For the first time, the chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law is located outside the United States, the latest sign of globalization in the legal industry.

“Our sense is that I won’t be the last chair overseas — quite the contrary,” said Jeffrey Golden, a U.S.-qualified lawyer in Allen & Overy’s London home office who co-heads the firm’s U.S. law and derivatives practice.The chair’s location is the latest example of the section’s growing reach abroad. The number of foreign lawyers who are members of the ABA Section of International Law has been climbing, meetings abroad are drawing record numbers and the section’s leadership is increasingly involved in international projects.The section now has about 18,000 members, an increase of more than 30 percent from 13,150 members five years ago. The number of foreign members is up to 1,400, an increase of 10 percent in the last five years.”It’s one of the fastest-growing sections, and a part of that has been fueled by the increase in non-U.S. lawyers,” Golden said.Members come from 90 countries, including Azerbaijan, C�te d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ghana, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe.U.S. IS CRITICALChristian Lundgren of Copenhagen, Denmark’s Kromann Reumert joined the section in the spring. With 250 lawyers, his firm is one of the biggest in Denmark.”So much of what we get in Europe — for better or worse — the legal or commercial side stems out of the United States,” said Lundgren, a partner who focuses on capital and securities markets, commercial law and mergers and acquisitions. “So it’s very important for a European lawyer to be involved with an organization like the ABA because they tend to be at the forefront of what’s going on.”While the ABA is well known in places such as the United Kingdom, Lundgren said it is slowly becoming a more familiar name in other parts of Europe as well.”It’s certainly growing, and the fact that ABA International has taken on the effort to travel to Europe really shows that they want to have a presence in Europe,” Lundgren said.In October, more than 1,000 participants attended the section’s fall meeting in London.Golden has set three priorities since becoming chair in August: promoting the rule of law internationally; enhancing the dignity of international law and preserving the profession internationally; and giving something back to tackle some of the world’s problems.”The vision of the ABA Section of International Law is to serve as the gateway to international practice for the larger ABA,” he said, referring to the whole association, which has more than 400,000 members.MANAGING NATIONAL RISKGolden’s first official act as chair was to create the Task Force on Financial Engineering for Economic Development, or FEED, which has members from private practice as well as academia and financial institutions.The group aims to use financial techniques to help the least-developed countries manage their risk, such as helping a country shift risk if it is dependent on one commodity. That way, lawyers can help other countries tackle problems that are not necessarily legal, but require their expertise, Golden said.The number of task forces has nearly doubled from last year to seven, and members are traveling all over the globe to work on the section’s goals, Golden said.Other new task forces include one on the rule of law and public health, as well as one on women’s rights.A number of U.S. lawyers based abroad also are ABA members. Walter H. White, a partner in London’s Grundberg Mocatta Rakison, said he has been just as active in the ABA since moving overseas in 1994.”The American Bar Association is one of a few organizations in the world that’s large enough to have a community of lawyers who are engaged in the sorts of activities I’m engaged in,” said White, whose work consists of multinational securities transactions, international business and finance law issues, and complex litigation and related arbitration.Today, the Section of International Law also has more lawyers based abroad in leadership positions such as Golden’s, due to a 2005 change in bylaws that allowed non-U.S. lawyers to become full voting members.Golden’s firm alone has 12 attorneys in the section’s leadership positions, only one of whom is based in the United States. For example, a Hong Kong partner co-chairs the section’s International Financial Products and Services Committee, and a Frankfurt partner is a vice chair of the International Mergers and Acquisitions Committee.