Mandy, thanks for joining us today. There are so many things I would love to discuss with you, but today I will focus on “Careers in Arbitration”, which you founded in 2019. Can you give us a brief overview of what this is?
Thanks for having me, Svenja! Careers in Arbitration is an online information hub that provides details of vacancies and other opportunities in the field of arbitration around the world. A wide variety of different roles are shared via LinkedIn and Twitter, with a view to leveling the playing field for candidates in different locations and from different backgrounds
by sharing information as widely as possible.
What inspired you to create this space for prospective practitioners in the field of arbitration?
I wanted to make it easier for the best candidates, wherever they are based, to find roles in the field. Over the last few years I have mentored a number of young and aspiring arbitration practitioners and the initiative was partly inspired by some of the challenges that they faced. There are a great many excellent candidates seeking opportunities in the field, but it can be difficult to identify relevant roles unless you know the right people or spend your days scouring law firm websites for potential vacancies.
How did you get your first job? Did you simply use online search tools like Google or did you go to the web-page of every firm / company etc. to check out the job vacancies?
I found my first substantive legal role by using the services of a recruitment consultant. The role was not advertised online so it was a case of being in the right place at the right time when the role came up.
Does digital transformation help job seekers to secure one of the few job openings in arbitration?
I hope so. Job seekers that do not take advantage of digital transformation and digital resources when seeking roles, and fail to capitalize on their experience and networks to secure roles are at a disadvantage. This field is incredibly competitive, with significant numbers of highly educated candidates vying for a limited number of roles. Careers in Arbitration allows vacancies to be shared globally, enabling qualified candidates that may not be aware of local recruitment platforms to access the recruitment market. Arbitration is a global industry with an increasing focus on diversity – it deserves global recruitment solutions.
And vice versa: Does digital transformation help employers find the best candidate for the job opening?
By sharing a job opening with a broader audience via a central online hub, suitable candidates will stand more chance of seeing the opportunity and applying before the deadline expires. It is unrealistic in the digital age to expect candidates to check the websites of major law firms on a daily basis on the off chance that a suitable vacancy may be advertised. Some firms use LinkedIn, some use recruiters to source candidates and others rely on different networks. Careers in Arbitration aims to capture and share vacancies from a wide variety of sources.
One of my goals in founding Careers in Arbitration was to share information and by so doing to foster a greater sense of community and awareness
How do law firms, arbitral institutions etc. react to Careers in Arbitration?
One of my biggest concerns when establishing the feed was how law firms, arbitral institutions and other entities would react to this disruptive initiative. Thankfully the feedback that I have received has been overwhelmingly positive and kind.
How do you source openings listed on the platform? Do you manually search for them, or do employers reach out to you directly?
When it comes to identifying vacancies to share, I have a variety of different sources. These include law firms and other organizations that reach out to me directly to let me know that they have a vacancy that they would like me to share. Friends and colleagues from around the world send me vacancies too, including roles advertised in languages that I cannot speak. I do a daily search on LinkedIn for roles worldwide. I review the websites of law firms and other organizations. I have alerts set up on various platforms.
In addition, the #CareersinArbitration hashtag allows anyone on LinkedIn to post a new vacancy, tag #CareersinArbitration and share details of the role with anyone following the hashtag. I pick up many of the roles that are tagged and share them via the LinkedIn feed and via the Careers in Arbitration Twitter feed (@CareersinArb).
Would you say that there is a difference between finding vacancies in arbitration compared to other roles in the legal field?
Arbitration candidates often cast the net far wider than lawyers in other fields. It is not unusual for me to speak to candidates who, when asked where they hope to practice, explain that they are interested in hearing about roles in Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Singapore and Washington, DC, for example. As arbitration is a truly international field candidates often search globally, with the focus being on finding the best opportunity rather than an opportunity in the jurisdiction in which they are presently based. The global nature of the search comes with many challenges: many candidates require visa sponsorship, for example, or will be seeking a role for a specific period of time after completing an LL.M. in a particular jurisdiction. This is one of the reasons why it is important to share roles in a timely fashion – candidates often need to quickly identify suitable roles that tick a variety of different boxes.
You were the first lawyer in your family, meaning that you did not have the advantage of a close-knit network of contacts with lawyers. Many students are facing similar struggles. Do online platforms such as “Careers in Arbitration” help the next generation of practitioners overcome these obstacles?
I really hope so! One of my goals in founding Careers in Arbitration was to share information and by so doing to foster a greater sense of community and awareness. In addition to sharing vacancies I use the feed to spread information about new initiatives, encourage followers to develop their knowledge of arbitration, provide details of forthcoming events and webinars and advertise opportunities to give something back to the wider community by, for example, joining committees and getting involved in initiatives. There is a Careers in Arbitration LinkedIn group where job seekers can post questions and reach out to fellow followers.
Running Careers in Arbitration sounds very timeconsuming. How do you manage your schedule to maintain the platform whilst continuing to practice as an arbitrator and counsel?
It is something of a labor of love! I devote time to it every day because I want to make sure that it remains relevant. You can sometimes tell what jurisdiction I am in based on the time of day that I post updates.
There are many different paths and opportunities open to those seeking a career in arbitration
Do you personally receive queries from candidates seeking advice directly from you rather than through the Careers in Arbitration platform? If so, how do you approach such requests?
A number of followers have reached out to me since the feed was launched and I have done my best to help them and put them in touch with others who can do the same. I sadly do not have time to help everyone but initiatives like our ‘Arbitration in the Afternoon’ webinar series, co-presented by my fabulous friend Chris Campbell of ‘Tales of the Tribunal’, give me the opportunity to encourage members to engage with each other, to ask questions and to help one another.
Later this year, you are planning to publish the “Careers in Arbitration Guide to Young Practitioner Organizations”, a comprehensive resource highlighting global organizations aiding the development of young practitioners. How does digital transformation support the growing number of these networks?
Young arbitration practitioner organizations are thriving. With over 80 presently in existence and more being formed all the time, it made sense to bring together all of the relevant information, including links to relevant websites, LinkedIn pages, Facebook
pages, Twitter handles and Instagram pages in one easy to manage location. It is often difficult for those of us in the field to remember the days when we were not familiar with the ocean of acronyms that are used to identify international arbitration organizations, but
for those who are starting out, it is difficult to find your community if you do not know where to start looking.
So, with the aid of extensive online research, a number of kind individuals who have supported this project and the fantastic young practitioner community, Careers in Arbitration has created a digital encyclopedia of sorts to help aspiring practitioners navigate the world of young practitioner organizations. The Guide will be available via www.careersinarbitration.com.
During the COVID-19 crisis you expanded the scope of Careers in Arbitration and shared recordings of arbitration lectures online. What motivated you to offer these additional digital resources?
While our community responsibly self-isolated (and focused on becoming adept at conducting hearings virtually) I wanted to use the platform to offer those missing the packed global arbitration event schedule a small daily arbitration fix. So, during the crisis I used the feed to share arbitration lectures from around the world with a new and hopefully wider audience. This is consistent with one of the key objectives of Careers in Arbitration – to help those wishing to succeed in the field to develop their knowledge by sharing
relevant resources. You can find the lectures by searching for the hashtag #ArbitrationFix on LinkedIn. I also shared details of virtual events and calls for papers to enable those who would be resuming their search for roles post-crisis to continue to attend events and add value to their resumes during these challenging times.
What are your plans for Careers in Arbitration in the coming years?
I have far too many ideas and not enough time in which to implement them all. I plan to develop a comprehensive suite of resources to help those looking for roles in the field to hone their applications, refine their resumes, fine-tune their writing samples, perfect their networking skills and much more. I also hope to use the platform to shine a spotlight on recruitment practices in the field and the wide variety of different opportunities that are available in different jurisdictions, with particular focus on the major arbitral seats. There are many different paths and opportunities open to those seeking a career in arbitration, all of which are equally valid. Roles in private practice, academia, compliance, arbitral institutions, working with arbitrators and hearing centers and much more await those seeking to find their niche. Those that manage to find opportunities via the feed are the true legacy of Careers in Arbitration though. As long as members of the arbitration community continue to find the resources that I share useful, apply for vacancies, make new connections by attending events that were shared via the feed and so on, then Careers in Arbitration will continue to develop.
About the Interviewer
Svenja is an attorney in Germany. She studied law at the University of Kiel and holds an LL.M. degree from Columbia Law School. Her practice concentrates on arbitration and complex commercial litigation with a particular focus on multi-jurisdictional legal actions with an emphasis on commercial questions as well as M&A and Private Equity transactions. The cases are usually subject to many different systems of law and under several institutional rules, in particular under the arbitration rules of the DIS and ICC.
She regularly speaks on panels and webinars and publishes articles in the field of international arbitration. Her passion for the changes and challenges digitalization and digital transformation mean for the legal industry led her to start the initiative “Digital Coffee Break in Arbitration”.