IPBA 2024 Tokyo – “New World, New Wisdom”

The Inter-Pacific Bar Association (“IPBA”) kicked off its 32nd Annual Meeting and Conference in Tokyo, Japan, last week. This was the first time the meeting has been in Tokyo since its 1991 inaugural year. More than 1400 people from more than eighty countries participated, marking the event’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also provided me with a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

Three men in business attire, smiling and seated at a conference, wearing name tags.           

Though the individual sessions covered many topics, they all for the most part hewed to the conference’s theme of “New World, New Wisdom.” Several  focused on Generative Artificial Intelligence and how it is changing the legal landscape.

I was  particularly impressed by the quantity and quality of the sessions on Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”), which is increasingly becoming an important focus in my international trade practice as many clients now have to comply with multiple (sometimes contradictory) ESG related trade regulations across the world. Seven of the fifty-five sessions were dedicated to ESG and ESG related topics, signaling ESG’s growth and its applicability to various legal practices.

There were also multiple discussion sessions covering topics related to challenges lawyers face when advising clients in an increasingly multipolar world, and the session I moderated was titled “Navigating the Maze of Global Sanctions: A Business Perspective,”, and it addressed one component of that challenge.

My session focused on how businesses can best navigate the increasingly complex landscape of global sanctions. The panel featured experts in international trade, sanctions compliance, and legal affairs from five countries and four continents. We discussed the impact of sanctions on businesses, best practices to manage compliance and mitigate risks, and what companies in various jurisdictions are doing to meet their compliance obligations.

We also discussed a hypothetical scenario involving a company that needed to comply with one country’s sanctions regulations even though those regulations might trigger a violation of another country’s sanctions. This issue of contradictory regulation shas become a big issue for many companies that operate internationally. See Dueling US-China Sanctions: A Guide for Businesses.

As a moderator, I particularly appreciated the civility and professionalism demonstrated by the speakers in my session, given the sensitive nature of the topics. This is a testament to the culture of friendship and collegiality created by the IPBA over the past thirty-years.

           Group of professionals in business attire posing for a photo in a lounge area with sofas and a bar in the background.

Overall, I thought IPBA Tokyo 2024 was remarkably successful, not only for the quality of its speakers and the content covered, but also for the networking opportunities. By participating at IPBA conferences, international lawyers gain valuable knowledge, expand their network, and stay abreast of critical international legal developments. I highly recommend it.