Interview with Prof. Clifford Larsen and Prof. Dr. Stefan Kröll

With a wealth of practical and academic experience in the field of international commercial arbitration, Professor Dr. Stefan Kröll and Professor Clifford Larsen teach the arbitration elective as well as other courses in the Master of Law and Business program. Here, they share their views on this exciting field of practice, the need for a specialization and their experience teaching the Master of Law and Business students.

Why do we need more well-trained arbitration specialists?

Professor Dr. Stefan Kröll: Arbitration is the best mode to settle disputes arising out of international transactions. In principle, the parties can shape the rules according to the specific needs of the particular disputes and select the arbitrators accordingly. In practice, however, the parties often do not make full use of the benefits arbitration offers. Due to a lack of knowledge they often try to mirror their local court practice. The specialization is intended to train lawyers and arbitrators who make efficient use of the wide freedom provided by party autonomy in international arbitration.

Professor Clifford Larsen: Arbitration specialists need to be trained to represent their clients: to foresee problems before they arise, whether when drafting an arbitration agreement, during arbitral proceedings, or in post-arbitral award litigation. As such, the Specialization in Arbitration helps students to integrate the legal and business perspectives on arbitration.  As a result, students learn to be more effective legal advisors, whether as an in-house lawyer or as outside counsel.  In addition, businesspeople taking the course learn how to work better with their legal advisors.  

What makes a good arbitrator/arbitration litigator?

Kröll: One must have a good understanding of both the legal and the commercial problems faced by the parties, be able to listen and be creative in trying to shape the procedure in an efficient way which, in a best case scenario, leads to an amicable settlement of the dispute by the parties themselves.

Larsen: Interacting with arbitrators and with clients in arbitration requires not only legal and business knowledge, but also tactical and strategic planning, good interpersonal skills and writing ability, and an understanding of comparative law and the cultural and legal traditions of the parties and arbitrators.

What are the most interesting aspects about working as an arbitrator/arbitration counsel?

Kröll: That no case is like another. Every time you learn something new, are faced with new problems and challenges and get to know new business sectors.

Larsen: Working with people from around the world on matters from around the world, bridging the legal-business divide, and learning to address and assess different perspectives on the issues.  

What do you enjoy particularly about teaching the arbitration elective in the MLB Program?

Kröll: The enthusiasm of the students taking the elective and the diversity of approaches to the problems discussed. It very well reflects real arbitrations.

Larsen: The wide variety of approaches that the students take, due to their different national, educational, and experiential backgrounds.  In addition, teaching in the MLB Program requires me to keep up with the latest arbitration decisions from around the world, which is both challenging and exciting.