On Thursday, November 9, 2017, YCAP (in conjunction with ICC YAF) hosted its Fall Symposium at Blakes, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Montreal which included two panel presentations: (1) Corruption and Money Laundering Related to International Arbitration, and (2) Building your Arbitration Practice. The following is a summary of the second panel.
Building Your Arbitration Practice
Elizabeth Montpetit (Mishcon de Reya, London) and Stephanie Cohen (Cohen Arbitration, New York) spoke on the topic of Building your Arbitration Practice, which was moderated by Laurence Ste-Marie (Woods, Montreal).
The panel opened with a discussion of how the speakers became involved in international arbitration. Ms. Cohen, who now practices exclusively as an arbitrator based in New York, became involved in international arbitration while in Paris. Ms. Monpetit was exposed to international arbitration at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP in Ottawa and gained significant experience while completing the Fox Scholarship in London. Ms. Ste-Marie became involved in international arbitration while working at a leading international arbitration boutique in Paris.
The panel then turned to the fundamental skills necessary to building your arbitration practice. Relevant skills in international arbitration include expertise in resolving substantive and procedural legal issues, navigating difficult factual contexts, as well as knowledge of the enforcement of arbitral awards. For practitioners in cities outside of arbitration hubs, it is beneficial to develop a culture of arbitration in your firm by informing clients engaged in cross-border transactions about the benefits of arbitration. Knowledge of different arbitration rules and nuances between institutions will also assist to best advise clients.
The panelists encouraged junior arbitration practitioners to gain specializations in particular regions and industries. The panel stressed the importance of gaining experience—whether intentional or not—and drawing from your existing expertise; such as language skills and educational specializations. The key to specializing is to strategically capitalize on existing and “inadvertent” specializations, embracing opportunities, knowing how to identify your value, and distinguishing yourself based on your acquired skills.
It is also important to acquire advocacy experience by participating in pro bono cases and training programs. Organizations such as the Foundation for International Arbitration Advocacy (FIAA) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) run training programs each year that focus on advocacy for counsel and teach cross examination techniques. These programs offer valuable opportunities for junior and mid-level lawyers to build their skill sets.
The panel concluded by addressing networking. While networking is indispensable, it can be time consuming to attend the array of conferences, seminars, book launches and training sessions available. Succeeding at networking requires a strategy to build substantive connections. This can be achieved by, for example, getting involved with a young practitioners committee. There are many arbitration groups that exist such as YCAP, the ICC’s Young Arbitration Forum (YAF), the Toronto Commercial Arbitration Society, the ADR Institute of Canada, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, and the London Court of International Arbitration’s Young International Arbitration Group (YIAG). Apart from training programs, young arbitration practitioners can also become involved as an arbitrator in expedited arbitrations for small cases or by working as a secretary in an arbitral institution.
Prepared by: Brianna Gorence (McGill University Faculty of Law)
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