Compact and Forum Newsletter – Fall 2022

Our new Emeritus Members

Join us in congratulating Sandie Okoro, former Senior Vice President of the World Bank, and Penelope Warne, Senior Partner and Chairman of the UK Board, for receiving honorary lifetime Emeritus membership of the Compact & Forum, in June 2022. Sandie and Penelope’s vision was to bring together law societies from around the world to strengthen access to justice for all, promote the Rule of Law, and build inclusive and representative institutions. They made this vision a reality and their influence has been key in presently having over 15-member bar associations from around the world and establishing working groups that further Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG16).

Updates on the Working Group

Access to Justice and Law
This working group is led by the Paris Bar Association and has moved forward through hosting meetings with its member bar associations to discuss and undertake the next steps for the Cookbook Project. The project’s objective is to produce a “best practices” guide (“recipes”, and hence the name “cookbook”) that compiles key and crucial initiatives around the world on access to justice. The last meetings of the working group have focused on the content of a survey to be distributed around the world. The project’s survey will be available in English, French, and Spanish and will be the core of the Cookbook.

International Women in Law
This working group is now chaired by the Brazilian Bar and the Union Internationale des Avocats as co-leaders. The working group held its kick-off session in the World Justice Forum on June 2nd, 2022; the session was titled The Role of Lawyers and Law Societies in promoting Gender Justice. Its illustrious speakers highlighted that lawyers play a key role in eliminating systemic discrimination and exclusion as well as protecting fundamental rights and equality of opportunity. More details about the session can be found below. In the upcoming months, the next steps will be discussed and the course that the project will take will also be determined.

Rights of Asylum
This working group is coordinated by the French National Bar Council, the Inter-American Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. On Tuesday, June 28, 2022, the working group launched its research project on the challenges of access to justice for asylum seekers in the Americas, with a focus on Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States of America. As an end-goal, the working group aims to release a publication of recommendations and best practices to adopt in light of international, regional, and national legal frameworks applicable to asylum seekers as well as the issues encountered by asylum practitioners locally. More information about the session can be found below.

Good Governance and Capacity Building by Bars and Law Societies
This working group is co-chaired by the Law Society of England and Wales and the Inter-American Bar Association. It is focused on helping law societies improve and strengthen their internal governance processes to make them more effective and enhance their transparency and accountability. The working group is moving forward with a meeting to concretize the path it will take.

Please find further details of each working group here.

Updates on the Compact & Forum Membership

The Compact & Forum now has 17 members (see the full list here.) Please join us in welcoming our newest members:

  • Deutscher Anwaltverein (DAV)
  • Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA)

Please contact the Secretariat if you want to introduce the Compact & Forum to other law societies or bar associations, or if you want to join any of our four working groups.

World Justice Forum 2022: The Role of Lawyers and Law Societies in Promoting Gender Justice

The Law Societies’ Compact & Forum for SDG 16 hosted a successful online session in the World Justice Forum 2022, on Thursday, June 2nd from 10.30 am to 12.00 pm (CET). The session, as the name describes, focused on the role of lawyers and law societies in achieving access to justice, particularly for women.

Our renowned speakers were:

  • Paul Prettitore – Senior Specialist at the World Bank (Moderator)
  • Stephanie Boyce – President of the Law Society of England and Wales
  • Julie Couturier – President of the Paris Bar Association
  • Francisca Pretorius – Adviser and Head of the Commonwealth Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform
  • Dr. J. Jarpa Dawuni – Executive Director of Institute for African Women in Law
  • Ian McDougall – Executive Vice President & General Counsel of LexisNexis

A first section of the session allowed the speakers to introduce themselves and converse about gender justice and equality. Stephanie Boyce emphasized that lawyers had the responsibility to improve gender equality. Julie Couturier remarked that the equality between women and men was a focus in France and that the Paris Bar Association worked arduously to assist women through free consultations, including the “Bus de la Solidarité.” Francisca Pretorius described the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic had for women, including a rise in domestic violence, the scaling back of institutions and services, and the lack of access to technology. She described that a gender-based approach was necessary to eliminate discrimination. Dr. Dawuni recognized that there was a need to engage in research about the experiences of women as lawyers/academics across Africa and that men should be a part of the solution to tackle gender inequality as allies. Lastly, Ian McDougall provided his perspective from the corporate standpoint by underlining that diversity increases productivity and creativity within teams.

The first question posed by Paul Prettitore consisted of the role of law societies to make sure women enter and remain in the legal profession. Stephanie Boyce recognized the gender imbalance in the legal profession, especially in senior positions, and pointed out that publishing information about gender gaps was needed to make progress. Julie Couturier emphasized that more education and more training were in order and recognized that women had difficulties to move up to places of authority in firms. Ian McDougall commented that the legal profession is traditionally approached in a biased manner towards women because the profession primarily charges through billable hours, and that this had to change. Paul Prettitore then asked about gender imbalance in Africa to which Dr. Dawuni answered that there was high representation of women in law firms but that they faced harassment, inequity of pay, and issues of promotion, among other things. She highlighted the work that the Compact & Forum is doing in bringing together law associations and lawyers in the pursuit of access to justice for all and remarked upon the need to support women transnationally.

Francisca Pretorius responded a question from the audience on how to involve male allies in the pursuit of more gender justice and equality in the legal profession. She stated that the environment needed to change, men should embrace the changes and encourage legitimacy, and women should advocate to help create a thriving environment for themselves. A next question by Paul Prettitore was on the role of research and data. Dr. Dawuni explained that there was a need for clean quantitative and qualitative data, diversity, and development of capacity. Julie Couturier added that networks had to work together for women services to be efficient. Ian McDougall explained that law societies were there to coordinate efforts and represent legal communities by adopting a customer centric perspective and providing a better way into the justice system for people. Francisca Pretorius remarked that the Commonwealth looks at discriminatory laws and works to repeal them in a non-isolated exercise. And Stephanie Boyce commented that law societies can do plenty through working with organizations to highlight gender issues and find solutions, such as coming up with greater policies for gender balance in senior levels and hybrid work with more flexible hours.

A last question posed to the speakers consisted of how they saw organizations and law societies from a people centered approach perspective. Francisca Pretorius emphasized that a solution was to ensure technology to access justice. Stephanie Boyce also emphasized technology and that the Law Society of England and Wales pushed for public legal education which helped ensure access to justice. Julie Couturier remarked on the need to provide information to citizens about the legal system and that the Paris Bar did pro bono work for vulnerable people. Ian McDougall commented that fundamental changes in the legal profession were coming in his perspective and advised law societies to drive altruistic change and not be driven by it. Lastly, Dr. Dawuni emphasized the importance of working collectively, using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and indigenous knowledge systems to bridge gaps, demystifying the law and lawyers, bringing technology to local communities, and learning from experiences to produce a consistent global approach to gender injustice.

The session ended with Paul Prettitore’s conclusory remarks and appreciation to speakers and audience alike for their contributions and attendance to the session.

You can watch the entire session here.

Kick – Off Event: Right of Asylum Working Group

The Law Societies’ Compact & Forum for SDG 16 has officially launched the Right of Asylum Working Group with a successful online kick-off event on Tuesday, June 28th from 9:00 am to 10:30 am (ET). The working group, led as a joint initiative by the French National Bar Council (CNB), the Inter-American Bar Association (IABA), and the American Bar Association (ABA), will be developing a new research project on access to justice for asylum seekers in the American continent.

Our renowned speakers were:

  • Laurence Cecile Coste – Senior Counsel at the World Bank (Moderator)
  • J. Clifford Frazier – Acting Vice President and Interim World Bank Group General Counsel
  • Laurent Martinet – Vice-President, French National Bar Council
  • Judd L. Kessler – President, Inter-American Bar Association
  • Joel Hernández García – Commissioner and Rapporteur on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders and Justice Operators of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Organization of the American States (OAS)
  • Michelle N. Méndez – Director of Legal Resources and Training, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
  • Lourdes Escaffi Venes – Inter-American Bar Association
  • Hélène Gacon – French National Bar Council
  • Amelia Steadman McGowan – American Bar Association

The session started with the following figure: by June of this year, the number of refugees and asylum seekers has exceeded 100 million people. This is part of a pattern where the number of forcibly displaced people is rising year after year for the last decade. The working group will have an initial focus on 4 countries – Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States of America – because of the important changes and challenges they are undergoing. Lawyers play a central role in the asylum process, and thus the objective of this working group is to assist and inform legal practitioners about good practices as well as create a network of lawyers working towards this goal.

Laurent Martinet described that the French National Bar is highly committed and involved in various migrants and asylum seekers’ initiatives with the Conseil National des Barreaux to find and provide solutions and good practices. Judd L. Kessler highlighted how communications have shifted the causes for asylum from World War II to now because information that was very difficult to access in the past is now available. On the same note, Joel Hernández recognized that the current scenario for asylum seekers has changed, and thus a new legal reaction is needed to grant a broader protection to those seeking it, such as a review of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Michelle Méndez described the difficult challenges that migrants face, given that the United States does not provide an appointed legal counsel, for adults or children.

Lourdes Venes outlined the importance of joining forces and the committed partnerships for the migrant and refugee crisis at the Compact and Forum to co-generate legal knowledge of the international and national frameworks. She further emphasized that the focus of the working group is to draw solutions to improve access to justice for migrants and refugees. Hélène Gacon emphasized that the objective of the working group is to provide lawyers with practical and efficient guidelines in the field of assistance to migrants and asylum seekers, and to raise awareness amongst organizations and public authorities about practical solutions to reduce identified obstacles. The methodology proposed is to disseminate two different surveys, one designed for professionals (such as lawyers, academics, NGO’s…) and the other one designed for individuals (asylum seekers as such). Furthermore, Amelia McGowan emphasized that the asylum working group focused on the 4 countries because they had recently and rapidly become countries of transit or destination.

One of the questions posed by the audience was how lawyers can raise awareness to support migrants at the borders. Michelle answered that there are several ways to do it, including the use of humanizing language, advocating for processes to humanize asylum seekers, using social media to recognize asylum seekers’ stories, and engaging in advocacy, among others. A second question related to climate refugees consisted of the role lawyers can play in addressing the consequences. Joel expressed that the notion of climate migrants should be put aside because climate change is a complex phenomenon that is difficult to employ when dealing with migrants, and thus the specific root cause should be identified, such as natural disasters. Michelle also remarked that the definition of asylum has not really evolved for a long time, which makes the asylum legal framework unevolved in the light of the current challenges including climate change. In addition, she added that those affected by climate change tend to be ethnic minorities. A third question regarding the Afghan migratory crisis was posed and Amelia responded that 85% of applications in the United States were denied and remarkable burdens were faced in the process.

The session concluded with Laurence Coste’s remarks and her appreciation to speakers and audience for taking part in the kick-off.

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Transitions at the Compact & Forum

The Brazilian Bar and the Union Internationale des Avocats will lead the International Women in Law Working Group

The Steering Committee welcomed the Brazilian Bar Association and the Union Internationale des Avocats as the co-leaders of the International Women in Law Working Group. We are excited to see the Compact & Forum’s members in leadership roles and look forward to their contributions.

Upcoming Events

Save the Date for LJD Week

4th Annual Board Meeting of the Compact & Forum

The Compact & Forum aims to host its 4th annual board meeting before the end of the year.

Latin American Event

The Compact & Forum, in conjunction with the Brazilian Bar Association, are planning a day dedicated to the initiative in February 2023. The event in Brazil intends to bring together members from the Compact & Forum, bar associations from BRICS countries, Latin American law firms, and legal practitioners from around the world. The purpose is to discuss ways of strengthening the rule of law and access to justice related to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 through the Compact & Forum’s work.

You can find the Brazilian Bar Association’s comment on the event here. Stay tuned for more information in the following newsletter.

Members’ Newsroom

The CNB initiates an Appeal in support of the Rule of Law during the 50th European President’s Conference in Vienna

During the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, the French National Bar Council (CNB) has initiated a European lawyers’ appeal in support of the rule of law. In times of crisis, war, and reconsideration of the rule of law in Europe, this Declaration aimed to recall the profession’s unwavering commitment to fundamental European values and the imperative need to protect them and adapt them to the current technological transformations.

It reminded the European institutions, the Member States of the European Union, and the Council of Europe of their historic responsibility to preserve and strengthen the rule of law as a founding European principle and a common intangible value.

The Declaration has been endorsed and signed by more than 40 bar associations and organisations representing more than 1 million European lawyers, during a side event organised at the French embassy on June the 11th, in the margins of the 50th European Presidents Conference that takes place in Vienna once a year, becoming officially the Vienna Declaration.
This Declaration is structured in 5 axes:

  1. The political challenge of the rule of law and the means to efficiently fight the progressive erosion of the European fundamental values
  2. The digital challenges of the rule of law
  3. The protection of the legal profession
  4. Defending the rights of the most vulnerable
  5. The environmental law as a corollary of human rights

You can find the full declaration here.

American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section – Tenth Annual London White Collar Crime Institute

The tenth annual conference will take place in London, United Kingdom from October 10 to 11, 2022. It will convene legal practitioners from across the globe in London to discuss hot-button issues of global significance to white collar practitioners, including international money laundering and sanctions, cross-border evidentiary concerns, international internal investigations, and more. See here.

The 66th UIA Annual Congress

Established in 1927 and with members in 110 countries, the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) is a global and multi-cultural organization for the legal profession that facilitates professional development, stimulates learning and networking, and promotes the rule of law. Every year, the UIA organises an international congress that offers lawyers the opportunity to exchange different perspectives and experiences with colleagues from all over the world.

The 66th UIA Annual Congress will take place in Dakar, Senegal from October 26 to 30, 2022. His Excellency the President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall, and Dr Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner, will honour the UIA with their presence at the opening ceremony.

With a program of more than 35 sessions in various disciplines of law, the Main Themes of the Dakar congress are: “Governance of Mineral and Energy Resources in Africa and Beyond” and “Effectiveness and Relevance of our Judicial Systems.”

The Congress programmes will include: a special session with Dr Denis Mukwege with the following theme “Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones;” panel discussions and practical tips by leading experts from all over the world; and a remarkable social programme that will make your stay an unforgettable experience.

The Annual Congress will take place in the Centre international de conférences Abdou Diouf (CICAD), Dakar, Senegal.

EARLY BIRD RATES END: October 15, 2022 – Register today to get the best rates.


See you soon in Dakar!

American Bar Association International Law Section Annual Conference 2023

Save the date for the ABA International Law Section’s Annual Conference at the Sheraton Times Square. The Conference will take place in New York City, United States, from May 1 to 5, 2023.
Learn more

Rule of Law Webathon

The universal commitment of the world’s lawyers to the rule of law inspired five major associations of international lawyers— the American Bar Association International Law Section, the Inter-American Bar Association, the International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA) Human Rights Committee, the UIA-International Association of Lawyers, and the Law Society of England and Wales– to organize the second annual Rule of Law Webathon. This year’s theme focused on how economic and social development interrelates with the rule of law and SDG 16 and highlighted the tenth anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rule of Law. The twelve panels spanned continents and time zones, with each panel led by one of the five major associations in collaboration with local and national bar associations, including the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), and the Paris Bar Association. Watch the videos on the Rule of Law Webathon YouTube channel.

The major associations are delighted to announce that they are preparing the third edition of the Rule of Law Webathon. Save the date for the 2023 Rule of Law Webathon on May 15 to 19, 2023. If your bar association is interested in becoming involved, please contact

Our members often have exciting and interesting events that the Compact is happy to amplify and publicize. If your organisation has an upcoming event or other important news that you wish to share with our members, please contact the Secretariat and it will be included in our newsletter.

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