People

David W. Bowker

Partner

Bowker, David W.

David W. Bowker chairs the firm's International Litigation group and has a wealth of commercial litigation and arbitration experience, representing US and foreign companies, multi-nationals, foreign states and nonprofit organizations before international arbitration tribunals, state and federal trial courts, courts of appeal and the US Supreme Court. He is an active member of the International Arbitration, Business Trial, and Government and Regulatory Litigation Groups.  

Mr. Bowker recently argued and won a landmark First Amendment case in the US Supreme Court on behalf of dozens of public health organizations fighting HIV/AIDS overseas. In other ongoing matters, he represents a Fortune 100 company in an unlawful expropriation case against Cuba; a US public company in US litigation against Venezuela and PDVSA for an unlawful expropriation; a US public company in international commercial arbitration and parallel foreign litigation against a foreign distributor in a licensing and distribution dispute; privately held foreign companies in multiple US litigations against judgment creditors seeking to attach frozen assets in the United States; and a foreign agency in US litigation against Iraq.  

Mr. Bowker is an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law School, where he teaches Advanced International Commercial Arbitration. Before joining the firm, Mr. Bowker was an attorney-adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the US Department of State and a graduate intern on the National Security Council staff. He recently completed a three-year term on the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law, currently sits on the Board of Governors of the Washington Foreign Law Society, and is also a member of the American Law Institute.  

Past Experience

Before joining the firm, Mr. Bowker worked as an attorney-adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the US Department of State, where he advised the Legal Adviser and other senior officials regarding the law of war in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, defended the Department in administrative tribunals and US courts, and advised the Director General of the Foreign Service on ethics, privacy, medical issues and personnel-related matters.

Mr. Bowker also served as a graduate intern on the staff of the National Security Council, where he focused on counter-terrorism, peacekeeping operations and counter-international organized crime.

Honors & Awards

  • US Department of State Superior Honor Award (counsel, war on terrorism)
  • US Department of State Superior Honor Award (counsel, multilateral negotiations)
  • US Department of State Meritorious Honor Award (department-wide ethics counsel)
  • InterAction’s Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award (April 2014)

Publications & News

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September 27, 2015

Native American Tribes Settle Lawsuit Against US Government Agencies

A federal judge in Oklahoma has approved a $186 million settlement of litigation between the United States and two Native America tribes, the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations.

June 12, 2014

David Bowker Honored With InterAction’s Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award

InterAction, an alliance organization in Washington DC of nongovernmental organizations, has honored Partner David Bowker with its Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award, meant to celebrate outstanding and distinguished leaders who have been critical partners of the community to advance human dignity and well-being.

February 3, 2014

Partner David W. Bowker Elected to American Law Institute

WilmerHale Partner David W. Bowker, a member of the Litigation/Controversy Department, was recently elected as a member of the American Law Institute (ALI).

January 30, 2014

Law360 Selects WilmerHale as “Appellate Practice Group of the Year” for Third Consecutive Year

WilmerHale’s Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice was named by Law360 as “Appellate Practice Group of the Year” for 2013.

July 24, 2013

WilmerHale Partner David Bowker Recognized for Supreme Court Victory

WilmerHale Partner David Bowker was highlighted in a Legal Bisnow article for his victory in USAID v. Alliance for Open Society, a significant First Amendment case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States on June 20, 2013.

June 27, 2013

More Breathing Room For Leadership Act Fund Recipients

An article by David W. Bowker and Catherine Carroll published by Law360 on June 26, 2013

June 20, 2013

WilmerHale Secures Historic Supreme Court Win in USAID v. AOSI

WilmerHale secured a victory for clients Alliance for Open Society International, Inc., Pathfinder International, InterAction, and Global Health Council (collectively, "respondents") in a significant First Amendment case decided today by the Supreme Court of the United States.

February 17, 2010

American Aid Worker Freed in Haiti

April 3, 2008

Supreme Court Rejects Expanded Judicial Review of Arbitral Awards in Hall Street v. Mattel

April 1, 2006

Investment Treaty Arbitration: ICSID Amends Investor-State Arbitration Rules

Client Alert co-authored by Gary Born, Steven P. Finizio, David W. Ogden, Ethan G. Shenkman, Rachel D. Kent, John V.H. Pierce, David Bowker, Matthew Draper, Richard A. Johnston

Recent Highlights

International Litigation and Arbitration Involving Parallel Proceedings in Multiple Jurisdictions
  • The ongoing representation of a US oil and gas drilling company in US and Venezuelan litigations against the Republic of Venezuela and the Venezuelan national oil company for takings in violation of international law and breaches of contract under the expropriation and commercial activities exceptions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
  • The ongoing representation of a US apparel company in an international commercial arbitration seated in the United States and a German litigation against a German distribution company for breaches of licensing and distribution contracts under US law and related counterclaims under German law.  
  • The successful representation of a leading European telecommunications company in a massive multi-forum dispute involving numerous international litigations and arbitrations, including the largest ICC arbitration in history, over the break-up of a major joint venture.
International Litigation in US Courts
  • The ongoing representation of foreign individuals and companies in multiple US federal court litigations against judgment creditors of foreign terrorist organizations seeking to attach assets located in the United States.  
  • The successful representation of a coalition of non-governmental organizations in a landmark US Supreme Court case upholding the free speech rights of non-governmental organizations engaged in US government-funded programs to fight HIV/AIDS in dozens of countries around the world. See Agency for Int’l Development et al. v. Open Society Int’l, Inc., et al., 570 U.S. __, 133 S. Ct. 2321 (2013).  
  • The successful representation of a major US art museum in a groundbreaking case in New York federal court applying the act of state doctrine to uphold the dismissal of a claim to a Cezanne painting that was nationalized by the Soviet Government shortly after the 1918 Revolution, later sold to a US collector, and donated to the museum. See Konowaloff v. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 702 F.3d 140 (2d Cir. 2012). 
  • The successful representation of German companies and an association of German industry in multiple US litigations involving World War II-era claims brought in violation of international treaties and an executive agreement among the United States, the Federal Republic of Germany, and other sovereigns.
  • The successful representation of the Federal Republic of Germany as amicus curiae in landmark US Supreme Court case striking down a California insurance statute offensive to US-German relations and treaties, and in violation of the President’s Foreign Affairs powers under Article II of the US Constitution.
  • The successful representation of a foreign national and Royal Family member in US federal court litigation arising out of the 9/11 attacks, with our clients obtaining dismissals of all claims against them on jurisdictional and related grounds.
International Sovereign Immunity Litigation and Counseling
  • The ongoing representation of a US oil and gas drilling company in US and Venezuelan litigations against the Republic of Venezuela and the Venezuelan national oil company for takings in violation of international law and breaches of contract under the expropriation and commercial activities exceptions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
  • The ongoing representation of a US public company against the Republic of Cuba for takings in violation of international law. 
  • The representation of an agency or instrumentality of a foreign sovereign in US litigation against the Republic of Iraq in a dispute over ownership of natural resources; strategic counseling and advice on related political issues and ownership disputes.
  • Strategic counseling and advice to a range of financial institutions, hedge funds, energy companies, and multinationals regarding active or potential international disputes with foreign sovereigns, sovereign agencies or instrumentalities, and sovereign wealth funds.
International Human Rights Matters
  • The ongoing representation of a foreign cabinet secretary wrongfully accused of crimes in retaliation for official and personal acts to protect the environment, in violation of international human rights law, in an ongoing effort to vindicate her rights and oppose a foreign sovereign’s efforts to arrest and incarcerate her.  
  • The successful representation of Pierre Rodger Lambo Sandjo, a.k.a. Lapiro de Mbanga, the famed singer-songwriter and prominent political dissident wrongfully imprisoned in Cameroon in violation of international law, resulting in the client’s release and resettlement with his family in the United States, after the firm obtained a favorable ruling from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and engaged the Secretary General of the United Nations and members of the US Congress to assist in negotiations with the government of Cameroon.
  • The successful representation of Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, civil rights and environmental lawyer, activist, and prominent political dissident wrongfully imprisoned in Vietnam in violation of international law, resulting in the client’s release and resettlement with his wife in the United States, after the firm obtained a favorable ruling from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and engaged the US Department of State to assist in negotiations with the government of Vietnam.
  • Strategic counseling and advice to individuals, corporations, and non-government organizations on a wide range of international human rights matters.
 
Complex Commercial Litigations and Arbitrations
  • Multiple successful representations of major US and foreign companies in international commercial arbitrations before the ICC and other arbitral institutions.
  • Multiple successful representations of US financial institutions in complex commercial litigations involving mutual funds, investment products, investment advisory services, and retirement products, including for example:
    • The successful representation of a large US financial institution in a complex, class-action litigation in US court, in which plaintiffs challenged the practice of revenue sharing between mutual funds and an annuity provider across thousands of retirement plans, claiming a breach of fiduciary duties under ERISA and related federal laws.  
    • The successful representation of a large US financial institution in multiple class actions litigations in multiple jurisdictions, in which plaintiffs challenged certain service payments and fees to an association of state employees in connection with a large, public retirement plan.
     
  • The successful representation of a large US financial institution in class-action litigation in US court, in which plaintiffs challenged certain service payments and fees paid to a national teachers’ association, claiming a breach of fiduciary duties under ERISA and related federal laws.
 

Professional Activities

Mr. Bowker is an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches “Advanced International Commercial Arbitration.” He previously taught “The Law of War and the War on Terrorism” at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and has guest lectured in matters of international law at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

Mr. Bowker is a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Foreign Law Society. He also belongs to American Bar Association (Section of International Law and Practice), the American Law Institute, the International Law Association and the California State Bar Association. He was a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Practices

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Education

JD, University of California, Berkeley School of Law, 1998

MALD, Tufts University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, 1998

BA, cum laude, University of California, Los Angeles, 1993

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia

New York

California

Languages

German

Clerkships

The Hon. Joseph T. Sneed, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1998 - 1999