After attending this year’s International Commercial Law Alliance (ICLA) conference, our corporate solicitor Emily Glen-Hencher reflects on her experience. 

Each year the International Commercial Law Alliance (ICLA) holds their conference in the country represented by the incoming president. This year, the 2022-23 president Douw Breed (of Barnard Incorporated Attorneys, South Africa) passed the president’s sash to Dr Dominik Wagner of TIGGES, Poland.

The team at TIGGES chose to host in the former Polish capital of Krakow because of its architecture, history and sightseeing opportunities which they knew would delight and entertain their international guests. This certainly rang true, and the conference hotel itself was also perfectly located. Sitting in the main market square of Krakow Old Town, the beautiful Stary Hotel offered an abundance of nearby restaurants, bars and shops and on the first night we even took the opportunity to see some live music at a local jazz bar!

My colleague Laura McKnight and I were very grateful to find some time on our first day to take in the immense history of Krakow. Some of the most beautiful architecture was right on our doorstep, and St Mary’s Basilica became the daily backdrop to our ICLA experience. Historical landmarks such as the Wawel Royal Castle and Cathedral were just a short walk away, and we even managed to take a tour bus around the city.

Of course, the focus of our trip was the annual ICLA conference on Friday which, with a cohort of over 50 delegates, saw its highest ever attendance this year. With new members from Turkey, Malta, New Zealand, Botswana, Slovenia and Saudi Arabia, ICLA now welcomes representatives from seven continents. This was my first event with ICLA, and I was instantly struck with the sense of community between us all. The purpose of ICLA is to build relationships of trust and mutual respect across the world, and I could see a commitment to that goal from each and every member in attendance.

We spent the morning of the conference examining the impressive and growing economy of Poland which makes it the 6th largest economy in the EU. Dr Lars Gutheil spoke as the Executive Manager of AHK, the German-Polish Chamber of Commerce. From Lars, we heard that Poland is home to a range of industries including automotive batteries, gaming, furniture and white goods. This diverse portfolio makes Poland one of the most attractive countries in Europe for investors.

In the afternoon we heard from Dr. Maciej Madzinski whose presentation focused on the challenges facing law firms and businesses in the future. This session taught us ways to reframe our approach to challenges such as incoming AI technology. We then moved on to discuss the ICLA constitution and our goals and priorities moving forward. Being new to ICLA myself, it was really interesting to learn more about the inner workings of the committee and see the passion each member has for the community they’ve built.

In the evening, we all got to work celebrating another successful year of ICLA. The team at TIGGES arranged some spectacular meals – we had perfectly cooked steak, beautiful traditional pierogi and unforgettable chocolate desserts. Spirits were high and it was a fantastic opportunity to get to know each other and become firm friends.

I am incredibly proud to have been given the opportunity to represent Macdonald Henderson at the ICLA conference. The value of having an international network and being able to share knowledge and resources on a global scale, is immense. At times I found myself in awe of this group, and of the community they have created. Their dedication to building true, heartfelt business connections is something I will take forward throughout my career. As part of the Macdonald Henderson team, I look forward to continuing to work with our international friends and colleagues.