“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” These words by Benjamin Franklin illuminated the World City Bar Leaders Conference held this year in Philadelphia and attended for the first time by the Warsaw Bar Association.
The World City Bar Leaders Conference is an annual international conference bringing together bar representatives from the world’s most important cities, financial and business centres such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Beijing, Chicago, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo and Toronto. This year’s WCBL Conference was held on 10–13 September 2014 in Philadelphia. The conference is the point of departure for a new global organization of bar associations. This year the group included for the first time the Warsaw Bar Association—the only representative from Central & Eastern Europe. The Warsaw bar was represented at the event by Michał Wawrykiewicz, Vice Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the invitation to participate in WCBL came about thanks to the efforts of Mariusz Maciejewski, Chair of the Professional Development Commission.
The areas for possible future cooperation include mechanisms for associating member lawyers from various countries, exchange of lawyers for handling transactions with international aspects, joint fundraising, including from the European Union, easier procedures for obtaining foreign credentials, and joint organization of conferences and training events for attorneys and trainees.
During the conference, there was a discussion of topics connected with the ethics of professions of public trust, the possibilities for advertising and marketing of lawyers in the common-law and Continental systems, disciplinary liability within the self-governing bar, and access to justice in various countries of the world and different legal systems.
The presence of a representative of the Warsaw bar among this elite group resulted in forming close contacts with representatives of the bars of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Beijing, Chicago, Frankfurt, London and New York. These bar associations expressed a desire to cooperate more closely and pursue common initiatives. Immediately following the WCBL event, representatives of the Foreign Commission of the Warsaw Bar Association took steps to establish the scope and details of cooperation with other interested bar associations, and began preparations for specific projects for recommendation to the executive committee and the council.
The next WCBL Conference will be held in Barcelona. The topic was also raised in the corridors of possibly holding one of the upcoming annual events in Warsaw.
World City Bar Leaders seeks to transform itself into an international independent organization of bar associations of a very exclusive character. Considering that the Warsaw Bar Association is not just the only representative among this group from Poland, but from all of Central & Eastern Europe, we perceive a huge opportunity to develop within WCBL our position as the leader of the region.