This week, I have been in Russia speaking at a law conference in Ekaterinburg, home of Russia's first President, Boris Yeltsin.
Growing up, the idea of speaking in Russia would have been unthinkable. Foreigners weren't even allowed into this part of Russia until 1990. Today Ekaterinburg, (formerly known as Sverdlovsk) a modern city the size of Auckland, is booming. The conference was held at the brand new Yeltsin Presidential Centre, probably the most modern venue I have ever presented in.
What I learnt from my trip is:
1. While they are proud of their history, lawyers in Russia are increasingly looking to the future and are keen to learn from the experiences of lawyers from other countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
2. The pace of change is as fast as it is positive. Russian society is increasingly open, westernised and cosmopolitan. Ekaterinburg offers an exciting blend of history, culture and modernity. It boasts a state-of-the-art international airport and is a host venue for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
3. Being published is good for your career. I would never have had an invitation to speak but for the publication of the Russian version of '[Why Lawyers Should Eat Bananas](http://www.lawyersandbananas.com/)' in 2012. When you write a book, you never know where it may lead!