Hi Katie, what’s your role at the Society?

I’m based in the Law Reform team but over the past few years have become more involved in developing and implementing the Society’s international engagement strategy.

In a nutshell, the strategy aims to ensure that both the Society as an organisation and our members get the most out of our international engagement, whether it be for profile-raising, business development or capacity building. I find it very interesting and it’s really varied, although currently pretty much all of my time is taken up with coordinating the Society's role as host of the 19th Commonwealth Law Conference (CLC 2015), which will take place in Glasgow from 12-16 April this year.

What exactly is CLC 2015?

The conference is probably the most well-known activity of the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association (CLA), an organisation we are delighted to be working with on the delivery of the conference.

Based in London but served by a Council of pan-Commonwealth legal professionals, the CLA does excellent work to maintain and promote the rule of law throughout the Commonwealth by:

  • Strengthening professional links between members of the Commonwealth legal profession
  • Promoting uniformity in the standards of professional ethics
  • Encouraging improved standards of education; and
  • Promoting the administration of justice and protection of human rights

CLC 2015 is a four day event that brings together legal practitioners, judges and academics from all over the Commonwealth for discussion, debate, business and networking.

What are the best reasons to register?

Having been at the previous conference in 2013 as well as being involved in setting the programme and securing the speakers for this year’s conference, I would say the best reasons are:

  • Access to high-quality speakers from across the Commonwealth covering a wide range of topics
  • Thought-provoking keynote addresses from leading figures in the legal profession
  • A vibrant atmosphere that encourages friendship and respect across many legal and cultural divides

The conference also includes the final of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) moot competition, which showcases the incredible advocacy skills of law students from across the Commonwealth.

What sessions will you be attending?

A number of the sessions really chime with initiatives and other focus-areas of the Society. Given our work to promote diversity within the profession and understand the challenges still being faced by our own members, it will be fascinating to attend "Women in the Law". Women from different Commonwealth nations who have reached a high point in their legal career will be talking about their experiences, the challenges they have faced, and whether they have been, or continue to be, the subject of discrimination.

Similarly, "Innovative Access to Justice" should be an eye-opening session, as we’ll hear how other jurisdictions deal with problems accessing legal redress in the face of justice budget cuts, inefficient court processes and other current issues. There really is too much to go into in any great detail and at times, I think it will be difficult to choose what to attend!

Do you have any top tips for attendees?

1. Branch out. Even if one of the streams seems to apply most to your position or area of practice, look at everything on the programme and attend something that challenges you or that is out of your comfort zone. This conference should offer everyone the chance to experience something different.

2. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear the keynote addresses, even though they begin bright and early! It’s not often that you will have access to internationally-renowned Pakistani human rights defender, Hina Jilani, former Governor General of New Zealand and UN-appointed war crimes investigator, Dame Silvia Cartwright, and law reformer, former judge and chair of the recent UN inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea, Michael Kirby on one programme.

3. If you have the chance, attend one of the moot competition rounds that sit alongside the conference programme. Enjoy watching talented students at the beginning of their legal careers. They may be keynote speakers in the making.

4. Bring a stack of business cards!

For more information about CLC 2015, the 19th Commonwealth Law Conference, visit www.clc2015.co.uk/