Every year at the Annual Congress, just before the Opening Ceremony, a small but important function takes place: the Voice of the Profession session. A topic linked to human rights, advocacy or rule of law is chosen and discussed by high-level speakers.
“The Voice of the Profession was launched in 2009 during the AIJA annual congress in Budapest by then president Duarte de Athayde”, explains moderator and organiser of the session, Orsolya Görgényi, AIJA Immediate Past President. “These sessions traditionally organised by the Human Rights Committee usually address topics that are of crucial importance to young lawyers.”
“This year the topic is gender equality in the legal profession and in leadership positions, but with the overall theme of the congress being new technologies, we will focus on the impact of innovation”, says Görgényi, who also proposed the topic. “During my term as president I had several occasions not only to experience, but also to talk about the challenges of being a woman, a mother, and have a demanding job as an M&A lawyer in Hungary on top of the presidency of AIJA. I became more and more passionate about gender equality in the legal profession, innovation, changing the profession and law firms.”
The speakers will include Tsukiko Tsukahara, Vice President, Catalyst Japan – a leading non-profit organisation accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion and promoting the measurable and documented benefits of having women in leadership positions.
Tsukiko worked at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, as well as Boston Consulting Group, before she joined Catalyst in 2015. She will address the impact of innovation on the future of the legal profession through Inclusive Leadership, presenting the important data, research results and proven benefits of inclusion.
Also speaking will be Dana Denis-Smith, Entrepreneur, Founder & CEO at obelisksupport.com. An ex- lawyer, she founded obelisksupport.com to keep city lawyers, especially mothers, working flexibly, around their family or other personal commitments and to provide clients with an affordable and quality legal support solution onshore. In 2014 Dana founded a unique history project - www.first100years - charting the journey of women in law through a video social history @first100years.
“We are also very honored that both Hilarie Bass, incoming president of the American Bar Association and Sara Sandford, current Chair of the ABA Section of International Law accepted our invitation to be on the panel and share their experience and valuable insights”, says Görgényi. “We will have US, European and Japanese perspectives.” It is a topic familiar to all law firms, and one they must confront if they are to stay competitive.