Kempe certain to become International Bar Association's first woman president

WOMEN LAWYERS: Standard-bearer finally makes it to the top of a very greasy pole

The International Bar Association (IBA) is to elect its first woman president after the only other candidate withdrew from the race.

The election of English-born Bermudan lawyer Dianna Kempe QC, currently vice-president, is now a formality at the IBA's forthcoming biennial conference in Amsterdam.

Her only challenger was Italian lawyer Mauro Rubino-Sammartano.

Ms Kempe soundly defeated him in a vote at the IBA's council in May, but the final vote is taken at the IBA's general meeting in Amsterdam.

Mr Rubino-Sammartano had the option of taking his candidacy to that vote; however he has now missed the deadline for doing so.

Ms Kempe will succeed leading German lawyer Klaus Bhlhoff.

Ms Kempe said she was making plans for her term, but wanted to get through the process formally and 'allow Klaus to have a glorious Amsterdam'.

The centrepiece of Ms Kempe's two-year term is set to be the world woman lawyer conference in London next March, which is her brainchild (see [2000] Gazette, 29 June, 6).Ms Kempe qualified at the English Bar in 1970, before moving to Bermuda the following year.

An insolvency specialist, she was the first woman lawyer in Bermuda to be appointed a QC.

She is both senior and managing partner of her firm, leading local practice ApplebySpurling & Kempe.

Her rise up the IBA heirarchy has been a difficult one, dogged by claims that a pervasive old boys' network sought to obstruct her.

Ms Kempe set up the IBA's women's interest group as a means to improve the lot of women in the association, where they are under-represented.

There is set to be a rare election for the post of IBA treasurer, however.

Neither Holland's Willem Calkoen, nor Spain's Fernando Pombo, passed the 60% voting threshold at the council meeting (although Mr Calkoen had a majority) and both are taking their candidancies to Amsterdam.

l For details on the Amsterdam and woman lawyer conferences, call the IBA, tel: 020 7629 1206.

Neil Rose