As a litigator for over 25 years, I have handled a number of international and other complex commercial arbitrations. In each of those, I was typically the only woman in the room—not only among counsel representing the parties (and the clients) but also the arbitrators. Indeed, in all of the international arbitrations I’ve participated in, only one of the arbitrators was a woman, and even then she was an accountant and not a lawyer.
I am not alone in my experience. Statistics show that very few arbitrators in complex international arbitrations are women, regardless of the tribunal system used. Other diversity, including in terms of race, sexual orientation, ethnicity and the like, is also lacking in ADR. As discussed in the recent report to the ABA House of Delegates from the Dispute Resolution Section in support of Resolution 105 (which advocates growing the number of diverse neutrals on ADR rosters and encourages the selection of diverse neutrals) (ABA DR Report), while data shows that law lags behind other professions in diversity, diversity among neutrals (mediators, arbitrators and other dispute resolution practitioners) is even worse as compared to the rest of the legal profession.
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