Over the next five months, New York State Bar Association President Hank Greenberg will reach out to every major bar association around the world.

"Our goal is to make connections and to enter into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with as many international bar associations as possible," said Greenberg.

"This is the future of our association," he added. "There are 300,000 attorneys admitted to practice in New York. And 180,000 of them live and work outside of New York." Simply put, he noted, NYSBA needs to meet its members where they live.

Greenberg made the announcement at a luncheon meeting of NYSBA's International Section, part of the association's Annual Meeting, Jan. 27-31 in New York City.

An MOU memorializes the parties' intent to cooperate in areas of mutual benefit. It is an agreement to work to develop and strengthen relationships and to find areas for collaboration.

"Each MOU formally establishes our relationships with our international partners and allows us to work together with them to increase membership, provide resources to members of both organizations," Greenberg added. "Most important, it increases opportunities to provide support for the rule of law." 

New MOUs
At a meeting in Seoul last fall, NYSBA representatives made connections with leaders of the Seoul Bar Association, Korea's largest. In November, when the International Section held its global conference in Tokyo, Greenberg met with leaders of Tokyo's major bar associations and its biggest law firms. Both meetings resulted in agreements to cooperate. Representatives from the Seoul Bar Association and the Dai-Ichi Tokyo Bar Association joined NYBSA leaders at the Annual Meeting, to formalize their relationships by signing MOUs.

Greenberg and Seoul Bar Association President JongWoo Park signed a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations on Wednesday, Jan. 29. The Seoul Bar Association is Korea's largest. With 20,500 members it represents nearly three quarters of the nation's lawyers.

At the signing, Greenberg expressed his pleasure at this new partnership.

"This agreement is enormously important to us, to the bar and to the International Section. It is the future of our membership," said Greenberg, noting that the largest segment of overseas attorneys being admitted in New York are from Asia. 

President Park thanked President Greenberg and expressed his gratitude for the invitation to come to New York.

"We first met with NYSBA leaders in Seoul in 2018, and the document we signed today is a product of our discussions," said President Park, adding that among the goals is to have Korea-New York lawyer exchanges and to learn about each other's cultures and law.

On Thursday Greenberg and Kotaro Yamamoto, chairperson of the International Exchange Committee of the Dai-Ichi Tokyo Bar Association (DTBA), signed an MOU between the two organizations. The DTBA is one of the three largest bar associations in Tokyo.

"We are honored to meet such extraordinary leaders in the legal profession," said Greenberg. "When we met in Tokyo last fall, we knew we could work together. This is a great moment for our bar associations." 

"This relationship is so prestigious for us too," said Mr. Yamamoto. "This is our tenth MOU. We have made an alliance with the American Bar Association and are happy to make a productive alliance with NYSBA."

Outreach effort
"This effort is critical to the association from a membership perspective, because one of our greatest opportunities for growth is international," said Greenberg. "It also is critical that we lawyers everywhere communicate and collaborate to fulfill our obligation to advance the rule of law around the world."

Section Chair Diane O'Connell observed that the section was on the cusp of a growth spurt.

"We have added a new chapter in South Africa and will see chapters in Texas and Chicago this year. We anticipate opening new chapters in Thailand and Uruguay in the future," said O'Connell. "Developing an understanding of each other's cultures and legal systems is key to good international relations and support for the rule of law throughout the world."

NYSBA now has MOUs with nine international bar associations. The International Section includes 65 chapters and members from more than 100 countries.