It was a first for both Singapore and Southeast Asia when the International Association of Young Lawyers, or Association Internationale des Jeunes Avocats (AIJA), organised its 60th International Young Lawyers’ Congress here from 22 to 27 August 2022. This is the largest global event dedicated to young lawyers around the world and it marks AIJA’s second in-person gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The Sands Expo & Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) was chosen to serve as the event’s main base to host the daily conference tracks and meetings, with satellite venues and social events held throughout the city-state for the six-day congress.
Xavier Costa, co-chair of the 2022 congress, explained how Singapore’s position as a leading business and legal services hub made it an ideal host destination for the event. "Singapore is a city focused on future-proofing its economy and doing so with bravery and innovation to remain relevant to the needs of the future,” he said.
“We chose Singapore because it is excellent, and it is easy to do business there. The resourcefulness of the people, [its] location as a gateway to the region and the city’s state-of-art infrastructure – it is like a well-oiled machine. Things work well and we [were] taken care of. It is a city that really has pride in doing things well.”
The programme of the congress was in full swing from the first day, with participants gathering at MBS to discuss pressing issues that ranged from antitrust and environment and energy law to combating money laundering and fraud in Asia.
The panel discussions, group sessions and roundtables were designed to equip the young lawyers to take on future challenges and be tomorrow’s leaders. In total, there were more than 20 hours of academic content delivered during the congress, facilitated by more than 70 speakers and moderators.
Outside these learning and discussion platforms, attendees got to let loose and enjoyed the best leisure experiences the city-state has to offer, from dining and nightlife to recreational activities.
The opening ceremony featured a dinner that showcased Singapore’s hawker cuisine, and it was just the start of a running theme allowing participants to experience the country’s diverse food culture.
Throughout the congress, attendees were treated to a slew of unique experiences, from homecooked fare provided by local hosts to the unforgettable night of food and festivities at the farewell gala dinner. Held in the enchanting Flower Field Hall at Gardens by the Bay, the gala dinner was a time for delegates to connect and celebrate over a sumptuous feast held against the spectacular backdrop of Marina Bay’s skyline.
There were also social and fitness activities to help the delegates stay energised during their stay. The Run for Peace event held on the morning of the second day is one such example. The running route included the scenic Marina Bay, Helix Bridge and Gardens by the Bay, which gave participants memorable sights to remember the congress by.
On the fourth day of the congress, delegates headed to the Tanjong Beach Club in Sentosa for an exciting day out at Singapore’s premier island resort destination. They got to soak up the sun and bond over fun activities such as team volleyball, foosball, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking — as well as a memorable durian-eating challenge.
The day out at Sentosa was followed by a friendly match the next day when football enthusiasts took to the field at the Singapore Recreation Club for a friendly kickabout against the local law fraternity, which included Minister Tong, who’s also Singapore’s Second Law Minister.
The successful conclusion of the AIJA 60th International Young Lawyers' Congress is a testament to how Singapore is a choice destination for associations to hold exceptional meetings and events and sets the tone for other MICE events to come.