By Laura Marsh
Although Barcelona was always on my list of places to visit while in Spain, I had even more reason to go once we had been presented with the opportunity to attend the Europe Forum for the ABA’s Section of International Law. There had been eight of us who traveled to Barcelona together as a group, but only three of us stuck around to attend the first half of the Forum: Brian, Ed, and myself. After a weekend full of exploring the city, on Sunday evening it was time to suit up and head to the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos for the opening reception.
For me, networking is something that I generally feel comfortable doing, but this reception was unlike any professional event I’d attended before because I was meeting attorneys from all over the world! Not surprisingly, most were from Western Europe, but there were also attorneys from Latin America and Central Europe. There were also several American attorneys who are practicing abroad, including a SLU LAW alum who lives and works in Paris.
The first full day of the Forum meant a very early morning for us, since our hostel was essentially on the opposite side of the city from the Fairmont. Brian and I needed to be there about an hour before the events actually began because we had volunteered to help with set-up and some other administrative functions throughout the day. Having a “behind the scenes” look at how forums like this are run was pretty interesting, and it gave me an excuse to talk to even more attorneys during the course of the day than I probably would have otherwise.
After the time for breakfast and registration had closed, everyone headed in to the first panel, titled “Ethics and Professional Liability: Current Issues,” which featured panelists from the U.S., Germany, Italy and the UK. Going into the "Legal Professions" class this fall and having the MPRE looming in the not-so-distant future, I’m glad that this was the only panel presenting in that first time slot; it offered some interesting perspective into the ethical principles that both U.S. and foreign attorneys have to abide by.
The second panel I attended was called “Cyber Security: The New Hidden Risks of M&A Deals.” Even though some of the more substantive issues the panel addressed were over my head (I did only just finish my first year of law school, after all!), it was fascinating to hear from attorneys from the U.S., Italy, Brazil, and Switzerland talk about the challenges that their clients face in keeping private information secure during the merger or acquisition process.
After a brief networking and coffee break, it was time for my third panel of the day, titled “And Justice For All? Challenges and Developments in Third-Party Funding in Arbitration.” This was followed by a luncheon sponsored by Jausas, one of the largest law firms in Barcelona. I sat between two female attorneys, one from Barcelona and one from the Netherlands (though she’s currently practicing in New York).
The last panel of the day for me was called “Managing a Cross-Border Corruption Incident,” and it definitely helped me gain some additional perspective on concepts we’ve been covering in Dean Johnson’s "Doing Business in Emerging Markets" class! Because my train was leaving fairly early, I didn’t have the chance to attend the evening’s reception at the Barcelona Bar Association, but I am so glad I made the decision to attend the first half of the Forum. It was the perfect opportunity to network with attorneys from across the globe, and it was fun to get a glimpse of what kinds of things I could be doing with my career once I’m out of school.