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

Abby Cohen Smutny

Partner, Washington, DC

The “brilliant” (Legal 500 2017) Abby Cohen Smutny has an “outstanding reputation” and a “very practical approach to cases” (Chambers USA 2017). She “particularly stands out for her international public law expertise” (Chambers Global 2017) and her “excellent advocacy skills and reliable judgment on the strategic issues” (Chambers Public International Law 2017).


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

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 observed 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."

Global Arbitration Review has quoted clients who describe 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."

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


  • English
  • French
Download Full Bio


Mining company Gabriel Resources Ltd. Investment treaty arbitration

Representing Gabriel Resources Ltd. In an ICSID arbitration of investment treaty claims against Romania relating to one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world.

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 Vienna International Arbitral Centre (VIAC), 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 two Energy Charter Treaty ICSID arbitrations relating to distribution and supply of electric power

Representing Republic of Bulgaria in two ICSID arbitrations arising under the Energy Charter Treaty and bilateral investment treaties regarding disputes in the generation, distribution, and supply of electric power.

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 three ICSID arbitrations relating to the privatization of a steel mill, airport duty free concessions, and the privatization of chemical facilities

Representing Romania in an ICSID arbitrations brought by Nobel Ventures, EDF (Services) Ltd., and S&T Oil under various BITs, relating to concessions and privatization agreements. In the first two cases the investor's claims were dismissed in their entirety, and in the third case the investor abandoned its claims prior to the hearing.

Republic of the Philippines in airport concession dispute

Representing the Republic of the Philippines in two ICSID arbitrations 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 in both cases.

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, 2017

Public International Law, Band 2, Chambers Global, 2017

International Arbitration, Band 1, Chambers USA, 2017

Euromoney Experts Guide to the World's Leading Experts in International Commercial Arbitration, 2017

International Arbitration Leading Lawyer "Hall of Fame", The Legal 500 USA, 2017

The Best Lawyers in America, "Lawyer of the Year" for International Arbitration, 2018

Benchmark Litigation: Top 250 Women in Litigation, 2017

Who's Who Legal: Arbitration, Global Arbitration Review, 2018

Euromoney's Expert Guide to the Leading US Lawyers – Best of the Best USA, 2017; Commercial Arbitration, 2017; Women in Business Law, 2017