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Cedric C Chao

Cedric C Chao

Chao ADR, PCOne Market StreetSpear Tower, 36th FloorSan FranciscoCaliforniaUSA94105

Global Leader

Arbitration 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"Mr Chao has a unique ability to see the bigger picture and identify the most critical issues at hand"
"He has deep knowledge of arbitration law and extensive experience in the field"
"Cedric is a strong intellect who thinks strategically and ethically"
"Cedric is a polished advocate who excels at providing oral arguments"
"He loves tough arguments and challenging legal issues, and can easily distil complex arguments to find their flaws"


After leading BigLaw teams for years in high stakes and precedent setting cases in U.S. courts and international arbitration tribunals, Mr. Chao in May 2019 launched a boutique enabling him to sit as arbitrator, mediator, and special master, and to handle selected litigation matters.  He was a partner for 29 years at a 1,000 lawyer firm, where he founded and led the international litigation and arbitration practice; and for 6 years, he served as the U.S. head of the international arbitration practice of a 4,200 lawyer firm.  His experience as first chair advocate in five disputes where the amount at issue exceeded $1 billion and in multiple others where the amount was in the hundreds of millions of dollars, his comfort with complex commercial and IP disputes, his familiarity with many industries and fields, and his work with clients and firms across continents, give him a “big picture,” multi-cultural perspective on alternative dispute resolution.

Mr Chao has led teams in arbitration proceedings around the world under the rules of the ICC, ICDR, LCIA, UNCITRAL, AAA and JAMS, and has sat under the rules of the ICC, ICDR, AAA, and SIAC, as presiding, sole, and wing arbitrator.

Mr Chao has appeared in federal trial courts around the U.S. and in the state courts throughout California. He has argued 13 times before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, including to an 11-member en banc panel, once before the U.S. Supreme Court, and five times before the California State Court of Appeal. He has second chaired four additional Ninth Circuit arguments, one Tenth Circuit argument, and one additional U.S. Supreme Court argument.

Mr Chao is listed in Best Lawyers in America for arbitration, mediation, and commercial litigation, and was named by Best Lawyers as the “2018 San Francisco Arbitration Lawyer of the Year” and the “2020 San Francisco Mediation Lawyer of the Year.” Best Lawyers recognizes a single lawyer in each practice and location with a “Lawyer of the Year” award based on peer feedback in the legal community.

In September 2018, Mr Chao was named by California’s legal publication, The Daily Journal, as one of California’s “Top 100 Lawyers.” He received the Daily Journal’s prestigious “2019 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year” award for thought leadership and longstanding efforts to bring international arbitration to California. He is included in Global Arbitration Review’s “International Who’s Who in Commercial Arbitration,” and has been recognized for international arbitration by Chambers. He co-authored the chapter on mediation in Thomson Reuters’ leading treatise Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts (4th ed. 2016).

Mr Chao is a U.S. member of the ICC Arbitration Commission and previously served on the USCIB/ICC Arbitrator Nomination Committee for U.S.-based arbitrations. He served as one of 31 advisors to the American Law Institute project to draft the Restatement of the U.S. Law of International Commercial and Investor-State Arbitration. He serves on the AAA/ICDR Council, and was recently named the co-head of its international advisory committee.

Mr Chao earned his B.A. in economics with Distinction and Departmental Honors from Stanford University, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

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