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Often when chatting to the highest of achievers, it is difficult to match the success with the person sitting in front of you. The boldest don’t seem quite so bold, the most eloquent politicians lose some of their grace. But there is something truly reflective of the personality of an IBA president when one meets Dianna Kempe QC. She is below average height, and looks a little like Dame Judi Dench. One immediately senses she has a lot of warmth and a genuinely caring nature. She talks a huge amount, shifting unconsciously between an American and English accent. Her conversation is full of forceful conviction, and she rarely pauses — vital qualities if she is to convince the world of her ambitious plans. She has a vision and wants to convey it as vividly as possible to as many as people as she can. After all, she is the first woman president of the IBA, which, in her view, is still a very male-dominated environment, although she believes this is improving. Only 10 percent of the 16,000 IBA members are female, and very few are among the higher echelons, Kempe says. The IBA is advantageous to lawyers because it is an excellent organization to network; obviously, as women are not joining en masse, then they are being denied that opportunity to progress up the ranks of the world’s most prestigious legal association. Kempe wants to change that inequality, which she admits is institutional rather than deliberately inspired by men. When mentioned to Kempe that the IBA conference has a session on the implications of the Vodafone-Mannesmann takeover — an area of big interest for Kempe, as she practiced cross-boarder work for the last 16 years — she says she has no time to attend. She will be either giving her own talk or speaking to lawyers — either way she will be talking. She says she will talk almost non-stop from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 pm during the conference in Amsterdam. For someone who has specialized in the complex world of liquidation and cross-boarder mergers for so long, she conveys confusing ideas in a quite simplistic way. She maintains an informal style — an excellent quality for those endless parties and managing a team of lawyers at the Bermuda-based law firm, Appleby Spurling & Kempe, where she is managing partner. “The trick is not to tell the lawyers in my firm that they are wrong, but to convince them that you are right,” she says. But it is clearly not just tact that has earned Kempe the presidency. She was first asked if she wanted the presidency back in 1991, “by some more liberal male IBA members,” she says. Ten years on, she says she thoroughly deserves her appointment; she believes she is not often taken to such self-praise and that modesty is far more her style. In 1991 she was, and remains today, managing partner of a successful law firm. (The firm is reported to be very successful, capitalizing on the influx of U.S. corporations attracted by its business-friendly tax policies), and she has done her fair share of pro bono work. “I’ve got credibility in the business side and the professional side, and I’ve earned my dues as a pro bono lawyer,” she remarks. She considers it the responsibility of every lawyer to do pro bono work to make a little difference to our troubled planet. Indeed, she considers her presidential work as equivalent to doing good work for no fee. One of her major concerns about the global legal establishment today, and one which she wants to address during as IBA president, is the extent of untapped talent which could be assisting in, say, countries which have no upholders of the rule of law such as Sierre Leone and East Timor. WAR This lack of real social concern among lawyers is a result of their focus on their success in globalization over the last five years. The result, she says, is that there is a “war” going on between earning money and making social good. She points out that in England and other leading European business centers there is no obligation for lawyers to do pro bono work, while there is in the U.S. “Making the balance between these forces is absolutely essential in our core values. The lawyer has to give back, wherever they come from,” says Kempe who frequently uses repetition to drive home her point. “We have the infrastructure to make a difference. The Human Rights Institute has focused on Pakistan for the last two years, and had many really good meetings with the government, pre- and post- revolution, on the independence of the judiciary issue. There are a lot of lawyers who want to do pro bono work if they are only given the opportunity.” She feels “ageing” lawyers who have time on their hands, excellent brains, and who are perfectly healthy, could easily engage in programs, paid for by global organizations like the U.N. and the IBA, to provide assistance in third world countries. However, there are a lot of forward-thinking firms which do very little beyond commercial work. Says Kempe: “Many lawyers are not worried about boundaries; they are not worried about anything other than serving clients. The reason why there is all this burgeoning e-commerce works is because the clients wants it.” Kempe argues they have a duty to the public and that they should follow the lead of some industries which are doing this. Her example of a benevolent business is Shell. Globalization has also clearly meant that national Bars have been thrust together, opposed to operating in isolation, and the glue holding them together is the IBA. “Until about four years the IBA reached out, but the Bars found it very hard to reach in. Lawyers now have to think about issues which affect not only them, but lots of other people worldwide, such as multi-disciplinary partnerships, foreign lawyers and so on,” says Kempe. The spread of business has, to use Kempe’s analogy, become like the weather — “it goes wherever it wants to go,” As president, Kempe wants to focus on developing the regulations governing the profession: “Bar leaders really have a challenge on their hands at the moment to effectively consider how to regulate their profession in the context of globalization. The IBA’s job is to collate and pull together Bars from all around the world to build a consensus.” SPLIT She hopes to focus on lawyers resolving confidentiality and conflicts of interest problems. “There are real problems around these issues, particularly the latter, which is splitting the profession,” she says. “Law firms have to make sure that when they act for somebody they are not acting against that person in another jurisdiction. What is confidential material in one jurisdiction is not in another. My role as president is bringing that consensus-building further forward,” says Kempe. She is also passionate about bringing down the barriers stopping lawyers practicing in foreign jurisdictions. However, making changes without holding hands with the decision makers will not be easy. Kempe will have to rely on the IBA advising Bar leaders who then persuade their governments. But, says Kempe, at least Bar leaders are talking among themselves more than ever. She recently visited Fiji in the South Pacific where about 40 leaders had fruitful discussions –”before they would never have even met each other, let alone sit down and discuss ideas,” Kempe points out. Like the good speaker Kempe probably is, she targets personal experiences to highlight big points. In her tirade against the female-unfriendly profession, she refers to friends who are senior lawyers with excellent credentials who are given impossible targets and whose value is unrecognized among male colleagues. She wants to reverse the male dominance of the IBA’s complex corridors of power, partly by continuing the growing influence of her Women’s Interest Group, which she established, offering cheap training programs in advocacy, interviewing and negotiation. Kempe says she had to work far, far harder than her male predecessors to become president.

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