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Index of tables

  1. International arbitration
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s international dispute resolution team is ‘supremely professional’ and among the premier international arbitration practices in the world. The New York and Washington DC offices, which handle commercial and investment treaty arbitrations and public international law, work closely with the firm’s teams in key arbitration centers such as London, Paris and Hong Kong. Group co-chair David Rivkin is the current President of the International Bar Association (IBA), a testament to his outstanding reputation in the field, and in April 2016 Donald Donovan began a two-year term as President of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA). Donovan is praised for his ‘breadth of knowledge, legal skill and ability to understand people at all levels’. Mark Friedman - whose expertise is in investment treaty cases - is representing energy company Perenco in a $4bn-plus dispute with Ecuador. In another highlight, Donovan and Friedman joined Natalie Reid and Dietmar Prager to represent Tethyan Copper Company in an International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) arbitration against Pakistan and an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration against the Pakistani province of Balochistan. Other clients include sovereign states such as South Korea, financial investors, healthcare companies and major manufacturers.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is a ‘leader in international arbitration, with a dedicated team and practice that throughout the years has established a deep-rooted culture of excellence’. The firm’s success has a lot to do with the expertise of Washington DC-based Nigel Blackaby and with its considerable profile in Latin American-related disputes. Work highlights included Blackaby and Elliot Friedman representing Burlington Resources, a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, in a multibillion-dollar dispute against Ecuador regarding expropriation claims. Friedman and the ‘exceedingly talented’Brian King represented ConocoPhillips against Venezuela in a multibillion-dollar ICSID arbitration regarding expropriation claims by several of its Dutch subsidiaries. Noiana Marigo, who is dual qualified in Argentina and New York, represents corporations and investors throughout Latin America. She was lead partner when the firm represented GDF Suez in two arbitrations against Argentina, one of which resulted in a $405m award in favor of the company. Oil and gas is a notable area of strength for the group, which also counts Petrobras, Tenaris, Repsol, Pan American Energy and Wood Group among its recent clients.

The team at King & Spalding LLP is a market leader for cross-border energy and oil and gas disputes as well as pharmaceutical and IP-related arbitration. The 34-partner US group (which is primarily based in Houston and secondarily New York) is integrated into the firm’s broad international network. As an example, Houston-based Reginald Smith teamed up with colleagues Ken Fleuriet in Paris, James Berger in New York and Thomas Sprange in London to represent an investor group in its effort to enforce a $500m Swedish arbitration award obtained against Kazakhstan. Elsewhere, Houston-based Doak Bishop and New York-based Edward Kehoe were among those who represented Chevron in its high-profile dispute with Ecuador concerning alleged breaches of settlement and release agreements under the US-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty (BIT). The group also features ‘exceptional’ attorneys such as John Bowman and Wade Coriell in Houston and Henry Burnett and the ‘intelligent, experienced and poised’ Eric Schwartz in New York. Other key clients include Texaco, Reliance Industries and The Renco Group.

Paul Friedland is among the top international arbitration specialists in the world and continues to lead White & Case LLP’s superb practice. The team of 12 partners and approximately 50 associates excels with respect to investor-state arbitrations and energy and construction-related disputes. Major state clients include Russia, Peru, Bulgaria, Georgia and Uzbekistan. The group is spread across the New York and Washington DC offices, the latter of which is home to eight partners, including Abby Cohen Smutny and Carolyn Lamm. Smutny and Lamm represented the Philippines in two separate arbitrations, one of which resulted in a major victory when an ICSID tribunal unanimously dismissed a German construction company’s claims against the state in what had been a long-running dispute. In another matter, Lamm worked with the firm’s London and Paris teams during their representation of a construction company in a $2bn dispute with the Panama Canal Authority. In September 2015, Matthew Secomb relocated to Singapore, indicating an increased focus there. The firm is also expanding its capabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa, where cases are typically led by the Paris office.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP is known for its outstanding representation of states in investment treaty disputes. Practice head Paolo di Rosa has a vast amount of experience handling Latin America-related matters, which includes high-stakes arbitrations such as defending Costa Rica in two ICSID arbitrations with a combined value of more than $600m. Leading lawyer Jean Kalicki is representing South Korea in one of the largest investment arbitrations ever asserted against an Asian state and the first treaty-based investment arbitration filed against the country; the claims, worth more than $4bn, are related to alleged unfair treatment by Korean tax authorities. Kalicki is also representing Bulgaria in three separate treaty disputes, and recently reached a favorable settlement in her defense of the Kyrgyz Republic. Houston-based Thad Dameris achieved a successful outcome for one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers in an international commercial arbitration. John Roesser, who specializes in complex commercial arbitrations, joined the firm’s New York office in December 2014. The firm’s long list of state clients includes Hungary, Chile, the Czech Republic and the Dominican Republic.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s international arbitration group excels in a variety of commercial and investor-state matters. Christopher Moore, who splits time between the New York and London offices, achieved an important victory for Greece when an ICSID arbitration - initiated by a Slovak bank and its former Cypriot shareholders - dismissed all claims against the state due to lack of jurisdiction. Lawrence Friedman and Matthew Slater act as lead counsel to the Russian Federation in multiple arbitrations related to claims brought by former shareholders of Yukos Oil Company regarding its dissolution. In another highlight, Jonathan Blackman and Jeffrey Rosenthal secured a major victory in mid-2014 when a United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) tribunal issued an approximately $131m award in favor the firm’s client, Tatneft, one of Russia’s largest oil companies. The group also represents Argentina, Egypt, Telecom Italia, DP World and Rosneft.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP’s international arbitration practice is ‘simply excellent in all areas’. In early 2015, the arbitration and alternative dispute resolution group - which is co-chaired by John Townsend in Washington DC and John Fellas in New York - commenced the first of five arbitrations against the Russian Federation under the Russia-Ukraine BIT to recover losses by a group of Ukrainian investors related to interests in Crimea. Alexander Yanos, who chairs the investment treaty group with Townsend, made news with his representation of BG Group when the US Supreme Court refused to give Argentina another chance to contest a $185m investment treaty arbitral award. The breadth of the practice is impressive, with the team handling a mix of commercial and investor-state disputes in industries such as energy, shipping, mining, construction, engineering and pharmaceuticals.

Sidley Austin LLP’s international arbitration team handles both commercial and investor-state arbitrations and has a client base that includes states, financial institutions, and mining and oil and gas companies. The US group - which consists of 16 partners and counsel based across New York and Washington DC - complements the firm’s highly rated teams in London and Canada. Stanimir Alexandrov - who serves as a practice head along with Louis Kimmelman - is representing affiliates of Philip Morris International in an ICSID arbitration against Uruguay challenging tobacco packaging regulations. The widely publicized case has implications for health regulations, WTO rules and IP rights. In another highlight, Kimmelman successfully represented a global telecoms company in a standard essential patents dispute. Other clients of the group include Belize Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago, and the states of Costa Rica, Peru and Turkey.

Baker Botts L.L.P. has a ‘strong practice with impressive senior arbitration practitioners’ who handle investment treaty disputes, commercial arbitrations and matters of public international law. Michael Goldberg heads the group of 14 partners and 18 associates, which operates out of the firm’s Houston, New York and Washington DC offices. Goldberg is a ‘terrific leader of the firm’s group and an excellent arbitrator’. The US team - which works closely with teams based in the Moscow and London offices - has longstanding associations with a number of sovereign states, including Russia and Costa Rica. On the commercial side, New York-based Edward Schorr and Andrew Behrman teamed up with London-based Jay Alexander to represent a major LNG corporation in a $1bn-plus dispute concerning a price review clause in a long-term contract. The group’s forte is in energy-related matters, but it also handles disputes arising in industries such as real estate, construction and manufacturing. Goldberg and Alexander chair the firmwide practice.

Chaffetz Lindsey LLP is a top-notch New York disputes firm that primarily focuses on international arbitration. The group of eight partners and 17 associates is ‘extremely responsive and the overall service is outstanding’. It handles arbitrations arising from disputes in industries such as insurance, energy, construction, hospitality and pharmaceuticals. James Hosking, who is a ‘passionate advocate for the client’, represented the owners in a $1bn-plus ICC arbitration arising out of a construction and project finance dispute related to a power plant in Central America. David Lindsey teamed up with Yasmine Lahlou to represent a large Brazilian construction company in an ICC arbitration against a major oil company regarding the construction and re-fitting of a vessel. Hosking and Anibal Sabater represented the subsidiary of a large European energy company in an arbitration against an international contractor over the construction of a power plant in Central America. Major clients include AEI, AIG, HCC International Insurance, Samwhan Corporation, Iran and Liberia.

Covington & Burling LLP’s international arbitration group, which consists of 14 partners mainly based in the firm’s Washington DC and New York offices, is ‘highly competent’ at handling investor-state and commercial arbitrations. Co-chair Marney Cheek and five other partners represented pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in an investment treaty arbitration against Canada under NAFTA alleging expropriation of its patent rights. Cheek is ‘very knowledgeable about investment arbitration’. Miguel López Forastier represented a Mexican food conglomerate against Venezuela in an ICSID arbitration arising out of alleged violations of the Spanish-Venezuelan investment treaty. In another highlight, Forastier represented Tidewater, a major provider of maritime services to the oil industry, against Venezuela in an ICSID arbitration arising out of the expropriation of the client’s investments. The firm prevailed in the matter and continues to represent the client. The other co-chair of the group, Allan Moore, is ‘very strong in international insurance matters’.

Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP has an extensive list of state clients that includes Turkmenistan, Vietnam, India, Indonesia and Cyprus and is ‘recommended for host governments that are faced with arbitration demands by foreign investors’. The group works from the firm’s New York and Washington DC offices. Firm chairman George Kahale III and his colleague Bernard Preziosi, both in New York, act as lead counsel to Venezuela on a slew of disputes that have significant geopolitical and international legal implications. These two esteemed lawyers successfully defended Venezuela in an arbitration commenced by ConocoPhillips regarding allegations of expropriation and violation of fair and equitable treatment obligations under the Dutch-Venezuelan BIT. Kahale is ‘brilliant and extremely dedicated to the interests of his clients’, as well as an ‘excellent manager of the teams he assembles for cases’. The firm is also defending India against a $2.6bn tax-related claim brought by Vodafone under the India-Netherlands BIT.

Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP’s global practice, co-headed by Houston-based Mark Baker, mainly handles international commercial arbitrations for private companies such as AECOM, Advanced Metal Works, ExxonMobil, Mawarid Holding and RTKL. Baker and Houston-based Kevin O’Gorman acted on behalf of a major energy corporation in a matter related to the exploration and operation of projects in a Middle Eastern country. O’Gorman also represents the Canadian affiliate of an international oil field services company in an international arbitration under the UNCITRAL rules. The group, which also has partners in Washington DC and New York, represents a smaller batch of clients in investor-state disputes. Matthew Kirtland, for example, represented Gold Reserve Inc. in conjunction with US enforcement of a $750m ICSID award against Venezuela related to the expropriation of mining investments. The Nigerian National Petroleum Company and Kazakhstan are among the firm’s other state or state-owned clients.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s US international arbitration group might be relatively small in size, but the three-partner team has a strong reputation and works closely with the firm’s market-leading overseas offices. New York-based Henry Weisburg heads the US group, which also includes Jonathan Greenblatt, Christopher Ryan and counsel Katia Yannaca-Small, all of whom are based in Washington DC. The team handles arbitrations in industries such as energy, construction, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure and telecoms. Weisburg and Paris-based global group head Emmanuel Gaillard represented 13 investment companies and two individuals in a $15bn ICC claim brought against a major European telecoms company. In another highlight, Greenblatt, Ryan and two of the group’s 15 associates represented a state-owned Latin American oil and gas company as respondent in a $60m ICC arbitration against a contractor regarding the expansion of a refinery.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLPrates very high’ in regard to complex commercial arbitration and is ‘respected’ for its expertise in Asia-related disputes. New York-based group co-head Robert Smit recently helped client MatlinPatterson resist enforcement of a $55m arbitral award. Washington DC-based co-head Peter Thomas has a ‘particularly strong track record servicing pharmaceutical companies’, and successfully represented Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma in a supply dispute with a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Counsel Janet Whittaker, who focuses on energy, infrastructure and insurance cases, is ‘excellent’.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s US-based international arbitration specialists are mainly based out of New York. The team includes John Gardiner and Timothy Nelson, who represented the Indian company Devas Multimedia against an Indian state-owned entity in a $1.6bn ICC arbitration arising from the alleged wrongful termination of a satellite contract. Julie Bédard and Timothy Nelson are known for their expertise in Latin American-related disputes and recently represented Gambrinus, a Barbados-incorporated investor, in ICSID proceedings under the Barbados-Venezuela BIT relating to the expropriation of a urea producer.

In 2014, Three Crowns LLP’s six founding partners all left market-leading practices to set up this ‘top-notch’ international disputes firm. Co-founder Jan Paulsson - former co-head of the international arbitration and public international law groups of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP - is a ‘leading arbitrator and intellect in the field who should make everyone’s list of the top ten in the world’. He and co-founder Luke Sobota represented ConocoPhillips in a $20bn ICSID arbitration against Venezuela arising out of the expropriation of the client’s upstream assets in the Orinoco oil belt. Sobota is a ‘younger partner who is extremely smart and a great strategic thinker’ and is an ‘excellent draftsman’. Paulsson and Sobota work from Washington DC and operate in unison with the firm’s other founding partners: Constantine Partasides and Gaëtan Verhoosel in London and Georgios Petrochilos and Todd Wetmore in Paris. The group services a number of global energy giants, including BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum and Hess Corporation.

Baker McKenzie LLP’s US international arbitration team, which is spread across multiple offices, benefits from the firm’s impressive global reach. Key domestic locations include New York, where North America practice chair Grant Hanessian is based, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Miami and Washington DC. The San Francisco office was strengthened when the firm brought Maria Chedid over from Arnold & Porter LLP in February 2015. Chedid co-leads the representation of Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim, a Turkish energy company, in a $2bn-plus ICSID dispute arising from the company’s investment in a rental power project in Pakistan. Elsewhere, Harnessian teamed up with colleagues in the firm’s Moscow and Almaty offices to represent Consolidated Exploration Holdings, a mining company that sought to develop one of the largest gold mines in the Kyrgyz Republic. He also worked with lawyers in the Caracas office when he represented Longreef AVV, an Aruban corporation, in a $500m-plus ICSID arbitration regarding Venezuela’s alleged refusal to fairly compensate the company post expropriation. Attorneys across the US handle complex commercial arbitrations: Luis O’Naghten in Miami; Justin Marlles in Houston; Mark McCrone in Washington DC; and Michael Morkin and Matthew Allison in Chicago.

Chadbourne & Parke LLP’s international arbitration team is based in the firm’s office in New York, where it services a wide variety of global companies and sovereign states involved in major international disputes, particularly in emerging markets. Global group head Mark Beckett, based in the firm’s New York office, led the firm’s representation of Koch Minerals and Koch Nitrogen International as claimants in a $650m ICSID arbitration against Venezuela related to the expropriation of a fertilizer plant and a related offtake agreement. Marc Suskin and Rachel Thorn represented the Republic of Congo in its defense against two enforcement actions brought in the District Court of Washington DC. Other major clients include Engie, INVISTA and TCR Sports Broadcasting.

Dechert LLP made great strides toward becoming an international arbitration powerhouse when Arif Ali and Alexandre de Gramont left Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP to join the Washington DC office in August 2015. Ali, who co-chairs the group, represents parties around the globe in commercial and investment treaty arbitrations in a wide variety of industries. In one work highlight, he and de Gramont represented Hungary against claims by EDF related to the government’s termination of power purchase agreements that were allegedly required due to the state’s accession to the EU. Ali represents the Czech Republic in UNCITRAL arbitration proceedings against a group of investors regarding a dispute that arose from the privatization of a state-owned enterprise. Other key clients include Ecuador, Bolivia, MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas and major corporations in the software and pharmaceutical industries.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP’s international arbitration group traditionally focuses on disputes in Europe and North America, with some activity in South America, South Asia and the Middle East. The team provides clients with ‘heavy partner involvement in all of the cases and a lot of face time’. Global group head Elliot Polebaum and Joseph LoBlue, who along with the rest of the US team are based in the firm’s Washington DC office, represented Total in an ICSID arbitration against Uganda. Polebaum is considered ‘one of the best advocates in the field’ and LoBlue provides ‘very good, concise advice’. The group also represents Cerner UK, Dassault Aviation, EDF, Northrop Grumman, Prufrock Management and RUSAL.

The Herbert Smith Freehills international arbitration team is headed by Laurence Shore, who is widely considered one of the foremost experts in international arbitration. The group, which handles commercial and investor-state arbitrations, has ‘good response times and is quick to catch up on industry knowledge’. Shore recently represented Costa Rica against a group of American investors in arbitration proceedings related to the development of a residential and hotel project that was shut down by the environmental agency for encroachment into wetlands. Christian Leathley is now based in the firm’s New York office, having spent numerous years in the firm’s London and Madrid offices. He is known for his expertise in Latin American-related matters and has a client list that includes Spain, Suzano Papel and BHP Billiton. Chris Parker, who is a ‘passionate and good advocate with a refreshing personality’, returned to the UK in September 2015 following a three-year stint in New York.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP primarily handles investment treaty disputes and has at least one international arbitration specialist in each of the firm’s US offices, including Washington DC, New York and Los Angeles. Washington DC-based David Orta worked with New York-based Tai-Heng Cheng to represent Spentex Netherlands in a $133m ICSID arbitration arising out of the company’s claims that Uzbekistan violated the Netherlands-Uzbekistan BIT and other agreements. Orta is ‘excellent and takes all possible efforts to prepare well’. A. William Urquhart, who slits time between Washington DC and Los Angeles, has represented DP World in a number of international arbitrations over the past decade, including an ongoing case being heard in London in which Djibouti sought to rescind a concession to build and operate the Doraleh Container Terminal.

WilmerHale’s US international arbitration team is led by John Pierce, Rachael Kent and John Trenor, all of whom have ‘deep knowledge in a variety of areas and are very responsive to tight timelines for delivery’. The three attorneys spent years working with the firm’s impressive London team, which is led by Gary Born, who is among the ‘premier international arbitration and litigation experts in the world’. Pierce, who is based in New York, has represented a wide range of companies in arbitrations in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and North America. Kent has served as counsel in ad hoc and institutional arbitrations seated in both common law and civil law jurisdictions. Senior counsel James Carter has more than 40 years’ experience acting as arbitrator or counsel in international commercial and investment treaty cases.

Winston & Strawn LLP’s international arbitration team is largely based in Washington DC, although ‘masterful, absolutely outstanding’ group chair Ricardo Ugarte now splits his time between London and Chicago. He moved to the US in 2015 following the closure of the firm’s Geneva office and its reallocation of resources to London and Paris due to the centralization of arbitrations in those cities. Ugarte was part of a team that represented Ecuador in a multibillion-dollar UNCITRAL arbitration initiated by Chevron and Texaco regarding alleged violations of the Ecuador-US BIT. Other key members of that team were Eric Bloom and Tomás Leonard. With the exception of the Ecuador case, which was significant, the firm typically handles commercial disputes. Mark Bravin moved to Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp.

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