Melissa Stear Gorsline was counsel in some of the earliest and most cutting-edge investor-State arbitrations in International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) history, with a focus on public international law and treaty-based arbitration. Melissa played an integral role in some of the first international investment arbitrations brought pursuant to Chapter Eleven of NAFTA in the late 1990s. Since then she has handled numerous additional treaty-based investment arbitrations, including those setting important legal precedents on the rules of treaty succession and the scope of the "illegality" or "corruption" objection to jurisdiction. She has significant experience representing corporate clients in claims for denial of justice, denial of fair and equitable treatment, nationalistic discrimination, expropriation, and umbrella clause (contract) violations, as well as in defending all manner of jurisdictional objections and merits defenses.
Likewise, Melissa has a wide variety of experience in complex international commercial litigation and arbitration, generally arising from an alleged breach of contract. She has experience arbitrating such matters pursuant to various arbitration rules and in litigating them in U.S. federal and state courts. Melissa has significant experience in Section 1782 discovery and other U.S. litigation related to foreign or international proceedings. She also has significant experience representing corporate clients in RICO and other quasi-criminal matters, on both the plaintiff and the defense side.
Melissa is the current vice chair (and past chair) of the Virginia State Bar International Practice Section's Board of Governors and an adjunct professor of International Arbitration at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law.
Recent Decision on Sovereign Immunity Highlights Need for Advance Planning When Transacting With Foreign Sovereign Entities
Protecting Foreign Investments in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Southern African Development Community and its Protocol on Finance and Investment
- April 3, 2018
2018 CIArb Conference: Arbitrating Disputes with Foreign Sovereigns and Sovereign-Owned Entities
- June 21, 2017
VA CLE Annual International Practice Seminar 2017: What Should International Practitioners Expect from the Trump Administration?
- June 8, 2017
The Global Pound Conference Series, Mid-Atlantic 2017, "Access to Justice and Dispute Resolution Systems: What Do Parties/Users Need and Expect?"
- October 22, 2015
"NAFTA at 21," American Bar Association Section of International Law Fall Meeting 2015
- May 6, 2015
Modern International Dispute Resolution
- April 22, 2015
2015 Speakers Series: Commercial, Political, and Regulatory Risks: Bringing the Rule of Law to Your Foreign Investments
- March 5, 2015
Investing in Africa: Preparing and Protecting Foreign Investment Through Local and International Mechanisms
- February 25, 2015
Executive Roundtable Series - Commercial, Political, and Regulatory Risks: Bringing the Rule of Law to Your Foreign Investments
- May 30, 2013
Tools for Success in International Sales Intermediary Contracts and Dispute Resolution
- February 23, 2012
Executive Roundtable Series: International Litigation and Arbitration: Offensive and Defensive Trends for Corporate Counsel
- The George Washington University (J.D. with highest honors 1998); Duke University (B.A. cum laude 1995)
- Virginia, District of Columbia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia, Eastern District of Virginia, and Eastern District of Michigan
- Member of an arbitration team recognized by Global Arbitration Review as one of the leading international arbitration law firms in the 2020 edition of the GAR 30
- Law Clerk to Judge Michael W. Farrell, District of Columbia Court of Appeals (1998-1999)