|Equipping lawyers with a global brand|
|Sunday, 16 September 2012 12:01pm|
©The Star (Used by permission)
By SHAILA KOSHY
The Bar Council's biennial law conference takes on an international flavour this year as it prepares members and other professionals to meet the challenges of a globalised economy.
GLOBALISATION has touched almost every aspect of our professional and personal lives; it's so easy to watch helplessly as we are swept up by it.
Embracing it on your terms is what is required, instead of twittering around and looking for a rock to hide under.
And that is what the Bar Council's International Malaysian Law Conference (IMLC) to be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from Sept 26-28 aims to do. The theme for the biennial law conference this time is “Asian Perspectives, Global Viewpoints”.
“We want to educate across the board members of the new developments in the law and trends,” says Bar Council chairman Lim Chee Wee, adding that the run-of-the-mill topics like conveyancing and litigation would be handled in the Bar's Compulsory Professional Development (CPD) programme.
“The IMLC is meant to create awareness, inspire our members, tell them this is out there, go and grab it before the foreign lawyers get all of it',” adds Lim.
Noting several members have already done international arbitration in London, Singapore, Shanghai and India, he says there is a lot of cross-border work available.
IMLC 2012 organising chairman Raphael Tay says the Bar wants to be the “gateway to Asia with China on the right and India on the left.”
“Globalisation is happening really quick and we are ill-equipped to handle it or have not adequately applied our minds to its impact and the market liberalisation of legal services.”
He adds that while the public's expectations of lawyers had gone up members were “not prepared, not leveraging on technology, thinking we're ok because we don't have foreign lawyers here'.”
He points out a convergence of things to bear in mind:
>THE amendment to the Legal Profession Act to allow foreign lawyers;
>THE passing of the motion for a CPD programme;
>A Common Bar Course in the near future; and
>THE Bar Council's decision to allow group law practices in the future as well.
“Five to 10 law firms can come together, maintain their distinct legal entities but come under a broader umbrella a new brand name, for example, Campbell Chambers' sharing resources,” says Tay.
He adds that the council wants to build a new brand: “We want the IMLC to be a strong legal conference brand in Asia.”
“To become one day the premier law conference in Asia, so that whether you're a lawyer or not if you're interested to invest in Asia, come live in Asia, do business here or you're a lawyer interested in knowing the legal landscape in Asia, this is the conference for you.”
Another first in the conference is the inclusion of in-house corporate counsel and several topics for them their role in a global economy as a business partner, investigator, compliance officer and internal controls adviser and whether their profession is too conservative to survive.
Topics like Islamic finance, arbitration and oil and gas were chosen to promote and build on existing strengths.
For example, as Malaysia is the leading Islamic finance centre “we cannot have such a centre if we don't have the supporting services of lawyers,” says Tay, adding that the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration is now seen as a strong contender regional arbitration.
As for oil and gas, he says, Petronas, which is one of the finest top 500 Fortune companies and recognised world leader in the last 25 years in production sharing contracts, would send an expert talk about such contracts.
“We are trying to promote what we have an advantage in and telling members to go forth and don't give in to the competition.”
“One of our frustrations is that our brightest and best are leaving us for Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, apart from the traditional centres in UK and Australia.
“Let's not lament but create a centre of excellence here and be an aggregator of everything legal, where people come to debate, exchange ideas and discourse law in general in Asia,” he adds.
While internationalising their conference, the council has not totally forgotten Joe Rakyat.
There are still topics of interest: IT and social media; employment; press freedom; counter-terrorism, human rights and the rule of law; and does business have a role and obligation as a corporate citizen.
The two plum ones are the sessions on “The Independence of the Attorney-General & the Public Interest” and “What maketh a judge?”
While A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail is one of the panellists in the former session, no judge is on the latter panel, although High Court Justice Mohd Arif Yusof is moderating the session.
Tay says the judiciary has been very supportive, however.
“The relationship between the Bench and the Bar is a time-honoured tradition. At one stage there were difficulties but with the new leadership, starting from the time of former CJ Tun Zaki Azmi, things have changed and we have enjoyed the fruits of that.
“With Tun Arifin, it has gone one step further. We are delighted he is going to deliver a keynote address on the last day and close the conference.”
One event where members of the public are especially invited to is the Fundamental Freedoms Fringe Festival on Sept 27 from 7.30pm to 10pm.
They'll have a free performance of civil society expressing their fundamental rights and the need for respect for these fundamental liberties through song, dance and poetry.
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