There is arguably no lawyer whose practice is more international than Stephen Anway’s. A native son and current resident of northeast Ohio, Anway has spent more than a decade representing sovereign nations and multinational corporations before international tribunals around the world. His clients currently include the Slovak Republic, Croatia, Estonia and Kosovo (and he’s recently concluded representations for Ecuador, the Czech Republic and the Gabonese Republic). Not clients from these countries, but the countries themselves.
Only 39 years old, Anway is a partner at Squire Patton Boggs and is co-head of investment treaty arbitration at the firm, which is the department in charge of defending countries against claims brought against them under investment treaties.
Anway is widely recognized as one of the leading young international arbitration practitioners in the world receiving various awards annually in recognition for his work in international arbitration. Anway credits his success to his colleagues at Squire Patton Boggs.
“I could not have asked for a more supportive law firm, both in terms of my fellow partners – who have mentored me and given me opportunities throughout my career – and in terms of the global platform that this law firm offers,” Anway says. His path to Squire, however, began with a chance meeting.
Opportunity of a Lifetime
During his first semester of law school in 1999, Anway was invited to attend a holiday party at a law firm of a friend’s father in Cleveland. As the party drew to a close, his friend’s father recommended that the two law students wander over to a holiday party across the street, at the law firm then called, Squire Sanders & Dempsey.
“When we arrived at the check-in table, we had to negotiate our way in because we were crashing the party,” Anway recalls.
While at Squire’s holiday party, Anway met an Ohio State law school alumnus who was currently practicing in Squire’s corporate law department. He took an interest in Anway, requesting that Anway send his resume and first-semester grades when he received them.
After the party, Anway returned to Columbus and started to research law firms, including Squire. He came across an old Akron Beacon Journal article in which Squire and another prominent Cleveland based law firm were featured on the front cover. The two Squire partners pictured on the front page were Fred Nance and George von Mehren. The article was about how Squire was representing the Cleveland Browns in Art Model’s attempt to strip the city of its NFL team. The other law firm represented Art Model.
“As a life-long Browns fan, I knew which firm was right for me,” Anway says.
In the coming months, Squire hired Anway as a summer associate. He describes his first summer with Squire as “transformative because I was exposed to a group of people who were not only among the most skilled lawyers in the country, but just outstanding human beings. I knew that this was the place I wanted to be.”
After his first summer, he accepted an offer to return for a second summer and later accepted a full-time associate position with the firm.
Following his second summer with the firm, Anway returned to Columbus for his third-year of law school. The then-Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, who Anway had met working on a political campaign in the late 1990s, recommended that Anway apply for a two-year judicial clerkship position with the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio, Thomas J. Moyer. At the time, Moyer was the longest-sitting chief justice in the country.
“He was a legend,” Anway says. “He had restored integrity to the Ohio judicial system when he took over the office in the late 1980s and gracefully guided the court through some extremely difficult times during the 1990s.”
The chief justice hired Anway in 2002, causing Anway to defer his employment at Squire until the end of the clerkship. Anway and the chief justice quickly grew close.
“We shared a common judicial philosophy, and he was a great mentor to me,” Anway explains. “Of the hundreds of cases that we discussed during my time at the court, I never saw him once let politics affect his judgment.
“He accomplished what he did through a mild-mannered, relentless pursuit of noble objectives, while always being respectful of others,” Anway continues, explaining the chief justice’s lasting impact. “He disliked the pound-the-table aggressiveness that we see too often in our profession. That had a profound impact on me.”
At the end of his two-year clerkship, the chief justice asked Anway to remain as a permanent clerk. Anway declined, opting to honor his commitment to return to Squire in Cleveland. He and his then-fiancé (now wife), Amanda, moved to Cleveland in 2004, were married and Anway rejoined the firm. Still, Anway stayed in touch with the chief justice in the years that followed, writing law review articles and meeting to catch up periodically.
When Chief Justice Moyer died in 2010, the Supreme Court asked Anway to speak on behalf of all of the chief justices’ law clerks during his more than 20 years in office, together with the other six Supreme Court justices, at his memorial at the Ohio Union.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to honor him in that way,” Anway says.
After the memorial, the Supreme Court sold Anway the blue leather chair from the chief justice’s chambers in which Anway had interviewed in 2002 and in which he sat discussing countless cases with the chief justice during his clerkship. Anway now keeps the chair in his office.
During his last days at the court, Anway received a call from Squire’s hiring chair at the time, Steve Friedman, who Anway now describes as “an invaluable mentor of mine and a great friend.” Friedman had called to ask which practice group at the law firm Anway wished to join. When Anway equivocated, Friedman stated the obvious: “You just finished a clerkship with at the Supreme Court of Ohio; you’re going into litigation!” Thus, Anway began working in the firm’s litigation group.
“There was one partner in particular, Martha Sullivan, who gave me outstanding opportunities at a very young age to argue before the U.S. District Court in one case and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in another. I’m extremely grateful to Martha for those opportunities,” Anway says.
Sullivan and Anway won both cases.
His time in domestic litigation, however, would not last long. The change came abruptly. Anway begins the story by describing one of his favorite partners, Ricky Gurbst, who used to walk the halls to make sure that associates didn’t have too much work on their plates, but not too little either. On one particular day, Gurbst checked in on Anway and Anway recalls saying something that he has never said since.
“I said, ‘I could use a little more work,’” Anway chuckles.
Gurbst promptly marched down the hall and returned with George von Mehren – the partner who appeared on the front of the Akron Beacon Journal article that enticed Anway to join Squire in the first place. At the time, von Mehren was starting the firm’s international dispute resolution (IDR) practice.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Anway says. “George said that he had heard I clerked for Chief Justice Moyer, in front of whom George had his first oral argument and won. Given that pedigree, he said he expected that I could put a ‘few words together.’ I told him I certainly hoped I could.”
Anway proceeded to follow von Mehren down to his office, where there was a partner from the firm’s Madrid office. They had a new international arbitration representing one of Europe’s largest energy companies against an African producer of natural gas. Von Mehren made clear the challenge from the outset.
“He said that the case was worth, literally, billions of dollars and that there was an army of lawyers from one of the largest and most prestigious Wall Street firms on the other side,” Anway explains. Just to make sure Anway knew the gravity of the situation, von Mehren concluded, “You’re my army.”
As von Mehren and the Madrid partner began talking about the case, which involved complex pricing formulas in the aftermath of the deregulation of the European natural gas markets, Anway began to worry.
“It was the most complicated thing I’d ever heard. I mentally told myself that I would go back to my office, study the material over the next week, and hope to come back and ask a few intelligent questions,” Anway says. “At that point, von Mehren looked up to me and said, ‘I’d like a draft by 5 p.m. tonight.’ Without flinching, I looked him right in the eye and with as much false confidence as I could muster, responded, ‘You’ve got it.’ I then went back to my office, closed the door, called my wife, and told her that I probably wouldn’t be working here much longer.”
Around 4:30 p.m., von Mehren saw Anway in the hallway and said that he recently had returned from Europe and was still on “European time,” so he was going to bed early and getting up early.
“He said that as long as I sent it to him by 5 a.m., it would be fine. I sent it at 4:59 a.m. and drove home. I slept for 30 minutes and woke up to an email that said, ‘Looks good. Come back in as soon as possible so we can keep working on it.’ I immediately got dressed and went back in.”
So started Anway’s career in international arbitration.
Von Mehren, Anway and partner Ken Moore went on to win the case for $4 billion. In 2013, The American Lawyer Arbitration Scorecard ranked it as one of the top 20 international commercial arbitration awards in history. More than a decade later, Anway can laugh about how it all started.
“I’m now proud to call George my mentor, colleague and a close friend,” Anway states.
Piling Up Wins
That was just the beginning. In 2008, von Mehren, Anway and two other partners won another $4 billion price review arbitration for a European client against another Wall Street law firm. That decision, too, was ranked among the top 20 international commercial arbitration awards in history.
Additionally, in 2012, von Mehren, Anway, partner Steve Fazio and the same two other partners won a $580 million award for the Italian power company, Edison. Again, the decision was ranked among the top 20 awards in the history of international commercial arbitration. That’s three of the top 20 international commercial arbitration awards in history. No other firm in the world had more than two.
Those wins were international commercial arbitration cases, which constitute only half of Anway’s practice. The other half is investment-treaty arbitration, in which Anway is either suing countries or representing them under investment treaties.
As to this second category of cases, Anway’s investment treaty arbitration success began in 2005, when von Mehren asked him to run a $100 million case for the Czech Republic as a mid-level associate, which involved – with von Mehren’s oversight – leading a team of lawyers to develop the case, briefing it and arguing it at the hearing in Paris.
“I was against a senior partner from one of the world’s largest law firms, who represented a foreign investor from Israel. The international tribunal accepted our arguments, rejected all the investor’s claims and ordered the investor to pay our client’s legal fees,” Anway recalls. “The decision also set new precedent in public international law. It is now one of the most cited cases by international tribunals in the world.”
Then, in 2012, Anway and David Alexander – a Columbus partner who Anway regards as “one of the best true partners this law firm has ever seen and the single best cross-examiner I’ve ever witnessed” – represented the Czech Republic in another $100 million investment treaty arbitration. The international tribunal accepted Anway’s arguments that the acts of a state-owned company were not attributable to the Czech Republic for purposes of public international law, dismissing the investors’ claims.
In 2013, Anway and Rostislav Pekař – who is the same age as Anway and is based in Prague – won a third $100 million case for the Czech Republic and again, received an order for the claimants to pay their client’s legal fees. The two were co-lead counsel and the most senior members of the team.
“It was the youngest team to ever win an investment treaty arbitration,” Anway says. “Rostislav is my counterpart in Europe, speaks five languages and is the most skilled analytical lawyer with whom I’ve ever worked.” Anway’s most recent investment treaty success was for the Slovak Republic.
“While I was giving a speech in Prague for the Czech government in 2011, members of the Slovak Republic were in the audience. We connected at a break and I was hired to represent them in a small matter. That initial engagement led to a much bigger international arbitration concerning whether a foreign investor could interfere with the Slovak government’s attempt to transform its public health insurance system,” Anway explains.
Anway and the Squire team again won. The Global Arbitration Review ranked the decision as one of the most important jurisdictional decisions in the world in 2014.
When describing these cases, Anway is adamant about the “team” nature of the firm wins. Anway describes the careful construction of the teams they create stating that every partner has something unique and important to contribute.
“That often requires putting ego aside and accepting that each partner on the team can do something better than you can. If team members don’t recognize that, they are not on the team very long,” Anway says.
All told, Anway has worked on some 60 international arbitrations and worked in more than 25 countries. Some of them – such as England, France, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – he has visited so many times that he’s “lost count.” He collects a coffee mug from each new country he visits, which he keeps on bookshelves in his office.
Further contributing to the travel is that Anway is now a regular speaker on international arbitration and public international law. Over the past five years, he has given some 40 speeches on international law in cities around the world, including London, Paris, Prague, Portorož, Guayaquil, Lima, New York, Washington, D.C., Miami and Houston. His most recent speech was just last month, when he gave a speech on public international law at Harvard Law School.
Anway is also licensed in New York and Washington, D.C. with an office in both locations. As a result of his presence in these markets, his recognition there has grown. In 2014 and 2015, the International Law Office (ILO) named him the top arbitration lawyer in New York City, based on surveys from clients. And The American Lawyer awarded him the 2015 Arbitration Award at its inaugural Transatlantic Legal Awards dinner in London last June.
“It’s been a busy 10 years,” Anway says. “I have been incredibly fortunate to have had a mentor in von Mehren, who has taught me so much, provided me the opportunities and resources to grow and to have been so personally encouraging.”
Despite how exhausting the work and travel can be, he says it is easily worth it.
“Honestly, I could not find a more interesting and exciting field of law,” Anway says. “The practice literally lets you see the world, to experience different cultures and to learn different legal traditions.”
As his practice continued to grow, Anway began considering whether local law schools may be interested in offering a course on international arbitration.
“I was surprised to see how few law schools teach the subject – not only in Ohio, but around the country. It is regrettable because any lawyer that is involved in advising clients on cross-border transactions should have some familiarity with international arbitration. It is now the primary way that cross-border disputes are resolved and so few people really understand it,” Anway says. “As business becomes more and more global, there will be an increasing need for lawyers to understand the subject matter. Law schools need to adapt.”
Fortunately, Case Western Reserve University School of Law has done so. The law school asked Anway to develop an international arbitration course several years ago. Anway did so and now teaches a 13-week doctrinal course on the subject.
“The class takes an extraordinary amount of time, but is very rewarding,” Anway says. The class meets for two hours every Monday morning for 13 weeks and concludes with a traditional law school essay-style exam. Hosting the class on Monday morning allows him to fly out for the rest of the week to wherever he needs to go. He is now in his third year teaching the course.
Time at Home
Although Anway’s work has him traveling much of the year, he leaves no doubt where he prefers to be most.
“You know, I love traveling and seeing all these beautiful cities, but at the end of the day, I’d much rather go home to my family in Westlake, Ohio,” Anway says.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in what many people regard as the best and most desirable cities in the world,” he continues. “And I can tell you, unequivocally, that there is no place that my family and I would rather be than right here. The quality of life is impossible to beat.”
He and his wife, Amanda, have two children, daughter, Allison, 9, and son, Cole, 8.
“My wife is incredibly supportive, and it would be impossible to do what I do without her,” Anway says.
He has played guitar for over 25 years and enjoys jam sessions with Allison, who plays piano and sings, in his music studio in their basement.
“She’s already a better musician than I am,” he says. Anway also loves spending time with her and Cole working on homework, playing sports and hanging out at the Catawba Island Club on Lake Erie, which, appropriately enough, is where Chief Justice Moyer used to be a member and where a plaque hangs in his honor.