Lawrence Schaner is a standout arbitration specialist in domestic and international commercial disputes.
Lawrence Schaner, FCIArb, started his own practice as an independent arbitrator in 2017, following nearly 30 years at Jenner & Block, where he was a litigation partner and co-chair of the international arbitration practice. He earned his AB from Duke University in 1982 and JD from Stanford Law School in 1986. He is a member of the Bars of California, Illinois and New York. He is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law.
What motivated you to pursue a legal career?
I saw the law as a means to help others while doing interesting work. It did not hurt that I grew up with strong lawyer role models in the family. I considered pursuing an academic career, but when I realised I would not likely be able to open a history firm, I decided to give law a try and see if I liked it. So far, so good.
What qualities make for a successful international arbitrator?
It’s potentially a long list. Some of the key qualities include: curiosity about other people and cultures; an interest in continual learning; a healthy dose of humility; the ability to really listen; broad experience; the capacity for critical thinking; familiarity with the international arbitration community; familiarity with international arbitration practice and procedure; strong oral and written communication skills; and high ethical standards.
Why did you decide to set up your own firm?
Primarily to avoid conflicts. At my former large firm, I had to turn down too many interesting cases.
To what extent can virtual hearings be relied on to decide high-stakes multibillion-dollar cases between parties?
We will know the answer to this question soon, as we collectively gain experience with virtual hearings. Early returns suggest that video conference technology has taken major strides forward, and with proper organisation and preparation can be used successfully in high-stakes cases.
Are cash flow issues stopping parties from bringing claims?
Not to my knowledge. Where parties have a claim they want to bring, they usually seem to find a way to fund it. The expansion of third-party funding and an increased willingness of law firms to enter into alternative billing arrangements are among the tools parties can use to overcome cash flow concerns.
What role do you see third-party funding playing in arbitration moving forward?
I see it as expanding the number of cases that get brought. At the risk of stating the obvious, it allows parties to bring cases that might not otherwise be able to do so; and it gives parties financing altenatives that may make moving ahead with cases more attractive. In the US, we have a long tradition of allowing lawyers to take cases on a contingency-fee basis. If someone has a good claim, they can usually get a lawyer, regardless of their ability to pay. I see third-party funding as fulfilling a similar function. How much of an impact it will have over the long term is uncertain. My guess is that it will be used with increasing frequency as parties and lawyers become more comfortable with it.
What steps can younger arbitration practitioners take to improve their chances of getting appointments? Is there an important role to play here for experienced lawyers?
The most difficult appointment to get is usually the first one. Steps one can take to improve the chances of getting appointed include: get experience as a neutral, however you can. Consider, for example, doing court-annexed arbitration proceedings. Get basic training that leads to a credential, such as from the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators or the ICC Academy. Let more senior arbitration practitioners and institutional representatives know of your interest. Get known in the international arbitration community. Acquire the kinds of practice experience and skills that are desirable in an international arbitrator.
"Lawrence is a great chair and extremely strong arbitrator"
"Rooted in the heart of the Midwest, Lawrence is a truly international lawyer"
"He is a very experienced and knowledgeable arbitration practitioner who I consider to be a great colleague"
"He's extremely knowledgeable about international arbitration principles and is well respected by the arbitration community"
"Larry is one of the best-established disputes lawyers out there"
Lawrence Schaner is the founder of Schaner Dispute Resolution. He serves as an arbitrator in international and complex commercial cases, acts as counsel in select arbitration and litigation matters, particularly those involving international issues, and advises clients regarding cross-border and domestic dispute resolution matters. In more than 30 years of practice, he has amassed broad experience with complex, high-stakes business disputes spanning many sectors and industries.
Until April 2017, Mr Schaner was a partner at Jenner & Block, in Chicago. He co-founded and co-chaired the firm’s international arbitration practice, serving as counsel in a wide range of significant international disputes. He also spent many years representing clients in US domestic litigation as a member of the firm’s renowned litigation department. Since 2010, he has taught international arbitration as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.
Mr Schaner acts as presiding arbitrator, sole arbitrator and co-arbitrator, and has experience as an emergency arbitrator. He serves on the panels of arbitrators of many of the world’s leading arbitral institutions. He has been appointed in both administered and ad hoc cases, and has worked with many sets of arbitration rules, including, among others, those of the AAA, CPR, ICC, ICDR, JAMS, KCAB, LCIA, SCC and UNCITRAL.
Mr Schaner’s experience covers a broad spectrum of contract and other business disputes. Matters on which he has worked have involved, for example, antitrust, bankruptcy, construction, employment, energy, executive compensation, insurance, intellectual property, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, sale of goods, securities, tax, and trade secrets issues. He has also dealt with cases concerning distribution and franchise agreements, confidentiality and non-compete agreements, fraud and misrepresentation claims, purchase and sale agreements, supply contracts, hospitality industry matters, and telecommunications disputes. He has extensive experience with aerospace, aviation, government contracts, military and national defence matters, including, among others, matters involving nuclear submarines, missiles, small-calibre ammunition, military and commercial jets, helicopters and space launch vehicles.
He was selected as an “ADR Champion” by the National Law Journal in 2016 and “Chicago International Arbitration – Commercial Lawyer of the Year” in 2014 by Best Lawyers in America. He was awarded the President’s Prize by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in 2003 for receiving the highest mark on its Award Writing Examination. He is ranked in Band 1 of Chambers Global in its international arbitration: arbitrators in USA category.
Mr Schaner is co-editor of the treatise International Arbitration in the United States (Wolters Kluwer 2018). From 2013 to 2018, he was the editor of the International Bar Association’s journal Dispute Resolution International. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and former officer of the IBA arbitration committee (2008-2013). He has spoken and published extensively on international arbitration and cross-border dispute resolution topics and is a member of many professional organisations in the US and worldwide.
Mr Schaner earned his JD from Stanford Law School in 1986 and AB from Duke University in 1982. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Cecil F Poole, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is a member of the Bars of the States of California, Illinois and New York.