Catherine Schroeder

Catherine has 16 years of experience in arbitration and has acted in numerous arbitration proceedings conducted under all major sets of arbitration rules, as arbitrator, counsel and secretary to arbitral tribunals. Since January 2021, she has been practicing as independent arbitrator and counsel in Paris after having previously spent 11 years at Derains & Gharavi where she was counsel.

1. Why have you decided to specialise in ADR?

I began to be naturally interested, in the course of my law studies, by international private law. I also discovered that the conflict of law aspect and the reasoning in this field was very interesting and very different from what I had learned so far. I accordingly decided to undertake the master’s in international private law in Paris II Assas and had the privilege at the time to have Prof. Fouchard as arbitration teacher who taught the subject with such passion that he made me realize that I wanted to specialize in ADR.

2. What are the challenges women in ADR face in the early stages of their career?

I think one of the greatest challenges for women in their early stages of their ADR career is the ability to determine soon enough how they want to build their career (how they see their evolution in the field) and to make it happen, by for instance taking the time to develop their network or to take initiatives that will make them visible. This is not an easy task when you start and especially as it may often coincide with the time people consider starting families.

3. What keeps you motivated in your career?

The fact that I may contribute to justice, the interest of my cases and the wonderful and diverse people you meet.

4. What does breaking the bias mean to you?

To start breaking the bias, one should not pretend that it does not exist and always ask what are the real criteria that guide one’s choices.

5. What is it like to work in a predominantly male profession?

It is true that when I started in arbitration more than 15 years ago, there were very few women in the field and that very often the hearing room would be surrounded by men. Fortunately, that has changed and still is changing. But, in any case, I never really consider that this should make a difference.  What matters is to show your skills and values.

6. Tell us about your interests.

I very much enjoy practicing sports as it helps me clear my mind, so I run a lot, I practice yoga, kick boxing and I started golf a year and half ago which is my new challenge as it requires a lot of patience and resilience.

The views expressed by the interviewees are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions of CIArb and of the individuals or organisations associated with the initiative.