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Shunning the Bar: Former Olswang head of arbitration opts for JAMS International over chambers

One of a slew of arbitration lawyers over recent months to desert big law and the client conflicts that come with it, Olswang’s former head of arbitration Andrew Aglionby has decided that a move to the Bar would ‘throw up the same difficulties’ and has joined rent-an-arbitrator platform JAMS International.

Having had to turn down three of his last four instructions to sit as an arbitrator, Aglionby resigned from Olswang at the start of the year and was widely expected to join the Bar, as White & Case arbitration specialist Paul Cowen and Hogan Lovells’ head of arbitration Simon Nesbitt recently have. However, Aglionby said that conflicts is also ‘a problem for the English Bar – particularly in the eyes of international parties – and I am keen to avoid any such impediments as I continue to build a practice as an arbitrator’.

He added that, as chambers have shared economic interests such as staff and marketing, international clients ‘are not happy with the idea of one [tenant] siding against another’.

JAMS International has 27 offices in the US, providing a platform for disputes lawyers to sit as an arbitrator or a mediator without the baggage that comes with being at an international law firm. With just a small footprint in the UK and Ireland, with offices in London and Dublin, Aglionby said that the organisation’s size would allow for greater exposure than could have happened at a chamber.

Aglionby, who became a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration in 2013, was appointed as head of arbitration at Olswang in 2011 after joining the firm a year earlier from Baker & McKenzie where he had worked for 17 years. He spent ten years as Baker & McKenzie’s head of international arbitration in Asia Pacific and also headed the firm’s construction group in Hong Kong.