#10QuestionswithMaxwell Interview Series: Jennifer Lim, Sidley Austin LLP


#10QuestionswithMaxwell Interview Series: Jennifer Lim, Sidley Austin LLP

In this #10QuestionsWithMaxwell interview, we feature Jennifer Lim, Partner, Global Arbitration, Trade and Advocacy at Sidley Austin LLP.

Jennifer focuses her practice on international dispute resolution and arbitration. She represents clients in investor-state and commercial arbitrations, including proceedings conducted under the ICSID, ICSID (Additional Facility), and UNCITRAL Rules, as well as ICC, HKIAC, SIAC, and LCIA arbitrations seated in Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York. Jennifer also sits as arbitrator under ICC and SIAC rules. In addition, Jennifer has broad experience advising on general transnational litigation matters, including arbitration-related court proceedings, and complex cross-border disputes.

Jennifer is recognized as a Who’s Who Legal (WWL) “Thought Leader – Global Elite 2023: Arbitration Future Leader”, the highest accolade by the publication for outstanding lawyers aged 45 or under, and has been selected as a WWL “International Arbitration Future Leader” since 2019, where she was described as “one of the best arbitration lawyers of her generation” (2023). Jennifer has also been shortlisted as an “Arbitration Rising Star” for IFLR’s Women in Business Law APAC Awards 2022, listed by Legal Media Group’s Expert Guides 2021 as one of the “Rising Stars” in commercial arbitration, and included in The Legal 500’s inaugural Arbitration Powerlist: Southeast Asia 2022.

In this interview, she shared what inspired here to join the legal profession, how she got her first arbitrator appointment, what she would say to her younger self, and more.

Read her full interview below:

Q: Congratulations on your recent promotion! Could you share what inspired you to join the legal profession, and thereafter specialise in international arbitration? 

Thank you! I went to law school because I was interested in international law. There, I learned about bilateral investment treaties and realised that investor-state arbitration could be a good way of practising international law in the private sector. I also really enjoyed dispute resolution in general, and the international elements in an international commercial arbitration as it meant no case was ever the same. That’s how I decided to focus my practise on international arbitration. 

Q: How did you get your first arbitrator appointment?

I got my first arbitrator appointment from the SIAC. It’s important for people looking to get their first arbitrator appointment to get on the radar of arbitral institutions, including applying to join the SIAC’s research panel of arbitrators. 

Q: What has been the most memorable arbitration case you have been part of? 

The most memorable case I did involved a case of massive fraud. A rich billionaire had entrusted someone to set up an offshore limited partnership through which he could make investments. That someone and her business partner misappropriated the money and used it to make a different investment which they claimed were unrelated to the billionaire’s funds. This dispute resulted in three arbitrations and court proceedings in several jurisdictions. For years, we had only circumstantial evidence, which the tribunals kept rejecting on the basis of the counterparty’s word that they had not used the billionaire’s funds to make the investment. Documents the counterparty produced to us were heavily redacted on the basis of confidentiality. It was only when we obtained a Bankers Trust order in Singapore and saw the unredacted bank statements that we found definitive proof that the billionaire’s funds had been used to make the investment. Once we brought this to one of the arbitral tribunals’ attention, the counterparty’s legal counsel wrote a letter in their own names withdrawing five pages’ worth of statements made in the course of the arbitration which they now admitted had been untrue. It was a turning point in the case and the case was ultimately settled. 

 Q: What advice would you give to a young lawyer trying to get into the field of arbitration?

Showcase your interest through your law school courses and extracurricular activities. Be willing to do non-arbitration work (my first case was a mediation; my second was a U.S. federal court litigation). Work hard, and work smart. 

Q: Do you have a mentor or an influential figure that you look up to throughout your career? Share with us.   

There are several people that I look up to so it is hard to identify a single person here. Typically it is someone who is an intellectual giant, is authentic and empathetic, willing to spend time mentoring law school students or junior practitioners, and has charted his or her own path. 

Q: How do you find time for your personal commitments or to indulge in personal pleasures? 

My legal career is a marathon, not a sprint. To make it sustainable, it is imperative to set aside time for personal commitments. If others can raise a family and excel in their careers, I can set aside an hour here and there for my personal commitments. 

Q: If you could go back in time, what would you say to your younger self? 

Take a gap year! You have the rest of your life to work. 

Q: If you weren’t in your current profession, what profession would you be in? 

I would likely be a secondary school teacher, or the owner of a gym focused on working with senior citizens on their mobility and strength. 

Q: To get to know you more on a personal level, could you share with us 3 fun facts about you that not many know about? 

i. I enjoy diving and kayaking. 

ii. I love dad jokes – I once had a friendship based on our sharing of dad jokes with one another! 

iii. I used to raise caterpillars as a child, and would observe their growth and eventual metamorphosis into butterflies. 

Q: Lastly, share with us 3 words that comes to your mind when we mention Maxwell Chambers? 

Go-to arbitration venue. 


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