1. Hi Salomé, would you mind briefly recalling your background for us?
My name is Salomé Agid, and I’m 27. I was born and raised in Paris.
I wanted to practice law from a very early age, inspired by my father, himself a lawyer. After a year of hypokhâgne [French preparatory course in literature, designed to integrate Higher Schools afterwards], I studied law at the Sorbonne, the University of Versailles, and at the University of New York in the United States (“NYU”).
I decided to specialize in international arbitration. The key event which contributed to this choice was my meeting with Thomas Clay, co-director (together with Sandrine Clavel) of the MACI [French Master in Arbitration and International Business law at the University of Versailles] at the time. I was impressed by his background and the cases he was working on at the time. The classes delivered by various lawyers at the University of Versailles, and then the multiple internships that I undertook in the law firms, only reinforced my choice.
I am now an attorney at the Paris Bar, as well as a member of the New York Bar, and an associate at Clifford Chance LLP in Paris, in the team led by Jason Fry and Simon Greenberg. I have the pleasure of working on numerous enriching and varied cases, both in commercial and investment arbitration.
2. You did international arbitration both in a French university and in an American law school. What differences did you find in the approaches towards the learning process and arbitration in general (if any)?
I found studies in France and the United States really different. While in France students tend to listen to the professor, without daring to ask questions, American professors apply the “Socratic” method. It consists of having the students exchange amongst themselves as much as possible on a particular issue of law. This method certainly prepares excellent speakers, but I sometimes missed having the authoritative perspective of a French professor.
I also had the opportunity to join a legal mediation clinic at NYU, which allowed me to serve as a mediator in neighborhood courts in New York. This experience was extremely rewarding, through the improvement of my skills in mediation and the immersion in American society. I am happy to see that legal clinics are now developing in France.
3. You are coaching a team for the CMAP mediation competition each year. Does that help you (and how) in your career?
For the past two years, I have co-coached one (or sometimes more) MACI teams for the mediation moot organized by CMAP [The Centre for mediation and arbitration of Paris] with my colleague and friend Rory Wheeler. Two years ago, one of the teams we coached made it to the finals where they competed in front of more than 200 professionals. We were very proud, and admiring of their progress.
One cannot underestimate the meaning of coaching students for the moot. It allows them to discover mediation, which in my opinion, is a really effective means of alternative dispute resolution. My knowledge in mediation is constantly challenged by the students’ questions and different understanding. Finally, it gives me a possibility to meet today’s students, who are the lawyers / arbitrators / mediators of tomorrow.
4. You previously interned in international arbitration with several law firms. What did you learn and what differences in tasks did you contemplate?
I did internships with Orrick Rambaud Martel, DLA Piper, and Clifford Chance’s international arbitration teams. I learned a lot during these internships. First of all, they allowed me to see that each team has its own way of doing things, and above all, its own way of working. The role of the impetus given by the partners is significant. Some prefer, for example, to draft submissions in the most neutral way possible, while others prefer a more aggressive tone. I also noticed that the more serious and hard-working the trainees were, the more important tasks were given to them. Everything is a question of time: gaining the trust of partners and associates cannot be done in a week or two. It takes time. One must not neglect the small administrative tasks that can be given at the beginning of the internship.
5. Do you have any tips for young people who want to start their arbitration career?
Above all, never give up. The professional environment in which you will evolve is demanding, both professionally and personally. However, the job you are about to do is extremely stimulating and the cases you will be working on are fascinating. I advise you to be persistent because it will all be worth it. Seriousness and thoroughness, as well as a solid network, will only facilitate your entry into this profession.