Chaffetz Lindsey, New York
New Zealander-US citizen
Why international arbitration?
Because what other job lets you work in New York to represent a Hong Kong client in a case in Singapore, under English law, concerning a business in Pakistan? It’s like being a diplomat without having to be diplomatic.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight has been co-founding our dispute resolution boutique, Chaffetz Lindsey. It’s been rewarding to take the best aspects of “big firm” practice and try to apply them to a new business being built from scratch. The warm support we’ve received from the international arbitration community has been truly overwhelming.
Who do you consider your mentor?
David Lindsey and David AR Williams QC.
Who else in the field do you admire?
John Beechey - the consummate internationalist.
What other career might you have chosen?
I was on my way to do a Masters degree in German theatre when I got distracted by law school. I’ll let you decide which industry lost out.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Eat your vegetables, get a mentor, and don’t forget to learn the basics. In all seriousness, I often tell people that they should learn the basic skills of being an advocate in at least one jurisdiction (preferably more than one) in order to become an effective international arbitration practitioner.
Do you sit as an arbitrator?
No. I have just started being asked to be appointed.
What are the biggest challenges facing arbitration?
Maintaining relevance when court systems in many jurisdictions seem better able to adapt to changing needs than the arbitral institutions, arbitrators and counsel.
If you could change one thing about the system...?
Encourage more arbitration lawyers to open boutiques. There will always be some cases best suited to the excellent global behemoths. But there is a great deal of work that smaller, more flexible firms can handle more cost-effectively. The more firms that operate on this alternative model, the more it will be accepted.
What’s been your most memorable moment in a hearing?
I was once told in a hearing that my New Zealand accent was “charming” - clearly not by an Australian arbitrator.
What’s your favourite city to arbitrate in?
New York, because it allows me to be close to my family. More objectively, it also has all the juridical and logistical support systems you need, as well as the obvious cultural and gastronomic attractions. Also, with the weak US dollar it means I don’t have to sell a kidney to afford a post-hearing cocktail.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
Anything except the sandwich shop under Maxwell Chambers.