Daniel Wilmot, a partner in our International Arbitration team, chaired and moderated a session on Monday 17 June 2019 as part of the Africa Arbitration Academy. The Academy took place in London over three weeks in June.
The session was entitled “Arbitration Practice in the Era of Disruption: Skills and Strategies for Young Practitioners to Succeed”. It involved presentations by a panel of five leading arbitration practitioners drawing on their experiences in private and in-house practice, and at the Bar.
The panel, which was moderated by Daniel, shared their perspectives on what steps the audience might take to ensure success in their careers as arbitration practitioners. A lively and lengthy question and answer session followed, during which time the audience quizzed the speakers.
Despite the session’s title, the panel was clear that audience members need to focus on the basics to optimise their chance of a successful career in arbitration practice. Advice ranged from ensuring the raising of one’s profile through networking, publishing and promoting your successes, identifying mentors and sponsors that can support your career path, and giving careful thought to your business case and brand through focusing your practice on specific sectors, markets, objectives and USPs.
This session was one of many taking place during the Africa Arbitration Academy. The Academy is an initiative organised by the Nigeria-based Association of Young Arbitrators. After an application process, lawyers drawn from across Africa were selected to participate in the programme. Each of the sessions delivered during the Academy was focused on or related to the practice of international arbitration as a means of dispute resolution. All sessions were delivered by senior arbitration lawyers, many who had travelled to London to support the Academy.
Ngo-Martins Okonmah, senior associate at law firm Aluko & Oyebode and one of the so-called ‘Magnificent Seven’ that organised the Academy, commented:
“The Academy seeks to address the question of diversity in the selection of arbitrators of African descent by providing advance intensive training and bridging the gap between young arbitration practitioners from the African continent and the international arbitration community. Besides providing participants with first-class networking opportunities with members of the international arbitration community drawn from international law firms, barristers’ chambers, universities and renowned arbitration institutions, the Academy achieved an uncommon feat in the facilitation of Intra-Africa interaction, connections and life-long friendships.”
Daniel Wilmot commented:
“It was a sincere pleasure to be able to participate in the Academy and play my part in delivering what on any view is a fantastic initiative aimed at the promotion of arbitration on the African continent. I have worked for many years on arbitration disputes connected with the continent and the region holds a special place in my heart. As the UK’s largest disputes firm and one whose unique model and approach is very well suited to the African markets and clients that are active within them, it is only right that Stewarts invested its time in supporting the Academy. Huge congratulations to the ‘Magnificent Seven’ on organising what has been a wonderful programme for all of the participants.”
The educational objectives of the Academy were underlined by the fact that all participants were required to write a short discursive paper during the programme on an arbitration-related topic of their choice. Orji Agwu Uka, an LLM candidate at King’s College London and former associate at law firm Babalakin & Co, was one of two winners of the Academy’s inaugural ‘Prize in Excellent Writing’ for his co-authored paper entitled “Costs in International Arbitration – Are Changes Needed?”. He commented:
“The three weeks of the Academy has undoubtedly been the highlight of my stay in London so far. The workshops and paper presentations have been intellectually stimulating, there have been inspirational mentoring sessions featuring some of the top arbitration practitioners in the world, and some instructive mock hearings. The session chaired and expertly moderated by Daniel was particularly enriching because it featured practical success tips from a richly drawn pool of practitioners who serve as a bridge between the Academy participants and the more experienced international arbitration practitioners. In the end, we left the Academy better equipped to jumpstart our international arbitration careers.”
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