Law School Launches Center for International Arbitration

Winter 2012

This past year, Professor George A. Bermann ’75 LL.M. founded Columbia Law School’s Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration Law. The new center further enhances the Law School’s long-standing position at the forefront of international arbitration teaching and scholarship.

“Columbia is in the enviable position of launching its new center with an outstanding array of programs and activities—and thus with an exceptionally high profile in international arbitration already in place,” said Bermann, who is the Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law and the Walter Gellhorn Professor of Law. “However, the center will not merely consolidate all of the Law School’s strengths; it will attract new energies and give impetus to fresh initiatives that make an already vibrant situs for education and research in international arbitration still more vibrant.”

International arbitration became a major field of teaching and scholarship at Columbia Law School in the 1960s and 1970s, when Professor Henry P. deVries began teaching the topic. Professor Hans Smit ’58 LL.B. joined deVries in the ’60s and became a widely hailed and well-respected expert in the field. Bermann, who credits deVries and Smit as catalysts for his interest in arbitration, continues to build on the solid foundation those former colleagues created.

The center will advance the Law School’s unmatched reputation for academic excellence in international arbitration by organizing, among other endeavors, a distinguished speaker series, a workshop series drawing upon scholars and practitioners in residence, and a special annual lecture.

Additional faculty members and researchers contributing their expertise to the center include Adjunct Professors Robert Smit ’86 and Alejandro M. Garro ’90 J.S.D., in addition to Lecturers-in-Law O. Thomas Johnson and Ian Laird. International investment law expert Anthea Roberts, a visiting professor for the 2012–13 academic year, will also join the distinguished group. The new center will work in coordination with the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, which, under the leadership of Lecturer-in-Law Karl P. Sauvant, has staged conferences on international investment law and arbitration, among other topics.