David W. Bowker


Bowker, David W.

David W. Bowker is the chair of the firm’s International Litigation/Controversy Working Group. He has a wealth of trial and appellate 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 joined the firm in 2002 after serving as an attorney-adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the US Department of State.

Mr. Bowker recently argued and won a landmark First Amendment case in the US Supreme Court in the matter of USAID v. Alliance for Open Society International, No. 12-10 (decided June 20, 2013), in what one prominent US Congressman called "a victory both for protecting our constitutional right to free speech and advancing the public's health." A copy of that decision is available here, and news coverage of the case can be found here.    

Mr. Bowker also argued and won an important act of state decision in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the matter of Konowaloff v. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 702 F.3d 140, which affirmed the district court's rejection of a claim to a valuable Cezanne painting in the Museum's permanent collection.

He has particular experience handling complex commercial disputes, class action litigations, international and multi-jurisdictional matters, post-war reparations and restitution programs, art and antiquities claims, constitutional challenges to state and federal statutes, investor-state disputes and other sovereign-related matters.

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


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

  • The representation of a prominent cultural institution in defense of art and antiquities claims brought by individuals and foreign states;
  • the representation of a US company in an investor-state dispute with a foreign sovereign under the expropriation and commercial activities exceptions to immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act;
  • the representation of financial institutions in class-action litigations involving retirement plans, investment products and investment advisory services;
  • the representation of non-governmental organizations in a constitutional challenge to a federal statute on First Amendment, free-speech grounds;
  • the representation of the Federal Republic of Germany as amicus curiae in a landmark US Supreme Court case involving a constitutional challenge to a California statute on foreign affairs grounds;
  • the representation of major US and European companies in international commercial arbitrations before the ICC and other arbitral institutions;
  • the representation of multiple European companies in US litigations regarding international, post-war restitution programs; and
  • the representation of US and foreign clients in defense and national security matters involving counter-terrorism, homeland security and the law of war.

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.


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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





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