Edna Sussman
Office:
Office: Suite 3500, 10 East 40th Street, NY 10016-0301
Mailing: 20 Oak Lane, Scarsdale, NY 10583
City:
New York
State:
New York
Country:
USA
Tel:
+1 212 213 2173
Fax:
+1 914 472 8975

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Edna Sussman is a leading full-time independent arbitrator of commercial disputes. She is ranked in Band 1 of Chambers Global and Chambers USA for international arbitration. Edna serves on the board of the American Arbitration Association and is the distinguished ADR practitioner-in-residence at Fordham Law School; chair of the AAA-ICDR Foundation; and vice chair of the New York International Arbitration Center. She has published extensively on subjects related to arbitration and mediation.

DESCRIBE YOUR PRACTICE TO DATE.

After wonderful years at White & Case as an associate and litigation partner, I turned to serving as a full-time arbitrator. I serve on institutional panels in venues across the globe and have handled over 250 international and domestic arbitrations under many institutional rules and ad hoc as chair, co-arbitrator and sole with claims valued at US$1 million to US$1 billion. The arbitrations I handled presented a wide range of legal issues in many industry sectors. In recent years many of my cases have involved commercial transactions, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, insurance, franchises and distributorships, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, partnerships and joint ventures, energy, environment and aviation.

I have throughout my career been active in professional organisations and served as the president of the College of Commercial Arbitrators; chair of the American Bar Association’s international section’s arbitration committee; chair of the New York State Bar Association’s dispute resolution section; and chair of the ADR committee of the Energy Bar Association. I have also always tried to identify and publish about emerging issues in arbitration.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN COMMERCIAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION?

I was drawn to arbitration early in my career. I very much enjoyed the intellectual challenge and variety offered by litigation but was dismayed by the time and cost. Arbitration offered a vehicle to create a bespoke process to achieve the same goal, assisting parties in resolving disputes. As a bonus international arbitration has allowed me the privilege of working with and befriending stimulating colleagues from all over the world.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT IN YOUR CAREER ARE YOU PROUDEST OF?

I am serving as the founding chair of the AAA-ICDR Foundation, which enables me to participate in supporting worthwhile initiatives around the globe that reduce conflict and foster empowerment of individuals to resolve disputes. I am also very pleased to have been one of the co-founders and the vice chair of the New York International Arbitration Center that provides visitors to New York with a world-class arbitration facility and thought leadership.

HOW DOES YOUR EXTENSIVE MEDIATION EXPERIENCE ENHANCE YOUR PRACTICE AS AN ARBITRATOR?

Every arbitration calls upon one to bring people’s positions together. My mediation skills have served me well in working with my fellow arbitrators in achieving the correct outcome and in enabling me to guide the parties to agreed resolutions of non-merits-based issues that frequently arise in the course of an arbitration, such as scheduling, the scope of document disclosure, managing motion practice and shaping the hearing. It has also been very useful in teaching me tools for managing difficult counsel in arbitration.

 

TO WHAT EXTENT DO PARTIES FAVOUR SETTLEMENT OUTSIDE OF FORMAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCEEDINGS? HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY CHANGES IN ATTITUDE IN THIS REGARD?

Generally speaking, parties prefer settlement to a resolution directed by an adjudicator. There has been a great deal of discussion about the growth of mediation. I don’t believe we have seen that growth yet but with the soon to be completed UNCITRAL Convention on the Enforceability of International Commercial Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation we should begin to see a shift towards greater acceptance and use of mediation.

AS AN ARBITRATOR, HOW DO YOU BALANCE KEEPING THE PROCESS AS EFFICIENT AS POSSIBLE WITH COUNSELS’ DESIRE TO ADVANCE ALL ARGUMENTS TO SECURE A WIN FOR THEIR CLIENT?

A robust initial conference with the parties at the inception of the case is essential to establish the architecture for the entire case and review how to tailor the process to the case to achieve both efficiency and a fair process. Nothing is immutable and each step is reviewed. Consideration should be given at the first conference not only to a review of the parties’ positions but also to establish the process questions. For example: how many rounds of submissions are appropriate for the case, page limits, what document disclosure is really material, when should documents be exchanged, can and should the delivery of the damages analysis be provided early in the case, how can the expert testimony be streamlined. A comprehensive discussion of these and other process issues at the inception enables the parties to fully present their case while at the same time achieving the goal of efficiency.

HOW DO YOU EXPECT INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION TO DEVELOP IN THE COMING YEARS?

In order to address the current criticisms as to arbitration’s legitimacy and accountability, I think there will be a trend towards greater transparency even in commercial arbitration through the publication of anonymised awards and the availability of more information about arbitrators. Hopefully, there will be a parallel effort to better inform the public about arbitration to defuse some of the false and negative perceptions that are prevalent in some quarters currently.

AS AN ARBITRATION TRAINER FOR THE AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUNGER LAWYERS SEEKING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN ARBITRATION?

I advise those aspiring to be arbitration practitioners to be proactive and seize opportunities to develop their skill sets while staying true to themselves and tapping into their own personal strengths. In order to establish name recognition, I also encourage participating actively in professional organisations and following developments in the field in order to identify the next issue of significance in arbitration to write and speak about.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

Edna Sussman is a leader in the field of dispute resolution. She is a full-time arbitrator and has served as the chair, sole and co-arbitrator in over 200 complex commercial disputes, both international and domestic, under various institutional rules and ad hoc. She brings to the process decades of experience handling a wide variety of high-value matters as an arbitrator and as a partner at a prominent international law firm.

Ms Sussman has been widely recognised for her work in the field of arbitration, including being ranked for international arbitration by Chambers USA and Chambers Global. She is also listed annually by Who’s Who Legal: International Arbitration, Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers. She is the Distinguished ADR Practitioner in Residence at Fordham Law School, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and certified by the International Mediation Institute. Ms Sussman serves on many panels, including ICDR, AAA, CPR, HKIAC, SCIA, ASA, VIAC, DIAC, KLRCA, KCAB, KIAC, PIAC, CEAC, NFA, US ECR and FINRA, and is listed by the ICC. Ms Sussman also mediates and was named as one of the 10 most highly regarded international mediators by Who’s Who Legal: Commercial Mediation (2013).

Ms Sussman has published and lectured extensively on arbitration and mediation. She serves as the chair of the board of the AAA/ICDR Foundation and immediate past president of the College of Commercial Arbitrators. She also serves on the board of the American Arbitration Association, and as vice-chair of the New York International Arbitration Center.

WWL says: Edna Sussman is "an oustanding arbitrator" who is "on everyone's list" for complex international disputes.

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

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