BIC Projects

The BIC has engaged in a number of projects to address contemporary issues relevant to bar associations and law societies

Current projects

The project’s principal aim was to help lawyers from Fiji and other South Pacific countries to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on lawyers, through the organisation of a two-day conference co-organised by the BIC and the Fiji Law Society, with the production of a report afterwards. The conference was held in Nadi (Fiji) on 8-9 January 2021, in conjunction with the Fiji Law Society’s delayed annual convention. Please click here for the report.
The United Nations Environment Programme and the IBA (BIC; Academic and Professional Development Committee; Environment, Health and Safety Law Committee) are developing a model curriculum for a continuing legal education programme on environmental law to be built in the national professional development programmes. The model curriculum is borne out of the recognition by the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Bar Association of the critical role of lawyers in the realization of the environmental dimension of sustainable development. While previous United Nations Environment Programme initiatives have focused on equipping Judges, Prosecutors, Customs Officials and Environment enforcement officials with relevant knowledge and skill sets to enforce environmental protection legislation, there have been little or no corresponding initiatives for private legal practitioners. The curriculum therefore seeks to equip practicing lawyers with knowledge and skills to be able to effectively litigate and provide advisory services touching on environmental law. It further seeks to keep lawyers informed of the developments and emerging issues in the field of environmental law. The close consultations with and engagement of the eminent members of the working group will help to ensure the content is responsive to the varied requirements of national bar associations and law societies of the different legal systems and geographic regions globally.

Representatives from the South Pacific Lawyers’ Association (SPLA) had the opportunity to participate in the Fiji Law Society Conference on 6 – 7 September and to meet face to face again after a period of four years. This opportunity has only been possible due to a funding grant from the Bar Issues Commission, which has worked closely with its International Trade and Legal Services Committee and the Fiji Law Society to bring about the Conference, Globalising Your Practice: Opportunities and Challenges.

SPLA was established in 2007 by the IBA in partnership with the Law Council of Australia and the New Zealand Law Society. Its Secretariat has been housed since that time at the Law Council in Canberra. SPLA comprises 16 different South Pacific nations, and due to the huge distances, the cost of transport and the difficulties of communication, coming together is a rarity.

With its strong international speakers from the BIC, the Conference provided sessions beyond the usual reach of continuing legal education programs and updates in the Pacific, with practical sessions outlining, for example, tips for business development and how to work with international law firms and international business clients.

The meeting of SPLA representatives with the BIC representatives enabled a discussion on the issues of most concern to the Pacific, including an assessment of its Strategic Plan 2018-2020, continuing legal education, improved regulation of the legal profession and the global challenges to the independence of Bar Associations. It is hoped that a strong nexus have been forged between the BIC and the SPLA as a result of this Conference and that the work of the BIC became more accessible due to an increased awareness of material available on the IBA website.

The new Ethiopian Leadership which came into power in April 2018 has decided to modernize the legal framework for the lawyer profession, and in the course of doing so to establish a mandatory statutory bar as an independent institution to self-regulate the lawyer profession. This legislative project is part of an effort to build strong institution in order to open society, strengthen the rule of law, and bring more democracy to Ethiopia.

The IBA has had a long-lasting relationship with its member, the Ethiopian Lawyers’ Association (ELA), which plays a key role in organizing the discussion about law and justice reforms in Ethiopia. Senior officers and members of ELA have been mandated by the Federal Attorney General’s Advisory Council for Law & Justice Reform (AC) in August 2018 to draft a statute setting the legal framework for the modernization of the lawyer profession.

The IBA is happy to support the Ethiopian lawyer profession’s efforts to modernize its legal framework, and to establish a statutory bar in order to enable independent regulation of the profession in the public interest.”

After the ‘IBA Policy Guidelines for Training and Education of the Legal Profession Part II Guidelines for Continuing Professional Education’ was adopted by the IBA Council, the BIC was approached by a number of Latin American bar associations to assist them to introduce a mandatory CLE regime as there are currently no such systems in the vast majority of the Latin American jurisdictions. The BIC formed the IBA Latin American Continuing Legal Education Initiative Working Group whose members include the Co-Chair of the Latin American Regional Forum, David Gutierez (Costa Rica); Alessandra Nascimento Mourão (Brazil) and Máximo Bomchil (Argentina).

The Working Group decided to prepare a Latin American Model CLE Curriculum that could be adapted to each individual jurisdiction and will organise events in the region to introduce and propagate the Curriculum to help the local bar association to convince the legal profession regarding the necessity of mandatory CLE. It was also decided that the working group would co-opt Marta Isern, Deputy Director of the Barcelona Bar Association and noted a CLE expert, to prepare the draft Curriculum in both Spanish and English. Marta presented the draft in Buenos Aires at the BIC’s Latin-American Bar Leaders’ Summit in March 2017 and it was received with great interest. The Working Group met again in Belfast in May 2017 and will invite Latin-American bar leaders to join the discussion to select the country where the Curriculum will be introduced to the local legal profession and academics.

This initiative is supported by the PPID Activity Fund.

The BIC has decided to introduce a new international conference series on “Ethics and Professionalism”. The BIC and its International Trade in Legal Services Committee plan to organize the first of the series in Indonesia in February 2020 together with the next event of the BIC well established “Globalizing Your Practice” series. The PERADI, the bar association in Indonesia and IBA council member, will co-host the seminar. The BIC officers (Kimitoshi Yabuki and Steven Richman) will coordinate a session on legal ethics while the ITILS will be in charge of international legal practice. The BIC organized seminars on legal ethics in Vietnam in cooperation with the Vietnam Bar Federation twice, one in Hanoi in December 2017 and one in Ho Chi Minh City in January 2019. The seminar in Indonesia is one of the BIC legal ethics seminar series following these seminars in Vietnam.

Completed projects

The BIC International Trade in Legal Services Committee (BIC ITILS) organised a conference with BIC funding on 9 April 2019 in Costa Rica, addressing opportunities and challenges that local lawyers face from the globalisation of legal services. The Chair of BIC, Péter Köves, gave a welcome address, and the President of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica was the keynote speaker. The programme was modelled on the four successful conferences that the BIC ITILS had previously organised in 2016, 2017, and 2018 in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia and Cambodia, with the focus on helping lawyers in various regions to globalise their practice. Although the content and feedback on it were excellent, attendance in Costa Rica was not as high as it had been in previous conferences, despite a surprisingly high advance registration of over 150 delegates. Lessons have accordingly been learned about the timing and location of future conferences.

The next conference in the series took place in Fiji on 6 and 7 September in Nadi, in conjunction with the annual convention of the Law Society of Fiji. The BIC ITILS aspects have been absorbed into the main themes of the convention, which expects to attract around 320 delegates. The BIC is also paid for attendance and participation by representatives of many jurisdictions making up the South Pacific Lawyers Association, who will hold their own side event at the convention. The Chair and Vice Chair of BIC, Péter Köves and Kimitoshi Yabuki, participated on panels, along with other BIC ITILS experts. The BIC ITILS topics were the following:

  • Major trends in international law practice – how do we compare in Pacific jurisdictions
  • Working with international law firms and international business clients – top tips for business development
  • Alternative dispute resolution through international arbitration and mediation
  • Foreign direct investment: the role of lawyers
  • Globalization and its effect on lawyers practicing in non-global law firms
  • Creation of joint ventures: different forms of international alliances and their benefits

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Following the success of the seminar held in Hanoi on 1 December 2017, the BIC and the Vietnam Bar Federation (VBF) repeated this seminar in Ho Chi Minh City with the support of the PPID Activity Fund. The BIC included the participation of the IBA’s Professional Ethics Committee in this seminar. In early January 2019, Kimitoshi Yabuki, Steven Richman and Shigeji Ishiguro met with senior leadership and other members of the VBF for an all-day program on professional responsibility.

The lasting value of this project will be not only engaging with the VBF, but building a relationship between the Vietnamese legal community and the IBA.

The BIC International Trade in Legal Services Committee, with the support of the PPID Activity Fund, extended the IBA Cross Border Legal Services Database to include a further 61 developing or emerging countries which were not previously covered, bringing the total of countries covered in the database to 146. The second phase of this project focussed on the emergence of regional trade agreements and gathered additional information about regulation around digital trade and restrictions on data traffic which has fed into work by the committee on digital legal services. Data storage and flows are significant for lawyers and whilst privacy and security concerns are highly pertinent, impediments to the free flow of data will increasingly affect lawyers’ ability to work collaboratively across borders.

Click here to access the IBA Cross Border Legal Services Database

The BIC and the IBA Access to Justice and Legal Aid Committee collaborated to develop guidance on best practices in creating a good legal aid system, and as part of this, they held a consultation on access to legal aid in civil, administrative and family justice systems. The purpose of the document is to assist bar associations and law societies to be aware of the issues that must be considered when a legal aid system is established or reformed in their country.

After the a very successful Legal Aid Roundtable in conjunction with the Bar Leaders’ Conference in Belfast, a consultation document was prepared taking into consideration the findings of the Legal Aid Roundtable, and was launched among the Member Organisations of which results  were discussed at a session at the IBA Annual Conference in Sydney. The results were analysed with the assistance of the Bingham Centre and funding from the PPID Activity Fund. The full Guide including Background, Commentaries, Best Practice and Examples was be presented at a session at the Annual Conference in Rome in 2018. The Guide was approved by the IBA Council at the Mid-Year Meeting in 2019.

Click here to access the IBA Guide on Legal Aid Principles in Civil, Administrative and Family Justice Systems

The Bar Issues Commission (BIC) launched its global Covid-19 survey at the beginning of June 2020. By the time it closed, over 50 organisations across the world had responded.

This report contains an overview of the results of that survey. It includes information on the disruption caused to Bars’ operations and finances, the damage done to justice systems and courts internationally, as well as what activities Bars have been undertaking to support their members and wider communities during the pandemic.

The results of the survey and this report will form the basis of a special BIC session at the IBA’s ‘Virtually Together’ 2020 conference, on 25 November.

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The BIC International Trade in Legal Services Committee (BIC ITLS) planned a project, with the support of the PPID Activity Fund, to help Asian lawyers address opportunities and challenges they face from the globalisation of legal services. The BIC ITLS organised a one-day IBA conference on 1 November 2018 in Siem Reap during which a mix of international and regional lawyers trained a group a group of local and regional lawyers. The programme was modelled on the three successful conferences that the BIC ITLS previously organised in 2016, 2017 and 2017/2018 in Zimbabwe and Zambia with the focus of helping African lawyers to globalise their practice.

This conference took place the day before the start of the LawAsia conference in order to be able to attract as many lawyers as possible from Asian countries. The conference focussed on topics such as:

  • the instruments on international trade in legal services and their applicability in Asia
  • the creation of joint ventures at international level
  • how to bid, negotiate and implement mega contracts
  • international sub-contracting
  • how to raise capital in international markets
  • the arbitration of international commercial disputes and
  • trends in law firm management.

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The BIC together with the Association of European Lawyers, with the financial support of the Council of Europe and Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe, held a highly successful conference “ADVOCATES 2018 - Improving the quality of legal services” hosted by the Republican Collegium of Advocates in Almaty on 15-16 June 2018. The PPID Activity Fund funded the travel for the speakers from the Central-Asian Bar Associations. Alongside with the ECA Forum in September, the BIC together with the SPPI will meet with the representatives of the Central-Asian legal professions (national and local bars, representatives of law firms, etc.) separately to discuss further training projects in the region.

Click here for the conference brochure

Since the beginning of 2018, the BIC International Trade in Legal Services Committee (ITILS) has been further developing its work on assisting Bars in dealing with globalisation. In early April 2018 the committee held a joint one and a half day workshop with the Southern African Development Community Lawyers Association in Livingstone, Zambia. Around 120 lawyers attended the workshop from Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Tanzania and Malawi. The Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Zambia attended most of the first day, and they have undertaken to work further with the Law Association of Zambia to make any changes in the Legal Practitioners Act needed to improve the competitive position of Zambian lawyers. This project was funded by the PPID Activity Fund.

Click here for the report on this project

The BIC International Trade in Legal Services (ITILS) Committee sponsored, with funding from the PPID Activity Fund, the preparation of a toolkit of practical information for bars and other competent authorities for domestic lawyer regulation as it relates to international trade in legal services. This includes, for example, models of lawyer cooperation with foreign law firms and other types of legal business, case studies, frequently asked questions, common issues or concerns and transitional options, that bars can use in addressing regulatory issues affecting cross-border legal practice.

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With the support of the PPID Activity Fund, the BIC in coordination with the Vietnam Bar Federation (VBF) organised a free seminar on code of ethics and behaviours of the legal profession in adversarial litigation and consultancy that took place in Hanoi.

On 1 December 2017, Kimitoshi Yabuki, Steven Richman and Shigeji Ishiguro met with senior leadership and other members of the VBF for an all-day program on professional responsibility. The VBF invited the conference since its current Code of Professional Conduct was under discussion by the VBF for improvement and updating. There were significant exchanges with VBF members and the panel, and the IBA team was assured that it would be presented with revised drafts of the VBF ethics code for evaluation and assistance in furthering the modifications. The VBF requested that the IBA assist them in finalising their code of ethics in the future. It was anticipated that further in person exchanges, including in Ho Chi Minh City, would occur to continue the dialog and relationship between the bar associations.

This seminar covered a very important issue for the Vietnamese legal community. The lasting value of this project will be not only engaging with the VBF, but also building a relationship between the Vietnamese legal community and the IBA.

The BIC partnered with the IBA’s African Regional Forum to arrange a conference held in Nyanga, Zimbabwe in November 2016 on ‘Helping Zimbabwe’s lawyers face globalisation’. It was funded by the PPID Activity Fund, organised by the European Lawyers Foundation and the Law Society of Zimbabwe, and attended by over 50 local lawyers. Its focus, after discussion with the Law Society of Zimbabwe, was on those aspects of law and practice which would most help Zimbabwe’s lawyers to ensure that they were able to share in the big ticket legal work following investment in the country. The speakers were all members of the IBA Bar Issues Commission’s International Trade in Legal Services Committee, which has been focusing on these and similar issues.

There was a geographical spread of international speakers: two from other parts of Africa two from Europe, one from North America and one from South America. It was clear from the responses of the speakers and organisers, and most importantly the participants themselves, that the conference was highly relevant to local lawyers’ needs. The BIC International Trade in Legal Services (ITILS) Committee is accordingly considering the possibility of further such conferences in other regions of Africa and the world.

Click here for the report on this project

The BIC received funding from the PPID Activity Fund to organise a conference in Astana, Kazakhstan in October 2016 with the assistance of the European Lawyers Foundation. The title of the conference was titled ‘Stronger when united: New challenges and perspectives’ and was supported by the local hosts, the Republican Collegium of Advocates (the national bar association of Kazakhstan) and the Ministry of Justice of the Kazakh Republic. The theme of the conference followed the successful BIC conference held in Kyiv, Ukraine last year and was agreed between the BIC leadership and the Chairman of the Republican Collegium of Advocates, Anuar Kurmanbaiuly Tugel, at the 2016 Bar Leaders’ Conference in Barcelona.

The conference addressed two of the main issues concerning the justice system and the legal profession in Kazakhstan: it is not necessary to be a regulated lawyer or even have legal education to represent clients in civil and administrative cases before the Kazakh courts and therefore, a large portion of the legal professionals are not members of the bar associations and thus are unregulated. Throughout the conference several questions and comments were made by the more than 100 attendees and the conference was welcomed as almost the first opportunity to discuss these issues. This conference addresses the advantages of regulated professionals in judicial procedure, which concerns a universal problem in all post-Soviet countries.

The BIC was proud that both conferences seem to bring some immediate positive results. In Ukraine the law was changed in line with the proposition of the Kyiv conference and in Kazakhstan negotiations started between the regulated and non-regulated legal profession.

Click here for the report on this project

The BIC and the IBA Human Rights Institute (HRI) received funding from the PPID Activity Fund for the revision of the book, ‘Benchmarking Bar Associations,’ which was first published in 2003 and focussed solely on Africa. The revised edition is a fully international publication of ‘Benchmarking Bar Associations’ written to provide an ‘industry’ standard handbook on model aspects of a bar association or law society. This book is aimed not only at developing Bars, but all Bars, providing detailed information on key aspects of large, well organised bar associations, and covering both the regulatory and voluntary organisations.

Led by BIC Officer, Norville Connolly, this project has utilised the same author, Nusrat Chagtai, who completed the original version. In researching for this edition, various IBA entities have been contacted to contribute their expertise in updating chapters. The BIC also consulted Bars around the world to include case studies with a view to launching ‘Benchmarking Bar Associations’ in Washington at the 2016 IBA Annual Conference.

To access ‘Benchmarking Bar Associations’, click here

The BIC Regulation Committee, with the support of the PPID Activity Fund, created a directory which compiled a list of organisations that are responsible for regulating the legal profession around the world. This comprehensive directory is useful for bars who wish to check on the qualifications or disciplinary records of lawyers from other countries and for lawyers and law firms interested in cross border working.

The directory divides the regulatory functions governing legal practice into three stages: Admission, practice and discipline. It also indicates the body responsible for each function and how it may be contacted. Where possible, links to the relevant organisations’ websites are also included.

The research has was prepared by Hook International and the online directory was launched online by the IBA web team in June 2016.

To access the directory, click here

The BIC received funding from the PPID Activity Fund for this three-phase project, led by Jonathan Goldsmith and strongly supported by BIC Vice Chair, Péter Köves.

Phase one involved a small steering committee of representatives from the partners in this project visiting the Ukraine to speak to the Ukrainian National Bar Association, and other important stakeholders, such as the Ukrainian government and the European Commission’s office in the Ukraine. The aim was to establish exactly what kind of programme would be most beneficial and would add the best value, which programme would fit in with other programmes being run for the improvement of the legal system in Ukraine, and how the programme could be best delivered.

Phase two involved a policy discussion with the relevant stakeholders in Ukraine, which was chaired by IBA Vice President, Martin Šolc, with Péter Köves participating as a speaker.

Phase three, the final phase of this project, involved the completion of a report on recommendations for advancing the quality of legal services in Ukraine with rapporteurs on each topic.

To access the report, please click here