10,000 US lawyers to attend year 2000 conference despite logistical nightmares

THE AMERICAN Bar Association is forging ahead with its plan to despatch more than 10,000 US lawyers to London for its millennium conference despite fears it could prove an administrative nightmare.

Both the immediate past president of the ABA, Lee Cooper, and new president Jerome Shestack, who took up the post at the IBA conference in San Francisco, are understood to have lobbied against the conference being held in London in the year 2000.

And although there is no turning back on the decision made last year by the 37 ABA governors, the organisation has admitted the conference is proving difficult to organise.

“There are logistical problems,” said Shestack. “Very few hotels can take more than 200 people.”

At this year's San Francisco conference an estimated 17,000 lawyers and their families were able to stay in around a dozen huge hotels that were all within walking distance of each other.

However, London is proving a difficult venue, especially as some hotels, like the Savoy, are refusing to take block bookings in anticipation of a huge influx of tourists to the City.

This will mean an anticipated 11,000 to 12,000 lawyers will be forced to spread out among 85 hotels in the capital.

Despite the difficulties the ABA is being careful not to offend its British hosts. Travel director Mary Cavallini said it had been to London every 10 to 15 years since the 1950s and it was a tradition many American lawyers wanted to maintain.

See conference report page 5