13 Jan 2023

International Bar Association welcomes first woman president in twenty years

Spain's Almudena Arpón de Mendívil y Aldama succeeds Sternford Moyo at the helm

Almudena Arpón de Mendívil y Aldama Image courtesy of the International Bar Association

Spanish lawyer Almudena Arpón de Mendívil y Aldama has assumed the presidency of the International Bar Association, becoming the first woman in 20 years to hold the role.

She has succeeded Zimbabwe’s Sternford Moyo and will serve as president for the 2023 and 2024 calendar years. 

Arpón de Mendívil is only the second woman in the IBA’s 76-year history to be named president; the first was English-born Bermudian lawyer Dianna Kemp KC of the offshore firm Appleby.

Arpón de Mendívil is a corporate/M&A partner at Gómez-Acebo & Pombo in Madrid and leads the firm’s TMT group. Like her predecessors she has assumed the presidency after many years of service to the London-headquartered IBA, including fourteen years on its board. 

One of her firm's founding partners, the late Fernando Pombo, a leading Spanish jurist, was also IBA president from 2007-2008.  

"My aspiration as president of the IBA is to steadily elevate the Association to the next level,” Arpón de Mendívil said. “Our profession, through a global association as the IBA, has a great opportunity and the responsibility of assuming a leading role in upholding the rule of law, democracy and human rights across the world and thus having a positive impact in society." 

The IBA’s annual conference in Miami last year emphasised the Association’s active support for the rule of law and particularly of Ukrainian lawyers, which will continue under Arpón de Mendívil’s presidency. 

Approaching gender equality in the law is also a key theme for her leadership, building on comprehensive IBA research in this area

Other themes include highlighting legal work as a relevant player in the environmental, social and governance agenda and human rights protection in the digital environment, which speaks to her background in practice, as well as preparing young lawyers for the future

Commercial law firm partners are well represented in Arpón de Mendívil’s leadership cohort, which includes Jaime Carey, managing partner at Chilean law firm Carey, and Claudio Visco, managing partner at Italian law firm Macchi di Cellere Gangemi. They will jointly serve as vice president, in a departure from the IBA’s usual practice. 

Jörg Menzer, managing partner of the Bucharest office of pan-European law firm Noerr, will serve as secretary-general, having defeated Minter Ellison partner Peter Bartlett in a contested election. 

The chairs of the IBA's main membership wings are also impressive commercial partners: Carola van den Bruinhorst of Loyens & Loeff has been made chair of the Legal Practice Division, while the Section on Public and Professional Interest will be led by Ireland's Myra Garrett, the former managing partner of William Fry. 

Ken Murphy, former secretary-general of the Law Society of Ireland, has been made chair of the influential Bar Issues Commission. 

Meantime Sweden's Anne Ramberg and Howard Kennedy's Mark Stephens CBE remain in post as leaders of the IBA Human Rights Institute. 

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