The immediate past General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Joyce Oduah has written to the President of the International Bar Association (IBA) seeking a reduction in membership and conference fees for lawyers in developing countries.

In the letter made available to CITY LAWYER, Oduah recalled that she had last November “presented a paper as a Panelist at the International Bar Association Conference 2022 in Miami, Florida, USA on the topic International Strategy and the IBA: Building and Developing an International Strategy for Young Lawyers and its Implementation.

“The goal of the paper was to create a strategic framework based on best practices through which young lawyers could gain entrance into the international legal space and also position themselves for success in the international legal market especially through membership of the IBA and participation in IBA programmes and conferences amongst others.”

A former IBA Council Member and Vice President (West Africa) of the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), Oduah stated that “The purpose of this letter is to propose a reduction in IBA membership and conference fees for lawyers and young lawyers in developing countries. The statistics and examples used in this proposal are derived from Nigeria and United Kingdom.”

According to Oduah who is also a member of the Common Wealth Lawyers’ Association (CLA), “Upon research, however, I discovered that certain categories of lawyers are inadvertently excluded from access to the benefits of membership of and participation in IBA activities not for absence of knowledge but due to inability to afford membership fees and conference fees.”

She stated that “This category of lawyers includes Lawyers (more especially young lawyers) in Developing countries. Based on the above discovery, I suggested in the session that the IBA take active steps to ensure the inclusion of these category of lawyers through the reduction of membership and conference fees to ensure and promote diversity and inclusivity in IBA activities.”

She observed that her proposals are already being implemented by other international lawyer’s associations such as the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association (CLA), adding that “Conference Fees are reduced based on the economic development of the country (i.e. developing countries) and the numbers of years in practice (i.e. young lawyers) https://www.clcgoa2023.com/registration.html. The IBA in the past also subscribed to this model of determining conference and membership fees based on the economic classification of the individual’s country.”

Outlining the benefits of the proposed reduction in fees, Oduah urged that “This practice should be revived as it allows for greater participation of lawyers regardless of their nationalities and economic status.”

Below is the full text of the proposal.

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