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Who's Who Legal
Who's Who Legal
Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

James Carter is “among the best you’ll find at the New York Bar” according to sources who applaud his “great ability to make sense of complex contracts with conflicting clauses”.

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 inspired you to pursue a legal career?

I did not admire the typical career prospects for a history professor and went to Yale Law School by default, where I discovered that a legal career could be varied and interesting, particularly in the field of dispute resolution. 

What qualities make for a successful arbitrator?

Chekhov wrote, “Only people with equanimity can see things clearly, be fair and work.” That describes a good arbitrator.

How has sports arbitration evolved since you first began practising?

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.

Should more be done to improve the transparency of arbitration proceedings? 

Yes, although there always will be a need to compromise with party interests in confidentiality.

If you could implement one reform in international arbitration, what would it be?

I would encourage a more widespread publication of awards, even recognising that such a reform would require an additional commitment of significant resources for “sanitising” awards. There is movement now in that direction.

What steps can younger arbitration practitioners take to improve their chances of getting appointments?

Find a job at a firm or organisation (there are many) that already makes arbitration a part of its practice, and then let it be known (repeatedly, if necessary) that you want to learn about and do this work. Experience in domestic court disputes is useful, but don’t stop pushing to do arbitration, too. Experienced mentors will be there, because we all had them in our turn.

Looking back over your career, what has been your proudest achievement?

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 New York International Arbitration Center.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
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