The rise of Alternative Dispute Resolution was the central theme of the CPR International Institute for Conflict and Resolution’s Energy, Oil and Gas Committee meeting and networking event held January 23 at BakerHostetler in Houston.

Morae Global Managing Director Danish Butt, along with oil and gas sector thought leaders from corporations, law firms, and academic and public institutions, gathered for a “Cocktails and Conversation” event that featured a panel of in-house counsel discussing the impact of ADR and its continued evolution in the sector.

“It was a packed house with a large number of senior attorneys networking and sharing stories,” says Butt. “The discussion highlighted the changing nature of the industry—products, international landscape, complexity of issues, cost and time pressures—and the practicality of ADR as a business and legal tool.”

Moderated by Sashe Dimitroff, Partner at BakerHostetler, the in-house counsel panel included: Raj Duvvuri, Senior Counsel, Litigation at Marathon Oil; James Kerr, General Counsel at Southern Company; Mimi Lee, Managing Counsel at Chevron Upstream; and Laura Robertson, Deputy General Counsel at ConocoPhillips.

Key takeaways from the panel include:

  • Contracts: Across the board, there is a desire to have “tight” arbitration clauses within contracts that involve defining the amount of discovery and reasonable timing. Also, leveraging escalation clauses enables business stakeholders to resolve conflicts at the right level or avoid them altogether.
  • Business Landscape: Data and technology continue to revolutionize the sector, and legal needs to continually identify and deal with the ever-changing risk and discovery burdens
  • IP: Consider joint IP agreements protecting shared innovation and ideas to avoid disputes
  • Expertise: Plan on staffing attorneys with technology subject matter expertise
  • Partnership: Keeping the spirit of the topic, the panelists cited creativity, thoughtfulness and strategic judgment as attributes they associate with successful partnerships with outside counsel and service providers

In addition to the areas of focus above, participants also emphasized the advantages of building internally or using a selection and appointment tool for arbitrators to ensure consistency and reasonable business outcomes.

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