English  |  Español

Mr. Donovan serves as Co-Chair of Debevoise’s Public International Law Group and for some twenty years also served as Co-Chair of its International Disputes Group. He serves as counsel in international disputes before international courts, international arbitration tribunals, and courts in the United States. He is widely regarded as one of the leading international lawyers, international arbitration practitioners, and international advocates in the world. He is ranked in the top band in Chambers in International Arbitration (Global), International Arbitration (Latin America) and Public International Law (Global), the only person so ranked in each of those categories. He has been described in that and similar publications as “a dominant figure in the international arbitration scene,” “a giant in the field,” “a recognized leader in commercial, investment, and international law cases,” “one of the world’s leading practitioners in both investment treaty and commercial arbitration,” “obviously a brilliant public international law specialist,” attracting “widespread praise for his work as counsel and as arbitrator,” “one of the best advocates that you will ever see,” as a “visionary,” an “absolute star,” an “arbitration superstar,” an “international arbitration maestro,” a “tremendous intellect,” a “truly amazing lawyer,” a “towering figure,” a “brilliant” and “superb” oral advocate, “the model team leader,” with “a great strategic view,” “combative,” “extraordinarily talented,” and “absolutely excellent, truly top of the line.” In 2012, on presenting him its Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession Award, Chambers USA reported that a client summed him up as “a model of what a top international arbitration lawyer ought to be: brilliant, hands on, accessible, client-friendly and extremely hard working.” Chambers Global quoted one interviewee as stating: “I wouldn’t think about going to anyone else with a complex arbitration matter.” Mr. Donovan is also recommended as a “renowned” international arbitration practitioner by The Legal 500 US, which lists him in its Hall of Fame and notes that “his level of knowledge and expertise is unparalleled.” Benchmark Litigation considers him an “icon,” and he is named a Global Elite Thought Leader for Arbitration by Who’s Who Legal, which notes his “impressive capacity for understanding and scoping the conflict.”

Mr. Donovan also regularly sits as arbitrator in international cases, including under the auspices of ICSID, the ICC, and the ICDR, as president, chair, sole arbitrator and co-arbitrator.

Mr. Donovan has served as President of the American Society of International Law (ASIL); as President of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA), the leading global organization of international arbitrators and arbitration practitioners and as Chair of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration (ITA). He serves as a Member of the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Law, a Member of the Advisory Committees of the American Law Institute for the Restatement (Fourth) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States and for the Restatement of the U.S. Law of International Commercial Arbitration and a Member of the Board of Human Rights First and Chair of its Litigation Committee. He teaches International Arbitration and International Investment Law and Arbitration at the New York University School of Law and International Investment Arbitration at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He regularly speaks and writes on international law, international arbitration and international litigation topics.

Mr. Donovan has argued international law, arbitration law, commercial law and other issues before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Third, Fourth, Ninth and District of Columbia Circuits, and other federal and state courts throughout the United States; the International Court of Justice and other international courts and tribunals; and arbitration tribunals sitting around the world, constituted under the auspices of the world’s leading arbitration institutions in a wide range of economic sectors, in disputes arising under both contracts and treaties. His practice includes the representation of states, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and multinational companies.

Mr. Donovan joined Debevoise after serving as law clerk to Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court and as legal assistant to Judge Howard M. Holtzmann of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal. He received his B.A. in 1977 from the University of Virginia and his J.D. in 1981 from Stanford Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served on the Stanford Law Review.


  • Stanford Law School, 1981, J.D.
  • University of Virginia, 1977, B.A.

Bar Admissions

  • New York