Sydney has stepped up its bid to host the 2014 "Olympics of the legal world" by taking the International Bar Association (IBA) conference organiser on a tour of the city and facilities.
John Corcoran, president of the Law Council which has put in the bid, said the conference organiser was last week shown the capacity of Sydney for large events, which was proved by the success of the 2000 Olympic Games.
"If Sydney can host the Olympics, it can certainly host the IBA conference very comfortably," he said.
Sydney is competing directly with Japan to host the event, with the final decision to be announced at an IBA management meeting in February.
According to Corcoran, Sydney has all the necessary requirements to host the conference, including facilities for the opening ceremony, social activities, numerous committee rooms, hotels and the Sydney Convention Centre.
Corcoran added that what may also help the bid is the fact that there are a number of Australians involved in the IBA.
"These are usually people from the large law firm groups who have prominent officer positions on the various IBA committees in their areas of specialty," he said.
Fred Chilton, partner at Allens Arthur Robinson and convenor of the IBA focus group, said law firms, law societies and law schools met with the conference organiser to help show Sydney's commitment to hosting the event. "She got to grasp the length and extent of the passion of the people (Australians) in the IBA," he said.
The IBA conference, which was last held in Australia in Melbourne in 1992, attracted 3,600 delegates to its host city of Buenos Aires when the gathering was held there last year, presenting the city to the global legal community.
Corcoran said the experience could be replicated locally: "We think it would be terrific for Australian lawyers to have so many lawyers from around the world come to Sydney," he said adding that Australian delegates - including young lawyers - would have the opportunity to mingle with the big names of the global legal community.
Chilton concurred, noting that lawyers don't always get the opportunity to attend these events when held overseas. "If we have it here, it will be a wonderful opportunity for [local lawyers] to be involved with the world's best."
While the event may be somewhat smaller than the Olympics, the application process alone to be host-city appears to have its similarities.
"We're talking about 2014 here, it's 2009 and we're already two years into the process," said Corcoran.
- Angela Priestley
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