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  1. International arbitration
  2. Leading lawyers

Working primarily out of New York, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s US-based lawyers have a first-rate reputation for international disputes, be they commercial or investment treaty-related arbitrations, or public international law. The firm’s highly rated London team provides extra gravitas, and it is currently undergoing further growth in key Asian and Latin American markets. The practice also grew at home, following the promotion of Natalie Reid to partner. The team is ‘always looking for innovative ways to deal with issues and to cut time and costs’; indeed ‘its lean manning of cases means it provides excellent value for money’ as well as ‘excellent’ service levels overall. ‘There is huge strength in depth’ in this group, which is co-chaired by the ‘commercial, innovative and hugely persuasiveDavid Rivkin and ‘brilliant and result-drivenDonald Francis Donovan. Other key individuals include Mark Friedman, who is ‘extremely bright and quick on the uptake’, the ‘very responsive, focused and objectiveDietmar Prager, and the ‘extremely creative and business-orientedChristopher Tahbaz, who divides his time between Hong Kong and New York. A notable highlight in 2014 was representing Tethyan Copper Company in parallel ICC and ICSID arbitral proceedings respectively brought against the Governments of Balochistan and Pakistan. Other major clients include Occidental Petroleum, Perenco, and GlaxoSmithKline.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is undoubtedly ‘a force in international arbitration’ despite several high-profile departures from its global disputes practice in 2014, which were centered largely around its London and Paris offices. The US side of the practice remained relatively unscathed, and while Alexander Yanos did join Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, the promotion of the highly regarded Noiana Marigo ensured that depletion of partner ranks was minimal. As one observer put it: ‘there is an institutional knowledge of arbitration that never changes; even if certain partners and associates leave, that culture and experience always remains’. Marigo is dual qualified in Argentina and New York and is a key part of the firm’s market-leading Latin America disputes offering, an area in which Washington DC-based practice head Nigel Blackaby is considered virtually peerless. Other key partners include New York-based Elliot Friedman and the ‘always reliable and exceedingly talentedBrian King who is ‘the attorney that you want in your corner during an arbitration’. While she is no longer in the US, Lucy Reed, the firm’s Singapore-based co-head of global arbitration, ‘is very much involved in the US offices’ and is ‘highly esteemed in the field’. A highlight was advising BG Group on the first-ever investment treaty arbitration case to be addressed in the US Supreme Court, which reinstated a $185m award in favor of the company in its long-running dispute with Argentina. Other recent instructions came from ConocoPhillips, Repsol, Total, and Burlington Resources.

King & Spalding LLP has an extremely rich pedigree for international arbitration work, particularly oil and gas-related disputes - the majority of the team is based in Houston. However, it also has market-leading practitioners in New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco. The highly respected Edward Kehoe and Doak Bishop jointly head the practice out of New York and Houston respectively and spearhead a team of 32 partners and 48 counsel and associates; names to note among these include esteemed Houston attorneys John Bowman and Reginald Smith, and New York-based Guillermo Aguilar Alvarez, Henry Burnett and Caline Mouawad. The firm has been involved in some of the largest cases to hit the market of late, including acting for Chevron in its investment treaty dispute with Ecuador concerning alleged breaches of settlement and release agreements under the US-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). Another highlight was advising The Renco Group in its UNCITRAL arbitration against Peru concerning the client’s investment in a metallurgical smelter that it bought from the Peruvian government. Other high-profile clients include Teinver and Transglobal Green Energy.

White & Case LLP’s ‘outstanding’ practice ‘provides excellent service’. The ‘amazingly deep team of attorneys’ displays ‘professionalism and has solid experience in the field of investor-state international arbitration’. The extremely well-regarded Paul Friedland heads the 12-partner team out of New York. The fact that eight of its partners are based in Washington DC is indicative of its extremely strong focus, and subsequent reputation for investment treaty disputes, where it regularly represents state clients such as the Republics of Peru, Bulgaria, Uzbekistan and the Philippines. The firm is also noted for energy-related disputes, and keystone clients such as Saudi Aramco generate a regular flow of arbitration work in this space. The firm also has a strong reputation for Latin America arbitrations, a practice that is headed by Washington DC-based Jonathan Hamilton. Recent highlights include successfully representing Canadian mining company Gold Reserve in its ICSID arbitration against Venezuela concerning the wrongful termination of its mining project in the Brisas reserve, which has one of the world’s largest undeveloped gold and copper deposits; the panel awarded Gold Reserve over $740m in damages, one of the highest awards in ICSID history. The firm has also been representing Peru as a claimant in its ICSID dispute with Caraveli Cotaruse Transmisora de Energia, regarding the $181m construction of 600 miles of electricity transmission lines; this was the first time a Latin American state registered a ICSID claim, and Peru became only the fourth state in the center’s history to become a claimant.

Arnold & Porter LLP already had an excellent reputation for international arbitration, before making an even bigger push into the market through the recruitment of a team from Hogan Lovells, including Thad Dameris and Christopher Odell in Houston and David Weiner in Washington DC. A further addition came in the form of David Huebner in Los Angeles, who joined from the US State Department, having been a former US ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. The new arrivals join a team headed by Paolo Di Rosa out of Washington DC, which also includes Jean Kalicki and Gaela Gehring Flores. The practice is particularly noted for its expertise in major investment treaty disputes, as well as Latin America and energy-related arbitrations. It has a strong track record representing sovereign states, including Hungary, Chile, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic. Recently it advised the Republic of Korea on $4.7bn worth of claims brought against it by Lone Star, concerning its attempts to sell its interest in the Korea Exchange Bank; this was the first investment treaty arbitration ever to be filed against Korea. On the claimant side, the firm represented Turkish energy company Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim in a $1.7bn ICSID arbitration against Pakistan regarding its investment in a rental power project. Other clients include Mercer International, EDF, Daimler Financial Services and the Slovak Republic.

International arbitration forms an integral part of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s wider disputes practice, and it handles a healthy mix of major commercial arbitrations and investment treaty disputes. As regards the latter, the firm has been involved in some hugely significant matters on behalf of the Republic of Argentina, including its dispute with BG Group, Continental Casualty Company and National Grid which ultimately went to the US Supreme Court. The firm also represented the Russian Federation in its ultimately unsuccessful defense of $100bn worth of compensation claims from former shareholders of Yukos Oil Company concerning the dismantlement of the company. The team’s talented and experienced practitioners include Jonathan Blackman and Howard Zelbo in New York, which is where most of the firm’s partners are based. The highly regarded Matthew Slater flies the flag in Washington DC. Other key clients include JSC Tatneft, Rosneft, the Hellenic Republic and DP World, which it represented in an investment treaty dispute with Peru.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP’s well-balanced practice is very active in the market, fielding expertise in commercial and investment treaty arbitrations as well as state-to-state disputes. The investment treaty side was augmented following the arrival in New York of Alexander Yanos, formerly of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, to become co-chair of the firm’s treaty arbitration practice; his highly rated fellow co-chairs are John Townsend in Washington DC and John Fellas in New York. A major highlight for the firm was its successful representation of the Government of Canada in the LCIA regarding its softwood lumber dispute with the US over alleged subsidies to Canadian softwood lumber exports. On the investment treaty side, New York’s Steven Hammond acted for leading Turkish oil exploration developer Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklıgi in a multimillion-dollar dispute with the Republic of Kazakhstan. The versatile practice also handles arbitration in the pharmaceuticals, aviation, shipping and mining sectors.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s global practice is co-headed by Houston-based Mark Baker, and also has partners in New York and Washington DC while benefiting from highly rated practices in London and Canada. However, the departure of New York-based Latin America expert Anibal Sabater to Chaffetz Lindsey LLP was a blow. Highlight cases for the group included representing Vicinay Cadenas in a $500m product liability dispute with Petrobras America and its insurers regarding alleged defects in a Vicinay-manufactured tether chain. The firm, which has a strong energy focus, also represented Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in a $325m dispute with Lutin Investments concerning the enforcement of an arbitration award issued by a sole arbitrator in Nigeria. Other key clients include AEI, Baker Hughes, KBC Advanced Technologies, Total, and Técnicas Reunidas.

Sidley Austin LLP is praised for its ‘perfect knowledge and experience in international investment disputes and energy charter treaty issues’. The practice has partners in offices throughout the US and is jointly headed by New York-based Louis Kimmelman and the ‘excellentStanimir Alexandrov in Washington DC, who is ‘an authority for investment disputes and must surely be terrifying to the other side’. Other key partners in the capital include the ‘outstandingJennifer Haworth McCandless who ‘never tires of responding to questions’, and Marinn Carlson who ‘demonstrates an excellent ability to plan, execute and negotiate the various aspects of international commercial disputes, particularly those involving discrimination and expropriation by foreign states’. The ‘smart, dependable, accessible and amicable’ team is ‘willing to lend assistance above and beyond the call of duty’, and makes ‘interaction comfortable and puts the client at ease’. Highlights include successfully defending the Republic of Turkey against over $100m of ECT claims brought by Alapli Elektrik. On the international commercial arbitration side it is representing Peruvian state-owned company Perupetro in a $50m royalty payment dispute with a consortium of investors. Other clients include The Republic of Peru and the Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago.

Baker Botts L.L.P. is ‘one of those rare firms that is able to handle both the legal aspect of arbitration as well as the cultural and political aspects’. The practice is highly recommended for its expertise in public international law, investment treaty disputes and commercial arbitrations. Global co-head Michael Goldberg, who leads the team out of Houston, ‘is simply a winner’ and ‘has the unique ability to invoke confidence with the client, which is even more impressive when you consider that the clients include distinguished government officials’. He is backed up by a top-notch team that includes Washington DC-based Ryan Bull, whose ‘lawyering and cultural skills are excellent’. The US practice works closely with highly regarded groups in London and Moscow, and its ‘transparency and precision is reflected in its billing system, which makes it reliable and worth our trust’. The firm made significant additions in 2014, particularly in New York, where it recruited a team from Hogan Lovells, including partner Edward Schorr and special counsel Andrew Behrman. The firm is noted for its expertise in the oil and gas sector and recently advised a major LNG producer on a $1bn+ dispute concerning a price review clause in a long-term contract. Key clients include the Russian Federation, Kia Motors, Frontera Resources and Cobalt International Energy.

Chaffetz Lindsey LLP is a New York-based disputes boutique with a heavy focus on international arbitration. Since opening in 2009 the firm has been making quite an impression in the market, as reflected in the caliber of partners it has begun to recruit, including the extremely well-regarded Anibal Sabater from Norton Rose Fulbright. The firm’s ‘overall level of service is outstanding’ and its ‘bench strength is a key strength,’ as the ‘quality of service provided is consistent throughout’. Clients note that ‘the extensive network its lawyers have in the arbitration and litigation world is very impressive and helpful in assessing situations and planning strategy’. James Hosking, one of its key arbitration specialists, is ‘a passionate advocate of the client and is extremely responsive no matter where he is in the world’. Andreas Frischknecht is also ‘impressive in how he can become an expert in a specific area that is the focus of the arbitration’. Clients also recommend newly promoted Jennifer Permesly and founding partner David Lindsey for their arbitration expertise. Recent highlights include representing a large Brazilian construction company in an ICC arbitration against a major oil company concerning the construction and refitting of a floating production, storage and offloading vessel. Major clients include AEI, Cukurova Holding, AIG and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Covington & Burling LLP boasts an extremely strong team of international arbitration specialists that ‘play in the big leagues, and very well’. Working primarily out of the firm’s Washington DC office, albeit with experienced partners in New York and San Francisco, the practice is jointly led by the ‘very capableMarney Cheek and Allan Moore. Highly rated senior counsel Eugene Gullandknows the field and how to play on it’, and Miguel López Forastier is ‘a rising talent’ who is ‘detail-oriented and always looking around the next corner’ and ‘does an excellent job of bridging the company/outside counsel divide on several different issues’. Clients appreciate the ‘excellent counseling’ on offer and the team as a whole is no stranger to the largest cases. Most notably it represented ExxonMobil in its successful $2bn compensation claim against the Republic of Venezuela following the expropriation of two oil projects. The firm is also representing Eli Lilly in a $500m investor-state arbitration against the Government of Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) following the alleged expropriation of the client’s patent rights. Other clients include Apache Corporation, BP and Tidewater.

Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP is primarily known for representing governments in investment treaty arbitrations; this niche focus means its ‘lawyers have a great deal of specialized experience on which to draw’ and the practice as a whole ‘has a special talent in building teams that work together extremely well on cases’. New York-based team head and firm chairman, George Kahale III has ‘a special strength with respect to his management teams: he builds a team that is completely dedicated to the case’. Kahale, Benard Preziosi, and Mark O’Donoghue are ‘outstanding’ and ‘put the interests of the client first’. Major recent highlights include representing long-term client the Republic of Venezuela on its ICSID arbitration with ConocoPhillips regarding the expropriation of three petroleum exploration and development projects in the country. The firm is also defending the Republic of India against a $1.6bn claim brought by several Mauritius-based telecoms companies. While the firm is best known for its advice to states, it does also represent private sector clients in international arbitrations and is currently involved in a multimillion-dollar dispute for an African energy company.

New York-based Henry Weisburg heads the US arm of Shearman & Sterling LLP’s highly rated international arbitration group. He is backed up by a team in Washington DC - notably Jonathan Greenblatt and Christopher Ryan, as well as counsel Katia Yannaca-Small. The US side of the practice can often be found working alongside colleagues in the firm’s market-leading Paris-based group, as was the case in a dispute on behalf of 13 financial investment companies and two individuals in a $15bn ICC claim brought against a major European telecoms company. The firm also advised Essar Global, the respondent in a $220m ICC arbitration concerning obligations under a guarantee agreement and underlying loan agreements. The firm is also experienced in investment treaty disputes and is defending the Republic of Venezuela in a $646m ICSID claim brought by Koch Minerals and Koch Nitrogen concerning the construction and operation of an ammonia and urea production facility.

The ‘excellent’ team at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is praised for its ‘extremely short response times’ and ‘very quick understanding of a complex situation’. New York co-head Robert Smit ‘stands out for his vast arbitration experience and has an extraordinary strategic clarity coupled with a natural, easygoing and accessible team leadership’. The majority of the firm’s work is in major commercial arbitrations, and the practice is noted for its expertise in Asia-related disputes. Most recently it has advised on several significant disputes in the pharmaceutical industry, an area where Washington DC-based co-head Peter Thomas has a particularly strong track record. A notable highlight was successfully representing Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma in a supply dispute with Janssen Biotech, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Other key clients include Danone, Daiichi Sankyo, MatlinPatterson and MediaTek. Counsel Janet Whittaker is also singled out, for her ‘great ability to work through vast amounts of complex information and distil the essence of a case’.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s highly regarded five-partner team is headed by John Gardiner out of the New York office, where the US arm is primarily based. The practice covers all areas of the market, including investment treaty arbitrations, and partners such as Julie Bédard and Timothy Nelson are noted for their expertise in Latin America-related disputes. A major highlight for the firm was representing Devas Multimedia Private in parallel UNCITRAL and ICC arbitrations against, respectively, the Government of India and government-owned Antrix Corporation; the $1.6bn claims concern the provision of India’s satellite and terrestrial audio visual, broadband and mobile services to Devas. The firm also represented the Barbados-incorporated investment company Gambrinus in a $150m ICSID claim against the Republic of Venezuela concerning the 2010 expropriation of FertiNitro, a large producer of urea and ammonia. The New York practice works very closely with the firm’s market-leading team in London.

Baker & McKenzie LLP has an expansive practice spread throughout the US: key locations include New York, where North America practice chair Grant Hanessian is based, and Chicago, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco and Palo Alto. The Washington DC and Miami offices were also strengthened in 2014 following the respective hires of Edward Teddy Baldwin from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP and Luis O’Naghten from Akerman LLP. The US practice regularly handles commercial and investment treaty arbitrations in Europe, Latin America, Russia and the CIS. Recently it advised Longreef, an Aruban corporation, in a $500m ICSID claim against the Republic of Venezuela following the expropriation of the country’s largest coffee company, which Longreef owned. Other recent instructions came from the Government of Mongolia, AVIC, and Weatherford.

Chadbourne & Parke LLP has a strong reputation for advising global companies and sovereign states in major international disputes, particularly in the emerging markets. It also represents states and claimants in investor treaty disputes. One of the firm’s most high-profile cases was for Koch Minerals and Koch Nitrogen International as claimants in a $650m ICSID arbitration against the Republic of Venezuela involving the expropriation of a fertilizer plant and related offtake agreement. TCR Sports Broadcasting, The Republic of Congo, and Citibank are also clients. New York-based Mark Beckett heads the well-regarded team, which also includes Marc Suskin, as well as of counsel William Perry in Washington DC.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP benefits greatly from the presence of global head Elliot Polebaum who splits his time between Washington DC and Paris. Polebaum is ‘one of the best international arbitration lawyers’ in the market and ‘an outstanding advocate’. He is backed up by a team of high-quality partners in Washington DC, including Joseph LoBue and Douglas Baruch. The firm acts for several major French clients, including EDF, Dassault Aviation and Total, and recently represented Thales Alenia Space in an ICDR arbitration brought by Globalstar concerning a $1bn contract for the supply of 48 satellites and ancillary products and services.

Herbert Smith Freehills is praised for its ‘very efficient, high-quality advice’ and ‘reasonable fees’. The firm’s New York-based head is Laurence Shore, widely considered to be one of the foremost experts in international arbitration. Chris Parker also enjoys a strong reputation, as does counsel Amal Bouchenaki, and ‘very knowledgeable’ associate Robert Rothkopf. The firm has a top-notch reputation for major commercial and investor state arbitrations, and works closely with the firm’s market-leading London office, where Christian Leathley, who has been spending considerable time in the US, is known for his Latin America expertise. Recent highlights include advising Telecom Egypt on a $450m arbitration claim brought by Mobinil concerning alleged violations of its interconnection agreement. Key clients include BP, Chevron, Marriott International and the Republic of Costa Rica.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is fairly evenly split between Washington DC and New York. The firm is similarly well balanced when it comes to investment treaty and international commercial arbitrations, and represents major international companies as well as sovereign states. Washington DC’s Arif Ali heads the team, which also includes New York-based Samaa Haridi, who is considered by clients to be a ‘brilliant tactical master in arbitration’. One of the firm’s largest cases was for MOL Group in its $2.5bn ICSID arbitration against the Government of Croatia concerning its treatment of the client’s investment in oil and gas company INA-Industrija. Other clients include Pluspetrol Peru, The Government of Hungary and DCA Trust.

WilmerHale is ‘very strong in international arbitration’ as a result of its active US practice, spread across offices in Washington DC, Boston, Palo Alto and New York. New York head John Pierce is ‘a fine advocate’ and Washington DC’s David Ogden is ‘outstanding’. Rachel Kent, vice-chair of the global practice, and senior counsel James Carter, also enjoy very strong reputations. In addition to investor-state arbitrations, the firm has developed a strong track record in IP, financial services and oil and gas disputes. The US practice also benefits from close ties to the firm’s tier one-ranked London office.

Winston & Strawn LLP has a ‘truly admirable’ team which is based primarily in Washington, DC. It is ‘exceptional and may easily defend any case in the area’. Global co-chair Mark Bravin is ‘extremely notable in this area’ and is praised for his ‘sharp knowledge’ of the energy market. Eric Bloom, one of the team’s ‘most impressive assets’, is ‘precise and accurate in his legal perspective, and his awareness in international arbitration allows him to be an incredible leader’. The firm is involved in some of the largest cases currently being fought, including representing the Republic of Ecuador in its $9bn UNCITRAL arbitration with Chevron and Texaco. On the claimant side, Ricardo Ugarte, who divides his time between Chicago and Geneva, is representing Michael Dagher in a $35m ICSID dispute with the Republic of Sudan, the first ever investment treaty claim filed against the country.

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Summer 2015

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