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Society blog

30 Aug 17

A paralegal's tale

Janet Rieu-Clarke, the Law Society’s accredited paralegal, explains the path that led her to new role at the Society and the rationale behind the new accredited paralegal status.

30 Aug 17

A call to vote from John Scott

John Scott QC urges his fellow solicitor advocates to vote for their dedicated representative

29 Aug 17

No globalisation without representation...

Katie Hay discusses the globalisation of the legal market and urges Scottish solicitors working internationally, to get involved

24 Jul 17

Bringing the world to "world-class"

Sarah Sutton, digital communications executive at the Law Society of Scotland, talks about her bright idea to ensure international representation on the Society’s Council

26 Jun 17

The Debate - backstage, front of house and top tips

In this mini-series of blogs, three key players in the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament share their individual perspectives of the event.

19 Jun 17

Got a passion for the profession?

Could one of the 23 current vacancies for 16 different committees be just right for you?

28 Apr 17

Professional Practice - advising the advisers

Scottish solicitors help their clients through some of the most momentous occasions of their lives, personal or professional, good or bad. But where do solicitors turn for support? Prof Prac, that's where.

1 Nov 16

How getting involved in debating can change your life

Head of education Rob Marrs explains how getting involved in debating, whether as competitor or judge, can be incredibly rewarding. And more importantly, he explains how to win a debate.

14 Oct 16

Career development and volunteering at the Law Society of Scotland

If you want to enhance your career, develop your skills or just give back to your profession, there are lots of different personal and professional development opportunities at the Society

4 Oct 16

Going international – a Scots lawyer's week at the IBA

John Morgan, a newly qualified solicitor at Brodies, recently received a scholarship from the International Bar Association to attend its annual conference in Washington DC. He tells of his experience

Society Blog

Going international – a Scots lawyer's week at the IBA

4 Oct 16

John Morgan, a newly qualified solicitor at Brodies, recently received a scholarship from the International Bar Association to attend its annual conference in Washington DC. He tells of his experience

The IBA's conference brings together 6,000 of the world's leading lawyers, and they were kind enough to invite me along too! The sessions are spread over the course of six days, with receptions and parties each evening sponsored by law firms and embassies in the host city. I have to admit that after day 4 I was incredibly tired, but such was my fear of missing out that I pushed myself to receptions each of the last two evenings. Such a sacrifice, I know...

The speakers at the conference were excellent. Each day started with a keynote speech by a senior figure from the US political scene. I found the talk by retired General Colin Powell to be particularly fascinating as he discussed his perspective on the Iraq War and Guantanamo, and the legal influence on each.

After the morning keynote, attendees broke out into specialised sessions. The sessions I attended ranged from the immensely political – in one, we heard former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's very frank views about Jean-Claude Juncker – to the highly technical: a three hour dissection of the international investment law implications of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership. Each kind of session was interesting in its own way, and I was delighted to act as rapporteur for the European Regional Forum on the latter.

I can already see the benefit of the sessions themselves for my own practice. One particularly interesting session was on the different ways mental health is treated under different countries' employment legislation. As an employment lawyer, the differing treatment of the issues in countries as seemingly similar to our own as Denmark, has allowed me to critique the UK system more fully.

Not entirely unglamorous

That said, alongside the knowledge to be gained, the IBA conference also serves as an excellent opportunity to meet peers from all over the world. With this in mind, receptions and parties were spread throughout the outside bars and embassy gardens of Washington each evening. I've never used the Uber app as much in one week as this one, as we darted from event to event. We were very fortunate that there was unseasonably warm weather in DC that week, and so every party seemed to be on a rooftop with views of some monument or ornate federal building. I have to congratulate Thomson Reuters for finding a particularly nice rooftop with swimming pool and hot tub.

The opening and closing ceremonies were another highlight. In the former, held at the National Air & Space Museum and Museum of the American Indian, we heard from IMF head Christine Lagarde, who gave an incredibly spirited speech about the role lawyers (and the rule of law) has to play in the global economy. Having wanted to be an astronomer as a child, getting to walk through the exhibits in the Air & Space Museum was a real treat. The closing ceremony was held at the National Portrait Gallery, my own particular favourite exhibit charting the input of African Americans on the musical culture of the USA.

Cultural exchange

I understand that given recent political events, it may seem that the rapid pace of globalisation over the last 30 years could reverse. While it is too early to tell, it's clear that the UK's (and Scotland's) strength is its position as a heavyweight in world trade. For a junior lawyer, having experience of international networks and an appreciation of other cultures from an early stage will be important. The IBA encourages this alongside the development of international specialisms, and is an organisation I would wholeheartedly recommend other junior lawyers from Scotland get involved in. The scholarship applications open in late summer each year, so keep your eyes open.

On the whole, my time in Washington was a great education. The friendships made and knowledge gained will hopefully stand me in good stead in future and, if nothing else, it means I now have sofas to stay on in some interesting cities!

John Morgan is a newly qualified solicitor in Brodies LLP's employment team. He is currently on secondment to a large financial services institution. He sits on the Law Society of Scotland's Public Policy Committee and regularly contributes to the Law Society's trainee and NQ blogs.


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Blog archive

9 Nov 17

Mergers and markets

After the Maclays-Dentons merger, what now for the independent Scottish legal firm?

9 Oct 17

For the greater good

The profession should support those who attempt to improve the lot of the most vulnerable

11 Sep 17

Brexit and the legal order

Government recognition of the need to continue civil judicial cooperation with EU countries after Brexit is welcome, but how can it exclude the involvement of the CJEU?

7 Aug 17

Taking access to justice seriously

The House of Lords decision on employment tribunal fees elevates this constitutional principle

10 Jul 17

Advance of the courts

There is momentum behind civil procedure reform, and practitioners need to be alert to have their say

12 Jun 17

Defend our rights

Don't sacrifice rights to combat terrorism; welcome to Edinburgh for the UK Supreme Court

8 May 17

Review time

Patience will be needed as regards the outcome of the new review of legal services regulation, but there is much for the profession to concern itself with meantime

10 Apr 17

Complaints about the Commission

It is not surprising that solicitors are complaining about the SLCC budget and levy – but what should be done?

13 Mar 17

Crack this one

Digitising summary criminal business is a tough nut to crack, but a bold attempt has been made

13 Feb 17

Imbalance of power

These days, all lawyers may need to be ready to take a stand in defence of the rule of law