How Companies Can Improve the Pipeline of Diverse Lawyers in Arbitration

The lack of gender and racial diversity, specifically in the makeup of arbitral tribunals, has been a topic of much discourse within the community, and through significant efforts by a number of initiatives, there have recently been major strides in increasing diversity in arbitrator appointments. Among other trends, many leading institutions are close to achieving gender parity in their own appointments. For example, in 2020, VIAC appointed 63% women arbitrators, followed by the DIS at 54%, the SCC at 47%, and the LCIA at 45%.

Among counsel who represent parties in arbitration, however, the numbers are less promising. There has historically been poor retention and promotion of women and various attorneys in the legal profession, and this problem holds true in many arbitration practices. For example, in 2019, the partnerships of GAR 30 top arbitration law firms worldwide were just 17.6% female, on average. While the percentage of racially diverse lawyers in major arbitration practices is hard to come by, the numbers are likely even smaller, considering that in the broader legal profession, racial minorities make up only 10.9% of partners at major US law firms and about 8% of UK-based partners at elite British firms.

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