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It is not easy to start out as an arbitrator

posted 5 years ago

Arbitrators
are late starters. Actually, it is hard to start out as arbitrators. At first,
you have to establish yourself as a barrister, solicitor, judge, academic,
diplomat, businessman, politician or expert. It is only later in life that you
become an arbitrator. Meanwhile, young legal eagles are champing at the bit.
They are dying to get their first case. A rude awaking comes at the first
interview, when they have to field these brutal questions: “How often have you
acted as arbitrator?” “How many awards have you made?” “What is your experience
with arbitration?”

The
young hopefuls are stumped for an answer. Imagine a patient asking a budding
orthopedist eager for his first knee operation: “How many knee operations have
you conducted, Doctor?” If the flustered doctor says “Not even one, but I’d
love to make a start,” the patient will go to see a real specialist, preferably
one with more than 100 knee operations to his name. What should you do to get the
first case?

The
arbitration community is well aware of the sheer brain power and potential of
young lawyers. How can we retain these enthusiastic people without discouraging
them from arbitration altogether?  After
all, the first nominations come when you are about 40 years, and you usually do
not become a fully-fledged arbitrator before you turn 50. Meanwhile,
arbitration conferences are often attended by more lawyers than there are
arbitration cases in the host country. Conference attendees outnumber the
arbitrators on the lists of recommended arbitrators of a given institution. The
largest and oldest arbitration institutions deal with scores, if not hundreds,
of cases a year. The number of ad hoc
proceedings is unknown. There is a myth that ad hoc arbitrations are legion. They are not, at least in some
regions.  Meanwhile, my impression is
that there are still more lawyers interested in arbitration than there are
cases to be heard.

Various
programs and organizations are open to young lawyers. Featuring among these
are: Young International Arbitration Group (LCIA), Young & International
(ICDR), Young Arbitration Forum (ICC), Young Austrian Arbitration Practitioners
(YAAP), Young International Arbitration Group (YIAG), Circle of Young
Professionals (FIDIC), ASA Below 40 (Groupe ASA des Jeunes Practiciens
de l’Arbitrage) and many other “pet projects.

You
do sometimes wonder what it is that young lawyers see in arbitration. Are they
drawn to tradition, culture, money, fame or an active lifestyle in the late 80s.
Arbitrators such as George Dobry, Judge Howard Holtzmann, Fali Nariman, Igor Pobirchenko,
Pieter Sanders, Tadeusz Szurski, and many others active octogenarians are good
examples of an active life, where the calendar age loses its bite have no limits?
What is so special about the life of an arbitrator that so many people are
eager to try it?

You
will learn from my next talk.

Author

posted 4 days ago

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