Perley-Robertson Hill & McDougall, Ottawa
Canadian and French
Why international arbitration?
From the beginning, it has attracted me, perhaps because of my common law and civil law background, bilingualism in English and French, and dual nationalities. It involves advocacy, is intellectually stimulating, allows me to meet interesting and diverse people, gives me geographical and cultural exposure, and teaches me something every day. I cannot imagine working in any other area. I truly love what I do.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Being elected at the age of 33 as White & Case’s then-youngest equity partner in 2003 after three years at the firm.
Who do you consider your mentor?
There has been more than one. However, I consider the three partners under whom I trained at White & Case in Paris to have had the most impact: Rayner Hamilton, Stephen Bond, and Christopher Seppala.
Who else in the field do you admire?
My former partner Paul Friedland is one. Among arbitrators, Bernard Hanotiau and Laurent Lévy.
What other career might you have chosen?
Alpine ski coach. I used to compete in alpine skiing and am a certified international ski instructor, having worked in Canada and New Zealand. Alpine skiing and cross-examining at a hearing on the merits provide similar levels of adrenaline!
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Do something you enjoy with a passion and be persistent about it.
Do you sit as an arbitrator?
Yes. I got my first appointment through the Canadian national committee of the ICC. I was given several opportunities starting when I was around 32, but because of conflicts I only received my first appointment when I was 35.
What are the biggest challenges facing arbitration?
In commercial arbitration I would say it is the risk that it turns into just another way to conduct common law-style national court litigation. In investment arbitration I would say it is the impact of the public scrutiny that goes with that territory.
If you could change one thing about the system...?
The level of knowledge and appreciation of national courts for the truly independent and transnational system of international arbitration that has developed and taken hold around the world.
What’s been your most memorable moment in an arbitration?
One from a recent hearing was opposing counsel who told me that after my cross-examination one of his witnesses went straight to the bar and downed two vodka shots. Another was finding a new arbitration paralegal crying in the photocopy room at 3am on the night of a major filing, saying that we were all crazy and inhuman.
What’s your favourite city to arbitrate in?
Paris, because it is Paris.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
La Fontaine de Mars, rue Saint-Dominique, Paris, on the terrace or ground floor on a beautiful, warm evening.