Dispute Resolution

What makes a good arbitration lawyer?

Arbitration Lawyers secure and help Legal Experts, Quantum Experts, and Appropriate Witnesses relevant to the case. It is not an unusual place in worldwide arbitration to apply the offerings of professionals to opine on technical matters, quantum, and different issues, in addition to applying witnesses to guide the data of a case. Here we will discuss some tips to become a good arbitration lawyer.

Ability to work on multiple matters at a time

Making notes

Being an arbitration lawyer requires a hectic schedule. You can have five to seven matters to work on simultaneously. To cope with the ongoing workload you must make clear notes as the factual details are very long and complex. These are easily forgettable. New records, as well as applications made to the tribunals, keep on adding to the case file rapidly. Even the litigants who are personally connected to the case do not keep track of their matters. Hence you can imagine the situation of a lawyer who is not personally connected to the matter.

Revision of notes

You must revise your notes frequently. This exercise makes you to effectively keep a track of all the things. Hence, by revising your notes, you can contribute to the discussions in meetings and conferences. Sometimes it will appear boring to you. So you can add some intellectual input to make it interesting and this will impact your performance too.

Document management, compilation and analysis

An arbitration dispute can be 4-5 years long. This is not because of only the delay in the legal system but many things will happen between the parties before the arbitration proceeding is initiated.

The documentation in arbitration is quite lengthy one. It means commonly a case requires documentation of around 1000 pages. It is because the arbitration file is not limited to the contracts only but it also contains the communications between the parties, court orders, petitions, and numerous emails. You will have to go through anything and everything that the client provides even if it is not in sequential order and does not make any sense. You must keep all the documents in some kind of logical sequence. Not doing so, will make you scrounge for it at the last moment. You must follow an organizing practice in order to not make it a tiresome activity.

Preparation of list of dates and exhibit list

To start your exercise, you must prepare a comprehensive list of dates. This will not only help you to brief your senior but also to decide the next course of action. After making a list of dates, the next step is to make an exhibit list. It is essentially a list of documentary evidence. It is a very important step that an arbitration lawyer must follow. For instance, if the lawyer does not exhibit a document irrespective of how important it is, the court will not consider it.

Preparation of list of admission and denials

The next step is going through the pleadings. Also you must maintain a list of denials and admissions after going through claims and statement of defense. This step is followed only if you are involved in the drafting stage, unlike counsels who are involved in the argumentative stage. In the case of an argument lawyer, the law firm will itself draft these lists and brief the counsel.

Learning the technical aspects

A good arbitration lawyer always ponders upon the facts of the case in order to understand the technical aspects of the relevant industry. This will need you to understand the practice, working, and acceptable norms of behavior of the industry.

Nearly all industry sectors like engineering, construction contracts, shipping, power sector, insurance contracts etc. involve technical aspects.

For instance, if the claim is that a machine is not working properly, the claimant asserts that he had provided the specifications. The defendant denies it. In order to find out that if it was done or not you must be familiar with the technical aspects of the industry. The answer can be ambiguous but you are required to take a call.

This helps in recognizing the ultimate intention and objective of the client. You cannot simply rely on what client speaks. If you are able to find the ultimate objective of the client then you can invent multiple ways to reach the outcome.

Case law research

Working on an international commercial arbitration requires a lot of case law research. Often these case laws refer to jurisdictions of foreign countries. For instance, you may refer to the British case laws. Also you will notice that the judges of Indian supreme courts rely on judgments passed by judges of UK courts to decide upon the difficult questions of law.

Client meetings

Clients meetings can usually be 4 to 10 hours long. These are conducted for various objectives. Sometimes you can require to prepare witnesses about what to say before the tribunal as well as how to face cross examination. Make sure that you are ready with the facts of the case to inspire client case. You must make systematic notes as you may be working on several cases simultaneously.

Participation in hearings

If there is a cross examination or final agreement next day then you must spend all your day in preparing the files previous day. You must have a good idea from the beginning to the end of the arbitration proceeding. Without any preparation, you will be clueless on the D-day.

Discussion with you senior

You must discuss all the strategic aspects with your senior.

  1. Preliminary study: it includes a thorough review of the arbitration clause
  2. You must try to create a strategy for interim relief.
  3. A good lawyer must let go the weak grounds of claim that can harm your case.
  4. You must select the arbitrator thoughtfully
  5. You must build a coherent narrative effectively.

Drafting work and final arguments

Drafting of claims can take time up to 7-15 days at a time. These documents are more detailed in comparison to the litigation documents. You must start your drafting work at its earliest to avoid last minute unmanageable workload. The most common challenge you will face is that at the beginning you will not have sufficient clarity to proceed you work. This will take all your time and will make you anxious. Once you get familiar to the work you will get all these steps on your finger tips.

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by Sushree Swagatika

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