Why should lawyers receive most the awards? Don’t arbitrators and mediators contribute just as much to the global civic good? Don’t they deserve to be recognized as well? Well, we think so too.
Given the very nature of ADR, arbitrators and mediators take a much less active role than party representatives. This inherently means they are not afforded the same visibility as counsel. Just as the undercover maestro relinquishes the limelight to his creations so too does the arbitrator or mediator forgo applause from the public stage when one side – or often both – celebrates the win. Of course, this is by design.
Arbitration and mediation are at their hearts service industries and can no longer be viewed in monolithic fashions. Often, what sets an Arbitrator or Mediator apart isn’t just his or her knowledge: it’s the advanced communication and interpersonal skills, the unapologetic perseverance, the progressive creativity, the unconventional analytical and research dexterities, and, of course, the efﬁcient, unbiased, and informed judgement and/or intercession. Now, how can these be objectively, contextually, and quantitatively measured? With care.
Quite candidly, you may be asking—why? Arbitrators themselves are raising their hands high, calling for an international channel of communication and acknowledgement. According to the White & Case 2018 International Arbitration Survey: The Evolution of International Arbitration, 83% of arbitrators stated they hope their proﬁcient conduct will be noticed and therefore attract more appointments in the future. Furthermore, the most selected source of information about arbitrators was “word of mouth” (77%), followed by “from internal colleagues” (68%) and “publicly available information (e.g., industry reviews, legal directories and other databases or review tools)” (63%). It’s never been more apparent, the arbitration community is screaming for a sophisticated means to look beyond the global and regional clubs of ‘usual suspects’ and erect a fair recognition system for wider, more credible exposure.
But of course, we’re all aware of the current exploitations. Many awards initiatives have tarnished or at the very least marginalized the underpinning value of receiving peer distinctions by simply handing out ornamental plaques, fancy badges, and crystal trophies to those who make the largest ‘donation’, enjoy the most popularity, or leverage the best connections. These ‘pay-to-play’ hustles are prevalent across many industries, not just the legal professional sphere. Unfortunately, only a few reputable legal awards still exist. Rather than complain or point ﬁngers, we instead choose to devote ourselves to helping the process develop. Thus, it is undeniably critical that BIAMC institute a transparent, uncompromising, and unbiased standard straightaway in launching the very ﬁrst international award agenda for Arbitrators and Mediators.
From their inception, the BIAMC Top 10 Awards must be beyond reproach. This is exactly why we constituted a Selection Panel of outstanding judges, ones whose reputations transcend geography, allegiances, and personal motives. Once an assessment rubric and timeline has been collectively created by the Selection Panel, it will be published along with their names to foster the transparency and legitimacy we must demonstrate.