Elliot E. Polebaum

Elliot E. Polebaum

  • Retired Partner
  • Washington, DC
  • T:   +1.202.639.7067
  • F:   +1.202.639.7003
Download Vcard
Elliot E. Polebaum established and led Fried Frank's International Arbitration practice group for more than twenty-five years while a partner in the Firm. He now acts as an independent arbitrator in international cases, and is ranked in Band 1 in the category of International Arbitrators by Chambers USA.

His experience as arbitrator includes appointments in both administered and ad hoc cases, including disputes between US and Indian pharmaceutical companies, US and English pharmaceutical companies, Japanese and Korean technology companies, a Japanese power plant contractor and a South American customer, and Singaporean and Dutch companies arising out of contracts for the construction of drilling rigs. He also acted as emergency arbitrator in a dispute among Dutch, German and Japanese parties. He has been appointed as co-arbitrator, chairman or sole arbitrator in more than 70 international arbitrations.

Mr. Polebaum also appeared as counsel before tribunals throughout the world in more than 140 international cases.  These included  representing Total in an ICSID arbitration against the Government of Uganda; a large French company in an ICC arbitration in Geneva against a South American company in a dispute over ownership of an ICSID claim against the government of a country in South America; a large Italian company in an ICDR arbitration in Houston against a US company in the energy sector; an African exploration and production company in an ICC arbitration in London against the Government of Sierra Leone following the cancellation of offshore leases; a European manufacturer of satellites in an ICDR arbitration in New York arising out of a contract for the design and supply of a constellation of satellites to a US based customer; a European aerospace company in an ICC arbitration in New York arising out of an agreement for the supply of airframe components; the international owners of a large industrial project in a Middle Eastern country against an international engineering firm in an UNCITRAL arbitration in London; a French claimant in an UNCITRAL arbitration in Geneva arising out of a joint venture in Turkey with a major Turkish industrial group; a French respondent in an ad hoc arbitration in New York concerning patent disputes relating to avionics equipment; and Turkish claimants in ICC arbitrations in Istanbul, Helsinki and Frankfurt.

He is Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches international arbitration.  He is the author of International Arbitration: Commercial and Investment Treaty Law and Practice (ALM/Law Journal Press 2015, 2016 & 2017 Updates).

Honors & Awards

For his work as arbitrator, Mr. Polebaum is recognized in Band 1 by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers, International Arbitration: Arbitrators (Nationwide) where he is described as "a distinguished international arbitration practitioner with notable experience as both arbitrator and advocate in a wide range of arbitral proceedings."

For his work as counsel, Mr. Polebaum was consistently recognized by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers, International Arbitration (Nationwide), where a client stated “He's clearly got an enormous depth of knowledge and is a real leader in the field,” and by Chambers Global: The World's Leading Lawyers for Business in International Arbitration (USA), where he has been described as “incredibly able and astute,” and “a very talented and excellent counsel.”  Mr. Polebaum was also consistently recognized by Legal 500 in Litigation: International Arbitration, where he has been described as “one of the best international arbitration lawyers” in the market and “an outstanding advocate.” In addition, Mr. Polebaum is recognized as a National Litigation Star in Benchmark Litigation 2018.

Professional Associations

Member, Board of Directors of the New York International Arbitration Center (NYIAC)(2012-2017)
Member, Arbitration Committee of the US National Committee of the ICC
Member, ICC Commission on Arbitration
Member, London Court of International Arbitration
Member, Panel of Arbitrators, International Centre for Dispute Resolution (Member of specialized panels for (i) Aerospace, Aviation and National Security, (ii) Mergers & Acquisitions, and (iii) Joint Ventures)
Member, Panel of Arbitrators, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre
Member, Kuala Lumpur Regional Arbitration Centre
Member, CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution Panel of Distinguished Neutrals
Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators, Co-Chair of International Committee
Member, Institut pour L'Arbitrage International
Member, Law360 International Arbitration Editorial Advisory Board (2016, 2017)


Prior to joining Fried Frank, Mr. Polebaum served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. and United States Circuit Judge James L. Oakes.

Bar Admissions/Licensed Jurisdictions

District of Columbia; New York; Massachusetts


New York University School of Law, JD – 1977
  • cum laude
  • Order of the Coif
Middlebury College, AB – 1972
  • magna cum laude
  • Phi Beta Kappa
Harvard University, MPA – 1975


  • English
  • French
Attorneys Home