North American Regional Forum – April 2022 – From the Chair

Tuesday 26 April 2022

Kelli Sager
Davis Wright Tremaine, Los Angeles

It is hard to believe that more than two years have gone by since the Covid-19 pandemic first began to take hold. Just as we were collectively feeling the effects of the pandemic’s recession in many regions, the shocking attack on Ukraine by Russia has caused further devastating loss of life and a widespread refugee crisis. These events have served to highlight the vital functions served by the IBA, including its framework for an international community with a shared belief in the rule of law. And although modern technology allows us to stay in touch in ways that would not have been possible even a decade ago, in-person gatherings with friends and colleagues from other countries – which are so important to fostering cross-border cooperation and mutual understanding – have been sorely missed. This year’s IBA Annual Conference, taking place from 30 October to 4 November in Miami, is therefore particularly relevant. The conference presents a welcome opportunity to connect in person with colleagues from across the globe.

While the North American Regional Form (NARF) has been actively engaged in virtual programming and monthly virtual officer meetings over the last two years, we were especially delighted to partner with the Latin American Regional Forum to co-host the first annual (and physical) ‘America’s Conference’ in early December 2021. Hundreds of attendees welcomed the ability to meet in person in Miami for the event, which focused on ‘Deals, Disputes and Law Firm Growth Areas in the Americas’, and boasted everything from panel discussions to ‘speed-dating’ tables. Given the resounding success of the conference, NARF and LARF are discussing a redux in December 2022.

In the meantime, we look forward to seeing our IBA colleagues in Miami this autumn. Because the 2022 Annual Conference will be in North America, NARF has been given the opportunity to lead several sessions, as well as participate in programmes led by other committees. NARF’s sessions will include its flagship session, ‘Sleepless in the C Suite: What’s Keeping Your Global Client Up in 2022?’ This session will feature a group of senior in-house counsel discussing the key issues they are facing, including trade and supply chain issues, Covid-19, privacy and how to best utilise law firm resources. This session always draws a standing-room-only crowd, so come early for a good seat!

The Forum will also be presenting a panel discussion regarding the burgeoning cannabis industry and the resulting legal issues, in a session titled ‘Growth Industry: Why Law Firms Have Embraced Cannabis as a New Practice Area’. At an IBA conference in 2016 the Forum presciently hosted the first panel discussion on cannabis – what was then a brand-new industry. Six years later, law firms across the region have embraced cannabis practice groups, so practitioners should not miss the opportunity to learn how changes in the law are affecting this ‘growth’ area.

Another very timely topic that will be addressed in NARF’s Miami programme is the intersection between individual privacy and freedom of expression, as its panel delves into ‘The Growing Conflict in the Digital World’. The IBA Human Rights Institute, Media Law Committee and Technology Law Committee are joining with NARF in presenting an up-to-date discussion of this rapidly changing area of the law, which affects lawyers and their clients in every part of the world. 

In addition to these three NARF-led programs, the Forum also will be joining other committees and regional fora in presenting several other sessions at the IBA Annual Conference, which will be detailed in the Final Programme, and NARF will again be hosting a luncheon and evening social event. Stay tuned for more details!

In the meantime, we encourage anyone interested in getting more involved in the Forum, or anyone who has comments or questions about NARF programmes, social events or newsletter, to reach out to any of our current officers (link here).

We hope to see you in Miami!