Veteran Paris arbitration partner departs Orrick to set up boutique

Michael Bühler, former co-chair of international arbitration, cites desire for fewer conflicts

Simon Lukas; Shutterstock

The former co-chair of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’s international arbitration practice has set up his own boutique in Paris.

Michael Bühler, who left Orrick in December, announced the launch of Bühler Arbitration on Friday (12 January) saying he would be “focusing on my work as an arbitrator while continuing to serve my clients by resolving their disputes”.

Bühler, who spent four years at Orrick, led its international arbitration practice alongside Charles Adams, who is based in Geneva. 

He said in recent years he had received an increasing number of requests to act as an arbitrator, many of which he had had to turn down because “as a partner of an international firm, you are constantly confronted with conflicts of interest”.

He added: “Being able to support my clients in resolving their disputes and advising them on the right strategy to resolve them is a passion that I am delighted to pursue with fewer constraints while focusing on the wonderful profession of the international arbitrator.”

Bühler is qualified in Germany, France, and New York. In more than 30 years of practice, he has appeared in more than 180 arbitrations as counsel, specialising mainly in oil and gas, construction and engineering.

He has also sat as an arbitrator in more than 70 arbitrations spanning 35 jurisdictions and has been an influential figure within the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) as co-chair of a task force set up to revise its arbitration rules. 

While at Orrick – which has an extensive African arbitration practice – he was the lead consultant at the 17-member Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) advising on the reform of its Uniform Arbitration Act, changes to the arbitration rules of its court – the Cour Commune de Justice et d’Arbitrage – and the adoption of a new Uniform Act on Mediation. 

Alongside his commercial arbitration credentials, he has also acted in proceedings before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) for investors against Cameroon, Croatia, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

When he joined Orrick in 2019 after two decades at Jones Day, his departure sparked litigation in the United States between the two firms over an exit-related arbitration clause, according to a report by Reuters. However, Bühler said the dispute had been settled amicably.

A number of senior Paris-based arbitration partners have quit international law firms to set up boutiques in recent years. In November, Dechert parted company with its 13-strong Paris international arbitration team. Two members of the team, partners Eduardo Silva Romero and José Manuel García Represa, have established their own boutique, Wordstone Dispute Resolution, while a third partner, Philip Dunham elected to join Signature Litigation

In February last year, Orrick added to its international arbitration bench in New York with the hire of partner Hagit Muriel Elul from Hughes Hubbard while arbitration lawyer Rena Scott joined the partnership in its 2023 promotions round and serves as co-head of Orrick’s Geneva office.

Last year, Orrick boosted its transactional partner ranks in Paris through the hire of three energy and infrastructure specialists. Marine Jamain joined as a new partner in September from Clifford Chance while in June Christophe Lefort and Paul Loisel joined as partners from Herbert Smith Freehills and White & Case respectively.

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