Columbia Law School to advise Ukrainian president on war reparations

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A person walks through campus at Columbia University in New York City, March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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  • The school's International Claims and Reparations Project is led by Allen & Overy partner Patrick Pearsall
  • It is convening academics and practitioners to examine international law responses to Russia's invasion

(Reuters) - Ukraine has added to its growing arsenal of U.S. lawyers, tapping Washington, D.C.-based Allen & Overy partner Patrick Pearsall through Columbia Law School as a legal advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on reparations issues.

According to a filing with the U.S. Department of Justice dated June 13, Pearsall is studying international law remedies Ukraine may pursue in response to Russia’s four-month-old invasion.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires law firms, lobbying shops and public relations consultants to disclose certain engagements with foreign clients.

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Pearsall did not report any income from the Ukraine engagement in the filing.

He is representing Zelenskiy as the director of Columbia Law's new International Claims and Reparations Project.

The group is examining how Ukraine can utilize international law to bring claims against Russia and seek reparations for its hostilities, according to a May statement from Columbia Law.

The project also includes three Columbia law professors, University of Richmond law professor Chiara Giorgetti and international arbitrator Jeremy Sharpe.

Pearsall was unavailable to comment on the project Tuesday. Allen & Overy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Pearsall's Ukraine work.

Pearsall is a Columbia Law alumni who previously served as the chief of investment arbitration at the U.S. Department of State.

He registered with the Justice Department to represent Zelenskiy through Columbia's project and not through Allen & Overy, where he represents parties in international disputes.

But the Ukrainian government has turned directly to U.S. law firms for guidance in several areas. It hired Morrison & Foerster to provide counsel on regulatory issues, including Western sanctions.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is representing Ukraine before the European Court of Human Rights in a petition filed in response to Russia's invasion. Ukraine also tapped Covington & Burling to pursue a separate claim against Russia at the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

In addition to advising Ukraine, the project aims to produce scholarship on international law, according to Columbia Law. It will enlist the help of dozens of international law experts, and law students will also be involved in its research.

“The [project] affords Columbia Law School a precious opportunity to help address the realities of loss in the wake of the invasion and, while doing so, to promote justice at the international level,” said Columbia law professor George Bermann, who is involved in the project.

Read more:

Ukraine turns to U.S. law firm Quinn Emanuel in Russia human rights case

Ukraine's Zelenskiy hires U.S. law firm for sanctions advice

Ukraine taps U.S. law firm Covington to press Russia claim at UN court

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at karen.sloan@thomsonreuters.com