NYSBA Forges Alliance With Georgian Bar Association
As part of its mission to forge relationships, advance justice and strengthen the legal profession across the world, the New York State Bar Association entered a collaboration with the Georgian Bar Association today.
Two representatives from each bar association met at the Bar Center on Elk Street in Albany on Thursday to sign an official MOU or memorandum of understanding. As part of the agreement, NYSBA’s International Section established a Georgian chapter that will begin to meet digitally in the coming months.
“The mission of our association is in part to shape the development of law, to educate and inform the public and respond to the demands of the diverse and ever-changing legal profession. Our members are all over the world,” said NYSBA President T. Andrew Brown in opening the MOU signing ceremony. “One of the aspects of our association that I am most proud of is our tireless commitment to promote equal justice for all. That is what makes us special as lawyers. That’s what makes us special as a bar association, and the Georgia bar association shares many of our collective ideals and values.”
Brown noted that the establishment of the Georgian chapter of the NYSBA International Section is a testament to both organization’s “ability to build bridges.”
David Asatiani, president of the Georgian Bar Association, elicited laughter from the crowd watching the ceremony by noting that while Brown was the 144th president of NYSBA, he is only the 4th in the history of the Georgian Bar Association.
Asatiani described his country’s long struggle for independence and the push-back the Georgian bar faced for being independent from the government. He noted that the USAID and the American embassy in Georgia helped the association win a fully independent bar.
Asatiani touted the way his organization successfully advocated for the establishment of jury trials in 2011, following the American model, and how its members continue to work toward a fully independent judiciary.
Founded in 2005, the Georgian Bar Association quickly faced challenges from critics who didn’t believe the association should exist as an independent body. The association forged ahead with the help of international partners and has established a code of ethics, vibrant committees that debate the intricacies of various practice areas and a practice of providing essential resources to lawyers across Georgia.
“We have long seen the United States as a key partner for Georgia,” said Asatiani. “And our aspiration is close cooperation with the European Union and the West. We hope to continue this integration with European structures, and we fully realize and acknowledge that without the protection and the establishment of the rule of law and empowering of the independent and qualified legal professions that it’s impossible to develop our democracy.”
NYSBA International Section Chair Edward Lenci said he is looking forward to working with the new Georgian chapter.
“We started talks about signing this memorandum of understanding about two months ago, and I wasn’t sure that it could happen so quickly,” said Giorgi Tshekhani, executive director of the Georgian Bar Association. “But apparently, we did it, and I want to thank Edward for all the work you’ve done…. And of course, President Brown for his support throughout this process.”
Gifts were exchanged between the two organizations, including Georgian wine and books about NYSBA’s history. That will only be the start of the exchange, as the agreement stipulates that NYSBA and the GBA will exchange legal publications, materials and information, as well as lawyer visits at educational events and programs, especially those pertaining to international legal issues.
NYSBA has now entered numerous MOUs with bar associations around the world, including other recent collaborations with the Nigerian Bar Association, Seoul Bar Association in Korea, the Dai-Ichi Tokyo Bar Association in Japan and the Bucharest Bar Association in Romania.
NYSBA has members in all 50 states and in over 100 countries worldwide.