Laura C. Abrahamson, Esq., FCIArb
Laura C. Abrahamson, Esq., joins JAMS with robust ADR experience following her illustrious legal career in private practice and in-house senior leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies. She brings a unique, well-rounded and pragmatic perspective to her ADR practice, as well as deep national and international experience in the engineering, construction, oil and gas, and chemicals industries.
Ms. Abrahamson has experience as an arbitrator, advocate and client in more than 100 arbitrations and major litigation matters and more than 50 mediations within the U.S. and significant jurisdictions around the world, including matters involving antitrust, complex commercial contracts, energy, engineering and construction, environmental, labor and employment, insurance coverage, intellectual property, securities and sports and entertainment under JAMS, AAA, DIAC, ICC, ICSID, LCIA, Thai and UNCITRAL rules.
Prior to joining JAMS, Ms. Abrahamson served as senior vice president, deputy general counsel and global head of litigation at AECOM, an American multinational firm that provides engineering, design, consulting and construction services, where she oversaw complex, cross-border disputes. Previously, Ms. Abrahamson spent nearly 20 years in-house at Occidental Petroleum (OXY), where she led major litigation and domestic and international arbitration efforts. Her experience at OXY and AECOM included numerous plaintiffs’ domestic and international arbitration claims arising out of energy, power and construction infrastructure projects; most notably, an ICSID arbitration against the Republic of Ecuador was recognized by Global Arbitration Review as the “Most Important Published Decision of 2012” and selected as the “2013 Global Dispute of the Year, Investment Arbitration” by The American Lawyer.
Prior to moving in-house, Ms. Abrahamson spent her first seven years of private practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, specializing in complex commercial litigation and arbitrations, including representing Big Four accounting firms in shareholder class actions following the 1980s savings and loan crisis and participating in four trials. She returned to private practice at O’Melveny & Myers from 2014 to 2016, focusing on energy and construction matters as well as domestic and international arbitration.
A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Ms. Abrahamson currently serves on the board of the North America Branch; on the executive board of California Arbitration (“CalArb”); on the board of governors of the Institute for Corporate Counsel; as an advisory board member for the Institute of Transnational Arbitration; as an arbitrator for the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport; on the List of Arbitrators for the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC); as a member of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) panel; and as an arbitrator for the Public Works Contract Arbitration Program (PWCA).
As a mediator and arbitrator, Ms. Abrahamson is sensitive to the financial, political and other pressures facing parties in disputes, and uses her decades of experience as both an advocate and a client, her strong financial and legal backgrounds and her ability to quickly synthesize information and assess strengths, weaknesses and nuances of cases to promote efficient and fair resolutions.
Ms. Abrahamson holds a degree in business administration from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, with a dual major in accounting and finance, and J.D. from the UCLA School of Law.
Representative Matters as Arbitrator and Mediator
- Issued award as sole arbitrator in breach of contract case involving solar energy project
- Issued award as sole arbitrator in breach of contract dispute arising out of termination of franchise agreement
- Arbitrated partnership disputes relating to commercial real estate venture, including valuation and share purchase agreements
- Arbitrated breach of SAAS agreement between health care software company and operator of skilled nursing facilities
- Arbitrated multiple cases involving California’s Unfair Competition Act and False Advertising Act
- Arbitrated multiple cases alleging violations of California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act
- Arbitrated disputes relating to commercialization of cannabis
- Arbitrated international dispute related to sale and export of California agricultural products
- Mediated disputes involving valuation of stock options
- Mediated intentional interference with contract dispute
- Arbitrated dispute between engineering construction company and consultant relating to major public-private infrastructure projects
- Mediated municipal public works construction dispute involving replacement of four-lane divided major roadway, installation of fiber optic cabling and installation/replacement of traffic signals at multiple intersections
- Mediated multi-party construction defect case relating to solar panel installation
- Mediated dispute between subcontractor and surety related to public works construction.
- Arbitrated and mediated numerous employment discrimination matters involving wrongful termination, sexual harassment, age and disability discrimination, whistle blower claims, retaliation and constructive discharge
- Arbitrated and mediated multiple disputes relating to California Labor Code wage and hour violations, including meal and rest break, overtime and tip theft disputes
- Issued award in employment dispute between senior executive and entertainment company for severance compensation due under employment agreement
- Issued award in employment dispute between health care provider and hospital including claims of perceived disability discrimination and failure to engage in interactive process
- Mediated disputes relating to senior executive compensation agreements, including valuation of equity and stock options in healthcare and technology industries
- Issued award as sole arbitrator in solar panel dispute
- Mediated oil and gas drilling rights dispute between surface and mineral owners
- Mediated multi-party dispute relating to solar panel installation
- Mediated disputes concerning interpretation of settlement and indemnification agreements for environmental contamination
- Mediated and arbitrated employment disputes in the healthcare sector involving medical professionals, insurers, medical and dental groups and hospitals (including whistleblower complaints)
- Arbitrated contract dispute between health care software company and operator of skilled nursing facilities
- Arbitrated subrogation claim with respect to defective solar panels and cross claims for product liability
- Mediated dispute between surety and subcontractor in public works construction
- In private practice, and more recently as mediator, handled insurance coverage disputes involving environmental contamination
- Arbitrated trademark secret disputes including claims for trademark infringement, trade libel and theft of customer information brought by supplier against former certified service provider
- Arbitrated dispute for breach of purchase agreement for commercial real estate venture
- Arbitrated claims of fraudulent inducement and violation of California’s Financial Elder Abuse statutes related to timeshare contracts
- Mediated commercial real estate disputes, including claims for intentional interference with real estate sales contract and claims related to environmental liabilities
- Arbitrated unfair competition law claims relating to brokerage and credit card accounts
- Arbitrated disputes relating to breach of share purchase agreement including tax dispute
- Arbitrated and mediated employment disputes in the esports and entertainment industries, including disputes over senior executive compensation, equity and stock options
- Mediated defamation claims related to adult entertainment industry
- Issued multiple awards as sole arbitrator in Safe Sport temporary measures cases
- Act as an arbitrator on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as Chair or Co-Arbitrator in cases involving doping sanctions involving cycling, swimming and track and field athletes
Representative Matters in Private Practice as Advocate and Client
Energy/Oil and Gas/Chemicals
Disputes with clients, joint-venture partners, state, federal and local governments, royalty owners and third parties arising out of oil and gas and chemicals operations, interpreting production sharing, joint venture, midstream, gas processing, transportation and purchase and sale agreements and lease and indemnity obligations; disputes relating to construction of power projects and energy infrastructure, including national and international commercial and investor state disputes under JAMS, AAA, DIAC, ICC, ICSID, LCIA, Thai and UNCITRAL rules.
Engineering and Construction
Disputes between owners, contractors and design professionals involving claims of delay, disruption, variations, cost overruns, acceleration, defects, professional negligence and breach of contract arising out of public infrastructure projects (airports, highways, subways, wastewater treatment plants), private infrastructure projects (power plants, oil, gas and chemical refineries and plants), public building projects (hospitals, prisons, courthouses, schools and universities),private building projects (hotels, high-rise office buildings, private hospitals), heavy construction projects (dams, bridges), and stadiums and arenas, including international, national and maritime jurisdictions
Accounting, Finance and Securities Class Actions
Securities shareholder class actions and derivative actions in California and Delaware including disputes alleging auditing and accounting failures following savings and loan crisis, financial impropriety, challenging executive compensation practices, adequacy of corporate governance measures, adequacy of disclosures relating to free cash flow and factoring and disclosures by government contractor. Disputes challenging accounting practices for oil and gas production expenses, joint-venture billing and royalty payments. Led forensic accounting investigations that uncovered defalcations and accounting irregularities in nonprofit institutions.
Antitrust and Trade
Litigated antitrust suits in multiple jurisdictions relating to exchanges of compensation data in oil and gas and chemicals industries. Spearheaded defense of FTC antitrust investigations of silicates business and DOJ antitrust investigations of oil and gas and chemical industries’ compensation practices. Litigated antidumping and counterveiling duties matters related to imports of chlorinated isocyanurates from Spain and China.
Business and Commercial
Numerous domestic and cross border breach of contract arbitrations, trials and appeals, including claims related to failed merger agreements, termination of franchise/distribution agreements, exclusive licensing agreements and anchor tenant leases in major shopping centers as well as claims of intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.
Litigated and arbitrated numerous environmental disputes, including multiple toxic tort class actions relating to ammonia, benzene, butadiene and PCB contamination, releases and exposure, claims relating to alleged environmental damage associated with leaking underground storage tanks and oilfield operations and well blowouts in US and Bangladesh. Dispute to enjoin U.S. Department of Energy sale of strategic Elk Hills Naval Petroleum reserve based on protection of endangered species.
Governmental Investigations, False Claims Act and Corporate Governance
Conducted internal investigations into alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and False Claims Act (FCA); responded to subpoenas and governmental agency investigations and defended and negotiated resolution of qui tam, government agency, NGO and corporate governance actions, World Bank, and Alien Tort Claims Act including international and national jurisdictions.
Litigated health care disputes, including matters alleging fraudulent billing practices by major laboratories, insurance disputes relating to alleged experimental treatment for breast cancer, and alleged contamination of hospital water supply.
Disputes relating to engineering, construction, oil and gas and chemical general liability, premises liability, bodily injury, business interruption and asbestos coverage, including pre-litigation negotiated resolution and mediations of coverage in high-profile projects in international and national jurisdictions.
Litigated $1B trademark fraud and infringement dispute and disputes alleging breach of confidentiality and misappropriation of trade secret seismic and geological information in state and federal courts; negotiated multiple licensing contracts for software app developer.
Labor and Employment
Investigated and litigated numerous sexual harassment, wrongful termination, discrimination and other labor and employment claims in California, U.S. and internationally
Litigated and mediated multiple wrongful death disputes and claims for injuries arising out of chartered airplane crash, oil field and chemical plant accidents and traffic and pedestrian accidents in U.S. and Peru.
Sports and Entertainment
Litigated and applications for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunctions to require cable company to carry certain programming; negotiated contracts for video game and mobile app production company.
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Completed Virtual ADR training conducted by the JAMS Institute, the training arm of JAMS and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution Mediating the Litigated Case training.
Honors and Awards
- Most Important Published Decision of 2012, Global Arbitration Review
- 2013 Global Dispute of the Year: Investment Arbitration, The American Lawyer
Memberships and Affiliations
Fellow, College of Commercial Arbitrators 2023
Member, Board, North American Branch, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, 2020–2023
Member, Public Works Contract Arbitration Program (PWCA) List of Arbitrators, 2021-2023
Member, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) List of Arbitrators, 2021-2023
Member, London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) Panel, 2021-2023
Vice President and Executive Board Member, California Arbitration (CalArb), 2022–2023
Member, Board of Governors, Institute for Corporate Counsel, 2019–2023
Member, Advisory Board, Institute for Transnational Arbitration, 2022-2023, 2014-16
Member, Board, Boarding for Breast Cancer, 2016–2023
Member, Planning Committee, California International Arbitration Week 2023
Arbitral Women, 2018–2023
Member, Women in Sports Law, 2019–2023
Member, Sports Law Association, 2019–2023
Member, Executive Committee, Corporate Counsel International Arbitration Group, 2019-2020
Member, California Advisory Committee, International Centre for Dispute Resolution, 2018-2020
Member, International Expert Panel, “Overseas Construction Projects by Chinese Enterprises: Legal Risks and Inspiration,” Sixth Working Group, Permanent Forum of China Construction Law, 2018
Member, Advisory Board, Institute for Energy Law, 2014–2016
Selected Speaking Engagements
“GAR Live: Question Time - Energy transition and what it may mean for arbitration,” GAR Live Women in Arbitration London, 2022
“Affirmative Claims and The Surety”, Pearlman 2022
“Renewable Energy Opportunities and Energy-Related Infrastructure Development,” iLaw ILS Global Forum on International Law, 2022;
“2 Fast 2 Furious: Arbitration in an hour” GAR Live Construction Disputes Paris, 2022
“Harnessing Global Change to Propel Diversity in International Arbitration: New Initiatives and Opportunities,” California International Arbitration Week, 2022;
“Building a Better International Arbitration – A California Corporate Counsel’s Perspective,” California International Arbitration Week, 2022;
“What is the Future of Law in Sport?” Law in Sport 7th Annual Conference – Understand the Rules of the Game, 2021
“Cocktails and Conversations: Hot Topics in Global Energy and Construction Projects,” JAMS Webinar, 2021;
“2nd Annual Global Construction Disputes Update: The Energy Transition,” USC Gould Webinar 2021;
“Complex and Cross-Border Construction Claims: Former GC’s, now Arbitrators, Mediators, Explore Dispute Resolution that Keeps Projects Moving,” JAMS Webinar, 2021;
“Diversity in International Arbitration: Action Requires Commitment, but from who?” JAMS Webinar, 2021;
“The Business Case for ADR”, JAMS Podcast 2021;
“The Challenges of Multi-Party and Multi-Contract Issues in International Arbitration and the Anticipated ICC Rules Changes”, New York Arbitration Week (2020);
“Evaluating and Learning From Business Disputes in a VUCA World,” CPR European Conference on Business Dispute Management, 2020
“ADR in a Time of Pandemic and Global Warming: How the System Must Adapt to the Future,” Society for Construction Law, 2020
“The Future of Dispute Resolution,” USC Gould/JAMS Arbitration Institute Webinar Series, 2020
“Litigation Management Roundtable,” ABA Section of Litigation Corporate Counsel Seminar, 2020
“Transparency in Commercial Arbitration,” CPR Annual Meeting, 2020
“False Claims Act: Recent Trends and Reducing Risk,” Construction SuperConference, 2019
“Tools for Timeliness,” ICC West Coast Conference, 2019
”Best Practices in International Arbitration,” USC/JAMS Arbitration Symposium, 2019
“Arbitration Challenged: Reforming Commercial Arbitration in Response to Legitimacy Concerns,” ICCA Congress, 2018
“Would Construction Arbitration Benefit From Value Engineering, or Does It Need a Full Overhaul?” GAR Live Construction Disputes, 2018
“How to Maximize Efficiency In a Complex Case,” AAA Construction Conference, 2018
“Efficient Litigation Management and Cost Containment,” Chief Litigation Officer Summit, 2018
“The Diversity Dividend: The Power of the Purse,” Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference, 2017
“Managing the Client Through the Dispute Resolution Process: An Industry Perspective," Construction SuperConference, 2016
“Is International Arbitration Adapting to the Speed of Business?”, Los Angeles Daily Journal February 28, 2023
“Insights from the General Counsel’s Office: Seven Steps to Success in Complex Construction Arbitration”, JAMS ADR Insights, 2023
“Value Engineering Construction Arbitration,” JAMS Global Construction Solutions, Fall 2021
“Enhancing Efficiency in Construction Disputes,” JAMS ADR Insights, July 2021
“Getting a Handle on It: Drafting Tips for In-House Counsel to Control Costs of Commercial Dispute Resolution”, Corpcounsel.com, May 2021
“Cost, Delay and Transparency: A Comment on Continued Legitimacy Concerns from a User’s Perspective,” Evolution and Adaption: The Future of International Arbitration, ICCA Congress Series No. 20, Kluwer Law International BV, 2020, pp. 354-360 (Jean Kalicki and Mohamed Abdel Raouf, Eds.)
“Hottest Oil and Gas Claims of 2015—And How to Beat Them,” Proceedings at the Institute for Energy Law’s 66th Annual Oil & Gas Law Conference, Matthew Bender (with Barry Barnett), 2015
Background and Education
Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Global Head of Litigation; AECOM; 2016–2020
Senior Counsel, O’Melveny & Myers LLP, 2014–2016
Associate General Counsel – Litigation, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, 1994–2014
Associate; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; 1987–1994
J.D., UCLA School of Law, 1987
Judicial Externship, Hon. David R. Thompson, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
B.S., Bachelor of Science, Business Administration (Accounting and Finance), University of California, Berkeley, 1984
- Beta Alpha Psi, National Accounting Honor Society
Available to Travel
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