Amy Clowrey and Rick Thomas of the JLD executive committee report on the recent EYBA summer conference and AGM in Porto in June 2017.

The European Young Bar Association (EYBA) held its annual conference and AGM on 15-18June 2017 in Porto, Portugal. As the JLD is a corporate member of the EYBA we, as members of the JLD executive committee, signed up to attend the conference to represent the interests of the JLD and its members.

The EYBA is a non-profit European organisation that represents and brings together young bar associations throughout Europe. Membership of the EYBA is derived either through a young bar organisation that you are currently a member of, or on an individual basis. All JLD members are automatically members of the EYBA, through the JLD’s corporate membership, and thereby enjoy discounted prices reserved for EYBA members to attend their events.

Every year the EYBA holds an AGM during which a new committee is elected and members are invited to pitch to host the following years EYBA events in their country.

The conference kicked off with an informal drinks reception at the headquarters of the National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE) and was sponsored by the law firm Cuatrecasas Goncalves Pereira. The drinks reception overlooked the estuary of the Douro River and provided a relaxed environment for delegates to meet in advance of the conference, due to begin the following day. During the welcome reception we met young lawyers from various European jurisdictions allowing the JLD to expand its awareness and reach. The chair of the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division, Anna Romanskaya, was also attending the conference, thus allowing us to strengthen JLD relations beyond just Europe.

On the Friday morning the conference began. The conference included a number of seminars:

  • Social media and privacy law - an overview of the history of social media delivered by Ricardo Nascimento, lawyer and senior partner at MNA Advogados and Filipa Iglesias, lawyer at Abreu Advogados. The session explored how this niche area of law has developed, and subsequently struggled to keep up with changes in technology and evolving social conventions. We also learnt about digital privacy rights including ‘the right to be forgotten’ and workers’ rights. 
  • Robots and the law - an insightful session into the potential future of ‘Robo-law’ delivered by Nuno Sousa e Silva, lawyer and assistant lecturer in Law at Porto University and Luis Cabrita, IP technician at the University of Lisbon. The seminar explored artificial intelligence and raised a number of thought-provoking questions such as the liability of robots, how robotics should be regulated, and whether robots will eventually replace lawyers! 

Friday evening consisted of a boat tour of Porto. Porto is a beautiful city and as it is the second largest in Portugal, the narrow cobbled streets are always busy. The boat trip provided an opportunity to appreciate Porto’s beauty from a distance. Interestingly, whilst on the boat tour, we travelled under the six bridges running over the Ribeira, connecting Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. Following the boat trip we sampled traditional Portuguese cuisine. In the cellar of Cervejaria Brasão we experienced Francesinha, Porto’s signature dish. Francesinha is essentially a sandwich containing four different meats, covered in cheese and topped with a fried egg and a tomato sauce. Whilst one of us was not the biggest fan, your other JLD representative ate two of the dishes! 

The AGM took place on the Saturday morning. During the AGM the current committee ran through the achievements of the previous year, the financial report and other administrative items pertaining to the operation of the EYBA. The 2017 committee was then elected, with Nonna Leontieva being appointed the new EYBA president. The pitch for the location of next year’s conference and AGM was postponed until the International Weekend, scheduled for 28 September - 1 October 2017 in London. Following the AGM a revealing seminar on ‘how to make partnership’ was delivered by several partners from a variety of firms. As well as some helpful tips on how to stand out from your peers, the partners provided some insight on what they look for in associates, such as trying to anticipate a partner’s needs, adapting to a partner’s style of engagement, and an appreciation of different cultural workings.  At the close of the seminar delegates were guided on a walking tour of Porto which explored the city’s rich history and architecture. 

The conference’s finale was a gala dinner hosted at Taylor’s Wine Cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia (on the river’s opposite bank to the conference). The hillside setting was phenomenal, providing beautiful views of Porto and a wealth of history. Whilst at Taylor’s Wine Cellars delegates enjoyed a tour of the cellars, port tasting and an opportunity to solidify friendships made during the course of the conference.  

Amy Clowrey (JLD executive committee 2015-17) and Rick Thomas (JLD executive committee 2016-18).