Negotiation Advice from an International Arbitrator

Last week, I was delighted to welcome Lucy Reed, a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and co-chair of their international arbitration group as our inaugural speaker for our speakers series on Gender & Negotiation, funded by the University Centennial Celebration Fund to celebrate 100 years of women at Marquette.  Lucy has an amazing background in both the private and public sector.  She has served as a Commissioner of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Claims Commission and co-director of the Claims Resolution Tribunal for Dormant Accounts in Switzerland.  She was the U.S. Agent to the Iran-US Claims Tribunal and also general counsel of the Korean Pennisula Energy Development Organization (the organization negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear plants.)  Her private sector work currently focuses on investment treaty arbitrations and other public international law disputes. 

So, to say the least, students were captivated with her stories of negotiating both with the Iranians and North Koreans as well as her insight as to how gender did, or did not, play a role in her numerous cross-cultural negotiations.   For example, she spoke of how the Iranians were more concerned with her authority (and apparently her height as a “tall woman”) than her gender.  On the other hand, the North Koreans needed to see her be tough (and she noted that this required some significant acting on her ability since she normally does not raise her voice and threaten to walk out) before taking her seriously.  Having just written on the interesting interplay of gender and culture in a book chapter with Sandy Cheldelin and Deborah Kolb, I found this particularly insightful.  Lucy also discussed how important it is to avoid getting caught up in the trivial issues that are unimportant and can hinder a negotiation –such as who gets to take credit for the final resolution–and help move the parties along.  She hypothesized that this willingness to share credit might also be gender-related but, in this case, served her with much success over the course of her career. 

Additionally, Lucy also spoke about investment arbitration and the potential to add mediation as a process choice given to states and individuals.  In my post last April about the conference at Washington & Lee, I’ve discussed this at length and no doubt will be returning to it.

4 thoughts on “Negotiation Advice from an International Arbitrator”

  1. As this post alludes to, I was one of the captivated students who were enthralled with Lucy’s stories of international negotiations. I must admit that as I listened to her speak, I could not help but be concerned with how receptive other countries would be with regard to negotiating with a woman. I was shocked that the Iranians were more concerned about her height and the North Koreans were more concerned about her negotiating style. Although I genuinely feel that gender no longer plays a determinative role in the American society, I did not have the same positive perception with regard to other cultures. It was reassuring to hear that gender did not play a substantial role in Lucy’s numerous cross-cultural negotiations and that it perhaps was advantageous. Lucy Reed stands as an exemplar of what women can aspire to!

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