Dr. Katherine Simpson FCIArb is an arbitrator based in London (33 Bedford Row Chambers) and in Michigan (Simpson Dispute Resolution). She has been involved in over 30 cases.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in the field thus far?
In 2010, I started a unique business offering Tribunal Secretary services to well-known, senior arbitrators. I filled a hole in the market by providing professors and retired law firm partners – solo, independent arbitrators – reliable Tribunal Secretary services in complex cases. I created something analogous to a judicial clerkship that let me work with leading international arbitrators on interesting cases.
But recently in January 2020, in response to the absence of women on the Chairpersons list on the roster of arbitrators under the CETA, I submitted an indicative list of 70 women with the requisite “specialized knowledge in international trade law” to Canada and the EU, for their consideration for a revised CETA roster of arbitrators. Each woman was a skills and experience match to at least one of the arbitrators who had been nominated! This action was shortlisted for a GAR Award, and has already inspired further diversity efforts.
Why have you decided to specialize in ADR? What attracted you to this area of law?
I enjoy helping people, companies, and countries solve disputes. In ADR, you can take the good and leave the bad, using the procedures that are needed for your dispute and leaving out those that are not. I like that flexibility.
What do you consider the greatest challenge for ADR in the future?
What if any or all of the challenges and problems in the ADR field – excess, costs, delays, legitimacy, transparency, scheduling, poor or absent reasoning, arbitrator-CV-inflation-or-credential-fraud, corruption or graft, bias, overbooking, etc. – what if they could each be solved through diversity?
Innovation happens when different people come together to solve a problem – and the appointment of more different people, both men and women, can give ADR a real shot at improving user experience and letting arbitration deliver on its promises.
If you had a time machine, what piece of advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your career in ADR
The best advice I’ve ever received about anything came at the beginning of my career:
“You can do anything you like, so long as you can fit it into your schedule!”
When Prof. Karl-Heinz Böckstiegel said this to me, it answered the immediate question at hand – I did not realize until later that he had given me the keys to my future. This advice has proven to be the best advice I have ever received. With a time machine, I would return to that conversation and listen again and again, more closely, for any other tips I may have missed!
Tell us about your interests, hobbies or any out of work activities
I hope to soon have plenty to say about gardening and yard work, because both will feature in the impending “self-quarantine”!
I enjoy cooking and I collect cookbooks from English, German, and French-speaking countries.