Spotlight on Diversity: An Engaging and Informative Panel on ADR

March 29, 2018

Miller & Martin’s Women’s Network, along with the Atlanta International Arbitration Society Young Practitioners Group and Arbitral Women, hosted a panel discussion on March 7, 2018, entitled “Spotlight on Diversity: Professional Perspectives on Building an ADR Practice.” The discussion brought together international, domestic, law firm and corporate perspectives on the changing landscape of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”). The panel discussion focused on how younger lawyers can build an ADR practice, as well as current efforts being made in the international arbitration community to involve more diverse attorneys and arbitrators.

The panel consisted of the following:

Brent Clinkscale, partner at Womble Bond Dickinson
Mireze Phillipe, ICC Special Counsel
Adwoa Ghartey-Tagoe Seymour, Assistant General Counsel at Cox Enterprises, Inc.
Carita Wallgren-Lindholm, partner at Lindholm Wallgren.

The panelists discussed their individual paths to a career in ADR. Each advocated for being deliberate in developing and seeking out opportunities for an ADR practice. As stated by Ms. Phillipe: “The most important message is perseverance.” The panelists also encouraged young practitioners to take advantage of every opportunity presented to them and keep their eyes open for new and less obvious paths to success. A satisfactory career is “not necessarily a goal, it’s a journey,” according to Mr. Clinkscale.

The panelists discussed how young practitioners can capitalize on their unique voices and use diversity as an advantage in an ADR practices. Ms. Wallgren-Lindholm reminded the audience that “authority has many faces” and practitioners should embrace their innate strengths. Ms. Phillipe provided insight on the efforts of Arbitral Women to promote female practitioners (both in counsel and arbitrator roles) in international dispute resolution. In particular, she described the Equal Representation in Arbitration pledge and advocated that everyone in the room take the pledge. Ms. Seymour aptly addressed the roles that in-house attorneys can play in the changing face of arbitration, urging practitioners to reach out directly to in-house counsel to introduce themselves and their areas of expertise.

There was a lively discussion about how unconscious or implicit bias can affect diversity in arbitration, and Ms. Phillipe commented that “it’s fine to think about hiring, but if we don’t take action, we’ll never get anywhere.” On that point, panelists were encouraged by recent statistics showing a change in the age, gender and race of ADR practitioners. The panelists’ personal experience provided a model for young practitioners on how to develop an ADR practice. Their sage advice left the audience with tangible methods for achieving success.

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