Equestrian - 05 Oct 2012 -
McLin, 41, who is a dual Swiss-US national, joined ASA on 1 September from the world governing body of equestrian sport in Lausanne, where he worked for over six years as general counsel and then secretary general.
“This is a major development for ASA,” says Elliott Geisinger, partner at Schellenberg Wittmer in Geneva and vice president of the association.
“Alex will take over the administrative and finance functions of the ASA secretariat, and will be in charge of coordinating events, as well as marketing and promotional activities.”
Geisinger says ASA decided a year ago to hire an executive director to provide ASA with an efficient communication structure in its relations with its members and the arbitration community internationally. But it was not easy to find the right candidate.
“The role of executive director is a management-focused role, so we were looking for someone with managerial and marketing talent, preferably with a legal background, not necessarily in arbitration,” he says. “In addition, we wanted someone who spoke English, French and German.”
Michael Schneider, partner at Lalive in Geneva and president of ASA, says: “Alex was the ideal candidate, as someone who has experience of managing an organisation with an international membership, and who speaks English, French and German, as well as Spanish.”
McLin is no stranger to arbitration, having represented the International Equestrian Federation in a number of sports arbitrations before the federation’s internal tribunal and upon appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
These include two cases arising from the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens – Cian O'Connor, in which the Irish rider was disqualified and stripped of the gold medal in jumping; and Ludger Beerbaum, in which the German rider lost a gold medal after being found to have used a banned substance.
McLin says that one of the highlights of his career was leading a reform of the federation's adjudication process, creating a clearer divide between the role of the legal department as a prosecutor and that of a tribunal as decision maker.
“This in turn led to further governance reform and a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework, ultimately culminating in a London Olympic Games that was free of controversy in equestrian sport,” says McLin.
Before joining the federation in 2007, McLin served as general counsel at US online media company CNET Networks (now CBS Interactive) for five years, where he was general counsel of the Swiss-based international content and media division, and practised at Baker & McKenzie in New York for two years.
At Baker, he represented Dutch telecoms company PenneCom in an ICC claim against Elektrim over a Polish telephone company, which resulted in a US$38 million award for his client.
In establishing the post of executive director to take on duties previously carried out by board members on a voluntary basis, ASA has "decided to hire its first employee", says McLin. "This means that I bear a very real responsibility to the ASA membership to deliver on its goals.”
He adds, “I am looking forward to connecting with arbitration practitioners worldwide, and to pursuing specific strategic projects to further ASA’s mission.”
One such initiative, says McLin, is the Swiss Arbitration Hub – a website slated for launch at the end of this year "to facilitate the organisation of hearings in Switzerland’s principal venues.”
The website will allow users to book venues as well as support services, such as interpreters and court reporters, he explains.
Geisinger says the site is far from being a standard online catalogue or booking service.
“The site will provide tailor-made options for users, ranging from simple availability enquiries to full hearing organisation options, with quality control for every service available via the hub. To my knowledge, there is no other full-service website of its kind elsewhere,” he says.
Another initiative that ASA considered but ultimately decided against was the opening of a new hearing centre, similar to the ICDR in London or Maxwell Chambers in Singapore.
“We realised that we already have an excellent infrastructure in Switzerland when it comes to hearing centres, but what is needed is a contact who can arrange things,” he says.
“The hub will provide more flexibility, giving users a broader range of options when it comes to choosing hearing facilities.”
Meanwhile, in another technological development, ASA has unveiled a new website, which includes a search function for counsel and arbitrators, allowing users to search based on criteria including area of specialism, legal background, age, nationality and languages.
These developments were announced at the annual meeting of ASA’s general assembly in Bern last week.