Y-ADR Spotlight Series – Interview Questions with Patrycja Kolwas

Y-ADR Spotlight Series,

1. What has been a beneficial aspect of engaging with the CPR Institute for you personally or professionally?

Patrycja Kolwas

Senior Disputes Counsel, COFCO International

1. What has been a beneficial aspect of engaging with the CPR Institute for you personally or professionally?

CPR Institute has been helping me broaden my horizons as a practitioner.  Both through meeting seasoned professionals who share their learnings, and through sharing the learnings myself with future ADR practitioners.  Finding the right forum for knowledge exchange may be uneasy; to me CPR Institute hits the spot. 


    2. What is one piece of advice you would give to somebody who wanted to pursue a career in ADR?

    As biased as it may sound, I strongly recommend trying both private practice and in-house experiences.  There are so many internal dynamics in corporations—tangible and intangible—that are almost impossible to capture from the outside.  It is also the best way to learn the business we serve as trusted partners and anticipate disputes to hopefully avoid them.


    3. What is an issue that you see within the field of ADR and how can that issue be combated?

    The issue that still needs more work is diversity, in multiple meanings of the word.  It is still very much considered a closed community where diversity of gender, geography, or experience does not necessarily raise one`s profile, but rather is a limiting factor.  There are visible changes happening, but the change could be happening faster.


    4. What personal characteristics are most beneficial to you in your career?

     I am a detail-oriented person by nature, and I strive to connect this skill to plug the details to the big picture of each case; in dispute resolution it is often the details that play major role in tilting the balance towards one party and may decide on winning a case.  


    5. What ADR process do you believe is most effective?

    Avoiding a dispute is the most effective way lawyers can help their clients. This can be achieved through, among others, unambiguous contractual provisions, involvement in early escalation discussions or daily business partnering.  When, however, a dispute is inevitable, each case would be looked into individually.  I believe that parties can achieve a lot by talking to each other, and if done correctly, that could be the most effective way of managing a dispute.


    6. What or who has been inspiring to you during your career in ADR?

    I have had a few pivotal points in my career.  For example, as a young graduate of Law I was among a very few candidates accepted to train to become a judge and I made a decision to instead train to become an attorney. Who knows where I would have been if I had made a different decision.

    When it comes to a person who inspires me, it is Cathy Liu, General Counsel of COFCO International – the company I work for.  Cathy is a true lawyer-leader, taking care of her team, nurturing personal growth, and sharing her vast experience as attorney and arbitrator.  She has a wealth of legal knowledge, but also a rare legal instinct and discipline to go into the detail of relevant legal issues that arise.

    7. Describe your perfect Friday night in 5 words or less.

     Movie night with my family.