Suzanne A. Spears

Adjunct Associate Professor


International Law; International Arbitration; International Human Rights Law; Business and Human Rights Law


International Arbitration


Suzanne A. Spears joined the Notre Dame Law School in London in 2016 as an adjunct professor.  She is also a Partner in the International Arbitration Group at Allen & Overy in London and New York.  Spears is an experienced public international lawyer who specializes in international dispute resolution, Business and Human Rights (“BHR”) and Environment, Social and Governance (“ESG”) issues.

Spears’ international disputes practice focuses on investment treaty arbitration, international commercial arbitration, State-to-State disputes and transnational tort litigation. She has represented clients in international disputes under all the major arbitration rules (including ICC, UNCITRAL, ICSID and PCA) and before the International Court of Justice. She also has advised clients with respect to transnational litigation before United States courts and the courts of England and Wales. She has particular experience with disputes involving Latin America and Africa, the energy and natural resource industries, human rights and the environment.

Spears is recognized globally for her expertise in BHR law and serves as a trusted advisor to clients facing BHR-related regulatory and litigation risks. In her BHR practice, Spears advises clients on dispute prevention and resolution, risk management, compliance and governance. Spears also advises and represents private clients, governments and international organizations on a wide range of other contentious and non-contentious matters arising under public international law.

Spears previously was a partner at specialist public international law firm Volterra Fietta in London and also practiced in the international dispute resolution groups at Wilmer Hale and Debevoise and Plimpton in New York.  She has held positions with international human rights and foreign relations organizations, including the United Nations, the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Spears earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with highest honors from Tufts University, a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a Juris Doctor from Columbia University’s School of Law.  She was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Spain. She is a member of the New York bar and a registered foreign lawyer in the UK.


“The Law of Corporate Social Responsibility” in Corporate Social Responsibility – The Corporate Governance of the 21st Century (R. Lindsay & R. Martella eds.) (forthcoming)

“Protection of Investments in War-Torn States: A Practitioner Perspective on War Clauses in Bilateral Investment Treaties”, with Maria Fogdestam-Agius, in European Yearbook of International Economic Law (EYIEL) (2019)

“Environmental and social issues bring litigation risks home to multinationals” in Corporate Disputes, with Stephanie Hawes, (July – September 2019)

“Empresas y Derechos Humanos en el Litigio” in Retos y desafíos de las empresas y derechos humanos (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana & Grupo Editorial Ibáñez, 2019)

“UK multinationals will face greater scrutiny after the Vedanta decision” in Ethical Corporation (10 May 2019)

“Foreign liabilities can come home to roost”, Petroleum Review (2016)

“Energy Companies Beware!”, Energy, Oil & Gas (2016)

“International Arbitration and India: ‘A Truly Excellent Judgment!’”, with Gary Born, 1 Indian Journal of Arbitration L.1 (2012)

“United States to Resume Bilateral Investment Treaty Negotiations on the Basis of a Revised Model Treaty”, North American Free Trade & Investment Report (2012)

“Making Way for the Public Interest in International Investment Agreements” in Evolution in Investment Treaty Law and Arbitration, pages 271-297 (C. Brown & K. Miles eds.) (2011)

“The Quest for Policy Space in a New Generation of International Investment Agreements”, 13 Journal of International Economic Law 1037 (2010)

“Out of the Conflict Zone: The Case for Community Consent Processes in the Extractive Sector”, with Lisa Laplante, 11 Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal 178 (2008)