Investor-State Law Guide

People Profiles Paolo Di Rosa

Paolo Di Rosa

Paolo Di Rosa is a Washington, D.C.-based partner in the International Arbitration Group, which he founded and then headed for almost 17 years before stepping down as Chair on January 1, 2024. He has long been recognized as one of the world's leading practitioners of international arbitration. Clients and publications such as Chambers and Legal 500 describe Mr. Di Rosa as a "brilliant" and "masterful" attorney with a "first-class reputation" who is "frequently retained to handle high-value arbitrations across the globe." "One impressed interviewee commented: 'He is, without any doubt in my mind, one of the top players in the world in his field of practice.'" "Paolo is at the top of his field" and is "one of the best investor-state disputes lawyers I have worked with." "Fully bilingual [English-Spanish] with an outstanding analytical mind, he is, quite simply, as good as it gets." He is recognized in particular as a "formidable force in investment treaty arbitration". "He is the first person I would call if I had an investor-state arbitration in Latin America." "Sources consider Paolo Di Rosa to be 'terrific in hearings doing the opening statements or cross-examining a key witness.'" Clients also highlight his "profound abilities of persuasion and incredible capacity to react to surprises in tribunals". "Sources revere his work" and "are quick to praise his client-handling skills," stressing that he is "highly personable" and "a pleasure to work with."

He has been recognized in a wide variety of publications, including Chambers Global, Chambers USA, Chambers Latin America, The Legal 500 US, The Legal 500 Latin America, Best Lawyers in America, "Best of the Best" USA Experts Guide, Who's Who Legal, Super Lawyers, and Euromoney's Guide to the World's Leading Experts, amongst others. Notably, he has been ranked in Band 1 of the last six editions of Chambers Global (Latin America), and Chambers Latin America, and was designated by the Legal 500 Latin America as one of the "Leading Lawyers" in International Arbitration in its last eight editions. Further, he has been selected by Legal 500 US as one of the "Leading Lawyers" in its last 12 editions (in the last four of which he has been chosen as one of a select few "Hall of Fame" lawyers), and is ranked in Band 2 in Chambers USA and Chambers Global (USA). He has also been ranked as a specialist in Public International Law in seven editions of Chambers Global.

Mr. Di Rosa's practice centers on the representation of sovereign States and private sector companies in complex and high-stakes international arbitration, litigation, and public international law matters, including in particular disputes between investors and States under investment treaties. He has especially broad experience with sovereign States, as he has represented or advised in international arbitration and/or litigation matters numerous States throughout the globe, including Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel, Paraguay, Peru, Slovakia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Türkiye, and Venezuela.

He has successfully represented clients in disputes worldwide, and in a wide variety of industries and economic sectors, including energy, renewable resources, oil and gas, mining, banking and finance, transportation, fisheries, real estate, and media. Mr. Di Rosa has had an exceptional track record of success: over the course of a 30-year legal career, he has suffered no adverse result in the final outcome of any litigation or international arbitration (following appeals and annulment proceedings, where applicable) in which he was involved as counsel from the beginning of the case.

Mr. Di Rosa has also acted in litigation matters before U.S. federal courts, including most notably in the successful defense of the Republic of Colombia in twin claims for US$17 billion in Washington, D.C. by Sea Search Armada, relating the Spanish treasure ship San José (sunk by the British Navy off the cost of Cartagena, Colombia in 1708).

Mr. Di Rosa also serves as arbitrator. He has twice been appointed by the U.S. Government as arbitrator in investment arbitrations under NAFTA (Canacar v. U.S. (suspended), and 2280781 Ontario Inc. and TSG Developments US Holdings v. U.S. (ongoing). On February 23, 2016, President Barack Obama designated him as one of the four United States members of the ICSID Panel of Arbitrators. 

Although his practice spans all geographic regions of the globe, his main area of expertise is in legal matters relating to Latin America (acquired both in the private sector and the U.S. federal government), along with a fully bilingual (Spanish-English) and bicultural background.

Mr. Di Rosa is a frequent speaker at international conferences and seminars, and author of numerous articles and book chapters.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Di Rosa was a senior-level U.S. Government lawyer and a member of the Senior Executive Service of the U.S. Government. As Assistant Legal Adviser for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. State Department during the Clinton Administration, he headed the office responsible for legal matters pertaining to Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Canada. During his tenure at the U.S. State Department, Mr. Di Rosa was awarded a Meritorious Honor Award (for his work on the transfer of the Panama Canal by the U.S. to Panama) and a Superior Honor Award (for his work on the negotiation of a terrorism-related multilateral treaty).

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