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Shelby Grubbs Looks Forward to Heading Georgia State University College of Law’s International Arbitration Center

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Shelby Grubbs
Professional Overview

According to an article featured in The American Lawyer, "Grubbs to Head GSU's International Arbitration Center," Georgia State University College of Law has selected Miller & Martin partner Shelby Grubbs to direct the Atlanta Center for International Arbitration and Mediation. He will be the center's executive director when GSU College of Law's $82.5 million building is completed in 2015. Grubbs is currently the director of international initiatives for the law school's Consortium for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.

GSU College of Law has united with the Atlanta International Arbitration Society (ATLAS) to endorse the arbitration center as a venue for corporations involved in cross-border business quarrels. Grubbs, who was one of the ATLAS founders, noted that he was involved in 2013 in discussions pertaining to an agreement between GSU College of Law and wrote a "blue sky" paper on how a new center might help to establish Atlanta as a commonly used venue for international commercial arbitration. He acknowledged, "From brainstorming about that, I got interested in the position. I'm at a place in my practice where I am able to jump out and do something that has been of huge interest to me for a long time."Grubbs has represented numerous international clients in the United States and has helped them resolve their disputes (mostly in litigation, but he also has deep experience in ADR including arbitrations and mediations).

I asked Mr. Grubbs what motivated him to take the center's executive director position.

"While I enjoy practicing law, the time has come for me to do something different. This is an opportunity to pursue three related interests: international law, alternative dispute resolution and raising Atlanta's profile as an international commercial hub. Moreover, GSU is a congenial environment and the new center will be a state of the art facility at which I think I can make an impact."

What has his experience been like as the director of international initiatives for the law school's Consortium for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution? Mr. Grubbs noted:
"Most of my energy is devoted to the Center for International Arbitration and Mediation for now. While I focus on the center, I will have limited involvement with the Consortium beyond acting as a consultant on international matters. Later I expect to be involved in projects pertaining to international dispute resolution, for example the enforcement of mediated settlement agreements across international boundaries."
Mr. Grubbs has represented many international clients in U.S. disputes. How does his experience prepare him to be executive director of the International Arbitration Center?

"My experience with international clients gives me insight into civil law and other common law systems which is valuable in assisting parties in need of international arbitration and mediation services. Moreover, I have a significant network of non-US lawyers to whom I expect to market and from whom I can obtain advice and coaching."

What does he hope to accomplish as executive director? "To make the center a vital component in Atlanta's becoming the most hospitable and efficient venue on earth for international dispute resolution."

Mr. Grubbs is a member of the firm Miller & Martin, a firm of roughly 140 lawyers with offices in Atlanta, Nashville and Chattanooga. His practice area focuses on commercial litigation and dispute resolution. On September 1, 2014, Mr. Grubbs will become of counsel to the firm.

He graduated with a B.A. in History, English, and Political Science from the University of Mississippi. Mr. Grubbs also earned his J.D. from the University of Alabama. He was admitted to practice in Tennessee in 1975 and he became a member of the State Bar of Georgia in 1977. Throughout Mr. Grubbs' career he has worked extensively both as a litigation advocate and as an advocate and neutral in alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") proceedings. Since 1994, he has been a member of the Litigation Department at Miller & Martin PLLC . Until March of 2001, Mr. Grubbs practiced primarily out of the firm's Chattanooga office. Since then, he has worked mainly out of the firm's office in Atlanta.

Mr. Grubbs is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He has lectured and written about various legal issues, but has focused on ADR related matters. Mr. Grubbs is currently designated as a Georgia Super Lawyer in the publication of that name and was previously selected as a Mid-South Super Lawyer in a sister publication covering Tennessee as well as other states. Since 2001, he has been listed in Best Lawyers in the U.S. Mr. Grubbs also holds an "AV" (pre-eminent) Martindale - Hubbell rating, which is the highest rating presented to any individual lawyer.

Planning, Establishing, and Developing the Atlanta Center

Mr. Grubbs is a member of the Board of Directors of ATLAS and he serves on the Board of Visitors of the Georgia State College of Law. In addition to helping draft various concept papers for the center, Mr. Grubbs drafted a proposed memorandum of understanding between ATLAS and the center.

This work has been informed by previous work as chair of two commissions for the Tennessee Supreme Court. The first of these was the Tennessee Commission on Dispute Resolution, which made suggestions regarding improvements in the administration of civil justice in Tennessee, including institutionalizing ADR. The second was the Tennessee ADR Commission, which designed and implemented ADR in Tennessee courts. The ADR commission was formed in 1996 and continues to this day as an agency of the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts, where it is responsible for, among other things, certifying and instructing neutrals for court-annexed ADR in Tennessee.

Also, from 1991 through 1994, Mr. Grubbs chaired the original Advisory Group on the Reduction of Cost and Delay, established pursuant to the Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990 for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. In 1994, this group established a protocol which is still in use for certifying neutrals for service in the federal district court for the Eastern District.

The work of the Tennessee ADR Commission was recognized by the American Academy of Civil Trial Mediators in 1998. Mr. Grubbs' work in institutionalizing ADR in state and federal courts in Tennessee was recognized by a public service award from the Tennessee Coalition for Mediation Awareness in 2011.

Program Development and Management, Strategic Planning, Operations, and Fundraising

Since 2006, Mr. Grubbs has been on the board of the Global Network Foundation (GNF), a Georgia non-profit corporation, which is active in the Caucus, Central, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Turkey. During 2012 and 2013, he chaired the GNF board. As chair, Mr. Grubbs had overall operational responsibilities for, among other things, coordinating and raising funds for annual leadership academies in Istanbul and the Middle East. He was also responsible for planning and raising funds for a conference in India in July 2014. In addition, GNF has administered, among other projects, an annual speaker series and a public health project in Central Asia. During the time that Mr. Grubbs chaired GNF, its budget - which was entirely dependent on grants and donations coming from a number of sources - was in excess of $1 million.

For many years, Mr. Grubbs has been involved in planning continuing education programs. In connection with his work as chair of the Tennessee ADR Commission, he organized and supervised a "roll out" campaign designed to educate judges and lawyers about ADR and neutral training protocols. This campaign included speaking at judicial and bar functions throughout Tennessee and organizing a major conference at Vanderbilt University. More recently, Mr. Grubbs has been involved in planning and presenting programs sponsored by ATLAS and a legal referral network called World Law Group in, among other places, Athens, Atlanta, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Boston, Oslo, and Vienna.

His law practice has also provided opportunities for managing large projects with significant teams and with time and budget restraints. Among other engagements, Mr. Grubbs was lead counsel in class litigation involving a Fortune 110 consumer products company, a "Big Four" accounting firm, a major bank, and one of the country's largest casualty insurers. He was special master in several large issues, which includes a major RICO/securities case, two water pollution cases, and a Medicare-related litigation requiring adjustment of over 250,000 claims. Mr. Grubbs has also coordinated parallel litigation or arbitration proceedings in Spain, Luxembourg, England, and Mexico.

Experience as Chair

Mr. Grubbs has chaired a number of bodies, which includes two Tennessee commissions, a federal court advisory group, a Georgia-based charitable foundation and a major component of an international legal network. He also co-chaired the ABA Section of Litigation Committee on ADR and served as President of the Chattanooga Bar Association. Additionally, for about six years, Mr. Grubbs chaired his firm's Litigation Department, which at that time had roughly fifty attorneys.

He was directly involved in recruiting the governing bodies of the commissions, the advisory group, and the foundation, and in convening, motivating and leading each of the organizations noted. As a member of the ATLAS board and having been closely involved with preparations for major ATLAS conferences in 2012 and 2013, Mr. Grubbs has been acquainted with a number of people in Atlanta and elsewhere who could be considered for an advisory council for the new center. His experience and contacts would give him a head start on identifying and recruiting members who would work together to create an effective advisory council.

International Issues

In 1998, Miller & Martin became a member of World Law Group's (WLG) international law firm network, which now includes more than 15,000 lawyers in 52 firms in more than 200 cities. Mr. Grubbs has (from the date of the firm's admission to the WLG) been one of the firm's delegates to its twice-annual meetings. In addition, from 2006 to 2009, he co-chaired the WLG Litigation Arbitration & Dispute Resolution Section. In this connection, Mr. Grubbs edited International Civil Procedure, which was published by Kluwer Law in 2003. International Civil Procedure is comprised of more than 800 pages. It compares civil procedure in 33 jurisdictions (nine are common law and 24 are civil law).It also includes a brief discussion for each jurisdiction on arbitration and mediation. The book's preface was written by Sir Peter North, a renowned comparative law expert, a former principal of Jesus College Oxford, and a former Vice Chancellor of Oxford University. Additionally, as chair of the Litigation Arbitration & Dispute Resolution Section, Mr. Grubbs organized and wrote the preface for a 140-page pamphlet entitled, Confidentiality of Communications between Lawyers and Their Clients: A Country by Country Guide, published in 2008 by Amazon.

He is active in the Society of International Business Fellows, an Atlanta-based organization consisting of over 750 "C-level" executives and leaders interested in international business. Mr. Grubbs has served on the society's board and its executive committee. In 2006, he received the society's "Newcomer Award" for organizing financial support for a group of pre-kindergarten and elementary schools in India called Mobile Crèche.

Through this work, together with his law practice, Mr. Grubbs has established a reputation with an international network of attorneys and business professionals. He hopes that his experience in creating the network and the access the network provides would be of value to the Atlanta Center for International Arbitratin and Mediation.


Mr. Grubbs' work as an attorney has included extensive involvement in organizing and overseeing research projects, including statistical studies. As chair of GNF, he oversaw the preparation and pursuit of applications for grants. As general editor of International Civil Procedure and in organizing Confidentiality of Communications between Lawyers and Their Clients, Mr. Grubbs recruited, managed and, in connection with the civil procedure book, edited the work of a large number of contributors to assemble published materials. In addition, he served on the board of editors of the ABA publication, Business Law Today. Mr. Grubbs is also a member of the editorial board of the Alabama Law Review.

Experience with Higher Education Institutions/Community Service

Mr. Grubbs serves on the Board of Visitors at the Georgia State College of Law, having joined that board in 2012, and since 2010, he has been on the Dean's Advisory Council at the public health school at Emory. Also, since 2012, he has been a member of the International Business Advisory Board at the Culver house College of Business at University of Alabama. Mr. Grubbs was a member of the Chancellor's Round table at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he taught a course in the School of Business.

In addition to the boards and similar organizations previously mentioned, Mr. Grubbs has been a board member in a number of charitable and civic organizations, primarily in Chattanooga. These include St Paul's Episcopal Church, where he was Senior Warden, and the Audubon Society where he was president. He has also served in the American Heart Association, the Boys Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Kiwanis Club.

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