Read the experiences from the participants of the 2019 Academy!

DAY 1
Monday
5th August



Posted by:
Charlotte Louise Hill
Pennington Manches Cooper
England, UK






Even the most outgoing personality cannot not be criticised for feeling anxious when they think about travelling alone to Chiang Mai, Thailand to meet 29 other Delegates and 4 Faculty Members for the 2019 Multilaw Academy, which takes place over 6 days and 7 nights. That anxiety was soon dispelled when I met everyone on the Sunday evening over welcome drinks and dinner, and every single person was welcoming and friendly.

Following a quieter evening where most people were jet lagged (one person took 4 flights over 30 hours to get to Chiang Mai!), we met over breakfast and then proceeded to the main conference room to begin the 5 day Academy, which was brilliantly set up like a United Nations Conference – I couldn’t make up my mind if we were going to resolve Brexit or climate change. After an introduction to Multilaw from Henry Shi, the Chancellor of the Multilaw Academy, we discussed the differences between civil law and common law jurisdictions, structuring an international transaction, due diligence and client expectations in an international context. The day was extremely interactive and we all got to know each other during various breakout sessions held throughout the day.

At the end of the day, some of the delegates made short presentations on anything that was of interest to them – we heard about a wide range of topics, from discussions about the culture and history of delegates’ countries, the pronunciation of names in China, the number ‘three’ and why a certain American football team is the best in the world (although Christi Campbell, one of the Faculty Members certainly didn’t agree) – google the Green Bay Packers and ‘cheese hats’ and you will see some entertaining photos of these crazy fans!

The Academy was off to a great start after the first day, but nothing could have topped it off better than our visit to the Cuisine de Garden restaurant in Chiang Mai. We had a nature inspired, 12 course gastronomy journey served to us, cooked by famous Michelin star Chef Nan, who had flown up from Bangkok especially for our booking! We ate everything from snail prawns, a chicken nest and ‘fallen leaves’ to a lychee frozen in dry ice, which was spectacular and a great picture opportunity when the dry ice came out of our noses!

On reflection, it was an amazing first day and I am not sure that it could have gone much better (apart from perhaps the deluge of rain easing off a bit…). Multilaw is 90 law firms, 100 countries and 10,000 lawyers – but we are one global team and after our first day as delegates at the Academy, it is clear that we really are one global team, and a great one at that!

DAY 2
Tuesday
6th August



Posted by:
Martina Priekaar
Van Campen Liem
Netherlands




After continuing rain of almost 48 hours we finally woke up to some sunshine this morning.
Everything immediately looks so much brighter and happier with sunshine, so that gave us a good start for the mock negotiations which were on the programme for today.

Since we are with the largest group of delegates ever, we were split in five groups of six people each, of which three of them represented the seller and three represented the buyer. Each group got separate instructions on how to get into the negotiations, after which the actual mock negotiations started. My (sellers group) consisted of delegates from Japan, Thailand and myself (the Netherlands) and we had to take it up against delegates from Taiwan, Croatia and Myanmar. Therefore we were not only facing differences in the field of practice (not all of us are M&A lawyers) but also cultural differences, which turned out to be very interesting.

After the negotiations, which lasted almost all day (with lunch break in between) our group made it to a deal, as well as three of the other groups. One group however didn’t, and as turns out later they even continued arguing some points in a more informal setting over dinner (one of them still wearing his formal clothes, probably as a “dirty trick” – something else we had learned in our tutorial earlier). After coming to the conclusion that they will not be able to ever agree, the six group members celebrated the fact that they at least agreed that they disagree!

Besides the mock negotiations and techniques you could use, we also learned from our personal presentations about the city of Poznań in Poland, tourism in Croatia, the similarities between a M&A deal and Decathlon, that as long as you are stubborn enough and your mom is very supportive you can be anything (from professional snowboarder to being a Dutch graduated law professional practicing in Cambodia) and that it is a nightmare to get to court in Manila (but it is great to work there).

After the workshops and presentations some of us went on a voyage of discovery and actually found the second pool at the resort (nobody went in though), some others had a swim in the rooftop pool and others came up for happy hour at the rooftop bar. It still being relatively good weather (meaning: dry) we finished the day off with a great BBQ at the higher room and some drinks there afterwards. And although I promised myself to go to bed a bit earlier than yesterday, that did of course not happen… There are simply way too many great people to talk to, have a few drinks with and re-discuss what we negotiated about today.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s sessions on cultural differences and my Thai massage!

DAY 3
Wednesday
7th August



Posted by:
Xiang (Shawn) Cao
JunHe LLP
China, P.R.






It is the alarm clock (or, more precisely as interpreted by my colleague Li Ye who attended this year’s academy as well, the ideal and dream) woke me up on this Wednesday morning in Chiang Mai. On the way to the conference room, I ran into another delegate who had champagne with us together last night to overcome his jet lag – thanks to the champagne he rested well and looked energetic while I was still a little bit of dizzy. “The champagne worked but you just got overdosed…” With laughter we walked into the conference room where we started the morning session.

Henry Shi first made his presentation in respect of the cultural differences in doing business, and then Arnaud Picard illustrated the cultural differences in international arbitrations. The topics covered ranged from selecting arbitrators to punctuality all the way to the life after retirement. The differences are so distinct and no doubt the knowledge of them would help international lawyers get to the right point directly, just like German’s way of thinking in a straight line as introduced by Henry. Then the delegates were divided into 5 groups with each group having 6 members to exchange their understanding of their own cultures.  My group covered different cultures among The Netherlands, Cambodia, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Sri Lanka and China and we had really impressive discussions, including how to take advantage of the knowledge of the culture differences in negotiations – as a dirty trick or not.

Then we heard continued personal presentations from the delegates about how their city looks, the judicial system of their country, the colourful dress code of the court in their jurisdiction, their marriage and wedding culture, and the words to the lawyer husband on the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

After talking about cultures, we were arranged to embrace the local culture during the rest of the day. Maybe only the photos could describe the fun that we had when attending Thai cookery classes making herbal balls, Thai massage, as well as the rice planting – not only because it was fun, but also for the hilarious outfits we put on ourselves. The local villagers seemed happy with our work, or maybe just with the way we are trying to be professional as we always are – at least they kept assigning new work, saw us off friendly, and did not tear down what we planted… before we left. Night falls and we jumped into the night bazaar and streets of Chiang Mai with some wandering on the streets and the others on the rooftop, till we called it a day and travelled back to the hotel.

I might have a colourful dream tonight, with a red van, green fields, an orange straw tunnel, navy innocent suits, white herbal balls, a blue dessert, purple iced drinks, a golden temple, a brown cat, and the glorious smiles of everyone.

DAY 4
Thursday
8th August



Posted by:
Kristen Elia
Frost Brown Todd
United States





Chiang Mai blessed us with another clear, bright day today. It seems that the longer we’re here, the harder it will be to leave. Each day is more beautiful than the last, and several delegates took advantage of the sunny morning by spending time basking in the pool before breakfast.  

In the morning session, delegates reviewed and negotiated the second half of this year’s case study. After learning about negotiation tactics and techniques on Tuesday, we were excited to have another opportunity to practice and to test some of our new found skills (although, if you chose to negotiate outside, the view of the mountains in the distance could be quite distracting, in the very best way).

Once negotiations concluded, each group had an opportunity to present its deal or to explain why it did not reach agreement and to discuss any difficulties it encountered along the way, the way in which it prioritised the client’s deal requirements, and how it addressed the unique constraints placed on it by the fact pattern. Christi Campbell and the other faculty members then provided additional context on the fact pattern and gave feedback on some of the deals.

In the afternoon, delegates grabbed a quick lunch and prepared to visit the Ban Pong school, where we helped the students plant a herb and vegetable garden. The day remained hot, sunny, and very humid, but the children’s warm welcome (which included a musical performance by some of the students who, at 12, are more talented than I could ever hope to be) and enthusiasm quickly spread throughout the group. After the earth was tilled, the garden planted, we spent time talking to and learning from the students, who showed us how to make crispy lotus flower cookies and helped us cool down with green tea popsicles. One delegate even arm wrestled some of the older boys. I expect they’ll want a rematch next year.

Once back at the resort, many delegates flocked to the pool, where we spent a couple hours relaxing and planning out what karaoke numbers we would sing that evening. At 7:00, everyone gathered at the Presidential Villa for food, drinks, and music. Henry kicked the karaoke off with a popular Chinese song, and things quickly escalated from there. For someone who generally refuses to sing (and who spent a lot of time telling the other delegates that I would not be singing), I performed quite a few times.

I’m looking forward to our last full day of sessions and delegate presentations tomorrow. I’m also suddenly feeling grateful that my presentation will be on the last day—if I can sing Spice Girls songs (three times, maybe four) in front of a room of more than 30 international colleagues, surely I can give a 5 minute speech about Cincinnati, right?

DAY 5
Friday
9th August



Posted by:
Sneha Nainwal
Shakespeare Martineau
England, UK





I woke up with a sore throat - a sweet reminder of the karaoke event from the previous night.

With the tunes of Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls and Queen still buzzing in my head, I made my way to the breakfast room to find other delegates cheerfully recounting their favourite karaoke performances from the night before.

It was day 5, our last day at the Multilaw Academy 2019. The week had simply flown by!

We started our morning session with a joint presentation by Arnaud Picard and Christi Campbell (Faculty, Multilaw Academy) on comparing the litigation and trial process in Civil and Common Law jurisdictions. This was followed by a group discussion on the issues of disclosure/discovery, litigation costs, litigation funding, and the future of artificial intelligence including litigation predictive analytics. We then moved onto the topic of trials by jury, which fondly reminded a few of us of our old favourite ‘12 angry men’.

The session broke for lunch and reconvened at 2 pm for a joint presentation by Adam Cooke (Executive Director, Multilaw) and Piyanuj (Lui) Ratprasatporn (Chair, Multilaw) on ‘Getting the most out of Multilaw’, where the speakers shared their own past experience, and vision for the future, of Multilaw. This was followed by the last set of personal presentations from the delegates where we learnt judo falling techniques, got a glimpse into the Cincinnati life, tasted caramel waffles and demystified the ‘Indian Headshake’.

A few of us then set trekking and climbed the famous ‘999 stairs’ (which turned out to be only 954!) to the local Pagoda, and enjoyed the breath-taking views of the city!

The formal closing dinner started at 7 pm and was accompanied by traditional dance and music performances, by the students of the local Ban Pong School, which we thoroughly enjoyed! As the evening drew to a close, Henry Shi (Chancellor, Multilaw Academy) awarded the delegates their certificates.

It was then time to say goodbye, and with heavy hearts, we did.

The one week at the Academy has been a terrific experience - one that all 30 of us will fondly remember - and whilst the trip may have ended, the journey for sure has only just begun! Until we meet again..