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28 years ago, ij INTERNATIONAL JURISTS was founded as a way to expand cooperation between firms in Europe, offering clients the wider breadth of knowledge that such an international group of mid-sized high-quality law firms can bring. Over the years we have expanded globally and now have member firms in North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia (including both Hong Kong and mainland China, Vietnam and Singapore).

With the exception of the period impacted by the global pandemic, our ij INTERNATIONAL JURISTS members have gathered together each year at our Annual General Meeting, to discuss our mutual challenges, exchange our viewpoints, update each other on news from our regions and strengthen the personal relationships we value as a core tenet of our group.

Last year, our AGM took us to the fascinating city of Dubai where our hosts, Tribonian Law Advisors (TLA), provided us with an insight into a region which though extremely vital in many respects, was relatively unknown to many of our members.

Our Management Committee thought that this year, we should bring the event back ‘home’, to Germany, and opted to hold our AGM in Dresden, with the event organized and hosted by our founding member firm Dr KREUZER RECHTSANWÄLTE through its Dresden office.

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The meeting opened with a warm welcome from our group’s founder and Secretary Dr. Günther Kreuzer. On behalf of fellow board members Kalia Georgiou, Kalia Georgiou LLC Law Firm, Cyprus and Domenic Pini of Pini Franco LLP, London, he greeted our members with enthusiasm, thanking them for their attendance and expressing once again, his belief in the value of meeting personally. He then passed the chair to Dr Stefan Kreuzer who heads up the Dresden office of Dr KREUZER RECHTSANWÄLTE. His greeting and opening remarks included a short film presentation of highlights of Dresden and the region, along with a brief overview of the agenda for the meeting.

In addition to our attendees and hosts, we were joined by five guest speakers. The first of those, Bertram Eduard Wilhelm König, CEO and Managing Director at Sonovum GmbH, began the morning with a presentation of, among other things, the challenges and benefits of investing in startups in Germany, while also highlighting the strengths of research and innovation in the country.

We were then addressed by Tom Unger CDU, Member of Parliament in Saxonia, who treated us to a perspective of the current political climate in the region and took questions about the increasing presence of populism in relation to the upcoming elections.

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Following this, State Secretary Thomas Kralinski spoke with our group about growth in Dresden and the wider region, touting the innovation and drive which has resulted in the region being dubbed "the Silicon Valley of Germany". He also spoke of approaching the political divergence – not as competitive – but more as an ideological difference in how to deal with the issues that all Germans can agree are important. We were very honored to have him with us and appreciated his time enormously.

After a brief lunch, the afternoon session started with a presentation by John James McVeigh, founder of the firm Nexedonia, who joined us virtually to share his insight of how our members can market their firms to increase their presence and profitability. It was very interesting for our members to be reminded of ways in which they can market their businesses - something so important but often forgotten by those in the legal profession.

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Our annual events give new ij members the opportunity to present themselves and their firms to our group. This year, Elisabeth Alves, representing our new member firm Omilia Avocats, Luxembourg, introduced herself and her firm to our attendees along with outlining the practice areas in focus at their firm. It was a pleasure to have her with us to complete the final steps to becoming Member in full standing.

The final presentation of the day was given by Steffen Seitz, Research Associate, Electrical Engineering and Electronics Machine Learning and Explainable Artificial Intelligence, Dresden Technical University. Mr. Seitz gave us a brief introduction to AI from a technical standpoint and then went on to discuss how AI – in its present iteration – could be used effectively by those in the legal profession, followed by a short Q&A session.

Our Member Discussion forum, began with our member Szabi Kovacs of Kovacs Law Firm, Budapest, describing a years-long cooperation between his firm and our Italian member Gian Alberto Ferretti of Studio Legal Ferretti, Rome. It was fascinating to hear details of their journey through the Hungarian and Italian legal systems, to the eventual successful recent closure of the case. We then heard from Federico Vasoli of dMTV Global, Singapore and Vietnam, who explained the intricacies of a case in which he had to balance European clients’ issues with Vietnamese court machinations. This led to an open discussion about satisfaction levels with the judiciary in our member jurisdictions, length of time in which a case gets heard and the benefits of Arbitration as a viable option for dispute resolutions.

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The meeting ended with a discussion about where to hold our 2025 AGM. We are happy to to announce that Antoine Gautier-Sauvagnac and the firm FTPA will be hosting us next year their new offices in Paris. We are very grateful to him for taking on this task and will initiate the planning soon.

After the long day, over a shared dinner, our attendees toasted the success of the meeting and enjoyed the company of their ij colleagues.

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Not only do our AGMs give our members the chance to meet personally to exchange information and discuss developments and challenges in the legal profession, our annual event also offers attendees an opportunity to experience some of the culture and history of their host's region. Thus, Saturday began with a walking tour of the city of Dresden. Our tour guide Cosima Curth provided not only the view of Dresden today, but also the view of her life growing up, before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The tour included a coach ride to the area which was the home of the Stasi and ended with a lovely boat ride which took us back to the center of the town. It was a fantastic tour and all our attendees remarked on how special it was. The evening finished with dinner at Villa Marie, another historic location, on the river bank beneath the Blue Wonder.

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We thank all of our attendees for their input, enthusiasm and continued engagement in helping to make this 2024 AGM such a great success. We are grateful to everyone at Dr KREUZER RECHTSANWÄLTE for working so hard to put together such an enriching and rewarding AGM and we look forward to meeting again in Paris in 2025!

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