By Jeremy M. Evans, President, California Lawyers Association
London is one of those special international cities that is timeless and modern at the same time. It brings together history, culture, and people from across the globe, sharing the present and eagerly anticipating an exciting future.
California Lawyers Association’s Litigation Section has been organizing a “Legal London” program in London and just celebrated its 34th year. The October 2022 version also included a week in Edinburgh, Scotland. The next Legal London is set for April 7-13, 2024, and will include Edinburgh as an additional add-on opportunity.
On the journey across the pond, one’s mind can often wonder about the possibilities and excitement of the coming trip. We are challenged by meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, and immersing ourselves in the law and legal institutions of the host country. But in the United Kingdom, the resemblance to American law and legal institutions provides familiarity. We share the same language, and the origin of much of American law can be traced to the Common Law of England.
Any overseas trip or travel can be made easier and more enjoyable by the people one travels with. Legal London was no exception. Terrific attorneys, political leaders, judicial officers, barristers, solicitors, and “clarks” participated.
One of the more well-known participants to attend the Legal London program was former California Governor Pete Wilson (1991-1999), who also served his country and the state of California as a United States Senator (1983-1991), Mayor of San Diego (1971-1983), and California State Assemblymember (1967-1971). Governor Wilson was a United States Marine Corps infantry officer after he graduated from Yale University (B.A.). He is a licensed California attorney, having graduated from the University of California, Berkeley (J.D.). His attendance at the 2022 version of Legal London was the second time he has participated, the first being in 2019.
Pete, as his many friends call him, had a wonderful time at the program, attending both the London and Edinburgh parts of the program. Pete suffered a slight injury that slowed his pace briefly, but ultimately, a team effort pushing him in a wheelchair brought the pace up to a Marine’s standard. Pete’s appraisal: “The trip was stimulating, very educational, and great fun. My fellow travelers were very much a part of that, in addition to pushing my wheelchair.”
Pete was introduced to the Legal London program by a CLA colleague. Pete’s love of legal and World War II history brought together two worlds in London. Specifically, the Legal London program offered exposure to new things, history, travel, and meeting people with similar interests. In another special aspect of the trip, when the day’s schedule was completed, London has some of the world’s best and most diversified cuisines offering wonderful places to break bread together over a meal. Participants in the program often enjoyed an evening meal together when not visiting the courts in Cambridge, Oxford, The Old Bailey, and more.
The week in Legal London included attending a legal-based play and culminated with a reception and dinner in the Peers Dining Room of the House of Lords. Being invited to the Peers Dining Room and being in Parliament is among the highest honors and is generally reserved for heads of state, demonstrating the access that the Legal London program provides. One of the highlights of the experience was introducing the President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, The Lord Reed of Allemuir, Robert John Reed, Baron Reed of Allemuir, and Governor Pete Wilson at the reception in the Peers Dining Room. In expected fashion, Lord Reed was familiar with Governor Wilson, and the two became fast friends.
The Legal London experience was tremendous. Attorneys from across California, the United States, and the world attended the conference. It is unforgettable and would not be possible without the leadership and service of California Lawyers Association Chief Operating Officer and Associate Executive Director, Education and Member Services Tricia Horan; Litigation Section Chair Mary McKelvey; longtime attendee, group leader, and Litigation Section member Larry Beigel; Mosaic Event Management; and many others.
We hope to see you in London in April 2024!