Five ways to build a successful career in arbitration

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Five ways to build a successful career in arbitration

Komal Anwar/April, 2021 Back in 2016, while I was working at a litigation law firm in Karachi, my boss assigned me a research project which involved research and analysis of issues related to challenging the validity of an arbitration agreement. While I was intrigued by the subject, I lacked extensive knowledge of the relevant issues.  In order to acquaint myself with these issues, I started reading several text books, case law and articles to understand how arbitration works and the ways in which an invalid arbitration agreement could be challenged successfully. Although our application to challenge was unsuccessful, I was enthralled and found the entire learning experience very rewarding. A year later, I left Pakistan to study for a Master of Laws at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in London, aiming to specialise in international arbitration. This is when my learning journey in the exciting field of international arbitration began: not only was I able to deepen my knowledge and understanding of international arbitration, I was also able to witness first-hand how arbitration proceedings are conducted, by observing international arbitration proceedings at the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). Following the conclusion of my Master of Laws, I returned to Pakistan, and decided to write a book on arbitration which was published on 1 November 2019, while working as an associate at Haidermota & Co and then Fazleghani Advocates. Having   authored a book, and published several articles on arbitration, and a private practitioner in Pakistan, I wanted to share some of my top tips for young professionals who are looking to build a successful career in arbitration:
  1. Assist senior lawyers in arbitration cases
Senior lawyers or partners in law firms may be acting as counsel in arbitration proceedings, representing clients before courts in disputes over arbitration or by sitting as arbitrators in ad hoc or institutional arbitration proceedings. Assisting senior lawyers will help in not only building knowledge of arbitration but also in developing critical skills required to become an arbitrator, litigator or arbitration counsel specialising in arbitration matters.
  1. Write, write and write!
One of the best ways a person can get noticed and build networks is through writing articles, blogs and eventually a book. It will help build your knowledge of arbitration, and therefore your credibility and reputation as an arbitration enthusiast. Writing is also a fantastic way for lawyers to promote themselves and their law firms to build clientele. For students, writing provides an opportunity to showcase their writing and analytical skills which can in turn serve as a gateway for better opportunities in the future and set themselves apart.  The first international arbitration center of Pakistan, Center for International Investment and Commercial Arbitration (CIICA) is providing a fantastic opportunity to get published, by writing blog posts and articles on international arbitration. I strongly encourage everyone to leverage this platform that could potentially become your springboard for a career in international arbitration.  You can find the editorial guidelines for CIICA’s blog and journal here, and submit your contributions to yag@ciica.org.
  1. Listen to podcasts
A quick way to gain knowledge on arbitration and to stay up-to-date on arbitration is by listening to podcasts. One such platform is the Arbitration Station which is a podcast about international arbitration and covers both investment and commercial arbitration.
  1. Study arbitration at post graduate level
In 2017 after receiving a Chevening Scholarship, I decided to pursue an LL.M. to study arbitration at the London School of Economics and Political Science. As a student, not only will you benefit from studying arbitration in depth but will also get to attend workshops and seminars by some of the most distinguished and highly qualified professionals in the field.
  1. Join arbitration forums
In Pakistan, arbitration is still a growing field but I was quick to become part of the steering committee of CIICA’s Young Arbitration Group (YAG), which provided me with invaluable exposure to arbitration through participation in workshops, webinars and conferences. YAG is an association of young lawyers, law students, and young members of the business community and government sector who have a keen interest and/or background in arbitration. As a first step, I strongly encourage everyone to be part of it to gain exposure to arbitration and to build networks with some of the most prominent arbitration professionals domestically and internationally. I openly invite everyone interested in arbitration to contact me at komal_anwar@hotmail.com. Komal Anwar, a practising lawyer, is a steering committee member of CIICA’s Young Arbitration Group (YAG) and a member of the YAG editorial board.  
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