Lebanon Mourns Former Head of Beirut Bar Association Issam Karam

Issam Karam is known among many Lebanese as a legend. He was the former head of the Beirut Bar Association in 1983-1987 after which he became a permanent member.

However, for many people, he was not just a lawyer. He was also an author, a journalist, a poet, and an intellectual who made a difference.

Like his late father, acclaimed Lebanese novelist Karam Melhem Karam, Issam Karam was also a writer. He wrote articles for newspapers, such as An-Nahar and Al-Akhbar, and a book called “A State and a Nation… And No Decision” in which he discusses the Lebanese political system.

The head of the Journalist’s Syndicate Joseph Al-Qossayfi praised Karam’s skills as a writer, saying: “He is a prince of rhetoric, a master of exquisite writing. He isn’t afraid to say what is right even in the presence of those in power.” 

Despite his old age, Karam remained active as a lawyer and campaigned for the rights of lawyers throughout his career.

In 2018, he formed a committee to follow up on the case of medical insurance for lawyers after a contract with the Syrian insurance company GlobeMed had expired.

During that time, many lawyers believed that the head of the Bar Association, Antonio El Hachem, had “closed the door” on them. Karam went on with forming the committee to campaign for their rights.

Al-Karam Union in Lebanon and Diaspora released a statement by its head Maroun Karam that said: “In losing him, Lebanon and the Karam family lost a pillar of its legal, legislative, and media columns. His fingerprint will remain imprinted on Lebanon’s history.”

Melhem Khalaf, the current head of the Bar Association, expressed his sadness at the death of Karam in a poem that cites Karam as “a giant” and “a knight” of the law.

He grieves him, saying: “Issam Karam: my most honorable colleague and most valuable departed. The Law has lost its most important knight. You’ll be remembered by your colleagues forever. You’ll be remembered by the Bar Association until it’s gone.”