Paulsson Addresses Gender Inequity in High-Stakes International Arbitrations

Shook, Hardy & Bacon Miami Consultant Marike Paulsson weighs in on the challenges facing female arbitrators and discusses the Equal Representation in Arbitration pledge in a June 29 Daily Business Review article, “Arbitration Pledge for Diversity Met with Skepticism in South Florida and Latin America.” Paulsson also serves as director of the International Arbitration Institute at the University of Miami School of Law, and is the founder and co-chair of Young ICCA, under the International Council for Commercial Arbitration.

Despite the recent launch of the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge that aims to increase female representation in international arbitration, Paulsson notes, “It’s great, this pledge, but here’s the thing: A lot of these things are already happening.” Paulsson further explains that the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICC) is already making efforts to make shortlists with women, but few women are getting appointed because clients are the ones who ultimately decide who they want to hire.

“Today the biggest issue is that users in arbitration are risk adverse and would rather go with the arbitrators who are more experienced,” says Paulsson. “And today, the more senior, senior arbitrators are mostly men." Paulsson adds, “Clients are interested in winning their case, not changing the world, and attorneys whose reputation in arbitration is most established are ‘male, pale and stale.’”

Paulsson hopes to see a new pledge that goes beyond shortlists and creates results, persuading clients to choose female arbitrators.