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Frances E. Bivens


Acts as lead counsel in high-stakes commercial litigations and arbitrations. Focuses on complex financial and technical matters, including mass tort cases.

Frances serves as lead counsel in a broad range of high-stakes commercial litigation matters in federal and state courts around the United States and arbitrations around the globe. She has an electrical engineering degree and is particularly experienced in litigation involving technical issues, including product liability and mass tort cases. She also regularly handles complex financial matters.

Her practice has included cross-border disputes arising out of India, China, Korea, Hungary, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and the United Kingdom.

Crain’s New York Business has named Frances among its “Notable Women in Law” and Benchmark Litigation lists her among the “Top 250 Women in Litigation.” She is recognized by Chambers USA for her work in international arbitration. She is the chair of the International Commercial Disputes Committee of the New York City Bar and second vice-chair of the New York International Arbitration Center.

Experience highlights

Commercial Litigation
  • Albemarle in arbitration arising out of a billion-dollar sale of a chemical business to Huntsman, including a two-week evidentiary hearing in May 2021 and collateral litigation in New York State Court to compel arbitration and, separately, to remove a conflicted arbitrator
  • A Brazilian state-owned oil company in an M&A arbitration in the ICC arising out of the sale of South American assets
  • TenCent Music in successfully defending a Section 1782 action in aid of a foreign commercial arbitration, including an appeal to the Second Circuit
  • A pharma company in an emergency ICDR arbitration arising out of a JV agreement
  • A state-owned Brazilian bank in ICC arbitration relating to a JV to provide IT services to financial institutions
  • Sete Brasil in an ICC arbitration arising out of the Petrobras bribery scandal, relating to the construction of deepwater drilling rigs
  • Corsair Capital in a complete victory after a hearing in an international arbitration arising out of a complex Indian banking transaction
  • The U.S. Department of the Treasury in successfully defending litigation challenging the government rescue of AIG
  • Ernst & Young in a trial in Boston federal court arising out of the failure of Bank of New England
Mass Tort and Product Liability Litigation
  • Full dismissal of claims against Corelle Brands in purported class action litigation alleging a product defect in Pyrex bakeware
  • Con Edison in mass tort litigation and government investigations arising out of tropical storm Isaias, a steam rupture, Superstorm Sandy and multiple gas explosions
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of the Deepwater Horizon, in MDL class action litigation related to the Gulf Oil Spill
Investigations and Board Representations
  • Special litigation committee of the SCANA board in connection with an investigation into the construction of a nuclear facility
  • A major utility in investigations of its public reporting of the performance of safety devices and, separately, of the certification of subcontracted workers
  • Morgan Stanley in connection with investigations by the DOJ and SEC into FCPA violations relating to real estate investing operations in China; the resolution was the first publicly announced decision not to prosecute a company in an FCPA case based on the quality of its anti-corruption program and its cooperation
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Crain’s New York Business – "Notable Women in Law," 2019

Benchmark Litigation – National and New York Star, “Top 250 Women in Litigation”

Chambers USA – International Arbitration

Legal 500 U.S. – General Commercial Disputes

American Lawyer – “45 Under 45,” Top Women Lawyers, 2011

J.D., Columbia Law School
  • Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
Sc.B., Electrical Engineering, Brown University
Law Clerk, Hon. James L. Oakes, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 1994-1995
Law Clerk, Hon. Jack B. Weinstein, U.S. District Court, E.D. New York, 1993-1994
Professional history
  • Partner, 2001-present
  • Associate, Davis Polk, 1995-2001
  • Associate, Morrison & Foerster, 1992-1993
Qualifications and admissions
  • State of New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, E.D. New York
  • U.S. District Court, N.D. Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, S.D. New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court
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