Areas of Practice
  • Northwestern University School of Law, J.D., 1985
  • Boston University, M.A., 1983, B.A., summa cum laude, 1982, Phi Beta Kappa
Bar & Court Admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • Virginia
  • US District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

Steven K. Davidson

1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
TEL: +1 202 429 8077
FAX: +1 202 429 3902

Steven K. Davidson is a partner in the Washington office of Steptoe, where he is chair of the International Arbitration Group.  For more than 30 years, Mr. Davidson has, at Steptoe, represented top Fortune 500 corporations, including ExxonMobil, Google, Motorola, Nokia Solutions and Networks, American Airlines and US Airways, in litigation throughout the United States and abroad, as well as in domestic and international arbitrations.  These litigations often involve foreign sovereigns and issues of sovereign immunity.  He focuses on trial and arbitration work, and this broad litigation experience means clients are effectively represented regardless of forum—in court, before a jury, in arbitration, or through other means of dispute resolution.  Mr. Davidson also serves as an arbitrator in prominent international arbitrations and as an expert witness in attorney fee disputes.

Clients call on Mr. Davidson to litigate complex disputes through trial, master difficult facts, and pursue all available avenues to obtain a recovery, often involving sensitive contractual and business issues.  These disputes typically involve multiple fora and multiple potential parties and claims, which presents potentially complex enforcement questions.

Mr. Davidson also is a leader in worldwide enforcement of court judgments and arbitral awards, including provisional and pre-judgment remedies.  Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll described Mr. Davidson in his recent New York Times bestselling book Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power as “one of the world’s leading specialists in the art of seizing and liquidating assets on behalf of large, aggrieved companies.”  In connection with his work on behalf of ExxonMobil against Venezuela, Mr. Coll wrote:  “For the Steptoe attorneys the late-December Friday afternoon seizure of $300 million belonging to Hugo Chavez’s government was like hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth before a full house at Yankee Stadium.”

Additionally, Mr. Davidson successfully led a Steptoe team that represented Motorola in its claims against the Uzan family, which formerly owned the Turkish telecom company Telsim, concerning fraudulent conduct in connection with a $2 billion loan.  The team obtained a worldwide freezing order in the London commercial courts, which was affirmed by the English Court of Appeals; froze and liquidated assets worldwide; and obtained a fully-contested fraud judgment for $2.13 billion in compensatory damages and a punitive damages judgment for $1 billion in federal court in New York City, and obtained an ICC arbitration award for $2 billion.  See Motorola Credit Corp. v. Uzan, 274 F. Supp. 2d 481 (S.D.N.Y. 2003).  These judgments were affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  See Motorola Credit Corp. v. Uzan, 388 F.3d 39 (2d Cir. 2004).  Steptoe successfully enforced the judgment and arbitral award in various countries throughout the world, including the United States, England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Israel, Bermuda, and Guernsey.  See, e.g., Ben Hallman, Turkish Bath, American Lawyer (Winter 2007); David Segal, Bidders Vie for Family’s Ill-Gotten Digs, Wash. Po. at C1 (Nov. 11, 2004).

Representative Matters

Complex Business Litigation Representative Matters

  • Secured a victory for ARTEL, LLC in a breach of contract suit brought by Global Telecom & Technology (GTT) in a jury trial before the Fairfax County Circuit Court (VA) concerning the overseas installation of a multi-million dollar secure telephone network for the US State Department
  • Represented an Israeli company in an action against the Government of Ukraine in a lawsuit pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Represented DynCorp in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia with respect to disputes with foreign subcontractors over the construction of military bases in Afghanistan
  • Represented and advised trustee of a major Icelandic bank in efforts to recover assets from principals
  • Represented several significant international law firms in alleged legal malpractice matters
  • Advised a consortium of foreign companies involved in a global dispute over control of a large, foreign telecommunications company, with proceedings in the Southern District of New York, the British Virgin Islands, Switzerland, Netherlands, and an ICC arbitration
  • Represented Carmel Partners, a private owner of rental properties throughout the United States in six separate suits brought to the DC Superior Court for violations of the Tenant Opportunity Purchase Act (TOPA) – upon appeal, four cases were affirmed by the DC Court of Appeals, and two reached out of court settlements
  • Represented the trustee of a large, failed Bahamian bank with respect to winding up litigation
  • Advised a fully integrated investment, management and real estate development company on litigation issues regarding a substantial development project worth high eight figures
  • Represented Washington, DC real-estate developer Calvin Cafritz and related companies in connection with multi-jurisdiction litigation involving dozens of interested parties, including the Tompkins family and Vornado Realty Trust, regarding the control of their closely held companies and real estate worth hundreds of millions of dollars  
  • Represented a prominent New Jersey developer in litigation in federal district court in New Jersey against the Ford Motor Company concerning claimed damages to the developer’s property as a result of the closure of a Ford automobile plant in New Jersey
  • Represented Philip Haynie in litigation against the United States Department of Agriculture over alleged racial discrimination in providing of access to government farm programs – resulted in the largest individual settlement of a black farmer case, which was featured in the cover story of the October 2004 Washington Post Magazine

Domestic & International Arbitration Representative Matters

  • Defended Nokia Siemens Networks (now Nokia Solutions and Networks) in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado and in AAA arbitrations against customers’ claims for breach of contract
  • Representing an investor in respect of an investment dispute arising from Montenegro’s failure to extend the exploration period under an oil and gas exploration agreement, which allegedly breached a bilateral investment treaty’s provisions concerning expropriation, full protection and security, MFN, and fair and equitable treatment
  • Represented Brightstar Corp., one of the largest private telecommunications companies in the United States in a dispute with its joint venture partner in an AAA arbitration including at an evidentiary hearing in support of a preliminary injunction
  • Represented US Airways, Inc. in its efforts to recover corporate cash funds that its brokers Lehman Brothers, Inc. (LBI) and Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. invested in Auction Rate Securities (ARS), fixed-income products that failed in August 2007 and were unsuitable for US Airways’ investment goals and risk profile, winning a $30 million award from a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel, (one of the largest ARS awards for damages to date)
  • Represented US Airways in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy proceedings before the US Bankruptcy Court and was able to secure from the bankruptcy estates payment on a FINRA award in favor of US Airways against former Lehman employees in the amount of $15 million
  • Defended attorneys before arbitral and disciplinary panels regarding fee and discipline issues
  • Represented a major telecommunications provider in a £375 million product liability dispute under a GSM frame contract involving alleged defects in one of Europe’s largest GSM/GPRS networks
  • Represented Motorola in an ICSID arbitration against Turkey, which has seized Telsim, a Turkish telecom company that Motorola had had obtained various judgments and arbitral awards against, which resulted in payments to Motorola of approximately US$1 billion 

Pre-Judgment Remedies and Post Judgment Enforcement Representative Matters

  • Converted ExxonMobil’s multi-billion dollar award from the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) as against Venezuela into a judgment in an ex parte proceeding in the Southern District of New York
  • Advised various sovereign states in their responses to efforts to enforce judgments against them
  • Represented Societa Explosivi Industriali SpA in its successful action to enforce major Swiss arbitration award against L3 Fuzing and Ordnance Systems, Inc. in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.  See SEI Societa Esplosivi Industriali SpA v. L-3 Fuzing and Ordnance Systems, Inc., 843 F. Supp. 2d 509 (D. Del. 2012)
  • Represented claimants in the successful enforcement of a US$130 million ICSID award that was the largest award ever issued to an individual as against Egypt (Siag & Vecchi v. Arab Republic of Egypt, Case No. ARB05/15)
  • Assisted various clients with pre-judgment and judgment enforcement remedies, including, but not limited to, Louis Vuitton, Glitnir Bank, multinational oil companies and others

Representative Speaking Engagements


  • Washington, DC Super Lawyers, International, 2017
  • Legal 500 US, Dispute Resolution: International litigation, 2017
  • Legal 500 US, Litigation: Commercial Litigation, 2015
  • Who's Who Legal 2012, Asset Recovery
  • Euromoney's Expert Guide to the World's Leading Litigation and Product Liability Lawyers:  Litigation (2010, 2012, 2013)

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