On June 12, 2015 Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, LLP, in conjunction with the Charlotte International Arbitration Society, hosted an International Law Symposium on drafting international arbitration clauses, and international arbitration more generally. Parker Poe was pleased to present keynote speaker, Anne Marie Whitesell, who is currently a Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and served as the Secretary General of the ICC International Court of Arbitration from 2001-2007. While Secretary General, Ms. Whitesell oversaw more than 1,200 international arbitrations a year.
The program was a great success, with more than forty in-house counsel and Carolina based practitioners in attendance. Chip Holmes, a member of the firms transnational litigation and arbitration practice group, moderated the event. Among other topics, Ms. Whitesell and David Branson, a distinguished international arbitration practitioner, debated the recent trend toward ‘professional’ arbitrators and law firms that “specialize” in international arbitration. Our speakers notably disagreed about the impact of a professional class of arbitrators and whether such routinely party appointed arbitrators can maintain an unbiased point of view during their appointment. However, both speakers agreed that large law firms with attorneys ‘specializing’ in international arbitration often lack experience in domestic litigation where conducting discovery, cross-examining witnesses, and creating a convincing narrative are the hallmark of any successful litigator. Ms. Whitesell noted, as an experienced arbitrator herself, that tribunals want to hear the facts and know the story. Ultimately, arbitration is litigation under different rules, and the best practitioners are the most skilled trial lawyers.
This symposium could not have come at a better time as the Charlotte region, and greater Carolinas, continue to grow as an international business center. Charlotte is now home to more than 2 million residents, seven fortune five 500 companies, and nearly 1,000 foreign owned businesses from appropriately 46 countries. As one of the oldest and largest firms in the Carolinas, Parker Poe has responded to the growing demand, offering a complete complement of international legal services, including transnational litigation and arbitration. Consistent with our belief that the best arbitrators are the best litigators, Parker Poe has established a Transnational Litigation and Arbitration team that comprises some of the firms best litigators.