International Law and Immigration

Section Profile: International Law

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By Alexandra Darraby, Co-Chair, International Law Section

The International Law Section (ILS) is a relatively small but important component of the California Lawyers Association. The ILS is the global profile of the CLA, outreaching to lawyers around the world to extend and embrace rule of law, human dignity, mutual cooperation and objective norms in the practice and advocacy of law. ILS is not merely committed to diversity, it is the emblem of a diverse legal community. ILS members represent dozens of countries, ethnicities, religions, foreign bars and governments.


In 2018, CLA launched as a nonprofit, voluntary organization and the new base for all the former Sections of the State Bar of California and the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA). CLA is a member-driven, mission-focused organization dedicated to the professional advancement of attorneys practicing in the state of California. The CLA’s extensive membership represents the vast diversity of California’s legal community and the various areas of law practiced throughout the state. ILS adds diversity of legal systems and the dedication to justice here and abroad.

The State Bar authorized ILS to enter into Friendship Agreements with foreign bar associations as part of its outreach. CLA passed a resolution formally recognizing the role of ILS, as the official representative of the CLA, to continue that function. ILS leadership, in conjunction with the ILS Foreign Relations Committee, in 2018 developed criteria and protocols for foreign bar associations which were adopted by the ILS Executive Committee. The “Friends” were asked to execute updated Foreign Bar Friendship Agreements to reflect the shift from the State Bar to CLA. In September 2018, Friends from Mexico, Malaysia, France, Japan and Vietnam attended the inaugural CLA Conference to celebrate these relationships.

CLA honored its foreign delegates at the 2018 Annual Meeting


The ILS will continue to perform this important outreach function for lawyers in California under the CLA as it did under the State Bar. ILS is engaging in new and innovative ways to better serve our Section members and the California public and community in this new era. In addition, ILS is planning to offer services to benefit the diverse residents of California and larger communities. These include:

• Law Lunch: A free, monthly half-hour teleconference to gather ILS lawyers for informal updates and discussions of international developments as they impact legal practice, adopting collegiality as a core dynamic of cross-border cooperation.

• Immigration Outreach: A matrix of laws, rules, regulations and policies affecting immigration provided by immigration lawyers in California who are experienced in the intricacies of this field and current practices. ILS is planning to partner with CLA Strategic Partnerships and Special Initiatives to enable lawyers and others to inform their own choices by accessing this valuable resource.

• Foreign Bar Events: ILS members are invited to networking and educational events both in California and abroad. For example, a trip to Eastern Europe involving various Friends is in the planning stages.

• ILS Journal: California International Law Journal Editor-in-Chief Catherine Carlisle formed a broad-based volunteer Editorial Board, adding foreign advisors for the first time in its history. The Journal’s articles tackle new and provocative developments in the international arena as well as updates and continuing analysis of foreign and domestic laws that affect California.

• CYLA: ILS partnered with CYLA to provide an educational panel at the CLA Annual Meeting on international careers and preparing for international law in the early years of practice. ILS also sends international lawyers to law schools throughout California to offer law students and LLM’s information, strategies and guidance on forging global career paths in different fields of practice.

• Globe Travel Webinars: Stash your passport but visit the world as lawyers from other countries offer expertise and advice on civil and common law affecting clients of California lawyers. ILS webinars cover all fields of law with an international dimension, from public and private treaties and conventions in which the US has a membership to those of other nations and communities.

• Legislation: ILS actively monitors legislative initiatives. In 2018, ILS successfully initiated broad-based CLA support of proposed legislation regarding international arbitration (SB 766) in the California Legislature, and worked with the CLA Director of Government Affairs to educate lawyers on SB 766, which passed on the recommendation of CLA, and is now law in California.

As you can see, ILS is a small but active Section among the many in CLA, and its scope and breadth of many fields of law enables those from any practice to join, give back and learn. If you are an ILS member and would like to assist on any ILS initiative, please contact me. Not yet an ILS member? Join us now.

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