Vicky Priskich is Vice President of CIArb Australia. She practises across a range of complex commercial disputes involving energy, finance and trusts disputes and shareholder and distributorship agreements.
Why have you decided to specialise in ADR and what attracted you to this area of law?
Arbitration has fewer procedural formalities and empowers parties by giving them flexibility to mould the arbitration process which makes it an attractive form of dispute resolution. From an early stage in my legal career, I have been drawn to dispute resolution due to its problem-solving aspects.
An interest in ADR in the form of arbitration came later and my interest arose initially from two events occurring within a short time of each other. The first was being involved as a barrister in enforcement proceedings of a foreign arbitral award. The second was attending a seminar event organised by the CIArb Australian branch which featured an experienced international arbitrator.
What was the trajectory of your career that led you to your current position/post?
I began my legal career as a solicitor gaining experience in the resolution of commercial disputes. Australian lawyers tend to work as a solicitor first before joining an independent bar as a barrister. I followed that pathway and joined the Victorian Bar. Completion of CIArb courses leading to Fellowship of CIArb followed and eventually arbitrator appointments.
What are the challenges/obstacles women in ADR face in the early stages of their career?
Developing opportunities is a challenge especially in the early stages. Opportunities can come from people within your existing network or by connecting to new ones which makes everyone’s pathway into arbitration unique. Membership to CIArb is a network that is global and accessible. Being proactive in reaching out to people is important. Women can suffer from imposter syndrome; it is important to put aside those feelings.
What keeps you motivated in your career?
A passion for law and a willingness to continue to keep learning. A career in law is intellectually demanding, balancing it with other pursuits is healthy and rejuvenating. Enjoying an opera or watching a great film at an outdoor cinema under evening stars are some of the ways I go about recharging.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in the field thus far?
My first arbitrator appointment by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.
What is it like to work in a predominantly male profession?
Unconscious bias exists in the legal profession, but affirmative action can address it. For example, arbitral institutions such as the SIAC and LCIA report each year on gender diversity in arbitrator appointments. It needs to be measured to be improved. CIArb’s commitment to promoting diversity is another important contribution.
How has CIArb influenced your career progression and CIArb’s membership benefited your career?
Undertaking CIArb courses, particularly the Award Writing course, was immensely helpful and a wonderful learning experience. Obtaining accreditation as a fellow of CIArb at the end of that process was a significant milestone. Attending CIArb events and seminars is a great way to continue to connect with others in this field and keep up to date with developments.
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 certainly see a future of gender equality. How long that will take to fully achieve or how uniform that will be across the world are key questions.
Are there any interesting developments in the field of ADR in the jurisdiction you are based in?
For those practising in investment arbitration, Kingdom of Spain v Infrastructure Services Luxembourg S.a.r.l  FCAFC 3 concerns the recognition and enforcement of ICSID awards and foreign state immunity.
If you could practice ADR in any other country where will that be and why?
Although I reside in Australia, I consider myself an ADR practitioner of the (common law) world! A positive development from 2020 was the rapid adaption to virtual platforms that has allowed people from around the world to meet more readily. It is likely that at least some of the technology adaptations that took place during 2020 will remain with us beyond 2021.