Incredibly, four years have passed since the close of my glorious quarter-century on the Court of Appeals, 15 of those years as chief judge, and my return to the world of law practice, dramatically changed in many ways. One change in particular inspires this writing.
Among the hats I am privileged to wear at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is one that attracts many judicial colleagues in their "after-life"—arbitrator—and it is here especially that I see the impact of globalization on law practice today.
Coming off the court, I was greeted by the work of a state bar task force on New York Law in International Matters, highlighting two areas of special interest. Both came as something of a surprise.
First was the discovery of the importance of New York law to the global community. Always our courts struggle to articulate legal principles that both resolve the immediate dispute for the parties and stand as rational, predictable precedent for New York law. But I did not appreciate the opportunity that contracting parties around the world have to designate the law that will govern arbitration of any future dispute, and how often the choice they make is New York law. What a pleasure, and point of pride, it has been to encounter the choice of New York law in far-flung transactions, a recognition of the soundness and stability of New York case law.
Second, the state bar recommended that there be a New York international arbitration center—another thought I had not previously had. Indeed, it has seemed increasingly odd to me that, of all places, New York has no international arbitration center. In these years, I have watched the field flourish, as has my collection of brochures promoting arbitration centers throughout the world. Arbitrate in Toronto. Arbitrate in Australia, Ireland, Poland. I’ve even visited arbitration centers in London, Singapore, Mauritius. Clearly, around the world there is open recognition of the importance of having arbitrations located in their home city.
I knew that the New York Convention of 1958 (adopted into the Federal Arbitration Act) is an overarching law in worldwide arbitrations. I knew of other New York statutory provisions—for example, General Obligations Law §§5-1401 and 5-1402, and CPLR §§327(b) and 7502—that were designed to make New York an attractive situs for major international transactions. And I knew of the strong policy of deference our courts pay to arbitration awards. But why no international arbitration center here, I wondered.
Last month, with 33 founding firms,1 we celebrated that we are now close to having an actual bricks and mortar New York International Arbitration Center, with space at 150 E. 42nd St., in the heart of Manhattan, which hopefully will open in late Spring. What most excites me are the opportunities the center offers to collaborate with the legal, judicial, academic and business communities to keep New York at the forefront, to help to bust ugly myths promulgated about us and our legal system,2 to spread the word that this is a great place for dispute resolution.
What is our vision of success for the center? Reaffirming that New York has stable, well-developed commercial law. That our state and federal courts are strongly supportive of international arbitration without unnecessary interference. That New York, one of the world’s greatest cities, welcomes visitors with open arms and all the amenities they could hope for. Our vision for success is working collaboratively to achieve all of these objectives.
Judith S. Kaye is counsel to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and the former chief judge of the State of New York.
1. The founding firms are: Allen & Overy LLP; Baker & McKenzie, LLP; Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP; Chaffetz Lindsey LLP; Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP; Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP; Debevoise & Plimpton LLP; DLA Piper; Dorsey & Whitney LLP; Flemming Zulack Williamson Zauderer LLP; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP; Fulbright & Jaworski LLP; Greenberg Traurig LLP; Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP; Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP; King & Spalding LLP; Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; Proskauer Rose LLP; Shearman & Sterling LLP; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Squire Sanders (US) LLP; Sullivan & Cromwell LLP; Thompson & Knight LLP; Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; White & Case LLP; Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP; and Winston & Strawn LLP.
2. See, e.g., Lawrence W. Newman & David Zaslowsky, "’Manifest Disregard’ and International Arbitration Awards," NYLJ, Jan. 24, 2013, available at http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/PubArticleNY.jsp?id=1202585426437&Manifest_Disregard_and_International_Arbitration_Award.