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  • Huf Witnesses Major Changes at the UN

    During 2016, Mr. Huf had the opportunity to meet with both the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and the President of the UN General Assembly for the 2015-16 term.  As a Representative (Observer) to the UN on behalf of the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA), a recognized Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Mr. Huf took a keen interest in what they had to say.

    HE Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General; and Jason Huf (JHI)
    (Left to Right: H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; and, Jason Huf)

    Nearing the end of his second term, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been very earnest in showcasing and attempting to make effective his crowning accomplishment: the UN Sustainable Development Treaty (the Treaty), which garnered a record number of member states joining as signatories.

    In April, the Secretary-General reached out to the private sector, in particular the US Legal Community in New York City, to see what they could do to help promote and ensure the success of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are embodied in the Treaty (for more on the SDGs specifically, we invite you to peruse www.un.org).

    While the underlying purpose of the SDGs is noble (after all, who doesn't like clean air & water, equal rights, rule of law and the like), as lawyers we are limited to providing our corporate clients with legal advice, not business or public relations advice.  We can only advise our clients on how to be compliant with the laws and regulations of the relevant jurisdiction(s).  If a client were to invest in, say, Saudi Arabia (KSA) in such a manner that it promotes gender equality in that market, it may be a terrific selling point - but, that's a PR decision, not a legal requirement.

    We will discuss gender equality and other relevant issues in the KSA when providing JHI's write-up on Mr. Huf's attendance at and observations of the week-long "Riyadh Day" presentations at the UN.  As to the promotion and enforcement of the SDG's, it really is up to the signatories to pass executing legislation before attorneys can advise on how to comply with such provisions.   And let's face it, only government can concentrate the resources and power necessary to execute such sweeping and extensive changes.

    The odds of that happening really have to be measured on a state-by-state basis.  As to the Western states, Mr. Huf points out that in politics there is an ebb and flow, with a pendulum that swings right and left, and the present trend appears to be one wherein Western countries are electing more conservative, business-friendly governments.  If Mr. Huf is correct, then issues such as combating "climate change", for example, will (for the time being at least) take a back seat to pro-energy policies that are likely to be adopted by such governments.

    Irrespective of what one thinks of the feasibility of accomplishing the SDGs by the target date of 2030, no one should doubt the Secretary-General's sincerity in wanting these goals to be accomplished, or what he views as the UN's power to shepherd such change.  Mr. Huf found His Excellency's sincerity, passion and enthusiasm to be obvious in that he wears it on his sleeve.  He also thinks it obvious that the Secretary-General is highly intelligent, exceedingly accomplished, and a very nice man.

    Its a remarkable life story, really. From UN Refugee to UN Secretary-General:  finding himself to be a UN refugee at age 6 with the outbreak of the Korean War, to becoming an advocate for lasting peace as the Republic of Korea's (South Korea's) Foreign Minister, to being Secretary-General of the international body that once shielded him and his family as young refugee, he proudly says "I am a UN Boy".

    Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) & Jason Huf (JHI)
    (Left to Right: Morgens Lykketoft (Denmark), then-President of the United Nations General Assembly; and, Jason Huf)

    On the subject of choosing his successor as Secretary-General, Mr. Huf had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Morgens Lykketoft, formerly the Finance Minister of Denmark who, until this September, served as President of the UN General Assembly.

    Mr. Lykketoft provided an overview of changes to the selection process.  Perhaps the most fundamental innovation is the vetting of candidates by member states that occurs prior to the vote taken by the Security Council members.

    Whereas in past years the entire process of selecting a Secretary-General was dominated by the "Big Five" (the permanent Security Council members: the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom & France), candidates for their consideration are now first reviewed, narrowed down and subsequently voted upon by the General Assembly. 

    The Security Council is not bound by any recommendation made or preference expressed by the General Assembly; however, to elect a candidate that was not considered favorably by the General Assembly would be to risk a divide between the Secretariat (the executive wing and permanent bureaucracy of the UN, which the Secretary-General heads) and the member states themselves (upon which the very legitimacy of the UN relies).

    On the other hand, this increased, more hands-on role by the member states and the General Assembly as a whole could provide for greater transparency in the selection process and, when heeded by the Security Council, may lead to greater consensus between the General Assemby and Secretariat.

    This year, the revised process produced the election of Antonio Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal who once served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  He will take over the office of Secretary-General in January of 2017.

    In addition to achieving the SDG's, Mr. Guterres's efforts are promised to be focused on continued reform of the UN bureaucracy; continued streamlining, expansion and enhancement of refugee assistance; and, very prominently, an aggressive new "surge" in diplomacy for peace - an intensification in seeking resolution to the wide proliferation of conflicts around the world, especially those conflicts that have led to several severe refugee crises currently plaguing humankind globally.

    JHI congratulates Mr. Guterres on his election after a months-long campaign that included a rigorous review process resulting in consensus in both the General Assembly and (somewhat remarkably) the Security Council as well; and, cautions: careful what you wish for, sir - because now you've got it.

    The retiring Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, even after all of his success in his position at an institution he has loved and revered since childhood, nonetheless seems very happy to return home to Seoul after 10 rewarding - but long - years.  JHI congratulates him as well, and thanks him for his service.  We hope His Excellency enjoys a well-earned retirement after a long, but safe, journey home. 
  • Continuing Legal Education (CLE) in 2016

    In April of 2016, Mr. Huf was honored to serve as Moderator of two different panel programs offered by the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA).  The first program was a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course concerning the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA/ the Act), the second offered Ethics Credit and concerned Attorney "Branding" & conforming with the Rules of Professional Responsibility.

    The CLE panel on the FCPA discussed the increasingly broad and robust enforcement of the Act, and the implications for Corporations that do business internationally, as well as its responsible officers and the potential for individual liability/ culpability.  The panelists not only discussed what to do in the event of an FCPA problem, but their thoughts on how to avoid such problems in the first place - now and in the future as the law evolves.

    Jason Huf, Jay Safer, Glenn Jones, James McGovern, Clara Flebus
    (Left to Right: Jason Huf; Jay G. Safer, Wollmuth, Maher & Deutsch; Glenn Jones, Law Offices of Glenn M. Jones; James McGovern, Hogan Lovells; Clara Flebus, Co-Chair, NYCLA Foreign & International Law Committee)

    The Branding panel provided an overview of marketing methods and the why and how of establishing a "Brand" - the "dos and the don'ts".  (Mr. Huf notes that he still has to establish a Youtube page for his firm, JHI!)  The panel also discussed how to plan and execute a marketing program that does not run afoul of the Rules of Professional Responsibility and agreed that, in addition to being every attorney's responsibility, being Ethical should, in fact, be a fundamental part of an attorney's Brand.

    The Rules of Professional Responsibility tend to follow changes in technology, and developing technologies are an important driver in the evolution of legal marketing programs.  Accordingly, the panel also discussed trends and the direction the Rules of Ethics might possibly take, including recent recommendations by NYCLA, as rule-makers chase after these rapidly-developing technologies and the ethical implications of their use.

    Clara Flebus, Penn Dodson, Rick Brownell, James Walker, Steve Perih, Jason Huf
    (Left to Right: Clara Flebus; Penn Dodson, AndersonDodson; Richard Brownell; James Q. Walker, Richards, Kibbe & Orbe, and Chairman of NYCLA's Committee on Professional Ethics; Stephen Perih, TransPerfect; Jason Huf)

    As Co-Chairman of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee, Mr. Huf proudly notes that NYCLA constantly offers interesting, relevant and forward-looking CLE programs and other valuable forums for continued learning on a regular basis; and, states that consumers of such programs can look forward to the steady provision of additional thoughtful and cost-effective programs now and in the future.  For more information on NYCLA's CLE offerings, please visit www.nycla.org

    Mr. Huf will, of course, continue to advise friends and colleagues of CLE programs and other speaking engagements wherein he is a participant in 2017 as the new year approaches.
  • N. Mandela and How the "Soprano State" Doesn't Work in Africa, Either

    On the evening of September 22, 2016, Mr. Huf attended an event featuring Ndaba Mandela, Chairman & Co-Founder of the "Africa Rising" Foundation, and grandson of late South African President Nelson Mandela.  Mr. Mandela was in New York during the Convening of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and spoke at the New York City Bar Association on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) vis-a-vis African states, particularly Goal # 16 (concerning Good Governance, Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law).


    Ndaba Mandela, Africa Rising Foundation & R. Jason Huf, Huf International (JHI, pc)
    (Left to Right: Mr. Ndaba Mandela, Chairman & Co-Founder of the "Africa Rising" Foundation; and, Jason Huf)

    Mr. Huf grew up in New Jersey, and has lived there for roughly half the sum total of his life thus far.  He knows, first-hand, the economically and socially corrosive effects of political corruption, and the crippling effect a government that serves only to facilitate corruption can have on a state and the people who live in such a place.

    That said, Mr. Huf limited himself to listening.  After all, while lawyers may be at the bottom rung of the ladder among the govering class, lawyers are still part of the governing class.  Mr. Huf thought it best to listen to - and learn from - someone who speaks for some of the people of the developing world who have been poorly served (and, often, downright exploited and oppressed) by those who govern their countries:  "Far be it from me to tell him what he should want.  He knows what he wants!", Mr. Huf later said of his interraction with Mr. Mandela.

    More judges, better educational opportunities, and the like were offered up as being helpful tools in pursuit of SDG # 16.  But, Mr. Mandela most strongly asserted that it was up to the people themselves, not judges appointed by corrupt dictators and oligarchs, to assert themselves and demand access to the clean water, medical treatment and other resources which are rightfully theirs.

    He has a point - who would simply sit there watching their child die of a perfectly preventable disease and patiently wait for a UN team to swing by and, after some years, convince the multi-millionare colonel/ President of their otherwise poor country to suddenly have a change of heart and appoint honest judges and fly in doctors, food, agriculture & water treatment specialists instead of buying that third villa in Switzerland?

    And, he makes that point with evident sincerity and passion, as one might expect given the heavy legacy he inherits from his iconic grandfather.  The SDGs are ambitious and, if only because of that ambition, useful.  But, absent people demanding responsibility for, and power over, their own futures, the progress that can be made toward the SDGs is likely somewhat limited.

    Specifically, it does not seem possible to accomplish any of the SDGs without first making serious advances on SDG # 16, given the destructive and stifling effect bad governance and political corruption consistently have on  factors necessary to achieve the other Sustainable Development Goals.  Rule of Law is, quite simply, a must for any civilzation to achieve real success, whether it be Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the Republic of South Africa, or New Jersey.  And SDG # 16 is unlikely to be accomplished without the engagement of an affected population.

    Mr. Huf expressed genuine pleasure over meeting Mr. Mandela and looks forward to similar opportunities as he tracks the progress of the SDGs at the UN as Representative (Observer) of a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), particularly as and when such may impact the "corporate responsibilities" of companies doing business internationally.

    The evening with Mr. Mandela was organized by the New York City Bar Association's UN Committee, which invited the New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee to co-sponsor the event.  As Co-Chairman of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee, Mr. Huf hopes the success of this event provides the basis for establishing a model of cooperation between committees of different bar associations on synergetic issues of importance to the legal community and society more broadly.
  • Qatar's International Commercial Court

    As Co-Chairman of the New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, Mr. Huf enjoys the occassional pleasure of hosting some rather interesting guests.

    Just this past March, the Foreign & International Law Committee welcomed the Honorable Gerald Lebovits, Justice of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan and Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia, Fordham and NYU.  Justice Lebovits provided a presentation covering the Qatar International Court and the time he spent in Doha teaching local attorneys there.

    JHI has briefly covered Qatar's Bifurcated Legal System in an earlier piece and we refer you to it for some of the bare bones basics.

    Justice Lebovits, in addition to describing his teaching experience in Doha, discussed the history of Qatar's International Court (the Court) for hearing commercial disputes, the caliber of its personnel, its procedures and costs.  He also discussed some of the decisions already rendered by the Court, where he participated as one of its distinguished Judges.

    Clara Flebus, Gerald Lebovits, Jason Huf
    (Left to right: Clara Flebus, Co-Chair, NYCLA Foreign & International Law Committee; Hon. Justice Gerald Lebovits; and, Jason Huf)

    Justice Lebovits pointed out, at length, what he viewed to be the efficiency of the Court relative to Arbitration facilities elsewhere in the Gulf region. The speed, cost and fairness of the proceedings made the Court, from his perspective, an ideal solution for Dispute Resolution and wondered aloud why parties did not avail themselves of the use of the Court more often in the dispute resolution clauses of their agreements.

    Mr. Huf agrees that, on paper and based on performance thus far, the Court is an attractive facility. However, the Court was founded relatively recently (2009), and as an active international practitioner who focuses on the region, Mr. Huf made the point that attorneys might be more receptive to the idea of recommending the use of the Court to their clients after more data is at hand (that is to say, after the Court has adjudicated more disputes). Of course, with attorneys perhaps hesitating to suggest that their client be something of a new legal system's "guinea pig", it may take some time before such additional data is generated.

    That said, you would be hard-pressed to find a lawyer in New York City who is as knowledgeable of the inner workings of the Court and the procedures it employs than Justice Lebovits.  His entire presentation – including his positive view of the Court's cost and time-effectiveness – was well-informed and compelling.

    JHI invites you to research the Qatar International Commercial Court and Dispute Resolution Centre and draw your own conclusions:

    www.qicdrc.com.qa


    After all, as very good lawyers, aren't we always in search of the next "better idea"?

  • Huf Appointed Representative to the United Nations

    By R. Jason Huf

    It is with great pleasure, and not without some sense of humility, that I announce my appointment as Representative (Observer) to the United Nations (UN) by the New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA), a Non-Governmental Organization recognized by the UN.

    Observers have access to certain sessions and other events covering a wide range of topics, and I hope to put this exposure to the best possible use of NYCLA and the legal community as a whole.  Naturally, my own focus will be on the Middle East and topics important to those involved in the region, from Womens' Rights (and, Human Rights generally) to Banking, Energy, International Corporate Governmence and Trade.

    Jason Huf, JHI, UN, United Nations, International, Law, Legal, GCC, Gulf, Middle East, Jeddah, Saudi, KSA, New York, NYC, USA, Diplomatic, Representative, NYCLA, Observer    Of course, I am not a "One Man Army" -- I am working
       with a terrific team of dedicated professionals, and I  
       expect great results as we report back to our
       colleagues on issues of importance to international
       legal practitioners and other concerned classes of
       people.

       This is an opportunity - and, an honor - that I am
       committed to making the most of as our civilization
       marches ahead into an age of rapidly-changing times that
       may require some thought be put into changing legal
       constructs.
    And, hey, you can't beat Fun...

    It goes without saying that I will provide a report or two via this space as well.  Thank you for your continued interest.


      - Jason Huf
    Tuesday, March 1, 2016
    New York, NY
  • Finding the Fountain of Youth in the Future of International Legal Practice

    by R. Jason Huf

    It has been a while!  I haven't had much time for extraneous writing this year.  However, there's nothing extraneous about this:

    As Co-Chairman of New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, I was able to make time to accept New York Law School's (NYLS) gracious invitation to help organize and participate in a distinguished panel of international legal practitioners.  A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed sharing our experiences with some of NYLS's bright, internationally-minded students at their International Law Center in downtown Manhattan.


    Career Panel l-r: Prof Lloyd Bonfield, Giulia Previti, Patrick Turner, Jason Huf, Dr. Aurelie Bertoldo, International Legal Practice, NYCLA, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Jeddah, New York
    (Left to right: Professor Lloyd Bonfield, Director NYLS Center for International Law; Giulia Previti, Associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP [New York]; Patrick Turner, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, CBS Broadcasting; Jason Huf; Aurelie Bertoldo, JD Candidate - NYLS Class of 2016 & Honoroary Student Co-Chair, NYCLA Foreign & International Law Committee)

    The panel on Careers in International Law was moderated by Professor Lloyd Bonfield and included Ms. Giulia Previti from the New York office of the globally renowned law firm Freshfield's; and, Mr. Patrick Turner, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel with the Law Depatment of CBS - and proud NYLS Alumnus.

    I provided some career advice and shared some of my experiences as a legal professional working in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia.  However, the real "stars" of the panel were Ms. Previti and Mr. Turner - the insights they imparted to the students were pointed and profound.


    For me, just as compelling as my fellow panelists (and, they had some terrific stories to share) were the students in attendance and NYLS itself.  The Center for International Law, especially its Assistant Director, Mr. Michael Rhee, pulled out all the stops and extended every courtesy in hosting this event, displaying terrific organizational capabilities.  And, as has been typical of past experience during my time in our profession, the current JD Candidates at NYLS in attendance impressed me as serious, but down to earth, hard-working professional scholars brimming with ambition and curiosity.  I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with them, fielding their questions and otherwise interracting with them.  I have no doubt that the future of the legal profession, particularly the future of US-based international legal practice, is in good hands at the NYLS Center for International Law.

    Moments like my participation in this panel are among the most gratifying of my career.  It never fails to renew my enthusiasm about being a member of the legal profession.

    And, I would like to thank the Honorary Student Co-Chairs of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee, Ms. Shabnam Hajain and Ms. Aurelie Bertoldo, both NYLS JD Candidates in the Class of 2016, for doing so much of the leg work to make this happen.  In fact, if memory serves, the whole thing started as Ms. Bertoldo's idea (not surprising, as she is a student at a first-rate law school).  My Committee Co-Chair, Clara Flebus, and I couldn't be more pleased with their intellect, committment and work ethic.

    I only hope that they, and their internationally-minded colleagues studying law at NYLS, found our discussion at be least half as valuable as I found it enjoyable.


      - Jason Huf
       Friday, April 16, 2015
       New York, NY
  • Mr. Huf Appointed Co-Chairman of Foreign & International Law Committee

    JHI is pleased to announce that the Firm's Founder and Principal has been awarded the honor of serving as Co-Chairman of the New York County Lawyers' Association's (NYCLA) Foreign & International Law Committee, effective June 1, 2014.

    "This is an exciting time for the Foreign & International Law Committee, and NYCLA generally.  Jay (Safer) and Jacqueline (Wolff) have done a terrific job as Co-Chairs of the Committee over the last several years, and we have some pretty big shoes to fill.  It is an honor to follow them, and I will do my level best."

    Continuing the tradition of hosting excellent guest speakers, and working with NYCLA to explore the offering of CLE programs designed for international practitioners, will be at the top of Mr. Huf's agenda.

    Mr. Huf assumes the Co-Chairmanship of NYCLA's Foreign & International Law Committee with his distinguished colleague, Ms. Clara Flebus.  They will serve together for the 2014-17 term.