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Deborah Hankinson

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Parties enter into arbitration through a binding contractual provision or by agreement.  Some contractual agreements designate the organization that will administer the arbitration, often the American Arbitration Association (AAA).

Deborah Hankinson, who handles our arbitration practice, is an established AAA neutral and also serves as an arbitrator when parties have the ability to, and pursue, an independent pathway for arbitration.

AAA Panels & Leadership

For AAA arbitrations, Deborah serves as a neutral on the following panels:

  • Appellate
  • Commercial
  • eDiscovery Special Master Select
  • Employment
  • Energy
  • Healthcare
  • Judicial
  • Large Complex Cases

In addition, she is a member of the AAA’s Board of Directors, which is composed of professionals located throughout the United States and overseas.


Deborah is an experienced chair of arbitration panels whose opinions are written very clearly and thoroughly address the parties’ contentions. She has led or participated in panels on matters that involve a multiplicity of issues in areas that include:

    • Appellate arbitration
    • Commercial transactions
    • Employment
    • Energy
    • Healthcare
    • Insurance
    • Securities

In all arbitrations, Deborah listens carefully to the parties’ arguments and gives full consideration to all claims and defenses. She is guided by the foundational precepts of speed, economy, and justice that ensure the overall integrity of the arbitration process.

Training & Speaking

Deborah is highly involved in arbitrator training and regularly speaks on topics related to arbitrations and alternative dispute resolution.

In 2014, she presented two continuing education courses for AAA arbitrators at the AAA offices in Dallas, Texas.  The first, which she co-developed, addressed decision-making skills for AAA arbitrators.  The second was entitled “Conducting Research and Investigations: The Arbitrator’s Authority.”

Deborah has spoken on many other topics, most recently including:

  • Managing the arbitration process at the Oil & Gas Disputes Course (sponsored by the State Bar of Texas and Texas Tech University, 2015);
  • The impact of alternative dispute resolution on trade and access to justice at a conference jointly presented by Fordham University School of Law and the AAA (2015);
  • The benefit of a judicial presence on arbitration panels at an educational webinar presented by the AAA (2015); and
  • The arbitrator’s perspective for oil and gas arbitration (State Bar of Texas 32nd Annual Advanced Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law Course, 2015).

Arbitration-Related Consulting Services

Arbitration Clauses

The decision to include arbitration provisions in a company’s contracts can have substantial ramifications and requires close attention.  To this end, a range of issues must be considered when drafting an effective arbitration clause, including the substantive governing law (as well as the governing law of the arbitration agreement itself); whether to designate the number of arbitrators, and if so, how many; and preferred procedural rules. Deborah consults with clients on the creation of arbitration provisions that ensure that objectives are reached and flexibility, when desired, is preserved.

Selection of Arbitrators

Arbitration agreements typically call for the selection of one or three arbitrators. Drawing on her broad procedural and substantive experience, Deborah consults with clients in connection with the selection of arbitrators, helping them to pinpoint the best match for the subject matter, governing law, applicable procedures, and other variables at play..


Deborah works with clients to establish and/or negotiate the arbitration process and related rules, particularly in situations when arbitrations emanate from post-conflict agreement or when procedures are not outlined in the governing arbitration provisions.  She also consults with clients on ways to optimize procedures that are clearly specified in arbitration provisions.


Adapted from a recent presentation. | Download