Sharing in the Common Wealth – by Tony McDaid

Tony McDaid is Chief Executive and Director of Clerking at No5 Chambers and Board Director and Chair of the International Committee of Birmingham Law Society

Whether you were a leaver or remainer I am sure like me you will be relieved that at least we now have a decision as to the direction of travel if not the detail. In the previous year much of the focus for the International committee was based on would we or wouldn’t we be leaving and hypothesising as to what it would mean for us all. That debate is ongoing and following on from the earlier lively debates on the topic where we hosted politicians, academics, lawyers and European specialists we plan to hold more events with BLS members and the wider business community once we have the outline of the future deal.

The redrawn map will undoubtedly present some obstacles but also opportunities with both lawyers and businesses generally looking to forge closer relationships with not just Club Europe but on a Global basis and the UK with its links with Commonwealth countries in particular could be on the verge of a new dawn. Some will quite rightly say the opportunities with the Commonwealth have always been there but they are brought into sharper focus as a result of the decision to leave the European Union. The BLS International Committee has, over recent years, been engaged with delegations visiting our City from the America’s, India and China to name a few. In addition, members of BLS have supported events, sometimes in conjunction with the DTi, to numerous worldwide events where the Birmingham Law Society has been promoted to prospective clients.

The main focus of the International committee in the last 12 months has shifted to the once in a lifetime opportunity that the Commonwealth games presents to Birmingham in 2022. Our committee has been plotting a path as to how we as a legal community can share in the benefits the games will bring to our city. We are fortunate that in Mandy Haque International Business Hub Development Director, we have the support of the BCC and its members in making the most of the opportunities that will present themselves in the lead up to the Games and thereafter. John Hughes of Shakespeare’s and I have met with Brigid Watson, the Secretary General of the Common Wealth Lawyers Association initially with a view to bringing the Associations well established conference to the city syncing with the games. We received a warm and enthusiastic welcome but had been pipped to the post by The Bahamas 2021 which we were assured had nothing to do with the marked difference in respective climates! Undeterred we pushed on and have an agreement with Brigid that we will put on a BLS International event immediately leading up to the games. That agreement in principal led to John and I meeting with Caroline McGrory who is Chief Legal Officer at Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Like Brigid before her, Caroline gave us a warm welcome and she too is enthusiastic about the opportunities that the games can bring to the city. We are holding ongoing discussions with Caroline, and of course Games sponsors Gowlings, over the coming months to ensure that the spotlight is not on the Games alone but that other aspects and professional services we offer from Birmingham are also given an opportunity to shine.

The BLS International Committee is small in number and as such we are always on the lookout for new members who feel they can bring something to the table and help us promote our great city and the lawyers within it. Whilst we view the Commonwealth Games as a great opportunity for everyone to share in the opportunities and rewards it can bring, we do not see the end of the games as being a cut-off point and one of our key objectives is to have a legacy after the games that gives those visiting our city a positive and long lasting impression of the city as a colourful , warm and diverse city quite unlike any other with the legal community and BLS at the very heart of it.