Melissa StearGorsline


Washington + 1.202.879.5421

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.


  • Alhambra Resources obtains arbitration award against Republic of KazakhstanJones Day represented Alhambra Resources Ltd., a Canadian mining company in an arbitration against Kazakhstan under the auspices of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
  • World Wide Minerals obtains arbitration award in excess of $50 million against the Republic of KazakhstanJones Day obtained an arbitration award on behalf of World Wide Minerals Ltd. ("WWM"), a Toronto-based mining company, and Mr. Paul A. Carroll, QC, WWM's President and CEO, which held that the Republic of Kazakhstan breached international law and the Canada-U.S.S.R. Bilateral Investment Treaty ("BIT") over 20 years ago.
  • Windoor arbitrates ICSID claim against KazakhstanJones Day is representing Estonian construction company AS Windoor in ICSID arbitration proceedings against the Republic of Kazakhstan.
  • U.S. construction company arbitrates dispute with Panama for violation of applicable treaties between U.S. and PanamaJones Day is representing a U.S. construction company in an international arbitration conducted under the Rules of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes against the Republic of Panama.
  • Canadian mining company initiates UNCITRAL arbitration against KazakhstanJones Day represents a Canadian mining company in an UNCITRAL arbitration against the Republic of Kazakhstan.
  • Federal Elektrik Yatirim ve Ticaret arbitrates issues against Uzbekistan under Energy Charter TreatyJones Day represents Federal Elektrik Yatirim ve Ticaret A.S. and three other claimants in an ICSID arbitration against Uzbekistan seeking millions of dollars of compensation under the Energy Charter Treaty and the Turkey-Uzbekistan bilateral investment treaty.
  • Saudi corporations and individuals prevail in Second Circuit in multi-district tort litigation relating to September 11, 2001 attacksJones Day successfully represented eight Saudi corporations and individuals in multi-district litigation relating to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
  • Kazakh investors initiate ICSID arbitration against UzbekistanJones Day represents Vladislav Kim and 11 other citizens of Kazakhstan in an ICSID arbitration against the Republic of Uzbekistan instituted pursuant to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments.
  • HydroDive Nigeria Ltd. successfully obtains evidence under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 in aid of its pending Nigerian litigation and ongoing administrative proceedingsJones Day client HydroDive Nigeria Ltd. is involved in contentious litigation in the Nigerian High Court over an alleged incident of business defamation.
  • Jones Day secures guardianship in highly contested caseJones Day represented an aunt and uncle in seeking guardianship of their three young nieces. 
  • Harman International Industries obtains plaintiff's voluntary discontinuance of shareholder class actionJones Day represented Harman International Industries, Incorporated and certain of its officers and directors in this class action lawsuit that was filed on May 8, 2007 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco summary judgment in Tennessee price discrimination case by cigarette wholesalers is affirmed by Sixth CircuitJones Day successfully defended R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) in response to Robinson-Patman claims filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee by more than 20 cigarette wholesalers.
  • Speaking Engagements

    • May 13, 2021
      International Arbitration in 2020: Lessons to Take Into 2021 and Beyond
    • May 5, 2021
      ABA International Arbitration Skills Masterclass, Plenary Presentation on Cross-Examining and Redirecting Fact Witnesses & Faculty
    • 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