Notes from the International Bar Association 2017 Sydney annual conference

~ by N Cansin Karga Giritli, doctoral candidate, School of Law This year I won an International Bar Association (IBA) essay competition to attend the IBA Annual Conference in Sydney between 8 - 13 October 2017. My article ‘Balancing Interests in the EU Data Ecosystem’, won the IBA’s ‘Intellectual Property, Communications and Technology Law' section of the contest.

IBA is the world’s leading legal organisation. It has more than 80,000 individual members and is active in over 160 countries. As a leading legal organisation, the IBA is quite influential in the development of international law and in the legal profession. Given its mission and objectives, and besides its other scholarship programmes, each year the IBA holds an essay writing competition for young lawyers. The prize covers waived registration fees and all the travel and accommodation expenses for the annual conference.

Sydney - International Convention Centre (ICC)

I arrived in Sydney on 6 October after a twenty-one-hour flight from Glasgow via Dubai.  The conference took place at ICC on Darling harbour. I was quite surprised to see the IBA flags all over the harbour and Pyrmont Bridge and took that as an indication of the scale of the coming event.

Organisation and Sessions

There were around 4,000 lawyers at the conference and the organisation was incredible, with a huge support crew working for our benefit. After the opening ceremony, we were taken from the ICC by ferry to Luna Park and during this short trip, we had the opportunity to enjoy Sydney’s evening view, the landmark Opera House and fireworks. When we arrived at Luna Park, we discovered the whole of the park was closed for us with various attractions in different locations and, of course, with delicious food and unlimited drinks!

The high level of organisation was also reflected in the calibre of the speakers, with individuals such as Hon George Brandis QC (Attorney General of Australia), Susan Kiefel (Chief Justice of Australia), Michael Froman (former US Trade Representative) and the Hon John Winston Howard OM AC (former Prime Minister of Australia) giving speeches and attending interviews.

The conference programme included areas such as the future trends of law and the legal profession. Subjects of interest discussed in the sessions of the Intellectual Property, Communications and Technology Law Section were artificial intelligence, robotics and Blockchain. Most of the speakers/panellists were industry experts (e.g. from IBM, Microsoft, Uber, TripAdvisor) rather than lawyers, as the aim was to provide different perspectives to the mostly legal professional audience with interactive discussions.

Social events

As well as knowledge sharing, there was an emphasis on networking at the conference. Most of the sections/committees organised breakfasts, lunches and dinners and they were the platforms for meeting the leading professionals in your area of interest. Also some chambers in Sydney kindly welcomed us to their offices and I got the chance to visit 5 Wentworth Chambers (the longest established chambers in Sydney). I met some of the barristers working in the field of Intellectual Property Law and discussed some hot topics with them.

You can think of an IBA Annual Conference as a marathon, as you need to keep going throughout the week.  There are up to seven different parties every night thrown by big international law firms (e.g. CMS, White & Case, Peters & Peters) which give an opportunity to network and to make new connections.

Closing remarks

I should admit that the conference was slightly intimidating for a young lawyer, considering that almost all the delegates were partners. But overall, it was an amazing opportunity. IBA is a career-changing organisation for lawyers and I am so lucky that I could be the part of it in the early years of my career. It was also a pleasure to represent the School of Law there. I was so proud to say that I am a PhD student at the University of Glasgow and had the privilege of coming from a well-known and reputable institution.

I would personally like to thank my supervisors, Prof Tom Guthrie and Prof Mark Furse, for supporting me through the article-writing process, Dickon Copsey (College Employability) for his advice, and my lovely husband, Matthew Ahmet Giritli for his patience, continuous support and brilliant ideas.

University of Glasgow Law Postgraduate Conference, 1 June 2018

RebLaw Scotland 2017