Dr Ana Gerdau de Borja Mercereau from Derains & Gharavi (Paris) has over 12 years of experience as counsel and secretary to arbitral tribunals in arbitrations under the ICSID, the ICC, the LCIA-MIAC, and the ICDR/AAA rules, and under the main Brazilian institutions’ rules. Her cases have included commercial transactions and joint ventures, large infrastructure projects (in construction, renewable energy, oil & gas and transportation), M&A deals, and projects in real estate and for mining research and exploration. She is a member of the ICC Commission on International Arbitration and ADR and of its Task Force entitled “Corruption in International Arbitration.”
Ana is one of the founders of the Rising Arbitrators Initiative and co-chair of its Executive Committee, CIArb’s European Branch YMG Representative, and a member of CIArb YMG Global Steering Committee and of Delos’ Long View Steering Committee. Ana holds a Ph.D. and an LL.M. (International Law) from the University of Cambridge and works in French, English, Portuguese and Spanish.
Why have you decided to specialise in ADR and what attracted you to this area of law?
I first came across arbitration as a team member participating in the Vis Moot in Vienna in 2001-2002 in my second year of law studies. From a Brazilian perspective, this was a pioneer team, as it was the only Brazilian team participating in the Vis Moot at this time. And it was love at first sight. I then pursued arbitration studies in my LLM at the University of Cambridge, later focusing on investment treaty arbitration in my PhD studies at the same University. From a micro perspective, it is rewarding to help parties solve disputes efficiently and to help them in certain cases continue their business relationship. Moreover, investment treaty arbitration and certain commercial arbitrations solve today’s disputes that in earlier times in certain cases led to armed conflict.
What was the trajectory of your career that led you to your current position/post?
What I cherish the most in international arbitration is cultural neutrality and its multicultural, multijurisdictional aspect. This certainly led me to my position today at Derains & Gharavi in Paris. Before coming to Paris, I worked for almost six years on domestic and international arbitration and related litigation in São Paulo, Brazil. But I felt that the international aspect of the work was not prevailing and thus decided to move to Paris.
What are the challenges/obstacles women in ADR face in the early stages of their career?
I was lucky enough to work at law firms whose partnership was mixed and had very talented women partners. I understand in any case that the younger generation is more diverse in terms of gender. This means that the trend is to have more diverse professionals in the years to come.
What keeps you motivated in your career?
International arbitration is certainly one of these areas where learning is infinite; there is also the rewarding aspect of providing services that are key for society to thrive. Collaborating with more senior professionals (especially Yves Derains), peers, and younger professionals also helps to keep me motivated.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in the field thus far?
My biggest achievement so far has been founding together with Alexander Leventhal (Quinn Emanuel) and Rocío Digón (White & Case) the Rising Arbitrators Initiative (RAI), whose Advisory Council is chaired by Yves Derains and Carolyn Lamm. RAI seeks to support arbitration practitioners under 45 who either have already received their first appointment as an arbitrator or have at least seven years of professional experience in the practice of international arbitration by inter alia creating a support network and encouraging best practices.
What is it like to work in a predominantly male profession?
As I said earlier, this has changed a lot lately. It is very rare that I am the only lady participating in an arbitration hearing or conference.
How has CIArb influenced your career progression and CIArb’s membership benefited your career?
CIArb has come to me through a conversation with Nayla Obeid (then CIArb’s President) during the Vis Moot in Vienna in 2017 at one of their arbitrator-only events. Shortly after this conversation, I applied to become an MCIArb and later sat the exam organised in May the same year by the European Branch to become an FCIArb. I now work with other CIArb peers on the CIArb YMG Global Steering Committee and as the YMG Representative elected within the European Branch. Joining CIArb in 2017 has been rewarding so far and helped to build my qualifications to make a smooth transition between firms.
What do you think the future for women in ADR will be like and what do you consider as the biggest challenge for a female professional in ADR in the future?
The future for women in ADR is promising. Perhaps the challenge is to reconcile a healthy practice and a thriving family.
Are there any interesting developments in the field of ADR in the jurisdiction you are based in?
As a continental Europe jurisdiction, France is adapting to Brexit to ensure it keeps being a favourable arbitral seat, having created international chambers within the Paris Commercial Court and the Paris Court of Appeal.
If you could practice ADR in any other country where will that be and why?
I would love practicing ADR in London and New York City for their international appeal, and why not back again in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, for arbitration there continues to thrive.
Tell us about your interests, hobbies or any out of work activities.
I love listening to jazz and Brazilian bossa nova, and, most of all, playing with my son.