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Luis Fortuño and Juliya Arbisman

Latin America-wide   

Reed Smith hires Luis Fortuño and Juliya Arbisman from Steptoe & Johnson  

The new partners will boost the Latin American practice, Government Solutions, International Arbitration, Mining and Energy.

February 8, 2024

Global law firm Reed Smith has announced the arrival of Luis Fortuño and Juliya Arbisman as partners to its D.C and New York offices respectively, both joining from Steptoe & Johnson LLP.

The duo brings considerable experience in complex international dispute resolution and transactions, as well as regulatory, governmental and policy counseling on behalf of investors and countries. Both join the firm from Steptoe.

Fortuño, the former governor of Puerto Rico and member of the U.S. Congress, provides seasoned advice to clients navigating federal regulatory and public policy issues, as well as cross-border transactions and disputes, especially those with a Latin American or Caribbean nexus.

Arbisman focuses on international law disputes including international arbitration, especially matters with a reputational or "bet-the-company" or "bet-the-country" dimension. Many of her matters concern the mining and metals industry, in which she holds advanced degrees, advises boards and stakeholders, and she sits as an arbitrator on related matters.

Fortuño is a partner in the firm’s regulatory and investigations practice in Washington, D.C., and will collaborate with the firm’s LatAm team in Miami and Houston. Arbisman, who is also UK-qualified, is a New York-based partner in the firm’s Global Commercial Disputes Group and a member of the international arbitration and energy and natural resources groups.

"We are delighted Juliya and Luis have joined us. Government solutions and international arbitration are priority areas for the firm and this team also brings substantial and unique experience in mining," said Casey Ryan, Reed Smith’s global managing partner. "They will provide our clients with deep knowledge and commercial perspectives from their respective practice areas."

Casey Laffey, co-chair of Reed Smith’s Global Commercial Disputes Group, said: "Juliya has a reputation as a strategic thinker with a material practice in international law cases of many angles, spanning a wide number of complex jurisdictions."

Peter Rosher, chair of Reed Smith’s International Arbitration Group, added: "Juliya has an impressive track record in resolving high-value and high-stakes arbitrations, both investor-state and commercial. Given the prominence of the mining industry in international arbitration, her credentials in this area are a substantial offering for clients who need to get these matters right."

"Luis is an accomplished practitioner with an incredibly broad and multi-dimensional perspective on business and government," said Mike Lowell, chair of Reed Smith’s Regulatory and Investigations Practice. "He will be a considerable resource to us as we pivot our U.S. government affairs capabilities to support clients at the federal level and internationally."

Fortuño, who works in English and Spanish, is a trusted adviser to corporate and family offices in Spain and Latin America/Caribbean, having sat on several boards of Spanish public companies throughout his career. He is regularly called upon to manage clients’ business matters, including transactions, regulatory and political issues, and disputes. He also advises foreign governments on public policy and investment issues, including in investment arbitrations.

"I am keen for a new chapter of professional engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean," Fortuño said. "Reed Smith’s platform and the firm’s commitment to growing the government affairs capabilities will best enable me to leverage my experience from public office and practice in these geographies." Before joining Steptoe as leader of the corporate practice, Fortuño served as Puerto Rico’s governor (2009-2013) and the territory’s sole representative in the U.S. House of Representatives (2005-2009).

Under his leadership as governor, Fortuño’s signature Public-Private Partnership law paved way for two of the largest infrastructure investments in the U.S.: Puerto Rico’s highway system and the island’s main international airport. He also ushered in considerable investments in energy projects, ferry services and critical infrastructure.

While serving in the House, Fortuño was vice-chair and chair of the Congressional Hispanic Conference. He also co-founded the Congressional Friends of Spain Caucus, for which he was conferred a Royal order. He was also a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure, International Relations, Natural Resources, and Education and Workforce committees.

A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Fortuño served as secretary of economic development for Puerto Rico, president of Puerto Rico’s Hotel Development Corporation, and executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. He was also a partner at Correa, Collazo, Herrero, Jiménez & Fortuño, from 1999 to 2004; and an associate and partner at McConnell Valdés from 1985 to 1992.

Fortuño is a member of an elite group of current and former heads of state from Latin American, the Caribbean and Spain. "Grupo Libertad y Democracia" promotes freedom, human rights and sustainable economic development in the region. In 2013, Fortuño founded the nonprofit Center for Economic Renewal, Growth and Excellence to foster self-reliance, growth, and economic prosperity" in Puerto Rico. He continues to serve as chairman of the organization’s board of directors and remains active in its operation.

Arbisman has handled more than 50 commercial and treaty arbitrations and legal cases of an international character, both for investors and governments, particularly in emerging markets and across Africa. Throughout her career, she has handled representations in Madagascar, Mauritius, Libya, Sudan, Morocco, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, DRC, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mauritania, Ghana and Guinea.

Licensed as an advocate (civil and criminal) in the UK, Arbisman has served as lead counsel in institutional and ad hoc arbitrations under the rules of ICSID, LCIA, ICC, ICDR, SCC, AAA, SIAC, Swiss Chamber, PCA and UNCITRAL, as well as in connection with arbitration-related injunctions, set-aside claims, and arbitration judgement enforcement proceedings.

Arbisman has notable experience in the mining sector, advising and representing mining multinationals on a panoply of business issues they face, including investment structuring, joint ventures and shareholder issues, directors’ duties, tax and customs, business & human rights, community affairs and supply chain issues, disclosure and data protection compliance, and regulatory investigations as arising from the mining supply chain. More recently, she has counselled private and public stakeholders on navigating the green energy transition landscape as regards to critical minerals. She is a frequent speaker at mining conferences, publishes on sector insights and serves on the board of a London-based mining advisory firm.

Arbisman also sits as an arbitrator, as a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CiArb).
She is also frequently engaged on strategic mandates arising from Commonwealth jurisdictions in the Caribbean and Africa,and has appeared on claims at the UK Privy Council as arising from the Commonwealth. She has appeared in many proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights on cases concerning the protection of the right to life and property, and fair trials.
"Reed Smith has a robust and collegial international arbitration group, in all major geographical footholds," Arbisman said. "With Luis also joining, we hope to extend and deepen this reach into other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. I am equally excited by the firm’s ambitious plans for growth in sectors to which I can most contribute."


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