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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Perkins Coie

18 February 2016

Formed in Seattle and with Boeing among its clients, the practice champions the use of technology in arbitration

Pending cases as counsel: 9
Value of pending counsel work: US$15,218,080
Treaty cases: 1
Current arbitrator appointments: 2 (of which 0 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator: 1

Founded in 1912 through a handshake by a federal judge and Seattle attorney, Perkins Coie is the oldest firm in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Now with offices across the country, it also has lawyers stationed in Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei.

Its arbitration practice focuses on three main sectors: commercial satellites, insurance and product liability, and was boosted in 2014 by the hire of Thompson & Knight’s international arbitration group co-chair Paul Cohen in New York.

Qualified in New York, and England and Wales, Cohen is a protégé of the late Arthur Marriott QC. He co-chairs the 30-member practice at Perkins Coie with Seattle partner Steve Koh, and is also editor of a journal on technology in international arbitration. In 2014, he was behind “Arbitration 2.0”, a manifesto championing efficiency in arbitration practice through the use of modern technology.

Who uses it?

Boeing has long been a client, and in recent years the firm has advised other Seattle-based heavyweights including Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and Costco. Other clients include US wood products manufacturer Boise Cascade, Honeywell and the government of Indonesia. Outside of international arbitration, it acts for the US Democratic Party and many of its candidates, including Barack Obama and John Kerry.

Track record

With Koh in the lead, Perkins Coie successfully defended Boeing from two claims worth a combined US$760 million arising out of unexpected power losses at faulty communications satellites. The first case was dismissed by the arbitrators. The second (in which Freshfields was co-counsel) settled after claimant Telesat Canada agreed to a walk-away dismissal of all claims.

The firm has had big insurance wins for the Tennessee Valley Authority arising from a coal fly-ash slurry spill in 2008.

Recent events

Senior attorney Jared Hager left the firm to become assistant US attorney at the US Department of Justice in Portland, Oregon.

Cohen continued to promote the use of technology in arbitration by chairing a groundbreaking “virtual conference” using telepresence to link participants across over a dozen locations.

Client comment

KarimSyah partner Karen Mills engaged a pre-Perkins Cohen to defend Indonesia from a US$19 million UNCITRAL claim; he took the case with him when he moved firms. Mills says “Paul was very bright, creative and helpful in every way. It was a pleasure to have him on our team.”

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