Carolyn Lamm is a partner at White & Case. She has acted as lead counsel in international arbitrations in ICSID, ICC and other fora, as well as related litigation in US courts for foreign states, foreign state-owned companies and foreign corporate entities. She is an arbitrator on the ICSID List, first-nominated by the US and the government of Uzbekistan. She has served as arbitrator in proceedings before ICSID, SIAC, ICDR, AAA, etc. Carolyn teaches international investment arbitration at the University of Miami School of Law’s White & Case LLM programme. She was a member of the American Arbitration Association executive committee and board, and is currently vice president of the American Bar Endowment, a member of the ICCA governing board, an emeritus member of the council of the American Law Institute, and has served as an arbitrator in AAA International Rules, SIAC, ICSID and NAFTA Chapter 11 disputes. Carolyn is a founding member of the American Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce and currently serves as chairman of the board.
DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.
I served as trial attorney at the US Department of Justice civil division, frauds section and then assistant director of the commercial branch in the attorney general’s programme for honour law graduates. From 1980 to present I have been at White & Case LLP in Washington, DC. From 1982 I began representing parties in ICSID arbitrations: respondent states and corporate claimants in some of the largest investment arbitrations.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION?
I pursued a career in international arbitration because I love advocacy; international law; and people of different legal systems, cultures, religions, and economic and political systems. All have been fascinating and provide a stimulating and intellectually enriching practice.
WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT ENTERING THE WORLD OF ARBITRATION?
At the time, in the early 1980s, the most challenging aspect of entering the world of arbitration was the dominance of European male academics. That is slowly evolving to become a very dynamic world with many challenging competitors and arbitrators, both male and female.
INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION HAS RECENTLY COME UNDER FIRE FOR THE UNDER-REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN AMONG ITS PRACTITIONERS. WHAT STEPS DO YOU BELIEVE THE COMMUNITY NEEDS TO TAKE TO OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE?
The current situation does require sustained promotion of women to assure equal representation. We have created a multinational task force on gender diversity and discrimination with participation of all of the major arbitral institutions and international organisations. This group will study and make recommendations to promote gender diversity among counsel, tribunals and end users. Within law firms, we need to give women opportunities but also to promote to our clients the use of women on tribunals, etc. We are on the cusp of moving forward but it takes a sustained effort on the part of us all. One effort that our firm has undertaken is to be a signatory of the Equal Representation in Arbitration pledge, which seeks to increase, on an equal opportunity basis, the number of women appointed as arbitrators to achieve a fair representation as soon as practically possible, with the ultimate goal of full parity.
TO WHAT EXTENT HAS THE EMERGENCE OF NEW REGIONAL ARBITRATION CENTRES AROUND THE WORLD, SUCH AS THE SIAC, HAD AN IMPACT ON THE POPULARITY OF “TRADITIONAL” ARBITRAL SEATS?
The emergence of new regional arbitration centres around the world has had an impact on the popularity and selection of traditional arbitral seats. While the courts and the jurisprudence in many of the established jurisdictions provide comfort to users, the extraordinary secretariats, rules, facilities and innovative courts in many of the regional centres similarly provide very credible places to conduct arbitrations much closer to the users, legal systems, communities and operations.
SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU HAVE SEEN IN RELATION TO THE WAY THAT ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS ARE CONDUCTED?
Since I began my career – before computers – the biggest change in the way proceedings are conducted is that today so much is online, which is a fabulous change in terms of communication, organisation, access to vast quantities of information and facilitating the exchange of information. The real drawback has been that with keyword document searches, often tribunals are presented with hundreds of pages of narrative, thousands or millions of documents that are not sufficiently refined and selective to support a case, which can be overwhelming for opponents and tribunals. Some discipline and scrutiny of the keyword search output is needed to present more focused cases instead of what is just a mass of information that is not effective advocacy.
LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN THE PROUDEST OF?
I am most proud of some of the wonderful clients I have had the privilege to represent, jurisprudence I have contributed to the development of, and the very successful outcomes in many of the arbitrations. Just to highlight: Amco Asia v Indonesia, representing Indonesia; in Abaclat v Argentina, representing the 180,000 then 60,000 claimants successfully (due to a US$1.3 billion settlement); representing Uzbekistan in Metal-Tech, Spentex, and Oxus, the original award for which was recently affirmed by the Paris Court of Appeals. Wonderful cases, wonderful precedent. And Fraport v Philippines, a long and contentious struggle that was ultimately successful for the Philippines. Currently, being a member of the exceptional team representing the Russian Federation in its defence of the US$50 billion Yukos arbitration awards – the largest arbitration awards to date – is an extraordinary professional experience.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH OTHER LAWYERS WHO HOPE ONE DAY TO BE IN YOUR POSITION?
My advice is to perform with excellence; leave no stone unturned when looking for and analysing the facts and the law; and be strong and clear analytically in your view of the law. Do your very best to serve your clients, 24/7.