Clayton Utz partner Doug Jones is the first Australian to head the world's foremost arbitration body. He tells Justin Whealing how he balances his multiple professional roles with a love of running.
In his role as the president of the London-based Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, which is headquarters to around 12,000 learned professionals, Jones has been criss-crossing the globe. Already this year he has been to India, Dubai, the United States and South Korea, where he was part of a delegation that included the former NSW attorney-general John Hatzistergos and Australian embassy officials spruiking Australia as a destination for international arbitration.
There is no let-up in sight for Jones: from London he is off to Hong Kong, Vienna and Japan, always remembering to pack his running gear before he jets off again. Despite all the travel, Jones says he still finds time to see the sights. "Seeing the world through running is one of the great experiences you can have," he says.
Jones combines this role with his practice as a dispute resolution partner at Clayton Utz, where he is also the firm's relationship partner for the Department of Defence, and as the president of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA). Realising the benefit of being associated with these global and national arbitration bodies, Clayton Utz has allowed Jones to fulfil all these duties in 2012.
"I am primarily a partner at Clayton Utz," says Jones, nipping in the bud any talk of divided loyalties. "This calendar year, which involves my responsibilities with the institute, I have saved up my sabbatical entitlements, giving me a substantial period [around five months] in which I can devote my efforts to the institute without having to be a partner at Clayton Utz all the time. Instead of lying on a beach, I am travelling the world and doing my Chartered Institute thing."
Before taking up his new responsibilities, Jones had 40 years of experience practising in infrastructure, litigation and dispute resolution. He joined Brisbane firm Morris Fletcher & Cross in 1971, becoming a partner in 1976. He moved to Sydney in 1989, opening the firm's Sydney office, just prior to its merger with Minter Ellison in 1991. Two years later, in 1993, Jones and four other partners of the firm, including Craig Pudig, now a director with Macquarie Capital Advisers, joined Clayton Utz.
Back then, Jones was heavily involved in projects work, particular acting for government clients in public private partnerships (PPPs). With alternative dispute resolution being increasingly encouraged by legislators due to the benefits it brings to clients when compared with litigation - particularly in the areas of efficiency, cost savings and confidentiality clauses - Jones realised that dispute resolution lawyers needed skills in this area if they wanted to maintain a significant client base.
"In Australia for the last 20 years, there has been a strong demand from clients for alternative and more sensible ways of resolving their disputes than just court proceedings," says Jones. "As a result, those of us practising in this area have had to offer clients that expertise."
Jones has not only built a significant government client base in ADR, he has become the figurehead for the campaign to modernise and promote Australia's system of commercial arbitration. In addition to his role as the president of ACICA, Jones was one of the key people involved in the creation of the Australian International Disputes Centre (AIDC) in Sydney last year and successfully lobbied the Federal Government to adopt the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law model to govern Australia's domestic commercial arbitration system.
"In five years we have a very good chance to be seen as a viable option in the region for a neutral place for holding international arbitration," he says. "So that when people talk about negotiating arbitration clauses in the Asia-Pacific, they say there is Sydney, Singapore and Hong Kong."
With four decades of experience in the legal profession and his enthusiasm for promoting Australia on the global legal stage, it is little wonder the esteemed Sir Laurence Street calls Jones "a powerhouse of imagination, zeal, professional skills and competence".
"We are very fortunate to have a Doug Jones on the international plane," says Street.
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