Defense Counsel Journal

President's Page - Volume 89, Number 2

Volume 89, No. 2

July 11, 2022

Silverglate_Spencer_2021_sized Spencer H. Silverglate

Spencer H. Silverglate

Spencer Silverglate is the 2021-2022 President of the IADC. He is a partner at Clarke Silverglate, P.A. in Miami, Florida. Spencer has a national reputation for handling complex business, insurance, and employment disputes and for defending high-stakes personal injury and product liability claims and mass and class actions.


By Spencer H. Silverglate

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
-Nelson Mandela

IADC members are wondering if the 2022 Annual Meeting in Berlin, Germany will go forward. The answer is yes, that is our strong expectation. But if the meeting is cancelled, registration fees will be refunded, so there is no reason not to register now while the room block is still available. We already have more than 350 members and guests registered!

Like the rest of the world, we are carefully monitoring the situation in Ukraine, where Russian armed forces have launched a full-scale military invasion on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. As of this writing, thousands of Ukrainian citizens have been killed, many more have been injured, and millions have been displaced. Thousands of Russian troops have died as well.    

The invasion of Ukraine was an assault not just on the country’s citizens, it was an assault on an idea. When elected, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “Let’s build a country of opportunities, where everybody is equal before the law and where the rules of the game are honest and transparent, and the same for everyone.” The invasion of Ukraine was an assault on the rule of law—the very foundation on which the IADC stands.

In the scheme of world events, perhaps IADC meetings don’t rank near the top. Yet, the irony is palpable. Amid the current geopolitical unrest, the IADC—protector and defender of the rule of law—is hosting its Annual Meeting at the site of the Cold War-era physical and ideological wall separating East from West. Like Ukraine today, the eyes of the world were once on Berlin. As President Kennedy famously said, “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’”

Considering Berlin’s central role in European unification and peace, it’s not surprising that the city’s most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate, is lit up in blue and yellow—the national colors of Ukraine. Today, all free people, wherever they may live, are citizens of Ukraine, and as free people, we take pride in the words, “I am a Ukrainian.”

We are all Ukrainians.

It’s worth remembering that since IADC Annual Meetings became institutionalized in the 1920s, only two have been canceled: 1942 and 1945. Even during the World War II years of 1940, 1941, 1943, and 1944, Annual Meetings were held. And more recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Annual Meeting was held, albeit virtually. The IADC’s century-long history of Annual Meetings begs the question: Why is it important for members of the Association to gather every summer? Education, camaraderie, and business development are all part of it, but it’s more than that. The IADC stands for the rule of law, and the simple act of gathering is our most compelling advocacy. In this historical moment, our Annual Meeting in, of all places, Berlin, has never been a more important statement in support of the rule of law.

It's also worth remembering that the Berlin Wall eventually fell, but only because courageous people were united in their resolve to tear down the physical and ideological barriers to unification. President Obama captured the sentiment when he said, “People of the world—look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent, came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.”

Today, there is cause for hope for Ukraine—and for citizens of Russia, as well. It is the united voice of brave people across the globe. The current challenge is great, but it is not too great for a united world. No challenge is too great when we are united.

I hope to see you in Berlin.