Though eclipsed by the litigation group’s lustre, the international arbitration group is making headway
- People in Who’s Who:
- Pending cases as counsel:
- Value of pending counsel work:
- US$5.6 billion
- Treaty cases:
- Current arbitrator appointments:
- 10 (of which 7 is as sole or chair)
- No. of lawyers sitting as arbitrator:
Gibson Dunn is one of the current heavyweights of the US litigation scene. It was recently declared litigation department of the year by a well-known US magazine for its regular appearances on high-stakes matters. Although not at the same level – and in some ways having to swim against the tide of the firm’s interest – the firm now has a credible international arbitration group, which is making headway.
The core of the current practice formed between 2007 and 2008, with three lateral hires: Cy Benson from White & Case; Laurence Shore from Herbert Smith; and Lord Falconer from the British government. Falconer was the UK’s first-ever secretary of state for justice, and also Lord Chancellor.
Larry Shore joined the New York office after leading international arbitration at Herbert Smith. He is a visiting professor at the London School of International Arbitration and co-author of a book about the substantive principles underpinning investment arbitration.
More recently, the firm has taken its first step into Asia with an eye on disputes work, and has layered in additional arbitration expertise in some other offices.
Away from mainstream commercial work, it enjoys a franchise for sports-related arbitration by dint of Maurice Suh, a partner in Los Angeles. Suh has defended numerous sports stars accused of doping violations, including disgraced Tour de France winner Floyd Landis.
Meanwhile, Gibson Dunn’s litigation team continues to be one of the first names on the list for anyone who needs litigation to enforce or resist foreign judgments and awards.
East and West Coast US, London and Hong Kong for international arbitration. The firm recently opened in São Paulo.
Who uses it?
MMX, IBM, General Electric and Lord Charles Falconer all use the firm on arbitration-related court work in the US.
Cy Benson and Larry Shore are also representing the controversial Russian politician Ashot Egiazaryan, who is embroiled in LCIA arbitration about a Moscow hotel.
Chevron asked the firm to obtain out-takes from Crude – the documentary charting the environmental litigation against the company in Ecuador. Gibson Dunn duly succeeded and has gone after other evidence located in the US. The evidence is being used by the oil major in its arbitration against the state (King & Spalding is running that arbitration) as well as its efforts to block enforcement of the US$18 billion local court judgment rendered against it.
Litigators in New York also helped out Yukos Capital in a similar way. They obtained an attachment order against Rosneft (and a US$600 million security). Yukos Capital is attempting to enforce a Dutch judgment worth US$419 million.
The arbitration team meanwhile obtained what’s seen as a favourable settlement for MMX in a commodities dispute with a Turkish side.
In 2010, the firm hired Kelly Austin, former Asia-Pacific litigation and compliance counsel for General Electric in Hong Kong as it opened there in 2010.
The arbitration group meanwhile brought in Amal Bouchenaki, previously a senior associate at Orrick in Paris, and clerk to arbitrator Laurence Craig. Bouchenaki speaks Arabic as well as four European languages.