Nicola Swan (née Leslie) is a member of the firm’s International Dispute Resolution and Business and Human Rights Groups. Her practice focuses on international commercial arbitration and litigation, investor-state disputes, public international law and climate risk.

Ms. Swan advises businesses, states, international organisations, and individuals under a range of arbitral institutional rules across multiple jurisdictions. She is recognized as a Future Leader by Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration for 2019 and in GAR 30 (2019), clients describe her as “extremely client-friendly and organised.” She also has particular experience in constitutional litigation, the intersection between business and human rights, and disputes engaging both public international law and national courts. She advises clients across a broad range of industries, including in the energy, oil & gas, extractive, private equity and telecommunications sectors.

Ms. Swan joined Debevoise after acting as legal advisor for the New Zealand Government on public international law and constitutional law issues at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade. She has represented the New Zealand Government before the United Nations at various international negotiations including the UNFCCC climate change negotiations. Prior to her work in foreign affairs, she was a senior solicitor in the litigation and arbitration team of a major corporate law firm in New Zealand, where she appeared as advocate in various proceedings.

Ms. Swan has an active pro bono practice, and her pro bono work on the decriminalization of homosexuality was recently recognized by the 2017 Solicitors Journal Awards. She assisted Lord Goldsmith QC in representing British Caribbean Bank Ltd. against the Government of Belize before the Caribbean Court of Justice in a decision recognised by the Global Arbitration Review as the Most Important Published Decision of 2013.

Ms. Swan is a founding board member of the Young Public International Law Group based in London. She is a member of the ICC’s Task Force on Climate Change Related Disputes and the ICC’s Task Force on Maximising the Probative Value of Witness Evidence, and Rapporteur to the IBA’s Working Group on a Model Statute for Climate Change Remedies. She served on the Programme Committee for the American Society of International Law 2015 Annual General Meeting and as Secretary to the International Bar Association’s Taskforce on Climate Change Justice and Human Rights in 2012–2014.

Ms. Swan was awarded an Yvonne Smith scholarship to complete masters study at the University of Oxford in 2012 (BCL, Distinction), where she held the Winter Williams Prize in International Economic Law. She graduated from the University of Otago (New Zealand) in 2006 with a joint Bachelor of Law (Hons, First Class) and Arts (Psychology).

Ms. Swan was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 2007, and as a solicitor in England & Wales in 2015.

Ms. Swan's recent publications include “Climate-Related Financial Risk: Spotlight On Reporting,” Practical Law (May, 2018); “Waking Up To Climate Change: Day-To-Day Considerations,” The Drawdown (November, 2017); “Climate Change and Dispute Resolution,” International Bar Association Dispute Resolution International (October, 2017); “Case update: Final Award rendered in Murphy v Ecuador,” International Bar Association Oil and Gas Law News (June, 2017); “IBA takes leading role in increasing awareness of climate change justice,” Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law (January, 2016); “Organisations Carrying on Business in the United Kingdom Must Now Publish Annual “Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement”,” Debevoise & Plimpton LLP Client Update (September, 2015); and “The future of investor-state dispute settlement in the energy sector: engaging with climate change, human rights and the rule of law,” The Journal of World Energy Law & Business (March, 2015).


  • University of Oxford, 2012, BCL (distinction)
  • University of Otago, 2006, B.A.
  • University of Otago, 2006, LL.B. (Hons, first class)

Bar Admissions

  • High Court of New Zealand
  • Solicitor, England & Wales