. There is an arch spanning one of the many border crossings in sight of the Pacific Ocean south of Vancouver. A message is printed on that arch: “Children of a common mother.”

If that message characterizes the relationship between the U.S. and Canada, it also describes the relationship between the legal communities of the two countries, said leaders of the ABA and the Canadian Bar Association at a special ceremony held today to commemorate that bond. The ABA is holding its 2011 annual meeting in Toronto through Tuesday.

“We share common values, common history, a special relationship,” ABA President Stephen N. Zack said. “That relationship is based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. Our people are really one people.”

At the ceremony, Zack and his counterpart from the Canadian Bar Association, Rodney Snow of Whitehorse, Yukon, signed an agreement committing the two bars to closer cooperation, information exchanges and other joint efforts.

“One of the things we have for sure is a common legal heritage” stemming from the common law and democratic traditions both countries inherited from Britain, Snow said. “This agreement will help build on that.”

Zack, who is administrative partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner in Miami, said the ABA and CBA have a long-standing and close working relationship. “But sometimes things that are known are worth putting on paper,” he said.

Among the dignitaries attending the signing ceremony was Beverley McLachlin, the chief justice of Canada. Speaking later on Saturday at the ABA’s Opening Assembly, Justice McLachlin noted that there are differences between the two countries and their legal systems. The United States gained independence in a revolution, she said, while “Canada became a nation by evolution,” and still has close bonds with Britain. “But we share a common commitment to the rule of law based on the foundation of an independent judiciary.”

On Sunday, the ABA will formalize a cooperation agreement with the Korean Bar Association. Zack said that agreement marks a relationship between the two bars that has blossomed in recent years, especially after South Korea opened its legal market to foreign lawyers.

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