John Rhie
United Kingdom
  • PositionSenior foreign attorney
  • FirmKim & Chang
  • Age-
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John Rhie

John Rhie

United Kingdom
  • Position: Senior foreign attorney
  • FirmKim & Chang
  • Age: -

Senior foreign attorney
Kim & Chang, Seoul

Why international arbitration?

Having been fortunate enought to live in many different countries from a young age and to study history at Oxford University, I’ve always been interested in international relations and transnational issues. International arbitration allows me to be close to these areas of interest but gives me the vehicle to continue learning about different laws, varying cultures and most importantly, human interaction with new and fascinating people.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

I’ve had the great fortune of working on some high-profile cases, such as an ongoing one involving a US$1 billion claim against a Korean government entity as well as various ICSID and Energy Charter Treaty matters. But the cases that remain are those that have directly helped those less fortunate, such as working with Lawyers Without Borders to assist widows and orphans in Tanzania. That sort of matter stays with you for a long time, although it was more heartbreaking than enjoyable to be honest.

Who do you consider your mentor?

I see Byung Chol Yoon and Eun Young Park at Kim & Chang every day and have learned a tremendous amount from both in a short space of time. They are great lawyers and real gentlemen that I respect. I worked with Juliet Blanch for five years as a young associate. Any time spent with her is a wonderful learning experience.

Who else in the field do you admire?

Klaus Sachs, Doug Jones and Peter Leaver. But having moved to Korea about a year ago, I now recognise the truly world-class international arbitration laywers we have in this country. Even more frightening is the next generation of arbitration lawyers in Korea who all speak multiple languages and are so committed and hungry to learn. I expect Korean lawyers to become even more prominent and influential in our field in the years to come.

What other career might you have chosen?

If I had any talent I would have chosen to be a footballer, cricketer, rugby or tennis player. Alas I had and continue to have none. In the real world, possibly a diplomat.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

Set out realistic goals to achieve and reassess where you are in life and in your career every two years. Working on multiple cases and being busy generally, it is easy to lose track and get immersed in cases and years can go by without knowing what you have actually achieved.

What are the biggest challenges facing arbitration?

The time from the end of the hearing to the award being rendered. When clients ask why there is no award after six months have passed since the last hearing, I have nothing to say. I believe after a hearing the tribunal should make time to stay together and discuss the case for a few days and decide on key points so that an award can be rendered more quickly.

What’s your favourite city to arbitrate in?

London, so I can see my friends and family. I can also continue to observe from up close how my apartment, which I bought at the height of the housing boom, continues to depreciate at a rapid rate.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Haruki in Seoul; Maze in London; Hu Tong in Hong Kong; and Egg in New York.

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