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The three Houston lawyers on our cover are not the buttoned-up Europeans that one would expect to dominate a survey of international arbitration. Mark Baker of Fulbright & Jaworski is notorious for having shown up to a last-minute hearing dressed in official Boy Scouts of America shorts. A similar sartorial preference earned King & Spalding Houston partner Doak Bishop the nickname Daisy Doak — in homage to Daisy Duke on the TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard” — for his habit of wearing cutoff blue jeans while working weekends in the office. Michael Goldberg’s taste in trousers is more conventional, but the Baker Botts partner enjoys quoting a journalist who called him a “pit bull with cast-iron cojones.”

And yet, when the time came to photograph these Texans, Bishop joked, “It would probably be easier to get the three of us together in London.” Our third biennial survey of international arbitration reveals why. One of the most marked recent trends is a surge in energy disputes, with the oil, gas and utility sectors accounting for more than a third of this year’s survey. Another is a surge in Latin American cases, which now represent 34 percent of the survey, including 48 percent of treaty-based disputes between states and foreign investors. As a result, these Houston arbitration stars find themselves on airplanes weekly, not only to Latin America, but also to Washington, D.C., the new hub of treaty arbitration, and to Europe, where the purely commercial contract-based arbitrations still tend to be heard. Meanwhile, the practices of these Houston lawyers have shot up the Arbitration Scorecard charts. King & Spalding dominates the list of treaty arbitrations (18 appearances as counsel), while Baker Botts and Fulbright have pulled into the top five law firms for contract disputes (boasting eight entries apiece). Thanks to its energy roots and southern exposure, Houston has become more than a dot on the arbitration map.

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