So the long countdown was over and people were actually converging on Glasgow for the 19th Commonwealth Law Conference. What would it really be like?

On the footbridge over the Clyde Expressway to the SECC, I found myself joining a bit of a crowd, many of them young women in short skirts and outlandish hairdos. A geezer in a booth at the station end called on us to “Get your glow sticks”. Was this our global gathering of learned friends? No, it turned out Nicki Minaj was in concert in the Hydro next door.

Following the prominent signs directing me to registration, some more familiar faces came into view. There was Commonwealth Lawyers Association chair, Mark Stephens, obviously checking on some last minute point with someone. There was Austin Lafferty, President at the time of the last conference in Cape Town. There was Jamie Millar, who I believe has played a key role on the organising committee. There was the Law Society of Scotland stall, among several others in the exhibition section.

Registration took no time at all. I came away with my badge proclaiming me to be a United Kingdom delegate (a little strange, that) and a neat carrier bag containing the official programme and assorted giveaway literature (including a sample copy of the CLA's journal). In the main hall I could see a growing sea of faces, clearly representing all parts of the globe.

Arming myself with a glass of wine, I decided to try a “Welcome to Glasgow” on individuals who appeared not to have anyone to talk to. A Nigerian muttered something and turned away to talk to some others nearby. Two Indians were very friendly but I was struggling to make out what they were saying against a background of other noise. The ever amiable Lord Woolman appeared and helped take the strain of the conversation. A Malawian who works for the CLA secretariat in London was easy to talk to, but then had to go and find someone. A South African engaged in an interesting discussion about changes in professional structures there – they are fusing the two arms of the profession and at the same time splitting their Law Societies into regulatory and representative bodies, leading to considerable concerns as to how the latter, which will be voluntary, will be funded. We were joined by a Sri Lankan who professed to admire South African cricket.

All that – along with the official words of welcome – was in the first hour or so after I arrived on the opening evening. If the rest of the event continues in similar vein, it will be quite an experience – and I will have a very exotic collection of business cards. Just as well I requested a fresh supply of my own.