The Atlanta Center for International Arbitration and Mediation is set to open on Sept. 28, launching into a phase of activity after more than a year’s worth of building awareness about the facility around the city and the world.
The center is housed within the new $82.5 million Georgia State University College of Law building at Park Place and John Wesley Dobbs Avenue downtown, which hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 9 almost two years to the day after construction began. The event drew dignitaries including Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Mayor Kasim Reed and University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby, among many others.
The center provides a physical touchpoint to a broader effort to position Atlanta as a hub for arbitration, the settlement of legal disputes among corporations, governments and other parties outside of courts, usually in a neutral location. Traditional hubs for the practice — places like Singapore, Paris and London — are well-connected transportation centers that are also seen as having favorable legal climates for the practice.
With the formation of the Atlanta International Arbitration Society, or Atlas, in 2012, Atlanta has been making the case that it belongs in that club too: Not only does it have busiest airport in the world, but it also has a culture of conflict resolution and the hospitality needed to global visitors, proponents have said.
“Part of what we want to sell is hospitality,” Executive Director Shelby Grubbs told Global Atlanta last year. The center’s new website, launched earlier this month, cites Atlanta as the place “where the world connects.”
Along with hearing space, the center will also offer customers concierge services like hotel bookings, translation and interpretation, court reporters and more, all of which can be reserved through the website. Bookings for the facilities are now available for dates beginning Oct. 5. If conference space is needed, the center has access to a courtroom with 230 seats — and just one floor up from the center’s offices is a cafe and coffee bar.
Mr. Grubbs has said the center’s setting in the GSU College of Law building will work to the advantage of both entities, providing the potential for students to gain experience on major international cases while giving arbitrators access to intellectual capital and a world-class law library, along with additional space. One goal of the center is to cultivate a base for the industry knowledge around arbitration, he said.
Starting out in a brand new building was also helpful in other ways, he told Global Atlanta.
“I have visited similar facilities in Singapore, Hong Kong, Stockholm, Paris, London and New York. Because we were able to build out our space as part of a new building, the Atlanta Center for International Arbitration and Mediation was able to include features and technology that might not have been available in retrofitting older space,” he said.
The center has been able to tick off a checklist of features identified in a 2013 Global Arbitration Review survey, including user-friendly booking, concierge services, ease of transportation, breakout facilities, amenities like nearby restaurants and much more, Mr. Grubbs said.
At the ribbon-cutting, Dean Steven Kaminshine said the law school will be even more committed to community connections now that it’s officially settled into its new downtown digs.
“We take pride in being a public law school. Our public outreach is in our DNA and helps define us. This building challenges us to do more. And, we are ready and committed to doing more,” Dr. Kaminshtne said.
Other dignitaries said the gleaming new building proved wrong doubters who wondered in 1982 whether a public law school would be able to succeed downtown.
“Thirty-three years ago, I remember as a freshman [state] senator, those discussions about whether creating a new law school downtown was a good idea. Would it survive? Would its graduates have the necessary skills? Did we want to encourage more lawyers in Georgia? Would its graduates be able to distinguish themselves?” Gov. Nathan Deal said. “Well, Georgia State Law dispelled that myth almost immediately. Its Moot Court teams were winning national titles. Its graduates were joining the bench and serving as clerks. Those credentials continue to grow.”
Mayor Reed provided a more contemporary perspective: “I knew two years ago then that this was going to be something special. And it is.”
The arbitration center will host a week of events commemorating the opening, culminating in joint one-day conference with Atlas featuring a keynote by the president of the London Court of International Arbitration and speakers from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France and Germany.
The full lineup for events is as follows:
A Monday, Sept. 28 roundtable discussion with members of Atlanta’s international development community, followed by reception with the International Chamber of Commerce’s Young Arbitrators Forum sponsored by King & Spalding and Alston & Bird, this reception will include presentations by an ICC official, Mayor Reed and Dean Kaminshine A Wednesday, Sept. 30, reception with the International Centre for Dispute Resolution; A daylong conference, “Setting Sail With International Arbitration,” on Wednesday, Sept. 30, featuring Rusty Park, president of the London Court of International Arbitration, as the keynote speaker; and An Arbitration training course, Friday-Sunday, Oct. 2-4, offered by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
In celebration of the Sept. 30 opening, the center will release a 487-page book, the “International Dispute Resolution Drafter’s Manual”, which will provided to registrants of the Sept. 30 conference free of charge before going on sale.
Visit www.atlciam.org for more information.