Editor: Would you tell our readers something about your background and
Byowitz: I am the head of the antitrust department at Wachtell Lipton
Rosen & Katz, where I specialize in antitrust practice and policy, with a
special emphasis on mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and corporate
takeovers. All of those types of transactions are an area of specialty for our
firm and our antitrust department works hand in glove with our corporate lawyers
and other specialists in assessing transactions and then helping to make sure
the transactions happen. I graduated from law school thirty years ago and I
spent some of my early years in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of
Justice as a trial attorney, and later a senior attorney, working on mergers and
acquisitions and criminal price fixing and bid rigging cases.
Editor: As the Chair of the American Bar Association Section of
International Law, please tell us about the Section, particularly, the 2006
Spring Meeting in New York?
Byowitz: The Section is what we like to think of as the international
arm of the American Bar Association. The Section has over 14,000 members located
in over 60 countries, including many internationally minded lawyers in the
United States. We are the place in the American Bar Association for certain
areas of practice, for example, trade law and associated disciplines. We are
also very active in international dispute resolution, which is a major area,
foreign corrupt practices, money laundering and a whole array of other private
international business law issues. We are the only place in the American Bar
Association that regularly focuses on public international law issues. The
Spring Meeting is a reflection of the very wide range of activities of the
Section. The Spring Meeting, which is being held Wednesday April 5 through
Friday April 7, will have over 70 CLE programs packed into three days of
meetings. We have seven different program tracks and, what really needs to be
understood, is that those tracks are essentially separate substantive meetings
in their own right. What one can do if one is a dispute resolution lawyer
interested in public international law issues is peel off of one track and go to
another track. The social and networking events are common to everybody. This is
one of the best, if not the best, international dispute resolution conferences
of the year. This is a major conference for trade law, law practice issues,
international regulatory issues, and public international law issues.
Editor: Who are the co-chairs of the 2006 Spring Meeting in New York?
Byowitz: Soraya E. Bosi of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, Victor Xercavins
of Cuatrecasas and David Schwartz of Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz. They were
selected because they are very conscientious and are heavily involved in our
Section. They were involved in the preparations for our 2004 meeting and helped
make that a great meeting. I selected them two years ago right after the last
Spring Meeting in New York.
Editor: You stated that the meeting will host 70 programs divided into 7
tracks, including a corporate counsel track. Could you tell our readers how the
programs were developed and describe all of the tracks, particularly those
tracks of greatest interest to corporate counsel?
Byowitz: The way the programs were selected was through a solicitation
process, wherein we solicited two groups. We solicited the more than 50
substantive and regional committees of the Section of International Law for
program proposals. We also have a large and active planning group for the Spring
Meeting from which we solicited programs. From those sources we accumulated over
150 programs. Some of the proposals were overlapping, so we combined them. Some
proposals were better than others or were better suited for other meetings
throughout the year. So, we put together what we thought were the strongest set
of programs possible. They naturally fell into different groupings. We have a
customs and trade track, a dispute resolution/litigation track, a law practice
track, a public international law track, a regulatory track, a transactional
track and a corporate counsel track. The corporate counsel track has 13
programs. These include:
Hot Topics In International Securities,
Fighting global corruption,
Managing international M&A transactions,
The practical aspects of corporations expanding across
International operation from the perspective of the general
International tax enforcement program,
International white-collar crime program,
A trade remedies program for corporate counsel and
A corporate counsel perspective on dispute resolution.
Editor: Will there be corporate counsel speaking or moderating these
Byowitz: Yes, corporate counsel are an important constituency in our
Section. Corporate counsel are speakers in many of the programs, along with
outside counsel, government officials, and academics. We have world class
speakers with expertise in every subject matter presented. We are very welcoming
of corporate counsel. We expect people from all over the world to attend the
Editor: Will there be an opportunity for audience participation?
Byowitz: Absolutely. We encourage our program chairs to provide some
time at the end for some questions. I should mention that one of the things that
has distinguished us in recent years from other international bar groups is that
we have made a very substantial effort to get away from canned presentations and
have programs that are more interactive.
Editor: Could you also describe the outstanding highlights and keynote
speakers lined up for the Spring Meeting?
Byowitz: We have a special dialogue with Dr. Jane Goodall, the world
famous "Chimp Lady." She has realized that the greatest threat to wildlife is
the loss of habitat, and as a result, Dr. Goodall has become a very important
advocate for sustainable development. We have Judge Thomas Buergenthal, the U.S.
judge on the International Court of Justice. In a recent case that considered
the legality of the wall that Israel built to keep out terrorists, Judge
Buergenthal was the lone dissenter in finding Israel was not in violation of
international law. Our Friday luncheon speaker is radio and TV personality
Charles Osgood, who lived abroad for many years. He has a very good perspective
on how the world views Americans in general. We have not finalized the speaker
for the Wednesday lunch, but are looking forward to a prominent individual. We
also have three receptions in the evenings. The Wednesday reception at the
Waldorf Astoria is an international wine tasting and buffet. We have a reception
at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York on Thursday, April 6th,
which will follow a program about the lessons of September 11th for combating
international terrorism. We have a distinguished panel including former U.S.
Attorney General Richard Thornburg, former Governor of Illinois Jim Thompson
(who was a member of the 9/11 Commission), and Senator Joseph Biden. Then we
have a closing reception at New York University School of Law on Friday evening,
which corresponds with the opening of their reunion weekend. Also, Christine
Legarde, Minister of Trade for France, is speaking on one of our panels at the
Editor: I heard there are almost 60 law firms sponsoring the Spring
Meeting. Could you elaborate on why so many top tier law firms have shown this
Byowitz: Your information is correct. The reason we have so many
sponsors is, I think, that people like to be associated with something good.
Certainly the social and networking events are important, but the reason people
come to our meetings is to attend our programs. The programs are well regarded
and we receive a lot of good feedback. International law is a really broad field
and no one can be an expert in every single area, so even world class experts in
one area of international practice can learn a lot at our meetings. We also have
good content for everyone from the novice to the highly experienced
Editor: Is there a particular message the Section would like to convey to
the corporate counsel members who are our readership?
Byowitz: I think the message is that we very much welcome corporate
counsel. If you are a general counsel or a lawyer in a corporate legal office
and you attend our meeting, you will find that your corporation will get value.
We understand that corporate counsel have limited time and limited budgets, and
we also understand they are looking for the right place to go to gain the most
information on a cost and time effective basis. We think we are a place that
they should seriously consider.
Editor: What about discounts and how to get registered?
Byowitz: We provide admission for in-house counsel at a very low
price, which is about $595. Any additional in-house counsel that attend from
that legal department will get a discount rate of half price on the registration
because we want to encourage the companies to send their in-house counsel. (To
register go to target="\'_blank\'">http://www.abanet.org/intlaw/spring06/home.html, or
activate this link by visiting href="http://www.metrocorpcounsel.com">www.metrocorpcounsel.com.)
Also, almost every one of these programs is CLE accredited. If you are a New
York lawyer with a two-year CLE requirement and you attend four or five sessions
each day at this conference, you will satisfy your entire two-year requirement,
including ethics credits, which are very