Can a Lawyer Represent You in Arbitration?

If you are wondering if a lawyer is needed for arbitration, then this article is for you.

In this article, we dig into the meaning of arbitration.

Furthermore, we discuss the main question of whether the process of arbitration requires one to have a lawyer.

The article gives conclusive advantages and disadvantages of using a lawyer for the arbitration process.

In addition, the article also provides details on arbitration. Including arbitration forums and why arbitration awards are usually conclusive and binding on parties to an arbitration process.

What is arbitration?

Can a Lawyer Represent You in Arbitration?
An arbitration process requires each party to select an impartial person to act on their behalf. Image from

Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism,

ADR mechanisms are the different ways that parties in a disagreement can resolve their legal issues without involving the trial process 

Some of the most commonly recognized forms of ADR include mediation and arbitration.

One of the benefits of the arbitration process is its convenience in that parties can avoid the court process, thereby saving on time, cost, and pressures involved with going to court.

In addition, arbitration decisions will be made by experts and impartial people.

Arbitration also provides the parties to a dispute with the discretion to keep their cases private and confidential.

Furthermore, the law restricts the court from reviewing decisions made during the arbitration process.

Accordingly, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) narrows down the grounds for challenging the validity of a decision or award that has been made by an arbitrator or an arbitral tribunal.

Divergently, the major concern about arbitration is that the procedure can be costly and complex.

The enforcement of arbitration awards/ decisions can also be an apparent challenge.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Arbitration?

According to the US Department of Justice, arbitration serves four main functions: 

  • Helps in resolving contractual disputes arising between management and labor.
  • Addresses the interests of different parties in bargaining situations such as public sector labor relations.
  • Useful in settling litigated claims through court-annexed programs.
  • Maintaining peace through resolving community disputes.

So, Do I Need a Lawyer for Arbitration?

A lawyer is necessary for the arbitration process. However, in some instances, one is not required to hire a lawyer. For example, if the cost of an arbitration award is less than $100,000.

In general, one should seek the services of a lawyer since the process of arbitration is legal-oriented and hence requires the counsel of an attorney or a lawyer.

In addition, engaging a lawyer depends on the type of dispute that one is trying to solve.

For example, commercial arbitrations involve technical subjects such as financial services, insurance, intellectual property, real estate, etc.

Furthermore, in complex cases such as commercial contracts, parties will need to submit their claims to various bodies, such as the International Chamber of Commerce. And so, having a lawyer can help one overcome the challenges prevailing thereafter.

Failure to have a lawyer can jeopardize one’s chances of success and hence make them seek resolution of a conflict through a court of law.

For arbitration proceedings, lawyers will help in the following ways:

Can a Lawyer Represent You in Arbitration
A lawyer may help you to determine the overall costs of your arbitration process. Image from
  • Provide Financial Services. This includes: calculating the costs and advising if arbitration is appropriate from a financial perspective.
  • Guiding clients through the arbitration procedures including filing the necessary forms and gathering evidence.
  • Preparing written submissions with supporting evidence that includes competent expert reports and witness statements.
  • Analysis of the opposing party’s submissions and evidence
  • Performing cross examination of witnesses
  • Analyzing and enforcing the arbitration awards

Hiring a lawyer for arbitration can give you several advantages:

A lawyer can protect your interests and advocate for your position.

Lawyers are generally experienced and can help one avoid procedural mistakes or legal pitfalls that could harm their case.

It is important to hire a lawyer since the other/ adverse party may have a lawyer or more resources.

A lawyer can increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome or settlement.

In general, legal counsel can help one understand the arbitration agreement, the applicable laws, and the potential risks and benefits of arbitration.

A lawyer can also help you prepare and present your case, gather and analyze evidence, cross-examine witnesses, make legal arguments, and challenge or enforce the arbitration award.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Illegal for non-attorneys to Represent Parties in Arbitration?

Can a Lawyer Represent You in Arbitration?
Non attorneys can represent parties in arbitration processes. Image from

Another question that may arise is whether it is illegal to represent parties in arbitration without being a licensed lawyer.

The answer depends on the applicable arbitration rules of a State. For example, in California, New York, and Texas, it is considered an unauthorized practice of law (UPL) to provide legal representation in arbitration without being admitted to the state bar.

In other states, such as Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, one does not need to be a licensed attorney to represent parties in arbitration.

Therefore, if you are not a lawyer and want to represent parties in arbitration, you should check with the state bar association or an attorney to find out whether you are permitted to do so.

You should also be aware of the ethical and professional standards that apply to arbitrators and party representatives. 

The American Arbitration Association (AAA) has issued Standards of Conduct for Parties and Representatives.

These rules guide issues such as competence, diligence, candor, confidentiality, and conflicts of interest.

Do I need a lawyer to represent me in international arbitration?

No, one does not need a lawyer in international arbitration proceedings.

This is because rules such as the UNCITRAL Arbitration rules, the ICC Arbitration Rules and the LCIA Arbitration rules give a party the discretion for either self-representation or representation by an external counsel.

However, as already stated, hiring a lawyer is recommended as the arbitration rules and procedures are complex and require someone with experience, skills and knowledge on substantive and procedural laws.

The risk of self-representation is that one may encounter practical problems during arbitration proceedings. Such problems include lower quality submissions and procedural missteps.

Does the law prohibit any type of dispute from arbitration?

Some narrow categories of disputes over divorce or child custody have been held to be non-arbitrable 

What is the limitation period applicable to actions to enforce international arbitration awards?

Foreign arbitration awards are given by tribunals that sit outside the jurisdiction of the US.

These awards are enforceable in US courts as per the New York Convention and the FAA,

These awards are enforceable.

In the US, the statute of limitation period for enforcing a foreign arbitration award is three years after the award is made.

Is an Arbitrator’s Decision Legally Binding?

As mentioned above, an arbitrator’s decision is usually legally binding on both parties.

This means that parties in a dispute will have to follow the decisions, as they cannot appeal the decision in court

In addition, once parties agree to the process of arbitration, they cannot engage in the court process over the same dispute.

To determine whether an arbitrator’s decision is legally binding, one should read the arbitration agreement to look for the specific clause.

A lawyer might help one with the discovery arbitration clauses that are contained in the contract agreement.

How do you present your case in arbitration?

One needs the services of an independent arbitrator or a lawyer.

In most cases, the arbitration contains a designated agency that will resolve the disputes.

Some of the renowned agencies include the American Arbitration Association and the National Arbitration Forum.

Each tribunal has its own rules.

What happens if you lose the arbitration?

There is no appeal for a decision or an award made by the arbitrator.

Decisions made during arbitration are binding on the parties and are final.

These decisions can only be overturned on evidence of fraud, corruption, misconduct, bias, lack of jurisdiction, or violation of public policy in the arbitration award.


Ultimately, whether one needs a lawyer for arbitration depends on their personal preference, budget, and comfort level.

In the COVID-19 era, the use of arbitration is continuously increasing.

One needs to weigh the pros and cons of hiring a lawyer based on their specific circumstances and goals.

Arbitration can be a useful and effective way to resolve disputes without going to court.

However, it also involves some legal issues and implications that you should be aware of. Whether you need a lawyer to represent you in arbitration depends on your situation and goals.

A lawyer can help you understand the arbitration process, protect your rights, and present your case.

However, a lawyer can also be costly and make the overall experience unpleasant.

You should weigh the pros and cons of hiring a lawyer for arbitration and make an informed decision.