IPBA launches in Tokyo with record turnout

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The Inter-Pacific Bar Association’s (IPBA) gathering, which is now in its 32nd year since its founding in 1991, officially kicked off in Tokyo on 24 April for a four-day annual meeting and conference.

Miyuki Ishiguro, IPBA
Miyuki Ishiguro

This year’s conference has attracted a record-high number of delegates reaching 1,372 registrants, Miyuki Ishiguro, the new IPBA president, told Asia Business Law Journal. India, Japan, mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany and the US are among countries represented.

Ishiguro, who is also a partner at Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu in Tokyo and has taken over the IPBA helm from Richard Briggs, said that one of the biggest tasks for her term would be to raise the number of members from the US.

“Unfortunately, the IPBA is not well-known in the US. The IPBA is an organisation focusing on Asia and the Inter-Pacific region, and we have a very small number of US members,” she said.

With next year’s IPBA conference scheduled to take place in Chicago, Ishiguro pointed to the need to gain more American members through efforts including organising events and seminars in the US.

Richard Briggs, IPBA
Richard Briggs

But the need for more US members is not just for the purpose of preparing for next year’s Chicago conference, but also goes back to the IPBA’s focus on reaching beyond the geographical limits of Asia and the Inter-Pacific region to include a wider non-Asian and non-Inter-Pacific audience, Ishiguro added.

For Briggs, the outgoing president, his term has been marked by unprecedented challenges.

“In some ways, what defines my term and achievement was taking the IPBA out of covid back to having a successful conference in Dubai in March last year,” said Briggs, who is also executive partner at Hadef & Partners in Dubai.

Briggs, who has served a two-year term rather than the set one-year stint due to the covid disruption, told Asia Business Law Journal that it was his mission to get the IPBA conference restarted in Dubai last year, with many countries including Japan, Korea and, particularly, China having had a longer process of exiting from covid than the Middle East.

This meant that Briggs and his team had to work extra hard to try to gain traction for the conference.

“We went on marketing trips promoting the conference locally in the UAE and around the Gulf. I also went to London, Paris and India and various other people from the IPBA had also travelled to events and held regional events as well as dinners around the world.”

But, with covid now behind us, Briggs’ advice to his successor is: “Enjoy the time as the president and it is an honour to be one.”

Ishiguro was officially sworn in as the IPBA president on 27 April, with the president-elect now being Michael Chu, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago.

Next in line after Chu is Priti Suri, managing partner of PSA, who will host the 2026 annual meeting and conference in her home town, New Delhi, India.

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