Abby Cohen Smutny | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice

Abby Cohen Smutny

Partner, Washington, DC

“Abby Cohen Smutny stands out for her ‘excellent strategic thinking,’” (The Legal 500 US 2014), and is noted for her “ability to get inside a client’s head – she really understands all aspects of a case.” (Chambers USA 2014)


Abby Cohen Smutny co-heads White & Case's International Arbitration Practice in the Americas and heads the Firm's public international law practice.

Over the years, leading professional directory Chambers has described Abby as "a real star" who is "a major force in treaty arbitrations… smart, practical and... both aggressive and diplomatic." Chambers has also noted that she is "renowned for her 'thorough and technical' preparation, as well as her 'vigorous and energetic' advocacy", stating "you can't go to a better practitioner, especially on cutting-edge cases."

Quoting a client, Global Arbitration Review described her as "a motivational powerhouse" whose "determination and motivation to succeed was a critical factor in our success." The International Who's Who of Commercial Arbitration noted her "virtually unrivalled knowledge of state responsibility and investment treaty protection", while The Legal 500 has described her as a "powerhouse … the best."

Abby's experience includes working with clients in a wide range of industries including banking, financial services, oil & gas, mining, electric power, real estate development, water supply, retail, pharmaceuticals, construction, tobacco, railroads, telecommunications and manufacturing.

She has significant experience managing claims arising out of project financing, privatizations, natural resource concessions, contracts with States and state-entities and political risk insurance.

She represents clients in arbitrations before all major arbitral forums including ICSID, the ICC, the Vienna International Arbitral Centre, the LCIA, the ICDR, and the SCC, as well as in ad hoc arbitrations, such as those under the UNCITRAL Rules. She serves as counsel in cases arising under bilateral investment treaties (BITs), the Energy Charter Treaty, the NAFTA, the DR-CAFTA and the ASEAN treaty.

Bars and Courts

  • New York State Bar
  • District of Columbia Bar
  • US District Court for the District of Columbia


  • JD, University of Chicago Law School
  • Vassar College
  • Certificate, Université des Langues et Lettres de Grenoble
  • London School of Economics and Political Science, General Course


  • English
  • French
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Mining company Gold Reserve Inc. investment treaty arbitration

Representing Gold Reserve Inc. in an ICSID (Additional Facility) arbitration under the Canadian-Venezuelan BIT, relating to one of the largest undeveloped gold/copper deposits in the world, in which Gold Reserve was awarded US$740 million.

European State in an ICC arbitration of a telecommunications dispute

Representing a European State in an arbitration of a dispute relating to the purchase price of a telecommunications company, in which the State was awarded over US$100 million.

Consortium of investors in tariff dispute relating to water concession

Representation of a consortium of investors in an arbitration relating to the economic terms of water concession before the International Arbitral Centre of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, in which our clients were awarded more than US$100 million.

Kingdom of Jordan in oil production sharing agreement dispute

Representing the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in an ICSID arbitration with Trans-Global Petroleum Inc. under the US-Jordan BIT defending against claims of US$1 billion relating to an oil production sharing agreement in which all claims were released in their entirety in a favorable consent award.

Leading bank Ceskoslovenská obchodní banka, a. s. in ICSID arbitration

Representing one of the leading banks in the Czech Republic in an ICSID arbitration of a dispute with the Slovak Republic, in which the bank was awarded US$877 million.

Republic of Bulgaria in ICSID arbitration relating to oil refinery

Representing Republic of Bulgaria in an ICSID arbitration with Plama Consortium Ltd., of a dispute arising under the Energy Charter Treaty and the Cyprus-Bulgaria BIT, involving the operation of an oil refinery. The investor's claims were dismissed in their entirety and our client obtained a sizable cost award.

Romania in ICSID arbitration relating to duty free concessions

Representing Romania in an ICSID arbitration brought by EDF (Services) Ltd. under the UK-Romania BIT, relating to concessions to provide duty free and other retail services at Romanian airports. The investor's claims were dismissed in their entirety, and Romania obtained a sizable cost award.

Republic of the Philippines in airport concession dispute

Representing the Republic of the Philipines in ICSID arbitration with Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide of a dispute arising under the German-Philippines BIT relating to a concession to construct and operate an airport terminal in Manila. The investor's claims were dismissed in their entirety.

US oil company in dispute relating to concession contract and production sharing agreement

Representing a US company in an ICC arbitration of dispute with a North African State and its national oil company relating to concession contract and production sharing agreement.


  • Enforcement of ICSID Convention Arbitral Awards in U.S. Courts, Vol. 43 Pepperdine Law Review 649, 2016, (co-authored with Anne Smith and McCoy Pitt)
  • Practicing Virtue: Inside International Arbitration, Oxford University Press, 2015
  • Compensation Due in the Event of an Unlawful Expropriation: The "Simple Scheme" Presented by Chorzow Factory and its Relevance to Investment Treaty Disputes, Practicing Virtue, Oxford University Press, 2015
  • Arbitral Institutions, International Financial Disputes, Oxford University Press, 2015, (co-authored with Petr Polášek)
  • Investment Treaty Protections, Political Risk, and Tribunal Decision-Making, Contemporary Issues in International Arbitration and Mediation: The Fordham Papers 2013, Brill (2014)
  • Unlawful or Bad Faith Conduct as a Bar to Claims in Investment Arbitration, A Liber Amicorum: Thomas Wälde – Law Beyond Conventional Thought, (Cameron May 2009) (co-author with Petr Polášek).
  • The MFN Clause: What are its Limits, Arbitration under International Investment Agreements: An analysis of the key procedural, jurisdictional and substantive issues, (Oxford University Press 2009) (co-author, with Lee A. Steven)
  • The Use of Experts in Investment Treaty Arbitration, Les Experts:Auxiliaires ou Substituts de Juge? Centre Français de Droit Comparé, 2009, (co-authored with Daniel R. Gilbert)
  • Claims of Shareholders in International Investment Law, International Investment Law, Liber Amicorum Christopher Schreuer, (Oxford University Press 2009)
  • Confidentiality in Relation to States, ICC International Court of Arbitration Bulletin (Special Supplement), (co-authored with Kristen Young)

Awards & Recognition

International Arbitration, Band 2, Chambers Global, 2016

Public International Law, Band 3, Chambers Global, 2016

International Arbitration, Band 1, Chambers USA, 2015

Euromoney Experts Guide to the World's Leading Experts in International Commercial Arbitration, 2016

International Arbitration Leading Lawyer, The Legal 500 USA, 2016

The Best Lawyers in America, 2016

Benchmark Litigation: Top 250 Women in Litigation, 2016

Who's Who Legal: Arbitration, Global Arbitration Review, 2016

Euromoney's Expert Guide to the Leading US Lawyers – Best of the Best USA, 2015; Commercial Arbitration, 2015; Women in Business Law, 2015