This Article was originally published in Issue 7.9 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine.
New Counsel Victoria Pernt on Schoenherr’s impressive Arbitration practice.
CEELM: First, congratulations on your promotion to Counsel. That’s exciting news!
Victoria: Thank you. In fact, my promotion made quite the splash. Ever since it became public, my inbox has been overflowing with kind words and congratulations from around the world. I really felt like the whole arbitration community was celebrating with me.
I realized that receiving recognition as a young female arbitration practitioner is still quite exceptional. That’s also why I decided to launch my new project, myArbitration.
CEELM: What is “myArbitration”?
Victoria: The myArbitration project is a video series about arbitration – the profession and the community.
It portrays prominent characters, as well as rising stars, who share their personal stories, views, and passion projects. It promotes equality and diversity, and it features various initiatives and developments which improve the efficiency, transparency, and sustainability of international arbitration. It has been exciting work, and I am thrilled for its launch this October.
CEELM: That sounds really interesting. Where can people find the videos?
Victoria: Follow myArbitration on YouTube and LinkedIn for the newest videos, additional material, and updates. Or check out the Schoenherr website at schoenherr.eu/arbitration.
CEELM: How did you develop your focus on international arbitration? Did you know back in law school that that’s what you wanted to focus on?
Victoria: In retrospect, international arbitration seems like the obvious choice. Even back in law school in Vienna, I was drawn to international and comparative law.
At the LL.M. program at the University of Chicago I had my first US-style advocacy training. That was intense. I loved it! With a passion for advocacy, a desire to work internationally, and a background in common and civil law both, international arbitration was the perfect fit for me.
CEELM: Tell us a bit about Schoenherr’s international arbitration practice.
Victoria: Schoenherr’s international arbitration practice is headed by Christoph Lindinger. We have a team of specialists in our Vienna office, cooperating with colleagues in our CEE offices on a regular basis. With our high-profile commercial cases and amazing track record in investor-state disputes, our arbitration practice leads the region. Schoenherr has been called “unbeaten at ICSID” (i.e., the primary forum for investor-state disputes) and has won an award for “most impressive arbitration practice.”
CEELM: Do you find, now, that companies are increasingly familiar with the benefits of arbitration over traditional litigation, or do you still need to spend time educating the market?
Victoria: Companies increasingly see the benefits of arbitration. Even so, it is important to educate the market on how to best use those benefits.
First, arbitration can and should be tailored to the specific case (such as which arbitration rules to agree on, or how to conduct an arbitration once the dispute arises).
Second, new tools and options are constantly being developed to increase efficiency (such as virtual hearings, paperless arbitrations, and expedited proceedings). Third, arbitration is very different from continental-style litigation, which gives added value to us arbitration specialists.
CEELM: Vienna is obviously an international center for arbitration. Do you see differences in how popular arbitration is in Austria compared to the rest of CEE, or in how familiar companies are with it?
Victoria: There has been a surge of developments relating to arbitration across CEE. One key factor is the advent of legal finance (i.e., litigation funding) in CEE jurisdictions. Schoenherr Partner Leon Kopecky has been on the forefront of that development.
CEELM: What successful arbitrations have you participated in that you’re proudest of
Victoria: Since I joined Schoenherr five years ago, our arbitration team has won many commercial and investment cases.
My personal highlights include my first cross examination in an ICSID arbitration (heard by the distinguished Professor Philippe Sands QC, The Honorable L Yves Fortier QC, and Professor Rolf Knieper), and acting as lead counsel in a EUR 2 billion pharmaceutical arbitration seated in Frankfurt.