Grant Hanessian
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New York
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Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Grant Hanessian is a partner in the New York office of Baker McKenzie, where he chairs the North American international arbitration practice. He acts as counsel and arbitrator in disputes concerning investment, energy, construction, financial services, and many other matters. He is US alternate member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, chairman of the USCIB/ICC-USA arbitration committee, vice chair of the LCIA’s North American user’s council, and member of the ICDR-AAA’s international advisory council.

Why did you decide to specialise in international arbitration?

After graduating from law school, I represented Central American migrant farmworkers and Haitian refugees in Florida and worked on international human rights law matters. Somewhat improbably, given my lack of commercal experience, Baker McKenzie hired me to work on cases at the Iran-US Claims Tribunal in The Hague. I enjoyed working on the submissions and participating in the hearings, and I’ve been working in international arbitration ever since.

How has your practice evolved over the years?

In the last 10 years I’ve represented investors and states in investment treaty cases and sat as an arbitrator, in addition to commercial arbitration advocacy. Lately, I seem to have more cases involving Eastern Europe and the CIS countries, in addition to work from Latin America. I’ve also become more involved in projects with arbitral institutions, including my current service on the ICC International Court of Arbitration.

To what extent has maintaining expertise across a broad range of industry sectors benefited your practice?

Working with people in different industries, and learning new things, keeps life fresh and interesting. In the end, the advocacy is essentially the same regardless of the industry: you look for a compelling story to tell.

What advice would you give to young lawyers starting out in arbitration?

Work hard, make your own luck: seek out opportunities to write and otherwise contribute in the field. I also strongly encourage younger lawyers to look for pro bono oral advocacy opportunities: working on immigration, social service benefits or other such matters gives the younger lawyer a chance to present a case and examine witnesses – and also provides critical representation to people who need it.

What is the most significant challenge currently facing arbitration practitioners?

In policy debates in the US, it is important to clearly distinguish – as the media and politicians often do not – between the quite different imperatives of international commercial arbitrations involving sophisticated parties and domestic arbitrations involving consumers, employees, small investors and others. Globally, ISDS arbitration must become more efficient and predictable.

How does the firm distinguish itself from competition in the market?

Baker McKenzie has more world-class arbitration lawyers in more places than any other firm, particularly in emerging markets. Our arbitration teams share a wonderful culture of technical excellence, local market knowledge and personal friendship – it’s been a great privilege to be part of that.


Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

Grant Hanessian heads Baker McKenzie’s international arbitration practice group in North America. He served as global co-chair of its international arbitration practice group (2009–2015). Mr Hanessian has more than 25 years’ experience as counsel and arbitrator in disputes concerning investment, energy, construction, commodities, financial services, intellectual property and other matters.

Mr Hanessian is alternate US member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration; chairman of the arbitration and ADR committee of the US committee of the ICC and US vice president of the LCIA North American user’s council. He is a member of the ICC commission on arbitration; the ICC task force on financial institutions and international arbitration (co-leader of investment arbitration working group); the AAA-ICDR international advisory committee and its advisory committee on Brazil; the NYSBA task force on international arbitration; the International Arbitration Club of New York; the Spanish Arbitration Club; and the SIAC Users Council. He is also a founding board member of the New York International Arbitration Center.

He is editor of ICDR Awards and Commentaries, Vol I (Juris, 2012) and Vol II (Juris, 2017) and co-editor of International Arbitration Checklists (3rd ed, Juris, 2016), Gulf War Claims Reporter (ILI/Kluwer, 1998) and Baker McKenzie’s International Litigation & Arbitration Newsletter.

Mr Hanessian is recommended by Chambers Global and Chambers USA, described as “very experienced, hugely knowledgeable and effective”, The Legal 500 as “a great practitioner” with a “strong commercial profile” and “powerful advocate for clients”, PLC’s Which Lawyer?, Who’s Who Legal: Commercial Arbitration and Expert Guide to Leading Practitioners in International Arbitration as the “best of the best” in international commercial arbitration.

WWL says: Grant Hanessian is "very well known and well regarded" for being "a superb counsel and arbitrator".

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Arbitration which can be purchased from our Shop.

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