Nicola Swan (née Leslie) is an associate in the International Dispute Resolution Group in the firm’s London office. Ms. Swan joined Debevoise in 2012 following her role as a legal advisor for the New Zealand Government on public international law and constitutional law issues at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade.

Ms. Swan’s practice focuses on international dispute resolution, particularly international arbitration, investor-state disputes, public international law, human rights law, and commercial litigation and arbitration. Ms. Swan has experience in international treaty negotiation, and advises states, international organisations, companies and individuals on bilateral investment treaty disputes, constitutional litigation, business and human rights issues, and disputes engaging both public international law and national courts. Her experience is particularly in the oil & gas, energy, private equity and telecommunications sectors.

Ms. Swan has represented the New Zealand Government before the United Nations at the international negotiations on climate change (UNFCCC), as well as at Antarctic Treaty and international fisheries negotiations. Ms. Swan has specific experience in the law of the sea, multilateral environmental agreements and the law of treaties.

Prior to her work in foreign affairs, Ms. Swan was a senior solicitor in the litigation and arbitration team of a major corporate law firm in New Zealand. Ms. Swan has appeared as advocate in the High Court and Court of Appeal of New Zealand in oil and gas, banking and insurance litigation matters and in multiple energy arbitration proceedings.

Ms. Swan is a member of Debevoise’s International Dispute Resolution Group as well as Debevoise’s Business & Human Rights Practice Group. Ms. Swan’s pro bono work on the decriminalization of homosexuality was recently recognized by the 2017 Solicitors Journal Awards.

Ms. Swan 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's recent publications include “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); “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); “EU Issues Injunction to Obstruct Payment of ICSID Award,” Arbitration Quarterly, Issue 6 (January, 2015); “Human Rights Reporting: Tip of the Iceberg,” PLC Magazine (December, 2014); “Impending Energy Investor Disputes: 10 Steps in Strategic Thinking,” International Energy Law Review (2014, Issue 3) and Environmental Law Monthly (October, 2014); “Business Wary of Impact of Ukrainian Sanctions,” Debevoise & Plimpton LLP Client Update (September, 2014); “What The NY Convention Means For Myanmar,” International Financial Law Review (April, 2013) and “Energy And Investment Security: Protection Under International Law,” International Energy Law Review (2013, Issue 4).

Ms. Swan is a founding board member of the Young Public International Law Group based in London. Ms. Swan is a member of 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. Ms. Swan is a member of the LCIA’s Young International Arbitration Group.

Ms. Swan was awarded an Yvonne Smith scholarship to complete a Masters study at the University of Oxford in 2012 (BCL, Distinction), where she held the Winter Williams Prize in International Economic Law. Ms. Swan 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.


  • 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