Securing conference a serious coup
The IBA is effectively the global voice for the legal profession, and has over 50,000 members worldwide. With more than 5,000 delegates registered for the conference, that’s an impressive attendance rate of over 10 per cent. While a special daily rate is available to Irish lawyers for the last three days of the conference, overseas visitors will have paid a total weekly registration fee in excess of €2,000, not to mention the cost of flights and accommodation. What is it about the IBA annual conference that draws lawyers in such numbers?
It depends. “Some come to broaden their knowledge of the practice of law in other jurisdictions,” he explains. This category of delegate comes to listen, to learn and to debate, and there’s certainly no shortage of opportunity for this. Over the course of the week, more than 200 sessions, lectures and other events will take place.
While Greene will be too busy to attend all the events he would like to, there are several highlights he’s determined to squeeze in. He’s looking forward to CNN anchor Todd Benjamin’s interview of Patricia O’Brien, United Nations legal counsel, today.
On Thursday, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Prof Muhammad Yunus will be talking about micro-finance, while on Friday Mary Robinson will give a lecture on justice in the context of climate change. (And if all goes according to plan, another highlight for Greene will be his election as chair of the IBA’s legal practices division during the week.)
“Then you have some governments and corporations that send some of their legal staff to the conference to help them understand best practice worldwide,” he adds.
Other lawyers attend the conference primarily to network and obtain referrals from legal firms in other jurisdictions. To this end, more than 1,500 networking meetings and receptions will take place over the coming days, hosted mainly by overseas law firms. Greene says that one firm alone is holding at least 120 such meetings, and has even taken out office space for that purpose.
So how has he found the experience of spearheading such a mammoth event? “It’s been extraordinarily enriching and rewarding,” he says. “I’m having great fun.”