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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

James H Carter

James H Carter

WilmerHale7 World Trade Center250 Greenwich StNew YorkUSA10007
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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Mr Carter was educated at Yale and Cambridge Universities; served as a law clerk for a US Court of Appeals judge; and then joined Sullivan & Cromwell in New York, where he chaired its international arbitration practice. He has served as chair of the board of the American Arbitration Association; president of the American Society of International Law; member of the London Court of International Arbitration and the Court of Arbitration for Sport; and chair of the board of the New York International Arbitration Center. He is a senior counsel at WilmerHale.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN ARBITRATION?

A disputes practice is the most interesting part of being a lawyer because it offers such a variety of people and cases. I began as an American litigation practitioner but was drawn at an early stage, within that world, to arbitration by the opportunity to work on disputes in an international context, beyond the US court system. I was attracted by the flexible and often creative procedures, as well as the stimulating cultural variety.

HOW HAS THE ROLE OF ARBITRATOR AND COUNSEL CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR CAREER?

The universe of participants (both individuals and institutions) has expanded exponentially, creating a tension between attempts to find commonality of procedures and desires to differentiate one variety of dispute resolution from others. Both impulses are useful, but guiding newcomers through the resulting maze has become more complicated.

HOW HAS SPORTS ARBITRATION DEVELOPED SINCE YOU BEGAN PRACTISING IN THE AREA?

Within just 25 years it went from a limited and parochial practice to an essentially globally harmonised system, as a result of the creation of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and its jurisprudence, together with the world anti-doping regime. Courts have come to an understanding that this system should be allowed to function with minimal interference, which it does quite successfully.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

With others at the AAA and the American Bar Association, I helped draft the current Code of Ethics for Arbitrators that established the presumption in the US that party-appointed arbitrators serve as neutrals unless the parties otherwise agree. This reversed the prior presumption and brought the US into conformity with international standards.

I am also very proud to have been one of those who established the NY International Arbitration Center.

HOW DOES WILMERHALE DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION?

If you are facing a difficult case, wouldn’t you want Gary Born and his team on your side?

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING OUT IN ARBITRATION?

Find a job at a firm or organisation (there are many) that already make arbitration a part of their practice, and then let it be known (repeatedly, if necessary) that you want to learn about and do this work. Experience is domestic court disputes is useful, but don’t stop pushing to do arbitration, too.

YOU HAVE ENJOYED A VERY DISTINGUISHED CAREER SO FAR. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE THAT YOU HAVE NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED?

I consider it important to create an international arbitration “community” in New York, composed of organisations that foster personal interchange among those who work in our field and see each other regularly as valued colleagues. We are well on the way toward that goal as a result of the establishment of the New York International Arbitration Center, the International Arbitration Club of New York and several specialist bar association groups, and I plan to work to assure that they prosper.

WHERE, IN YOUR OPINION, DOES THE FUTURE OF THE PRACTICE AREA LIE?

Commercial arbitration is likely to continue to grow steadily and, on an international level, to develop most rapidly in Asia. Publication of awards, in one form or another, will make the process more transparent. Investment dispute arbitration will enter at least a short-term cycle of decline, perhaps for a few decades, before its usefulness is again recognised. Fortunately, the wave of new practitioners planning to enter the field will keep it vibrant.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader
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