This new UIAA series focuses on the backgrounds of some of the hundreds of volunteers who dedicate precious time and considerable expertise to the federation each year. Klara Dvorakova, head of the UIAA’s Legal Experts Working Group, is the subject of the first profile.
Klara Dvorakova wears many hats. She is an attorney. A managing partner of a law firm specialising in travel business law, insurance and professional liability. The Honorary Consul of Iceland, as well as a wife and mother to two young boys. Yet still finds time to volunteer as head of the UIAA’s Legal Experts Working Group.
The Legal Experts Working Group is formed of lawyers from national mountaineering associations across the globe, whose expertise range from environmental and public law, damages, professional liability as well as sports and travel law.
In terms of her volunteer commitment, Klara mainly acts as a lawyer on call for the UIAA, giving up to 100 hours per year. Given the federation’s expanding reach and its increasing number of vital projects, the more likely it is that possible legal questions could arise. Much of the work of the Legal Experts Working Group is in collaboration with the both the Safety Commission and the Safety Label Co-ordinator, Stephanie Stettbacher, though the Group also works with the Management Committee, Sports Event Co-ordinator, Rob Adie, and other office staff.
The role of the Legal Experts Working Group can be wide ranging. A number of areas of concern can arise, whether that be Intellectual property (IP) law, trademark protection, safeguarding of UIAA standards, insurance and liability, whether for defective products, mountain leaders or climbing walls. The role also enables Klara to support other members of the LEWG, such as giving a presentation on liability and mountaineering on a course organised by long-time member Xabier Ezeizabarrena.
Klara’s association with the UIAA initially began in 2008 when she co-founded CZIML (Czech Mountain Leader Association). CZIML subsequently became a member of the Union of International Mountain Leader Associations (UIMLA) and the UIAA. Being responsible for CZIML’s international relations, Klara began attending meetings of the UIAA and its Commissions. Her first direct experience with the UIAA was in 2012, when she attended a meeting of the Training Standards Panel in Serbia led by Steve Long and the Legal Experts Working Group under the then gestion of Pierre Humblet, someone Klara recognises for his support.
Although she was aware of the UIAA’s role as an organisation which sets standards for training and mountaineering equipment, Klara confesses she didn’t know a great deal about the federation’s wider activities before joining. Her role as a volunteer for the UIAA, has enabled Klara to develop her love for the mountains as well as making new friendships and spending time with people who share similar interests. Klara’s wider role as a voluntary mountain leader enables her to enjoy the wonderful mountain activities outdoors and not just be confined to the office.
For all the benefits of volunteering, there are also challenges. “Having a busy job and family life can leave little personal time,” explains Klara. “Which is why it is important when volunteering to choose something that you are especially passionate about.”
As for the role of the UIAA in an ever changing global landscape and especially in the Covid-19 world, Klara believes it is essential that the organisation’s safety standards and Mountain Qualification Label projects require continued support and “that the UIAA as an organisation brings together all stakeholders – from sport, business, management and voluntary activities – to further the federation’s discussions and objectives”.
Discover more about the UIAA Mountaineering Commission and Legal Experts Working Group.