Area of Expertise
International business transactions; international trade; comparative legal traditions; law and development; international arbitration and litigation; WTO law; responsibilities of international organizations
Padideh Ala’i is a Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law (WCL), where she serves as Director of International and Comparative Legal Studies and Faculty Director of the International Legal Studies Program. She specializes in international economic law, law of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and comparative legal traditions. Professor Alai’s scholarship has concentrated on the history of free trade, transparency obligations of the WTO and their implications on internal domestic transparency, universalizing the administrative state through the multilateral trading system, as well as good governance and evolution of international anti-corruption norms. Professor Ala’i is also the Director of the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program at WCL, a Fulbright program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The Program brings accomplished mid-career professionals from developing countries to the U.S for 10 months of non-degree study and professional development in the general field of law and human rights. In addition, since 2014, she has led the interdisciplinary Trade, Investment and Development Program (TID) that provides resources to students interested in linkage between trade and other disciplines such as intellectual property, environment, investment, labor and human rights. Professor Ala’i currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Society of International Economic Law (SIEL). She is Associate Member of the International Academy of Comparative Law and Member of the Academic Board of the European Law Students’ Association/World Trade Organization Moot Court Competition. She is also Chair of the Organizing Committee of Wenger Family Lecture Series on International Trade Law at WCL, an endowment dedicated exclusively to international trade law education and training of young trade lawyers at WCL. She previously served as Co-Chair of the International Economic Law Group (IELG) of American Society of International Law (ASIL) and Co-Chair of the AALS Section on Comparative Law. Professor Ala’i received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1988. Prior to joining the faculty of WCL, from 1988-1997, she was in private practice, representing governments from developing countries, as well as foreign companies in the United States. At Reichler, Milton & Medel (merged subsequently with Foley Hoag), from 1991-1997, she was part of the legal team representing the Government of the Philippines in international commercial arbitration and U.S. court litigation against Westinghouse Corporation for breach of contract and bribery of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. She also represented governments of Guyana, Tanzania, Uganda, and Philippines in negotiations with foreign investors, including in the context of privatization efforts and legal reforms proposed by the World Bank. During her tenure at Jones Day from 1988-1991, she specialized in corporate and international banking practice, advising foreign companies with respect to their U.S. banking-related activities, and representing such companies before regulatory banking agencies, specifically the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Her recent publications include Research Handbook on Transparency (eds. with Robert Vaughn, Edward Elgar Publishing), “Transparency in International Economic Relations and the Role of the WTO” in Research Handbook on Transparency (with Matthew D’Orsi, Edward Elgar Publishing), “Climate Change Innovation, Products and Services Under the GATT/WTO System” in Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Climate Change (with David Gantz, Edward Elgar Publishing), and “Civil Consequences of Corruption in International Commercial Contracts” in American Journal of Comparative Law.