International Law

D.C. Bar International Law Section Annual Report 2013–2014


Overview

Having been honored as the D.C. Bar’s “Best Section” for the 2012-13 Bar year, the International Law Section (the “section”), did not rest on its laurels during the 2013-14 Bar year. With a membership of more than 1,900 attorneys both within and outside D.C., the section had another very productive Bar year, sponsoring and co-sponsoring numerous programs on a wide range of topics in the field of international law. We also undertook a variety of outreach activities, such as a pro bono job fair and sponsorship of a team for the international Jessup Moot Court competition. In the remainder of the 2013-14 Bar year, we will be holding our annual “speed mentoring” program and a first-ever section-wide networking reception.

Through its Standing Committees, the section has encouraged greater member participation in section activity and programming.  Rather than having the Section Steering Committee convene on its own, we hold monthly meetings of what we term the Section Leadership Group, which includes both Steering Committee members and Standing Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs. This enables the Standing Committee leaders to stay abreast of and actively participate in section-wide planning and encourages support and coordination among the Standing Committees. Several of the Standing Committees now routinely develop joint programs with other Committees, thus expanding the potential attendance base while reducing individual planning workloads.  In addition, the Standing Committees have increased the number of their own, separate meetings as a convenient and effective way to encourage interest among members and to generate ideas and volunteers for program and activity development.

We have actively utilized our internet Listserv e-mail list as a means of outreach to our members. We use the Listserv e-mail list to help publicize our programs, inform members of section benefits, create channels for discussion of key international law issues, and alert members to developments in international law and policy. 

The section is highly honored to have been selected as “Best Section” for the prior Bar year, 2012-13.  This year we focused on continuing the efforts that were rewarded by that honor, and in the coming year, we intend to seek to increase the means by which we can enrich the international law exposure and understanding of our members and encourage them to increase their involvement in Bar activities.
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Standing Committees

Inter–American Affairs
The Inter-American Affairs Committee focuses on affairs in the Americas, principally Latin America, and has arranged meetings with high-level Latin American officials on an informal basis for discussion of pressing current issues with members of the section and others.  The Chair of the Committee has just been elected to serve on the section Steering Committee, which is a tribute to the leadership he has demonstrated and value he has brought to section members
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International Dispute Resolution
The International Dispute Resolution Committee is one of our most active Standing Committees, organizing numerous programs that typically attract as many as 100 attendees, and often more.  The Committee meets regularly on its own and often reaches out for program co-sponsors in the arbitration community, as well as to the American Society of International Law.
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Immigration and International Human Rights
The Immigration and International Human Rights Committee regularly hosts programs addressing the problems of immigration, human rights abuses and the development of human rights norms and legal enforcement mechanisms. The Committee tailors its programs to accommodate maximum participation by members of the immigration and human rights community, typically holding brown-bag lunches rather than catered events where program costs might make attendance less feasible for some.
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International Intellectual Property
The Intellectual Property Committee focuses on the enforcement of intellectual property rights throughout the globe, including as they are litigated at the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and more broadly in international tribunals (including dispute settlement panels of the World Trade Organization) throughout the world.
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International Investment and Finance
The Investment and Finance Committee offers programs on both investment in the United States and external U.S. investment abroad, and deals with developments in such areas as project finance, national security limitations on cross-border investment, and international securities regulation.
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International Trade
The International Trade Committee is one of our largest Standing Committees and regularly sponsors programs on a wide range of topics, including an annual debate on high-profile trade issues.
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Public International and Criminal Law
The Public International and Criminal Law Committee is extremely active in holding discussion group meetings and presenting programs on issues such as extradition, human trafficking, war crimes, and treaty interpretation.
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Co-sponsored Programs
The section’s commitment to broad outreach has successfully led to many co-sponsored programs with other international law organizations, such as the American Society of International Law, the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law, the Federal Circuit Bar Association, the Virginia State Bar’s International Practice Section, the Washington International Trade Association and the Washington Foreign Law Society. Together with these and other organizations, we have been able to increase program diversity and attendance and to create new opportunities for cross-pollinization of ideas and initiatives.
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Pro Bono/Community Outreach

International Law Pro Bono Opportunities Fair
One of the section’s most important traditions is its annual International Law Pro Bono Opportunities Fair, which brings section and Bar members together with representatives of organizations seeking pro bono assistance in such areas as asylum, human rights, immigration and the drafting of new national constitutions. This year, we held this annual event in May, and it was a great success, bringing together a variety of different international law-related organizations, each of which had the opportunity to explain its core mission and to discuss with attending attorneys its current and future needs for pro bono assistance.
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Career Informational Outreach Programs
The section has for many years sponsored a program on “Careers in International Law,” which is designed to give more junior attorneys and law students an opportunity to meet and hear from senior lawyers about the various options available for pursuing an international law career. The program features panelists working in the government, non-governmental organizations, private practice, and academia. The 2014 program is scheduled for July 23, with five speakers and an expected turn-out of more than 50 attendees. 

In addition, on June 19, 2014, we will be holding our fifth annual “speed mentoring” program, at which a number of experienced lawyers, representing each of the section committees’ practice areas, will volunteer to meet across tables with law students, or with attorneys interested in changing career focus, to discuss their work and the kinds of skills a position in the field requires. Every several minutes, the attendees change tables in order to learn about a different practice area and to pick up additional tips for networking and otherwise advancing participation in that area. The program has repeatedly been lauded as a great success, and we plan to continue it as one of our section traditions.

The section and its Standing Committees also continue to engage in outreach to students at area law schools. Section subscribing memberships continue to be offered at no charge so that students will have access to information about the section and its programs, most of which are offered to students at no charge or reduced fees.
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Section Finances

The section has had a successful year operationally, as well as programmatically. Pursuant to self-created guidelines that we have implemented, the section strictly adheres to a program-planning process and form to assist program planners in navigating the D.C. Bar’s fees regimen and to help ensure that most programs at least break even in revenue over expenses.  Due in large part to such a disciplined approach, the section’s budget surplus is one of the most robust among all of the D.C. Bar’s sections and again allowed us to avoid having to raise section dues during the 2013-14 Bar year. However, as a result of decisions made by the Sections Council in February 2014 that greatly reduced the reserves possessed by individual sections, we have concerns regarding the future autonomy and financial health of not only our section, but many other sections as well.
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Support for the Bar Generally

The section has continued to contribute to numerous D.C. Bar initiatives and activities. The section again reviewed and revised the chapter on Human Rights that is included in the current edition of the D.C. Practice Manual. In addition, as noted above, the section provided financial support to a foreign team that participated in the Jessup Moot Court competition, and the section also has contributed to the D.C. Bar’s Youth Law Fair and the D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono program.
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