Business of Law

International arbitrations are lucrative practice area for BigLaw

At least a dozen law firms stand to earn big fees as a result of cases pending before international arbitration tribunals.

The cases often rely on treaty protections, and they involve disputes between corporate interests and foreign governments or the entities they control, according to the New York Times DealBook blog. Other disputes are contract cases between private entities. Law firms doing the work may charge by the hour or take a percentage of the arbitration award.

The story refers to an American Lawyer (reg. req.) tally that found 120 pending international arbitrations worth more than $1 billion. According to American Lawyer, the busiest law firm in high-stakes arbitrations is Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. It is followed by Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle; Shearman & Sterling; White & Case; and King & Spalding.

DealBook mentions several King & Spalding cases. The firm and Shearman & Sterling represented Dow Chemical in a dispute with Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries. Dow received $2.2 billion. In another case, King & Spalding represented Universal Compression, which received a $442 million arbitration award last year from Venezuela after nationalization of its operations.

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