With the countdown on to the International Bar Association (IBA) conference in Rome in October, MinterEllison partner Peter Bartlett – who serves as the treasurer of IBA and the Legal Practice Division Secretary-Treasurer – reflected on some of the great opportunities ahead.
One of the biggest changes we have seen to the legal profession over the last decade or so has been globalisation. The huge growth in international transactions has been extraordinary. In so many jurisdictions, law firms that were previously focused on local issues now have so many more interactions with international transactions, jurisdictions and lawyers.
In Australia, the increase of inbound and outbound investment is significant. In FY18, we saw an increase in foreign bidders – which make up 78% of all bids – despite our relatively complex foreign investment regime. In addition, through our free trade agreements, we're seeing fantastic opportunities for businesses as the world gets 'smaller' and more connected – and it means that global considerations are at the forefront of our minds.
In this environment, the role of the IBA is pertinent – we're encountering international, multi-jurisdictional issues every day.
The IBA conference, by bringing together some of the best lawyers from across the world in all specialist areas of law, enables us to build connections and take on new strategies to help manage multi-jurisdictional concerns. When talking to international lawyers, it is staggering how often they address similar issues to the ones we face every day. Taking on the learnings from how different people across the globe have solved these issues makes us all better at what we do – and our clients reap the benefits.
As a profession, and as a society, we're confronting significant changes to the way business is conducted, the way problems arise and how they are resolved – particularly in a digital landscape. Through the conference and through the range of projects that IBA committees are working on, we're addressing some of the implications and solutions for these pain points – both for the legal profession and for our clients.
For example, in a whole day dedicated to artificial intelligence, we'll be exploring the boundaries between artificial intelligence and real intelligence, the consequences of AI errors, the effects of AI on deal-making and other legal issues and challenges in the digital economy.
We're also looking at cyber security and what the tech revolution means to the core values of civil society, as well as a host of other issues across a broad range of areas and industries. These include governance, energy, environment, natural resources and infrastructure and healthcare and life sciences.
Personally, at the conference in Rome, I'm looking forward to meeting some of the best lawyers, from some of the best law firms in the world – leaders in their own fields of law. The annual conference offers us an opportunity to elevate our own service to clients by working with the best.