International Arbitration a Hot Topic at ABA Meeting


The ABA's International Law Section fall meeting is one of the world's largest international gatherings for lawyers with practice or interest in international legal issues. The hot topic at this year's meeting – held in October in Miami Beach, with more than 10 sessions over four days – was international arbitration.

During the conference, Justice Ellen Gracie Northfleet of Brazil's highest court emphasized the importance of training law students in alternative dispute resolution, and encouraged legal educators to increase the training of lawyers in that skill, with special emphasis on arbitration.

The Office of International Graduate Law Programs is training law students to do just that with its specialization in International Arbitration. LL.M. students like Wamiq Chowdhury, the 2012-2013 Young ICCA Scholar, and Kristina Klykova, a Fulbright Scholar from Ukraine, took advantage of the ABA Fall meeting to explore research topics relevant to their LL.M. coursework and research assignments. For example, during a session called "A Conversation with Some of the World's Leading Arbitrators," moderated by Miami Law alum and former ABA president Carolyn Lamm, Chowdhury's interest was piqued by a statistic mentioned by Miami Law visiting professor and world-renowned arbitrator Albert Jan van den Berg.

"Professor van den Berg mentioned that 2012 saw the highest amount of arbitral awards set aside," Chowdhury said. "I asked myself, 'Why is this happening?' and engaged Professor van den Berg after the conference. This is the reason I came to Miami, to work with top international arbitration practitioners Jan Paulsson and van den Berg on cutting-edge issues which will be published."

For Klykova, the ABA conference indirectly connected her to a unique research assignment. The fall meeting's experts raised the issue of whether arbitrators are truly neutral in their decision-making. Seeking to explore the topic, Klykova, nudged by Professor Paulsson, discovered five boxes from the 1970s at Miami Law's library on the topic of neutrality in decision-making. The collection contains sociological and psychological research developed by the first female law dean at the University of Miami, Soia Mentschikoff. "I was very interested in pursuing this project because I previously studied mediation, which uses a psychological approach to dispute resolution," Klykova said. "I'm interested in learning how Dean Mentschikoff's archives apply to current decision-making research in arbitration."

Gema Martinez, a Cuban lawyer specializing in U.S. and Transnational Law for Foreign Lawyers, volunteered at the meeting, helping her to expand her network and create exciting possibilities. "I met so many people," she said. "I especially enjoyed meeting adjunct professor John Rooney. I'll definitely be taking one of his courses. I'm also excited about being invited to attend the Inter-American Bar Association's conference in Uruguay next year." Looking back on her experience at the fall meeting, Martinez enthusiastically said she would do it again.

"The importance of international arbitration was clearly highlighted at the ABA's Fall Meeting," said Jessica Carvalho Morris, Director of Miami Law's International Graduate Law Programs, "It's especially encouraging to hear a Brazilian Supreme Court justice emphasize the study of alternative dispute resolution. I'm proud to say that the University of Miami School of Law and the Office of International Graduate Law Programs are ahead of the curve."