New Zealand Law Society - Ten good reasons for spending a very long time on a plane

Ten good reasons for spending a very long time on a plane

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

Jeremy Valentine addressing the crowd
Jeremy Valentine, ILANZ Committee member and Vice President of ICW, announcing that the ICW World Summit in 2020 will be held in New Zealand. Photo: Monique de St. Croix, Canada

Anyone who has sat in an economy class seat on a long-haul flight will appreciate that the glamour of international travel is fleeting. So, in these days of videoconferencing, webinars and podcasts is there still value in attending an international conference? Having just returned from the joint Canadian Corporate Counsel Association (CCCA) Conference and In-house Counsel Worldwide (ICW) World Summit, the answer for me is a resounding "yes" and here are 10 reasons why.

1. Over the course of four days, I gathered information on a range of jurisdictions that would have taken a lot longer if I had been cruising the internet. Some of this information included things I had specifically set out to find (for example, progress with the implementation of a competency framework for in-house counsel in Singapore) whilst some was accidentally discovered along the way. I heard about new legislation that is currently in train in Canada which prohibits prospective employers from asking for ‘current salary’ information from job applicants. It is hoped this will lead to people being paid what they are worth and reduce the perpetuation of gender pay discrepancies.

2. When you discover something new – whether in a presentation or in casual conversation, there’s time to quiz the source or gauge the reaction of those who have a deep understanding of the topic. Who better to talk to about the impact of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) than the ICW President Nina Barakzai who is also the head of Data Protection and Privacy for Sky in the United Kingdom.

3. There’s a chance to hear different perspectives on issues. Who knew that in-house lawyers were the Jiminy Crickets of the corporate world? That’s according to Philippe Coen, who, given the metaphor, is rather aptly legal counsel for Disney in Paris. Mr Coen and his fellow panel members kept us riveted with their observations on the universal competencies of technological knowledge, business acumen and understanding the role of the legal department in the context of a business or organisation. Their advice included: spending 5% of your time focusing on what’s new; ensuring that new technology was being pursued to meet a need rather than for its own sake and “cool factor”; and not forgetting the basics – what value are you adding?

4. There’s time for some reflection and big thinking. A powerful film (I Am Jane Doe) and subsequent discussion on the night before the conference proper began, stayed with many of us over the course of the conference. With a focus on the sexual exploitation of children and teenagers, the film examines the role of a website business that along with a second hand goods service, ran a booming business advertising for the “escort” industry and provided advertising for underage victims who were enslaved sex workers. The film follows the efforts of some of those victims, their families and legal counsel to hold the business to account. Questions about the ethical and moral obligations of the business's in-house counsel (the main spokesperson and therefore defender of their stance) and what one reviewer described as “the courts seemingly endless capacity for denial of the law’s real-world consequences” made for some interesting discussion.

5. There’s the ability to learn from others. We have so much in common with our international counterparts. The conference covered innovation, building blocks for in-house counsel, digital marketing, trade agreements, the role of the board in ensuring business integrity cybersecurity, big data, whistleblowing, dispute resolution and ethics. It is valuable to hear different cultural perspectives of and solutions for the same issues. There is no need for us to grapple with problems alone when we can collaborate with and learn from our in-house colleagues from around the globe.

6. There is the chance to be inspired. At the end of the conference, the CCCA held ‘The Pitch’. This was a slick offering where LegalTech start-ups from around the globe pitched their ideas to a panel of discerning judges. The finalists included legal tech solutions for billing, mass-discovery and fast patents. The coveted prize was worth over $100,000 and included some time in Silicon Valley.

7. There is the chance to discover some new resource material to support our day-to-day work. For anyone who wants to take a deep dive into design thinking, I can now recommend the resource material available on the Vanderbilt University Law School website.

8. There is the opportunity to build and cement relationships with international colleagues from different jurisdictions. Every lawyer knows that the key to getting things done is through building strong relationships with those you need to deliver with. A day of face-to-face meetings with ICW counterparts sustains and supports the late night or early morning teleconferences that suffice for both our committee representative and me in between and allow for work on projects of joint interest to continue.

9. There is the opportunity to share our ideas to help build the in-house profession everywhere. Many are curious about the way we do things in New Zealand and want to learn from us. During my time in Toronto, I got to meet with the board of the CCCA and share how we run our satellite networks and discuss the commonalities and differences for them. That discussion got me thinking about some new ways we could work to connect ILANZ members here.

10. And then there’s seeing the benefit of international relationships. I was very proud to be present as Jeremy Valentine, ILANZ Committee member and Vice President of ICW, announced to the conference that the ICW World Summit in 2020 will be held in New Zealand. Not only does this mean that we get to showcase our wonderful corner of the world, we also provide the opportunity for many of us to have the experience I and my fellow ILANZ representatives enjoyed in Toronto – all without that need to spend a very long time on a plane.

Gabrielle O’Brien gabrielle.o’ is Executive Manager of the In-house Lawyers’ Association of New Zealand (ILANZ), a section of the New Zealand Law Society.

Lawyer Listing for Bots