Carita Wallgren-Lindholm
Office:
Bulevardi 17 A 38
00120
City:
Helsinki
Country:
Finland
Tel:
+358 9 684 5343
Fax:
+358 9 348 709 09

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Carita is a Helsinki-based international arbitrator who commenced her arbitration practice in Paris in the early 1980s. Before going boutique in 2008 she spent 25 years at Roschier in corporate and DR work. She has been involved in more than 100 international arbitrations, mainly as arbitrator and chair including SCC, ICC, FAI, LCIA, JCAA, DIA, PCA and UNCITRAL. She is chair of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR (2018-), member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration (2012-), the ICSID Panel of Conciliators (2007-) and the Advisory and Arbitrators’ Councils of ACIAM, Atlanta (2015-). She is also listed in BVI IAC (2016-) and JAC (2014-).

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION?

I was interested in international matters and foreign cultures, and my professor in private international law directed me to write my masters dissertation about ICC awards, a theme we later developed into a book. You choose a direction, and further developments are often accidental. Obstacles can also be good opportunities: not landing a law firm job in Helsinki took me to Paris after graduation to work in my first ICC arbitration in 1980. Even though my career path was not very linear, everything somehow comes to make sense at the end of the day: linguistic studies and excursions into international political studies, philosophy and media have certainly formed my worldview, hopefully for the good also as arbitrator.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

When one of my daughters, against my advice, said she wanted to study law and do what I do. When I questioned the decision she said I appeared so happy doing it.

WHAT WAS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED WHEN OPENING YOUR OWN CORPORATE ADVISORY AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION BOUTIQUE?

When we originally opened in 2008–2009 with two small pillar teams for corporate advisory and DR respectively, the greatest (albeit positive) challenge was the very driver for the opening: being hands-on in all matters big and small. In a big firm the “organisation” even “packs your skis for the annual retreat”, as one former colleague once said. Another challenge was our decision to exercise restraint and not to grow beyond a boutique, while at the same time being able to meet some of the youthful enthusiasm of young lawyers/trainees wanting to work directly with the old school. I was actually quite surprised how well applicants understood, and accepted, a firm strategy without institutional ambitions and without a career path to more senior positions in the firm.

HOW DOES LINDHOLM WALLGREN DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM OTHER COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

Our original two-partner boutique offering corporate advice and also counsel services was one of the very first locally and I think it is fair to say that its distinguishing feature was high-end advice, delivered personally by the partners. It is in the nature of positioning yourself high up in the value chain for legal advice that only a small pyramid of very qualified people is required. You must, however, be clear in your message that you are not a full-service firm and that you accept the boundaries. Today, after the passing of my partner Tomas Lindholm in 2014, I only serve as an arbitrator supported by a small, long-term team. The relevant market for such activity is global and the location of the offices in Helsinki is one of practical consideration only.

TO WHAT EXTENT DOES YOUR MEDIATION TRAINING ENHANCE YOUR OFFERING AS AN ARBITRATOR?

At best, mediation training in arbitrators enhances true party autonomy and a conversational climate in proceedings. Mediation training is largely about awareness of the rich variety in legal and business cultures and further reinforces the need to listen actively, openly and humbly and to unlearn the reflex of quick conclusions; “giraffe ears”, as it has been called in social science. Mediation training also teaches you how unconstructive pompous, inflexible positioning can appear.

YOU ARE FLUENT IN SEVERAL LANGUAGES. TO WHAT EXTENT DO CLIENTS VALUE THIS?

Linguistic studies show that our thoughts do not only shape our words, but our words shape our thinking. While professionals today are normally well equipped to exchange facts in an agreed language other than their native tongue (eg, “continental European English”), meaningful connectivity often comes from familiarity with the language and culture of those with whom you have professional exchanges, especially when things get rough or distrust prevails. While one obviously needs to be mindful not to exclude others in the process, expressing oneself in another party’s native language will, at best, inspire trust in the legitimacy of proposed measures.

GENDER DIVERSITY IN ARBITRATION IS A HOT TOPIC AT THE MOMENT. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG FEMALE LAWYERS HOPING TO ONE DAY BE IN YOUR POSITION?

Be true to yourselves and build upon your innate strengths. In previous years I have sadly witnessed young women being coached to adopt manners and tricks to appear more assertive –  something that may not come easily to all women, possibly resulting in an unconvincing copy of what is being mimicked. Authority has many faces and new talent is brought to the table by building on what differentiates your person and your gender – after all, diversity implies meaningful differences. I thought one of my most important tasks when joining an all-male partnership in a large law firm in the 1980s was to strive for a gender bilingual firm: enabling women to express themselves as women, by teaching leadership to listen meaningfully to views expressed in different terms and appreciate unfamiliar work processes. One piece of concrete advice to young women would be: try to interview with firms where the core competence carriers take the time to interview themselves – it takes great talent to spot talent. Only law firms who learn how to spot the full panoply of talent – also talent that looks different from the practice leaders or from traditional specs – will succeed in the years to come. 

HOW DO SEE THE ARBITRATION DISCIPLINE DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

Commercial arbitration being more in the hands of the practitioners than investment arbitration, I expect that discipline not to change dramatically, also due to lack of alternatives. However, I do think that arbitrators, by their own acts could contribute to pacifying today’s much-debated belligerent climate in proceedings. Maybe constant challenges and complaints of due process violations could, to some extent, be managed by the fostering of a genuine conversational climate.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

Carita Wallgren-Lindholm is a Helsinki-based international arbitrator. After starting her dispute resolution practice in Paris in the early 1980s, she spent 25 years at Roschier before founding her boutique firm in 2008 to focus on arbitral work. Carita’s transactional background is in public M&A and board advisory matters, including governance and internal investigations. Since 2013, she has served only as an arbitrator, mainly in international arbitration, under institutions and rules including the SCC, ICC, FAI, LCIA, DIA, JCAA, PCA and UNCITRAL.

Carita is currently chair of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR (member since 1996, vice-chair since 2011) and a past member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration (2012–2018); she is listed on the ICSID panel of conciliators (2007–); and served on the board of ICC Finland (2008–2014) and its advisory group (2015–2016). Other memberships include the Arbitration Institute of the Finland Chamber of Commerce (board, 1996–2001); the Finnish Arbitration Association (board, 1996–2012); the Swedish Arbitration Association (ex com 2007–2011); Lex Mundi (board 1996–2000); the Ibero-American Foundation of Finland (board, 2007–2010; trustees 2012–); the mediation committee of the Finnish Bar (chair, 2002–2004); the ADR working group of the ICC; the Finnish Bar Association (board, 2001–2004); the CCBE (2001–2007); the ILA (2008–); the advisory council of the Atlanta Centre for International Arbitration and Mediation (ACIAM) (2015–) and ACIAM’s arbitrators’ council; and  the editorial board of GAR.

Carita is a law graduate of the University of Helsinki; her other studies, undertaken in Finland and in the United States, include English and Romance languages, political science and international relations.

Her working languages are Swedish, Finnish, English and French (some Spanish). She has published and lectured in the areas of conflict management, arbitration, takeovers, corporate governance, CSR and legal ethics.

WWL says: Carita Wallgren-Lindholm is a dedicated and experienced arbitrator practitioner who is a pre-eminent name in Finland for her work on high-value commercial and investment proceedings.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Arbitration which can be purchased from our Shop.

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