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  New York City Bar

International Commercial Arbitration Practice

Lucy Reed is a partner and co-head of the global international arbitration group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP focusing on international commercial arbitration. Ms. Reed’s responsibilities include representing companies and governmental entities who have agreed to have their disputes resolved through binding arbitration rather than one of the party’s national courts. These cases are arbitrated under, for example, the International Chamber of Commerce or London Court of Arbitration Rules. She also specializes in investment treaty arbitrations in which a foreign investor is allowed by a relevant treaty to bring a binding arbitration relating to an investment directly against the host State.

Ms. Reed is the sole attorney nationwide to be named a “star individual” international arbitration practitioner by Chambers USA (2010), and is one of 12 Leading Lawyers in international arbitration in Legal 500 United States (2010).

How did you decide to pursue a career in international arbitration?

I first became exposed to international law during my clerkship for a trial judge in D.C. following law school. The judge for whom I clerked had numerous cases involving international disputes including the trial of the first defendants accused of an assassination ordered by Augusto Pinochet. Following that clerkship, I joined the D.C. law firm of Wald, Harkrader & Ross (now closed) which had dozens of corporate clients with claims against the Islamic Republic to be brought before the new Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal set up in The Hague after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. As a young lawyer, I was thus immersed in international arbitrations involving contract and expropriation claims which I thoroughly enjoyed. This set me on a career path in international arbitration.

What aspects of your practice make it interesting and rewarding to you?

I enjoy that every case involves different people, sectors, legal issues, and experts. So, in this field, I appreciate that I am never bored. I also really like working with my colleagues in the international arbitration group at Freshfields who are truly the best in the world.


Did you have mentors who helped you define and shape your career and its direction? How did you form these relationships?

I can’t say that I have had one mentor who stands out but I can think of several attorneys who have influenced my career. I definitely credit several partners in the first law firm in which I worked for teaching me how to write and deconstruct/reconstruct cases as an advocate. A co-counsel with whom I worked in D.C. also taught me that you should always diagram the path to winning a litigation on one piece of paper. This piece of advice was extremely helpful because it shows the importance of advocacy discipline and making it easy for the judge to understand your argument. Counsel often tend to get so immersed in the details of a case and then miss the big picture.

What does it take to become successful in your practice area?

Curiosity including cultural awareness, enjoying the variety instead of looking for patterns to follow, discipline, clear analytical thinking and writing, endurance through time zones, and a desire to win.

What is your advice to attorneys who are interesting in practicing international arbitration?

Attorneys should first focus on learning the basic litigation skills and “write, write, write.” I think that written advocacy is the most important skill for an attorney focused on international arbitration to possess. It is also helpful for attorneys to find a way to become immersed in a specialized area of arbitration to distinguish themselves in the field.

Could you recommend any reading materials about your practice areas?

I recommend reading the basic treatises and blogs including which is a great platform for young practitioners.

How do you make time for a work-life balance given your demanding career?

My family has always come first despite my work demands. I have managed to miss only one birthday in 39 child-years. Balancing work life, however, has not always been easy (although it has become easier now that my children are grown). When my son and daughter would complain about my work, I always told them I work because I enjoy working and I’m really good at my work. I would also tell them I loved them more of course. I have made it a point never to say that I regretted work, because my mother so often regretted not working. Having said all of this, I was lucky not to have children with special needs or major work-family conflicts.

Interview conducted by Dana Post, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP and Member of the Career Advancement and Management Committee, April 2012.