After leading BigLaw teams for years in high stakes and precedent setting cases in US courts and international arbitration tribunals, Mr Chao in May 2019 launched a boutique enabling him to sit as arbitrator, mediator, and special master and to advise clients on cross-border disputes. He was a partner for over 25 years at a 1,000 lawyer global firm, where he founded and led the international litigation and arbitration practice; and for 6 years, he served as US head of the international arbitration practice of a 4,200 lawyer global firm. His experience as first chair advocate in five disputes where the amount at issue exceeded $1 billion and in multiple others where the amount was in the hundreds of millions of dollars, his comfort with complex commercial transactions and IP disputes, his familiarity with many industries and fields of practice, and his work with clients and firms across continents, give him a "big picture," multi-cultural perspective on alternative dispute resolution.
Mr Chao has led teams in arbitration proceedings around the world under the rules of the ICC, ICDR, LCIA, UNCITRAL, AAA and JAMS, and has sat under the rules of the ICC, ICDR, AAA and SIAC, as presiding, sole, and wing arbitrator.
Mr Chao has appeared in federal trial courts around the US and in the state courts throughout California. He has argued 13 times before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, including to an 11-member en banc panel, once before the Fifth Circuit, once before the US Supreme Court, and five times before the California State Court of Appeal. He has second chaired four additional Ninth Circuit arguments, one Tenth Circuit argument, and one additional US Supreme Court argument.
Mr Chao is listed in Best Lawyers in America for arbitration, mediation, and commercial litigation, and was named by Best Lawyers as the "2018 San Francisco Arbitration Lawyer of the Year" and the "2020 San Francisco Mediation Lawyer of the Year." Best Lawyers recognizes a single lawyer in each practice and location with a "Lawyer of the Year" award based on peer feedback in the legal community.
In September 2018, Mr Chao was named by California's legal publication, The Daily Journal, as one of California's "Top 100 Lawyers." He received the Daily Journal's prestigious "2019 California Lawyer Attorney of the Year" award for thought leadership and longstanding efforts to bring international arbitration to California. He is included in Global Arbitration Review's "International Who's Who in Commercial Arbitration," and has been recognized for international arbitration by Chambers. He is the co-author of the chapter on mediation in Thomson Reuters' leading treatise Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts (4th ed. 2016).
Mr Chao is a US member of the ICC Arbitration Commission and previously served on the USCIB/ICC Arbitrator Nomination Committee for US disputes. He served as one of 31 advisors to the American Law Institute project to draft the Restatement of the US Law of International Commercial and Investor-State Arbitration. He serves on the AAA/ICDR Council and was recently named the co-head of its international advisory committee.
Mr Chao earned his B.A. degree in economics with Distinction and Departmental Honors from Stanford University, and his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School.