Noreen Kidunduhu MCIArb, is a Common Law qualified lawyer and a Senior Associate at TripleOKlaw LLP with 5+ years of experience in dispute resolution and transactional work in the energy and extractives industries.
Why have you decided to specialise in ADR and what attracted you to this area of law?
It isn’t so much a decision as it is a fortunate stroke of serendipity. In the third year of my Bachelor of Laws (LLB), the school introduced ADR as an elective course. I selected it, as it seemed the least daunting of the available options.
Up until that time, I had imagined that I could only either be a litigator or a transactional lawyer. The idea of a practice that was an alternative to the two was deeply enthralling to me.
What was the trajectory of your career that led you to your current position/post?
After my LLB, I undertook an introductory course to ADR with CIArb and qualified as an Associate of the institute. Soon thereafter, I got retained as a Junior Associate in the Dispute Resolution Team of my firm where I got to represent clients in both institutional and ad hoc arbitrations under a wide variety of arbitral rules. I also appeared in court matters related to arbitrations which saw to my co-option into the Law Society of Kenya’s ADR Committee.
What are the challenges/obstacles women in ADR face in the early stages of their career?
The greatest challenge for me was penetrating and getting recognised in the largely male bastion that is ADR practice. Thankfully, there are now numerous diversity initiatives that have increased the inclusion and participation of women in ADR.
What keeps you motivated in your career?
The exhilaration and challenge of analysing complex issues then finding creative and innovative ways of assisting clients to avoid, manage or resolve their disputes.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in the field thus far?
I’d say my appointment to the Global Steering Committee of CIArb’s Young Member’s Group and as an Africa Regional Representative of LCIA’s Young International Arbitration Group (YIAG). I transitioned from a passive ADR practitioner to an active one - intricately involved in the development of ADR globally as well as in creating skill-building and mentorship opportunities for young ADR practitioners.
What is it like to work in a predominantly male profession?
Constantly proving yourself! In the words of Charlotte Whitton “Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as a man to be thought of as half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.”
How has CIArb influenced your career progression and CIArb’s membership benefited your career?
CIArb enhanced my understanding of ADR which in turn enabled me to be a better ADR counsel and to serve my clients more effectively. Qualifying with a globally recognized institution also got me unanticipated speaking, teaching and writing opportunities. I also get to engage with other professionals in the international community and to benefit greatly from their experiences, wisdom and practical knowledge.
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?
I am hopeful for greater representation, recognition and respect for women in ADR regardless of their age or origin. I reckon that the biggest challenge will be staying ahead of the curve in our ever-developing practice. We will need to remain adaptable or perish.
Are there any interesting developments in the field of ADR in the jurisdiction you are based in?
Perhaps not solely in my jurisdiction but as an energy lawyer and ADR specialist, it is encouraging to see the push to mitigate climate change issues in ADR practice through the Green Protocols and the Green Pledge.
If you could practice ADR in any other country where will that be and why?
Fortunately, ADR allows me to interact with the laws and rules of different jurisdictions without having to set foot in them. I’d still choose Kenya though. Being in the thick of institutionalizing and redesigning ADR to suit our context is really gratifying.
Tell us about your interests, hobbies or any out of work activities.
Restaurant hopping. If I had 25 hours in a day, I’d be a restaurant documentarian.