Practice Areas

Domestic Arbitration

Arbitration is not the same as litigation.  Arbitration has developed a discrete and specialized body of rules, procedures and substantive law.  Litigation procedures are not part of this body of law and have little relevance to it.  Being successful in arbitration requires intimate knowledge of, and extensive experience with, arbitral rules and the arbitral process—from the filing of the arbitration demand to deliberations and award.  Success in any arbitration depends on understanding the uniqueness of the arbitration process and taking advantage of the opportunities it offers to creatively present the strongest possible case for a client.

For example, arbitration rules are intentionally skeletal and are intended to be supplemented by the parties with their own customized procedures to fit the needs of a particular case.  Arbitration hearings are also conducted in an informal atmosphere, where the parties are expected to make presentations in a highly professional manner that is less adversarial than litigation advocacy.   Additionally, the arbitrators who adjudicate major arbitrations are often both highly knowledgeable about the arbitral process and have specialized knowledge related to the subject matter of the dispute, and there is very limited legal precedent that binds them in forming their opinions.

Our lawyers have over 25 years of experience in arbitrating complex international and domestic cases in virtually every area of business endeavor and under virtually all institutional rules that apply to domestic and international arbitration.  Furthermore, our lawyers regularly serve as arbitrators in major arbitration proceedings, both international and domestic, and some occupy key positions with major arbitral institutions.  For example, Fred Bennett, who heads our arbitration practice, has been on two of the Large Complex Case Panels of the American Arbitration Association for more than 15 years, and is an arbitrator with the International Chamber of Commerce.  He is also a member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the American Arbitration Association.

Year in and year out, we arbitrate and try more cases than any other firm in the world, and win 88.5% of those we take to award or verdict.  No other firm, to our knowledge, brings this level of experience and performance to the table when representing clients in major disputes.  The single greatest advantage of this experience is that it allows us to see our cases from an "end game" perspective.  This is quite different from the perspective of many arbitration or litigation practitioners, who may be very skilled with forward-looking strategies and techniques,  but are relatively inexperienced in taking a case all the way through an actual hearing.  With arbitrations, our "end game" perspective is enhanced further by the fact that a number of our partners also sit regularly as arbitrators in complex international (as well as domestic) arbitrations that deal with business disputes of all kinds, under a wide variety of arbitration rules and statutes. 

Our “end game” perspective allows us to make more  informed judgments—beginning early in the case-- about what types of evidence and arguments likely will  have the most appeal to an arbitral tribunal, as well as those that probably will not  resonate.  It also gives us good insight—as the case develops—into the type of  presentation that will be the most appealing to arbitrators from different legal systems and cultures—and therefore most likely to be relied on by them in the crucial process of  deliberating on and structuring the award.

When arbitrations involve highly complex, technical issues, many firms are forced to rely almost totally on outside experts to guide them through unchartered waters.  Not so with us.  To enable us to represent clients in a broad range of technical disputes, we have focused over the years on hiring lawyers who also have sophisticated technical expertise in a myriad of disciplines.  More than 120 of our litigators are scientists or engineers with degrees in relevant fields such as physics, chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and chemical engineering.  Similarly, arbitrating complex investment and financial disputes requires a deep understanding of financial firms and complex financial products.  Our structured finance litigation group, with over two hundred lawyers in New York, London, and Los Angeles, is at the forefront of this sector, with over $100 billion in pending litigation, including disputes arising out of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS); financial guaranties and other insurance; credit default swaps; interest rate, currency, and total return swaps; collateralized debt obligations; structured notes; derivatives; and all types of special investment vehicles.  Unlike most litigation firms in this sector, we are equally at home acting for plaintiffs or defendants, and bring the same mastery of subject matter to all our cases.

Our lawyers also have expansive experience in drafting arbitration clauses.  Because we recognize that  the arbitration clause is the controlling document for key parameters in any arbitration, we offer the alternative of creating customized arbitration clauses designed to maximize our client’s advantage in arbitration.  We carefully analyze factors such as the rules, venue, methods of choosing the arbitrators, and discovery procedures, and where appropriate, we clearly define limits on an arbitrator’s jurisdiction.

We approach every arbitration on behalf of the client recognizing the unique characteristics of arbitration.  For example, we focus on choosing the appropriate arbitrator for the needs of the case because this choice is crucial to success in arbitration.  We use an in-house database of intelligence on arbitrators, continuously updated through the high number of arbitrations we take on, that provides insight on the approach and procedures that an arbitrator is likely to take in our case and to inform our choice in selecting an arbitrator.  We also strive to take advantage of the procedural flexibility of arbitration, where the rules provide only general guidance on procedures to follow in arbitration, and the detailed procedures are left to the discretion of the arbitrator:  we propose comprehensive pre-arbitration procedures, including a customized discovery program, and pre-arbitration and arbitration hearing schedules, at the first preliminary conference.  Additionally, using our experience as arbitrators, we perform an “arbitrator assessment” of every case to determine the significant issues and procedures from the arbitrator’s perspective, and we test the strengths and weaknesses of the case before the hearing in our unique in-house mock arbitration program. 

We also proactively propose alternative fee structures whenever we believe it would be mutually beneficial for us and our clients to do so.  Alternative fee arrangements offer advantages to our clients that go well beyond straight financial benefits.  Having “skin in the game” provides extra incentive for us to be as efficient as possible in the representation, while still providing services of the highest quality—if our client doesn’t win, we don’t win.  It also fosters  a close lawyer-client collaboration, which ultimately ensures that we have the benefit of our client’s best thinking to incorporate into our representation.  As demonstrated below, our approach enables our lawyers to achieve superior results for a wide range of clients both in the United States and around the world.

See Our Recent Representations

To keep abreast of current developments on the international and domestic arbitration fronts, read our most recent arbitration newsletter, Arbitration Trends.