Sydney, 2 June 2004: Australian lawyers Clayton Utz have confirmed their commitment to legal practice in the Asia Pacific region with a number of partners accepting positions to serve the Inter-Pacific Bar Association.
At the recent conference in Seoul, Jim FitzSimons, a corporate partner specialising in IT/IP was appointed vice president of the IPBA. Mr FitzSimons will assume the IPBA presidency in 2006 when Sydney hosts the annual conference in May of that year.
With Clayton Utz colleagues Angela Flannery, (a vice chair of the Banking Finance and Securities Committee,) and high profile major projects partner and arbitrator Doug Jones, (vice chair of the Dispute Resolution and Arbitration Committee,) also holding official positions in the organisation, Mr FitzSimons says it signals Clayton Utz’ regard for IPBA.
“While our firm sees itself having much to offer in the region from a project perspective, our current policy excludes having offices on the ground,” Mr FitzSimons explains. “Working through IPBA, and assisting practitioners in the region to have their voices heard more strongly on the global stage helps demonstrate our commitment to the region.” Mr FitzSimons believes that the profile of IPBA is changing as it drives for a greater regional voice.
“Membership of the IPBA makes a lot of sense especially for firms based in only one or two jurisdictions. The Association’s increasing emphasis on imparting technical knowledge and education about operating in different jurisdictions is a benefit for firms as they begin operating outside their own jurisdictions or for clients coming into their jurisdiction.
From a networking perspective he believes that IPBA plays an important role for firms without the large networks that come from being part of a large international firm.
“The IPBA also has a corporate counsel forum and provides a convenient way for corporate counsel to get together with their external counsel from around the region without having to travel to multiple destinations.”
Mr FitzSimons also believes the IPBA policy of rotating the office bearer positions ensures that the Association remains a progressive and reformist forum. “Currently the IPBA membership represents just under 70 different countries ranging from the US and Japan through to the developing regions of Asia. The Association, through its M.S. Lin Scholarship program and other initiatives, offers these countries the chance to be not only exposed to the latest developments in the law as seen by lawyers from larger economies but to also have their voice and their issues heard.
“The IPBA prides itself on its goal of fostering greater understanding of the cultural mix it represents and as providing a voice for the Asia Pacific.”
Over the past decade Mr FitzSimons believes the annual IPBA conference has evolved as an excellent educative opportunity even for more experienced practitioners.
“As an IT/IP lawyer I see the increasing engagement of multiple jurisdictions as very encouraging at the global level. There is an exchange of ideas. People learn things. For instance there’s a cross-border investment committee and attending these sessions enables a delegate to learn more about the latest thinking in structuring cross border investment.
“Forums such as this also encourage emerging economies to recognise the significance of the conventions that protect intellectual property. If we can use IPBA as a tool in that direction, that’s significant,” he believes.
Mr FitzSimons believes the May 2006 Conference in Sydney will be an excellent opportunity for Australian lawyers to get an overview of just how dynamic legal practice is in the Asian region.
For more information on the Inter-Pacific Bar Association visit www.ipba.org.