Alec moved initially into the shipping and insurance legal sector on joining Clyde & Co in 1977, having previously spent five years handling corporate insolvencies. Both these specialties were put to good use when he managed the Hong Kong office from 1984 onwards, handling headline cases such as the Carrian fraud and many "phantom" ship frauds.
Alec also handled numerous arbitrations, investment dispute, disaster and commercial contract litigation, and was well-known in most areas of insurance dispute resolution.
He returned to London in 1996, and then moved to the Dubai office in 1999 as head of the Dispute Resolution Group, where he continues to practise in the same areas. He retired early as a partner in mid 2008 to work partly as an arbitrator and partly for the firm advising and acting for clients in complex disputes including LMAA, SCMA, ICC, SIAC, DIAC, ADCCAC, DIFC-LCIA and LCIA arbitrations. He also acts as a mediator. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a CEDR accredited mediator, KLRCA certified adjudicator and a panel member of DIAC, ADCCAC, HKIAC, KLRCA and SIAC (including emergency arbitrator panel) and sits as an arbitrator in a wide range of disputes including property, construction, shipbuilding/shipping, energy, joint ventures and insurance/reinsurance.
Alec was listed as a leading individual in the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Global Arbitration Review. The firm is ranked amongst the top global arbitration practices. Chambers Global Rankings 2010 said "Alec Emmerson sets the bar high for the rest of the lawyers in this field. He is widely respected as an advocate and an arbitrator, and is one of the most switched-on, pragmatic and effective lawyers in the region." In 2011 Chambers described Alec as "disputes czar…" and "one of the most acclaimed, trusted and respected names in the market often called upon to act as arbitrator on many of the Middle East's most sensitive disputes". He is recognised in Who's Who Legal for commercial arbitration & mediation and as a highly recommended individual for the UAE, in PLC Which Lawyer in the field of Dispute Resolution.