President's Blog, January 2024

Posted: 29 Jan 2024 by Rachael Kelsey

A five Monday January is quite the challenge in the northern hemisphere, but only 23 sleeps to Brisbane and some warmth! I do hope all of you have enjoyed a good start to the year and that I’ll see lots of you in Brisbane. It’s not too late to come, if you haven’t booked…


Brisbane was one of the 52 places that the New York Times identified as ‘Places to Go’ in 2024, so you can steal a march and get it under your belt early, if you’re the competitive type. Another 2 of the NYT 52 Places to Go, will also be on the IAFL calendar this year - Paris, when the European Chapter will host us in December and Thessaloniki will be home to the Introduction to European Family Law in April. More to come of those meetings in due course. We hope to ‘go live’ with registration for the AGM in Boston (5-8 June 2024) next week, so keep your eyes peeled for that, and there are still some places on the post-Seattle meeting Alaskan cruise available.


It’s going to be wonderful to be with the Chapter in Brisbane - they are completely flying and we owe their leadership team an enormous debt of gratitude for all they are doing to encourage practitioners to become involved with the IAFL and strengthening connections with other organisations. You can find the AsPacEd monthly newsletter on the website to get a flavour of all that is going on and stay close to their work.

One of the organisations who we have had close links with for many years is LawAsia - we’re delighted to be partnering with them for the Introduction to International Family Law symposium immediately before the Brisbane meeting, and this comes on the heels of AP Secretary, John Spender, being invited to speak at their 36th Annual conference in Bengaluru in India in November 2023. Again, it’s not too late to book onto the IAFL/LawAsia symposium if you are coming to Brisbane!

In other news - and on the reaching out to practitioners front - the powerhouse that is Kai Yun Wong, who will take over as President of AP Chapter in Brisbane, and Fellow, Jason Tian from Shanghai (in particular) need to be thanked for the work they did last month. In December Kai Yun lead a wee group, comprising, Rita Ku (Hong Kong), Eleanor Lau (Australia), Jason Tian (PRC) and Steve Yoda (USA) on a road trip to Shanghai to meet practitioners there to introduce them to the IAFL. Jason very kindly hosted a meeting at his offices for 30 people - the 3 hour programme was also livestreamed and… they had 2,000 practitioners from across China who logged on! They made some really valuable connections while they were there, and I look forward to hearing more in Brisbane. Many thanks not only to Kai Yun and Jason, but also to Rita, Eleanor and Steve for making the trip to represent us in Shanghai.

I shouldn’t pre-judge the end of year data, but the AP Chapter are the ones to watch, and if I was a betting woman, I would put money on them continuing the trajectory they have been on - the report to the Executive Committee last year was, “The Asia Pacific Chapter is the fastest growing cohort, with consistent growth from inception six years ago.” Watch this space!


I’ll have more for you after the Executive Committee meeting in Brisbane about other things you can expect this year. I will give you an update on the fellowship make up, as a whole (and final reminder for anyone who has not paid their dues - cut off point is 31 January 2024); I will tell you more about the work that is being done to modernise the admissions process a little, by introducing more user-friendly admission and reference forms, and publishing guidance for potential applicants, to, we hope, demystify things, and I shall also be telling you about changes to how the committees operate - we want to give you all a greater opportunity to be involved in the work the committees do, and to get to know your fellow fellows from across IAFL better.


It’s never easy to work out whether, let alone how, to impart sad news, but sometimes you just know that you have to say something, even if it is insufficient. Many of you will know that Joy Feinberg’s husband, Greg Brown, died in December. Joy has been one of our stalwart fellows in the USA, and a past-president of the USA Chapter. Greg was the model of how to be First Gentleman - he supported Joy unfailingly during the many years she served IAFL. He was a delightful presence at so many of our meetings and THE person to go to for top tips on exotic travel. We will miss him greatly. I was glad to hear that so many fellows travelled to Chicago to support Joy for the memorial service for Greg last week and I know that you will all join me in passing on our heartfelt condolences to her at this time.

Until the next time, best wishes from a chilly, but snow-free, Edinburgh. A New Year’s Day hellebore from Edinburgh to remind you all that there is still beauty to be found in the cold and dark. Looking forward to seeing many of you in Brisbane in February.

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