International Weekend and the Opening of the Courts

  • January 08, 2018
  • Preston Parsons

From Sept. 30, 2017 – Oct. 3, 2017, I had the honour and privilege of attending International Weekend and the Opening of the Courts in London as CBA YL Chair. Kerry Simmons, Q.C., attended the Opening of the Courts and together, we made up the Canadian contingent in London for those few days.

International Weekend is a gathering of young lawyer leaders from different parts of the world. I met attendees from Spain, Norway, the U.K., the U.S., the Netherlands, and many other places. I unfortunately only made it to the tail end of International Weekend: the black-tie gala on the final evening.  

The Opening of the Courts is a three-day event that included a variety of meetings, ceremonies and distinguished talks. From tuxedos to court robes and wigs, the various events we took in came with a dress code and brought lots of excitement and a true sense of privilege to belong to our profession. We attended Middle Temple and heard lawyers from Poland and Africa speaking about serious threats to judicial independence and the dangers to lawyers who try to guard it. We heard about the status of efforts to move toward a more diverse legal professional around the world. We took in a joint Protestant and Catholic service at Westminster Abbey that blessed the legal profession and judiciary worldwide, so that we may act in the interests of justice, make the right decisions, uphold the rule of law and help those in need. I met extraordinary and inspiring lawyers from around the globe, many of whom I hope to continue to count as friends into the future.

It has been many years since the CBA YL Chair attended International Weekend and the Opening of the Courts. Indeed, many attendees expressed surprise that Canada was back on the scene. The funding for the CBA YL Chair to travel for the event was cut years ago, but I made the decision to absorb the cost personally for the experience of attending and am glad I did. It was a tremendous career and learning opportunity and an honour to wave the Canadian flag and showcase things we are doing here at home with legal futures and diversity in the profession that many parts of the globe remain well behind. I returned home a little prouder to be a lawyer, especially a Canadian one.

Some pictures of my time are included with this post.

Preston Parsons is the Chair of CBA Young Lawyer