Name of arbitration practitioner:
- Masters degrees in International Trade Law and International Dispute Resolution
- Undergraduate degree in Economics
Countries qualified to practise:
- Amharic (official language of Ethiopia)
Name of law firm/institution:
Shearman & Sterling LLP
Area(s) of specialisation:
Post-M&A, private equity and finance related disputes
- Africa Regional Representative, LCIA Young International Arbitration Group (YIAG)
- Member, Intergovernmental Authority on Development/Djibouti Chamber of Commerce Arbitration Centre Task Force
What influenced your interest in arbitration?
I have always had a keen interest in cross-border economics. My “road to Damascus” moment was the realisation that fun in that area tends to congregate around litigation-type issues! International arbitration was the obvious next step.
What are some of the challenges faced by young arbitration practitioners working on disputes in Africa? What do you think can be done to address these challenges?
Young arbitration practitioners face various issues, including the lack of exposure to the types of disputes that would empower them in acquiring the right skills. Continued economic growth on the continent is a big part of the solution in this respect. However, this also means that Africa must redouble efforts to take ownership of its economy and – for our purposes – the resulting litigations.
Is there any dispute you have worked on or notable event that you will like to share?
I could spend hours discussing a number of the cases on which I have worked – it would be easier to do this orally!
Do you have any role model(s) or mentors in the field of arbitration? What impact have they had on your career?
Without hesitation – and with the benefit (and privilege) of first-hand experience – Emmanuel Gaillard. Very few people combine such a wide array of skills: academia, advocacy, business acumen and managing human resources.
What do you think can be done to make African states more attractive seats?
Without wanting to repeat a tired old refrain, promoting courts’ support for arbitration. The fact is that, for various reasons, both perceived and actual attractiveness of African seats (and lack thereof) to a large extent depend on the level of support provided by courts.
Do you have any advice for other young arbitration practitioners?
My advice to young arbitration practitioners in Africa: value the disputes on which you are working and use them to hone your skills as a litigator – this is a reliable path to a career in arbitration.