Letter from NARF Chair – September 2022

Monday 5 September 2022

Kelli Sager

Davis Wright Tremaine, Los Angeles; Chair, IBA North American Regional Forum

My term as Chair of the IBA North American Regional Forum (NARF) will conclude at the end of this year, almost a full decade after I was appointed to the NARF officer slate as its Secretary, in 2013. My friend and former NARF officer Laura Christa first introduced me to NARF; she had long been involved with the Forum and recommended me for an officer position after I’d been coming to IBA conferences for a few years. We sadly lost Laura to cancer in 2018, but I think of her often and always will be grateful to her for getting me involved with NARF.

During the last ten years, I have come to know many lawyers from Canada and Mexico, as well as lawyers in the United States, whose practices cover a wide spectrum. Because most of them have different practice areas from mine, I would not have had any occasion to meet them without our mutual association with NARF. (Of course, there have been countless other lawyers, judges and legal professionals from all over the world that I have enjoyed meeting as well, at IBA conferences and events.) The IBA has provided many opportunities for me to learn from and share information with lawyers from other countries over the years ‒ including participating in a debate about individual privacy rights at the IBA Annual Conference in Auckland, engaging in a panel discussion at the Seoul Conference about different countries’ laws concerning so-called ‘format’ protections for television programmes, and many other programmes and panels over the years.

The IBA Annual Conferences also have provided a chance to engage in an endless array of social events in whatever city the Conference happened to be in – whether it was viewing the breath-taking art displayed at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, or the hilarity of seeing otherwise staid lawyers enjoying the rides at Luna Park in Sydney. But the highlights of the annual conferences for me have been re-connecting with people my husband and I have met over the years, many of whom have become good friends.

All of these benefits of participating in the IBA would provide enough of a rationale for me to recommend it to my colleagues and friends, but there is another ‒ the important function this organisation serves in bringing lawyers across the globe together to promote the Rule of Law. Now, more than ever, that commonality and shared goal serves a critical purpose, as the world faces climate change, pandemics and terrorism, among other global challenges. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of the organisation as one of the NARF officers.

In my previous Chair’s column, published in the April 2022 NARF newsletter, I described some of the programmes that NARF will be leading or supporting at this year’s IBA Annual Conference, Miami (30 October – 4 November). Some of the topics that will be addressed in NARF’s programmes are also the subject of articles appearing in this autumn’s NARF newsletter. These include timely articles on environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in the world of private equity; the future of psychoactive cannabinoid products; and the challenges of addressing financial losses by web-based businesses. This digital issue also includes a fascinating interview with Michael Maya, Director of the IBA North America office in Washington, DC and IBA liaison to NARF. I am grateful to Michael for all his assistance with NARF projects over the years, and to author Manuela de la Helguera for her time and effort spent in preparing this fascinating profile. I encourage everyone to read the newsletter and to join the NARF officers for the very interesting programmes that NARF will be presenting at the IBA Annual Conference.

NARF also will be hosting a lunch for members and other interested attendees, which will take place on Monday, 31 October 2022. We are delighted that NARF’s keynote speaker this year will be Roger Martella, the Head of Sustainability at GE, who will discuss hot topics surrounding ESG and answer questions from the audience. Stay tuned too for details of the NARF social event, which is being planned for Thursday 3 November!

I am leaving NARF in the capable hands of Fernando Eraña, who has been nominated to succeed me as Chair on 1 January 2023. He and the other NARF officers are looking ahead already to some great conferences next year, including a redux of its Silicon Beach Conference, which will take place in Santa Monica, California on 23–24 January 2023. More information will be available soon about this popular programme, which focuses on tech- and digital-oriented businesses and the legal issues that they face. NARF also will be co-hosting a conference on ESG issues in New York City in late February 2023, and planning is beginning for another joint NARF/LARF sponsored ‘America’s Conference’ for the end of next year.

If you are interested in getting more involved in NARF, or have questions about the NARF programmes, social events, or newsletter, please reach out to any of our current officers.