This year’s International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL) meeting took place in Boston, Massachusetts from 5-9 June 2024. Divorce and Family partners Emma Hatley and Lisette Dupré attended the conference. Lisette summarises her takeaways in this article.

Whilst international family law conferences should of course provide insightful seminars on international family law, this year’s IAFL Annual Meeting also delivered some excellent, thought-provoking sessions on other key issues relevant to family lawyers.

The first was delivered by Professor Kate Silbaugh from Boston University, who spoke passionately about parents, children and social media. Childrens’ use of social media is a topic that is coming up more and more in family disputes, and a sensitive approach to the subject is essential. The impressive technical detail of her arguments notwithstanding, my takeaway from her session was the importance of thinking creatively to resolve problems.

As family lawyers, we have a toolbox of resources available to us to guide our clients through one of the most stressful times in their life. We owe it to them and their families to think creatively about how best to resolve their differences with their ex-partners.

Barbara Mills KC, Head of Chambers at 4PB, gave a heartfelt address on the importance of gathering data before you go about seeking to effect change. She focused in particular on a campaign to help underrepresented communities at the Bar.


The growing importance of Africa

Johnnie Carson, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, spoke on the importance and growing significance of the African continent on the world stage. “Africa will shape our future”, he said, quoting Tony Blinken. Africa is home to the youngest and fastest growing population, sitting currently at 1.2bn people. This is expected to double in 20 years, meaning one in four of the world’s population will be African.

From an economic standpoint, between 350m and 400m people in Africa use mobile banking, and this has prompted Microsoft to establish a large digital tech development centre in Kenya. The third largest film industry after Hollywood and Bollywood is in Lagos, attracting investors such as Netflix and Sony.

These are just some of the facts Johnnie Carson relayed in an attempt to change the narrative around the African continent. New IAFL fellow Judy Thongori from Kenya powerfully concluded the session with a plea to us all to recognise not only the potential in Africa, but the reality today of the skills amongst the existing population.


Academic discussions

The IAFL Annual Meeting included an excellent academic programme delivered by 45 speakers from 20 jurisdictions, including nine new fellows from countries including Lebanon, Uruguay, Kenya and Zimbabwe; and Emma Hatley, partner in the Divorce and Family team at Stewarts.

The international nuptial agreement session delivered on its promise to provide pragmatic advice on how we as practitioners may improve our best practice, taking into account the varied approach across common law and civil law jurisdictions. Themes discussed included the importance of genuine independent legal advice, and how it is only really achievable with proper disclosure.

Emma’s excellent contribution on Friday to the forum shopping session in finance matters, together with that of Charlotte Butruille-Cardew (France), Judy Thongori (Kenya) and Sherri Anderson (Washington State), meant all attendees came away with a high level understanding of some of the key disparities between these civil and common law jurisdictions.

This year, I felt the IAFL Annual Meeting provided more than practical advice and legal knowledge from leading practitioners. I came away feeling challenged to think differently, and that can only be a good thing.



You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Divorce and Family page.

If you require assistance from our team, please contact us.



Subscribe – In order to receive our news straight to your inbox, subscribe here. Our newsletters are sent no more than once a month.

Key Contacts

See all people