The IBA Experience

Stephan Swinkels, executive director of L&E Global, was invited to write a post about the IBA annual conference for The Lawyer. Here, the transcription of the story.

I departed to the IBA annual conference in Dubai from Amsterdam. Having just returned from the ACC (Association of Corporate Counsel) annual conference in Denver, I spent one whole day in my home country, The Netherlands before heading off to this other great event.

A huge amount of legal knowledge was concentrated on board of the aircraft as the vessel was packed with Dutch lawyers on their way to Dubai. I wonder, what would be the average hourly rate, billed by the most efficient among us during the 6-hour flight. In any event, the conference started right after take off. Old acquaintances and former colleagues exchanged the latest legal gossip, made plans for the week to come and, I am sure, a few current matters were discussed in a more relaxed manner between opposite counsels, not in a board room or in court but comfortably in seats 14 c and d.

For the L&E Global members, the IBA conference is a great occasion to spend time together for a few consecutive days. Although we communicate on a weekly basis on new developments, cases and achievements, nothing beats a meeting in person. During these get- togethers I am always reminded of the fact that the initial L&E members started the alliance because they had become friends during these IBA conferences. It is even more rewarding to see that the new members also fit in effortlessly and the group get’s bigger and bigger.

Dubai is of course a very impressive glamorous city and it just feels a bit odd to enjoy Dubai’s splendour while the economic and financial world is in turmoil. Perhaps that is why, instead of staying in the well known “over the top” hotels, such as the Armani Hotel, many participants opted for more modest hotels. I did not see any lawyers setting up an “Occupy Dubai” camping site though.

We did not have a lot of time for sightseeing. However, one cannot escape the Burj Khalifa, with 829 meters, the tallest structure in the world. It always reminds me of the biblical city of Babel with its own Tower of Babel or Burj Babil in Arabic, which according to history was at least three times as high as Dubai’s tower. I hope that the comparison stops there because with more than 5,000 participants from all over the world, we can do very well without a Babylonian confusion of tongues the next few days.

The original post was published at The Lawyer. You can check it out, here.