Chair’s Annual Report (2004-2005)

Lucius Smejda

ILS Chair (2004-2005)

This year we focused on improving our internal functioning and organization as well as expanding our international outreach programs. The Chairs objectives included primarily to establish solid and efficacious foundations for the continued movement of our Section towards world wide dynamism.

We commenced our year with two special retreats, in Miami and Gainesville, which were fountainheads of new ideas, committees, and actions. The input received resulted in improving our organization as follows:

1) stimulating the Executive Committee (composed of the Chair, Chair-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer and Immediate Past Chair) to meet monthly, with clear agendas, in order to effectuate actions and decisions; these meetings have in fact resulted in extremely positive and concrete steps being taken, especially since our Coordinator (Angela Froelich) also participated efficiently and rapidly;

2) clarifying and improving our other Committee structures and staffing them with dynamic new blood (all the while conserving experienced volunteers).

 

Our current standing committees consist of the following:

Certification(Chair: Andrew J. Markus)

Continuing Legal Education (Chair: John H. Rooney)

Customs & Trade Law (Chair: Peter A. Quinter)

European (Chair: Ambler H. Moss)

Faculty Council(Chair: Janet Stearns)

Free Trade Area of the Americas(Chair: John H. Rooney)

Improvements (Chair: John H. Rooney)

Immigration & Nationalization (Chair: Larry S. Rifkin)

Legislative & Governmental(Chair: J. Brock McClane)

Liaison (Co-Chairs: David S. Willig & John H. Rooney)

Litigation & Arbitration (ILAC) (Chair: Michael A. Tessitore)

Membership & Benefits (Co-Chairs: Alexander Reus & Heidi A. Schulz)

Publications (Chair: Francesca Russo-Di Staulo)

Russia & Eurasia (Co-Chairs: Maxim Istomin & Natalia Poliakova)

Taxation (Chair: William H. Newton, III)

Technology & Communications (Chair: Francisco A. Corrales)

Travel Law (Chair: Laurence D. Gore)

 

Our committees and volunteers accomplished much progress, including:

 

Executive Committee: (a)analyzed, planned and implemented an outstanding new website and adopted more modern technology (e.g., list serve); (b) encouraged new projects and events (e.g., the International Commercial Arbitration Competition in Vienna, Austria);(c)significantly improved the Sections organization.

 

European Committee: (a) organized a 5th outstanding International Investment Symposium in Miami in April 2005), focusing on the legal and practical considerations involved in direct investments (real estate, mortgages, private equities, natural resources) inbound into Europe, Russia and North America  with an amazing website: www.International-Symposium.com; with more than 200 attendees (including stellar speakers from Europe, Russia & North America) and with a spate of exciting events, including a gourmet dinner at Villa Vizcaya and an International Art Exhibition & Charitable Auction; and also (b) significantly improved our European contacts & partner organizations.

 

Faculty Committee: (a) expanded its members to include every prominent law school in Florida; (b) improved the student-practitioner-CLE relationships; and (c) assisted in organizing the Vienna Arbitration preliminaries involving the law schools of University of Miami; University of Florida; St. Thomas & Stetson.

 

International Litigation & Arbitration Committee (ILAC): (a) organized the Annual Arbitration Seminar in Oct. 2004, which was of the highest quality and heavily attended; (b) sponsored the Vis International Arbitration Competition, including the preliminary rounds in Orlando and the ultimate round in Vienna, Austria, where the Stetson Law School team became world champions!; (c) worked on various legislative initiatives, including amendments to Ch. 685 Florida Statutes; and (d) organized the annual litigation update seminar scheduled May 20, 2005.

 

Legislative & Governmental Committee: (a) monitored & weighed-in on several major legislative issues, including: Ch. 685 (jurisdiction in Florida as dispute resolution forum); Ch. 55 (easing domestication of foreign judgments in Florida); Ch. 48 (service of process on foreign corporations); and (b) communicating with various legislators & lobbyists.

 

Liaison Committee: Consisting of numerous section members committed to maintaining high-level contacts worldwide with Bar and similar professional organizations, our Liaisons have interfaced with some 16 national or regional organizations (e.g., Inter-American Bar Association; International Bar Association). Of particular interest, our liaisons strongly supported the Sections International Legal Programs.

 

Membership Committee: (a) developed a PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate the application of international law issues in Florida; (b) is organizing an ILS Awareness Taskforce to promote membership; (c) is analyzing the possibilities of increasing ILS member benefits; and (d) has appreciably increased ILS membership.

 

Publications Committee: (a) has published the Summer, Winter & Fall International Law Quarterly, containing thoughtful articles; (b) has refined the Gary Vause Memorial Scholarship Writing Contest (awarding prizes to Florida law students for outstanding, scholarly writings); and has in general supported Section events.

 

Russian & Eurasian Committee: (a) coordinated with ABA-CEELI the summer visit to Tallahassee by senior leaders of the Russian Federal Bar Association (65,000 members); (b) created the US-Russia Internship Program, wherein young Russian law students were actually received in Florida for legal training in July 2004 by Florida law firms; (c) actively assisted in the organization of the International Investment Symposium scheduled in Miami April 2005, including convincing major Russian legal and economic figures (including Russian personalities, the Vneshtorg Bank, AIZHK-the Russian Fannie Mae) to attend.

 

Tax Committee: (a) has supported our various seminars and furnished international tax speakers for the International Investment Symposium; and (b) is currently organizing its International Estate Planning Seminar for October 2005.

 

Technology & Telecommunications Committee: (a) has accomplished major improvements to our Website (with a new webmaster and design underway); (b) has performed outstanding and extensive information gathering, processing & evaluations in order to improve our Sections technological platforms for today and tomorrow.

 

Travel Law Committee: (a) is studying the potential benefits of associating with an excellent travel agency; (b) continued its affiliate work with IFFTA (International Forum of Travel & Tourist Advocates) which will meet again in Vienna, Austria in August 2005.

 

In short, our Section has been very active and has accomplished much this year. The enthusiasm and hard work of our volunteers – and indeed of our Committees- deserves the highest praise. Our Section Coordinator – Angela Froelich – also deserves special accolades. Many individuals deserve special mention, which editorial constraints preclude!

 

We look forward to inviting more active participation by new members, as we try to build our Section to world-class excellence! Please join us!