Elisa Zavala’s practice focuses on international litigation and arbitration, with an emphasis on Latin America.

She is dually qualified in common and civil law.

Elisa joined the firm in 2020. Prior to joining Cleary, Elisa was an associate attorney at a law firm in Chile where she practiced complex litigation and arbitration.

Notable Experiences

  • Pluspetrol Peru Corporation S.A., Pluspetrol Block 56 S.A., Tecpetrol Block 56 S.A.C., and Sonatrach Peru Corporation S.A. in a complex ICC arbitration derived from an ICSID arbitration against the Peruvian State related to claims against a Peruvian buyer of gas, successfully obtaining a final award and securing payment of over $133 million arising from additional amounts owed on invoices due for hydrocarbons exports.

  • A major European bank in defeating claims for indemnification pursuant to an M&A agreement in an ICC arbitration governed by New York law, in connection with a legal proceeding in Paraguay (and recovering legal fees).

  • Pluspetrol Resources Corporation in a Spanish-language ICC arbitration concerning allegedly wrongful termination of License Contract for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons at Block 8 in Peru.

  • Two Latin American oil and gas companies in the defense of a Texas-law governed, Houston-seated ICC arbitration relating to the alleged breach of a Joint Operating Agreement for the operation of an oil block in Peru.

  • Sysco Corporation in defending an LCIA arbitration and related federal judicial proceedings against Burford Capital Limited in connection with a dispute concerning Burford’s agreement to passively fund Sysco’s pursuit of certain federal antitrust claims.

  • Six Peruvian companies in two ICC arbitrations, governed by New York law and consolidated into one arbitration proceeding, claiming additional payments for payments due for hydrocarbon exports.

  • An international oil and gas company in the defense of a Spanish-language, Peruvian law-governed ICC arbitration relating to liabilities allegedly arising from the wrongful termination of an oil concession agreement.

  • A Latin American company providing natural gas-related services regarding a controversial new regulation proposed by a Latin American government.

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Selected Activities

  • Mentee, Young ICCA Mentoring Programme (2024-2025)
  • Harvard International Law Journal, Submissions Editor

  • Member of the Chilean Bar Association
  • Professor (Adjunct) at Universidad Católica de Chile (2016-2019)


International Bar Association Publishes Revisions to Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration,” Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, March 8, 2024

“Control Constitucional y de Convencionalidad de Laudos Arbitrales en Chile,” Arbitragem e ConstituiçaoThomson Reuters’ Revista Dos Tribunais, November 2, 2023 

Investment Treaty Arbitration: Ecuador,” Global Arbitration Review, October 2, 2023

The Lithium Triangle: Challenges and Opportunities for Latin America,” Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, September 25, 2023

Strategies for Effective Brief Writing in International Arbitration,” Arbanza Investment Arbitration Guide, March 16, 2023

Five International Arbitration Trends And Topics For 2023,” Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, January 30, 2023 

Investment Treaty Arbitration: Ecuador,” Global Arbitration Review, August 1, 2022

Arbitration of Corruption Issues in Latin American Disputes,” Latin Lawyer and Global Arbitration Review, September 15, 2022 

U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision on the Applicability of Section 1782 Discovery Likely to Have Practical Impact on Arbitration in Latin America, Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, July 6, 2022

Ecuador Signs the ICSID Convention, What That Means for Ecuador and the Rest of South America, Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, August 9, 2021

“Compensación y derechos punitivos en el Derecho Internacional. Comentario a la sentencia de la Corte Internacional de Justicia en caso Nicaragua con Costa Rica,” 28 REV. DE DERECHO COQUIMBO (2021) (Chile)

“Making Sense of the Obligation to Negotiate in International Law through the Lens of Principled Negotiation,” 36:3 OHIO ST. J. ON DISP. RESOL (2020)

“Atrapada entre sistemas legales: valor del precedente para la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos,” 48 REV. FACULTAD DE DERECHO (2020)

“The Principle of Res Judicata before the International Court of Justice: in the Midst of Comradeship and Divorce between International Tribunals” (co-author), 10 J. INT’L DISP. SETTLEMENT 288 (2019)

“Restitución e indemnización a sujetos indeterminados, cy-près y acciones de clase” (co-author), 21 ESTUDIOS SOCIO-JURÍDICOS 151 (2019) (Colom.)