London Evening Standard
January 27, 2000

Hillary Leads 10,000 Legal Eagles

by Peter Gruner

London, UK-- Hillary Clinton heads a contingent of nearly 10,000 American lawyers who have chosen London for their annual conference this summer in a 33 million boost for the city.

With most of them bringing associates and family, the number coming will swell to 20,000, making it the single biggest invasion of Britain by the Americans since the Second World War.

The event is the annual conference of the American Bar Association - the biggest convention the capital has ever hosted.

Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, both barristers, will host a reception at Downing Street. Cherie Booth will speak at a forum on law and technology.

The conference, which kicks off at the Albert Hall on 15 July, will also involve the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, and Health Secretary Alan Milburn, both scheduled to speak.

The image of the thousands of distinguished American legal eagles descending on London, all expert on "compensation culture", is beginning to send shivers down the backs of some of the capital's tourist leaders.

"London is a great city and we have a lot to offer," said one official. "So it would be a shame if we were let down by restaurants which overcharge or, for example, we had a problem with London Underground."

However, in terms of food, London is as good as any major US city compared with the last time the convention met here, 14 years ago, when restaurant standards were poor.

The conference has taken five years to plan. More than 75 hotels, including the Ritz, Savoy and Dorchester, and 50 restaurants have been booked for the six-day event. The Americans are expected to spend 33 million on hotels, food and drink, shopping and entertainment.

Some of the finest legal minds will debate issues including introducing aspects of the American legal system to Britain, trying Henry VIII posthumously for murder and crimes of domestic violence, and controlling the Internet.

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