About 800 people, the bulk of them lawyers, attended the weekend’s Inter-Pacific Bar Association’s 27th annual meeting and conference.
The conference was held at the SkyCity Convention Centre in central Auckland, and provided an invaluable opportunity for New Zealand lawyers to meet with commercial lawyers from over 50 countries.
The chair of the organising committee, Denis McNamara, says global issues in the new environment following last year’s United States election and the British people’s decision to leave the European Union were at the forefront of the sessions.
“Phil O’Reilly talked on business in New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific in the new Trump-dominated world,” he says.
Asked what was the most interesting part of that session Mr McNamara said, “Basically, we don’t know what’s happening.”
“The TPP is now dead, so we talked generally about New Zealand’s place in the world. Brexit for example, what is going to happen when the UK leaves the EU.”
New Zealand Law Society Executive Director Christine Grice attended along with President Kathryn Beck and Bronwyn Jones, who was on the organising committee.
“I enjoyed the session on IT, a panel of speakers about how IT was being used in the various jurisdictions and what’s around the corner, which was an excellent session. The one on shareholders agreements was also very useful,” says Ms Grice.
“The IT session was extremely interesting because of what is allowed in the jurisdictions, for instance in India, until very recently, law firms haven’t been allowed to have websites because it breached the rules on advertising. So, they’re very conservative despite the sub-continent being one of the centres for the back-end for a lot of international law firms for processing various legal things, and for research.
“It was very constructive and it was quite amazing the number of people from different jurisdictions including quite a few from South America, and from Asia and Europe. Countries like the Philippines and others around the region were well represented,” she says.
Mr McNamara says the social side of the conference was excellent, with a welcome reception, a gala dinner with “a group of extremely talented New Zealand acrobats from a Cirque du soleil-type circus” and a farewell party at the ANZ Viaducts Events Centre.
There was also the traditional golf tournament that attracted about 40 competitors with Huen Wong, the former president of the IPBA from Hong Kong, winning the trophy. The conference also provided the opportunity for separate interest groups to meet. The Women in Business lawyer’s reception was particularly well attended with an address by Dame Susan Devoy.