Inside the ICSID Secretariat - Jara Mínguez Almeida: Team Leader & Legal Counsel
What brought you to ICSID?
I started my career in private practice and then worked as a tribunal secretary in other arbitral institutions. The opportunity to join ICSID, the leading institution with the biggest caseload of investor-State cases and the most years of experience in this field, felt like the natural next step that would allow me to keep learning and growing in my role. At ICSID I was confident I would get exposure to more cases allowing me to work with the most accomplished figures in this relatively new area of international law.
As a law student I had always dreamt of joining an international organization. I was very excited to join the World Bank Group, which has been an unrivaled opportunity to meet people from all over the world specialized in other fields (not only lawyers!) while contributing to its important mission.
What is your role at ICSID and what does a typical day look like?
I have the honor and pleasure of leading one of ICSID’s five case management teams. We have close to 60 cases in our team and each day is full of surprises: there’s no such thing as a typical day. As a Team Leader, I am available to my team to answer questions and provide guidance regarding issues that arise in their cases. A large part of my role is working with colleagues to ensure that we are approaching matters consistently across the institution, which requires frequent communication and coordination to agree on uniform practices. As Tribunal Secretary I assist parties and tribunals to ensure cases run smoothly and disputes are resolved efficiently. And last but not least, we work on many institutional projects; what is currently top of my agenda is preparing templates and guidance notes to implement our new sets of Rules that came into effect in July 2022. For this, I work closely with other counsel at ICSID, and this kind of teamwork is something that I really enjoy.
What is one of the most memorable moments you have had working on a case?
I think I would have to pick the site visits because that’s not something I ever thought I would be doing when I finished law school. As part of a case, parties may request, or a Tribunal may decide, that to better understand what is in dispute between the parties they need to go visit a particular site. In one case, we went to rural Panama which involved helicopters, a tiny military airplane, as well as panga boats to visit virgin beaches where the claimant had planned to build an eco-hotel development. In another case, I went on behalf of the Tribunal to a forensic institute to supervise the examination of shares which had allegedly been backdated and the experts were trying to date them by examining the inks employing different kinds of tests. More CSI than I would have ever imagined!
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with friends, and I love traveling. I try to visit at least one new country every year; in 2023, I’ve already added Tunisia to the list and with any luck I’ll add some more since it’s still early. I am an avid reader of fiction and I love listening to podcasts on my walk to and from work and while I cook. On a normal day after work, if I don’t have plans with friends, I like to go to a reformer Pilates class and then maybe build a Lego set or a puzzle, which is a lock-down discovery that has stuck.