5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Lawyer for Representation in Arbitration

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If your company is going through arbitration proceedings, having a great attorney to defend your position and interests is crucial. In this article, we will provide you with an overview of aspects to look out for, when choosing a lawyer to represent you in (international) arbitration.

There are various types of conflict that may require participation in an arbitration. At the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC) for instance, the majority of matters are submitted in regards to disputes relating to delivery agreements, service agreements, business acquisitions and construction agreements. If you find yourself in a position of needing to participate in arbitration, it is important to ensure that you have legal representation from an experienced legal counsel and you may want to clarify the following questions, before deciding to go ahead with signing a retainer agreement.

While it is not impossible to change lawyers during ongoing arbitration proceedings if needed, it is not advisable to do so as this will complicate and extend the process. Changing legal counsel will also lead to additional legal fees. If you are mindful about hiring the right attorney for the job, you will be able to avoid such struggles and focus on what is important; getting the best possible outcome for your matter.

  1. How much experience do you have in (international) arbitration?

This may be obvious, but it does not harm to get an understanding of your potential lawyer’s previous experience with representing clients in arbitration matters. This type of disputes follows very specific rules and procedures, relates to unique conflicts and requires an attorney to have a very good understanding of the nature of such proceedings. Check your potential lawyer’s website and details on work experience to spot similar matters they worked on in the past. You may also want to determine whether their education involved specific studies relating to commercial law, arbitration and other relevant areas for your specific case. You are looking for a counsel with a specific skill set and expertise to make sure you have the best chances of getting a suitable outcome for your case. Besides technical knowledge, also make sure that your potential lawyer has any needed language skills that may be relevant for your particular case.

  • What should I expect in regards to my case?

This is likely the first time you find yourself participating in arbitration proceedings. Your future counsel will have lots of experience of dealing with cases similar to you and should be able to provide you with an overview of potential outcomes, a rough timeline as well as details regarding the process that will be followed. Feel free to share your concerns with your potential lawyer during a first meeting to get an impression of how she or me may handle aspects that worry you.

  • How long will it take you to respond to my queries?

Most lawyers follow very busy schedule and work on various matter simultaneously. It is therefore important to have realistic expectations in regards to communication with your potential attorney. The arbitration process will likely stretch out over a period of various months and during this time, close cooperation between your company and your appointed lawyer will be required. You will want your counsel to be reliable in terms of getting back to you in a timely manner and you may want to ask him or her how they usually communicate with clients. Appointing a lawyer who can easily be reached will make your life a lot easier and the process much more efficient. You may also want to ask a lawyer during an initial consultation what their approach is in terms of considering their clients inputs and suggestions. Some legal counsels will very strictly follow their own strategy while others are much more open in coming up with a strategy together with their clients. Some lawyers may also be better at explaining why they take a certain decision while others are not good at providing feedback to their clients. These seemingly little things will have a huge impact on the process and are important to be discussed prior to deciding whether or not to go ahead with an attorney.

  • How many persons will be involved in working on my case?

It is normal to delegate certain parts of the work to other team members such as legal assistants, paralegals and other lawyers. Before hiring a legal counsel, you will want to clarify what to expect in terms of other people being involved, to have a better understanding of the degree to which your appointed lawyer will be handling the matter. Ask your lawyer who will handle most of the day-to-day communications, research and other tasks on your case to be realistic about this aspect from the get-go.

  • Can you provide me with a cost estimate?

Last but not least, fees charged will play a huge role in choosing a lawyer. Hourly rates that an attorney may charge vary greatly and you probably want to clarify this particular point. While it may not be possible for a lawyer to give you an exact breakdown of costs that will accumulate, he or she should be able to provide you with a rough idea of what to expect in terms of time spent on your case and costs that may arise.

There are various aspects that should be clarified prior to deciding to work with a lawyer to defend your company in an arbitration case. The outcome of your case is ultimately decided by the arbitral tribunal hearing your matter and a legally binding arbitration award will be rendered by such (unless the parties agree that the outcome is not legally binding). Nonetheless, choosing a highly skilled and reliable counsel by your side will definitely be worthwhile. Rattsakutten is highly experienced with representing clients in arbitration matters and we would love to discuss your options with you. Contact us anytime.

Fredrik Jörgensen

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