Steven C. Nelson

Steven C. Nelson



A former US State Department lawyer with over 30 years’ experience in private law practice, including over 16 years in Asia, Steve has represented clients in a wide variety of cross-border corporate and commercial transactions as well as litigation and arbitration of complex international disputes.

Concentrated originally in transnational M&A, joint venture and commercial transactions, Steve's practice has in recent years focused more intensively on international litigation and arbitration, in which he brings his extensive “deal” experience to bear in resolving disputes arising out of corporate acquisitions, joint ventures and complex commercial transactions, particularly those involving PRC and US parties.

Education & Admissions

Yale Law School (J.D., 1969)

Yale University (B.A., 1966), magna cum laude
Honors with Exceptional Distinction in Economics


  • United States: Admitted to practice before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of Minnesota, and the Supreme Court of the United States
  • Hong Kong: Admitted to practice as a Solicitor in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People's Republic of China


  • French and German


Representative Work

International Arbitrations of Note

  • Currently representing a large privately-owned PRC financial conglomerate in HKIAC arbitration against a US corporate group arising out of a joint venture under Hong Kong law for the purchase, reconditioning and sale of aircraft and aircraft engines and parts
  • Currently representing a US reseller of hardwood flooring products in HKIAC arbitration against a PRC state-owned trading and logistics group of breach-of-contract claims under Hong Kong law
  • Represented a PRC biotechnology company and its Cayman Islands holding company in ICC arbitration with a large Swiss pharmaceutical company of a dispute under a research and development agreement under Hong Kong law
  • Represented the Luxembourg subsidiary of a NYSE-listed US company in HKIAC arbitration of breach of contract claims under PRC law arising out of the failure of a multimillion-dollar joint venture with a PRC company
  • Represented the same NYSE-listed US company in HKIAC arbitration of breach of contract claims under Hong Kong law arising out of a long-term manufacturing supply agreement with a PRC manufacturer
  • Defended a Hong Kong-listed Bermuda company in “ad hoc” HKIAC-administered arbitration of contract claims under Bermuda law, including ancillary litigation in the Supreme Court of Bermuda, against 7-figure contract claims
  • Defended a large PRC state-owned enterprise in a multimillion-dollar arbitration under the auspices of the London Metals Exchange of large claims resulting from losses incurred by a “rogue trader"
  • Represented a US developer and distributor of firearms in an ICC arbitration with a manufacturing unit of the Israeli Ministry of Defense regarding ownership of the rights to the famous “Desert Eagle” pistol
  • Advised a major US multinational company in connection with its defense of 9-figure breach of warranty claims in two arbitrations in Paris and Geneva involving an Algerian state-owned enterprise and a large French shipbuilding company
  • Represented a major manufacturer of mainframe computers and peripherals in an arbitration of expropriation, denial of justice and contract claims against the Islamic Republic of Iran 
  • Represented a Middle East subsidiary 3M Company in a reported arbitration of contract claims against the Islamic Republic of Iran

International Litigations of Note

  • Currently defending a shareholder and former director of a Hong Kong company in High Court litigation of a dispute among its shareholders
  • Acted for an Australian lithium mining company in High Court litigation of breach of warranty claims arising out of the distressed sale to a large privately-owned PRC company of shares in the Hong Kong holding company of a PRC lithium processing enterprise
  • Represented a Hong Kong company in High Court proceedings for the recovery of funds fraudulently diverted to the State Bank of India in connection with the purchase of a bulk shipload of nitrogen fertilizer from a large PRC state-owned petrochemical company
  • Advised and represented a Singapore-based fund management company in parallel litigation in the courts of Singapore, the Cayman Islands and New York arising out of a dispute between directors of one of the funds under its management
  • Acted for a privately-held Australian company in High Court litigation of breach of contract claims against a PRC-based supplier of heavy power-generation equipment for use in mining operations in Western Australia
  • Advised a Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of a Cayman Islands company in its defense against hostile takeover attempts in connection with US litigation and bankruptcy proceedings against its holding company 
International Transactions of Note
  • Advised The Coca-Cola Company with respect to the complex reorganization of Coca-Cola Bottlers Manufacturing Holdings Limited (“CCBMH”). CCBMH, a joint venture entity founded by The Coca Cola Company (through two subsidiaries) and subsidiaries of Swire Group and COFCO (China’s largest state-owned food and agriculture company), through multiple subsidiaries provides preparation and packaging operations in relation to Coca Cola’s still beverages business across Mainland China. On completion of the transaction, the multiple subsidiaries of CCBMH in Mainland China will be transferred to and owned by Swire Group and COFCO, respectively, and The Coca-Cola Company will start its franchise partnership with Swire and COFCO regarding the still beverage bottling system in Mainland China.
  • Represented a large privately-held US multinational manufacturer of packaging machinery in the acquisition of a Brunei holding company, reincorporated mid-transaction in Seychelles, of a wholly foreign-owned enterprise in the PRC
  • Advised the Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation in connection with its successful auction sale of two Korean investment trust companies it had acquired in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis 
  • Represented US-based investment funds in the acquisition from the Japan Deposit Insurance Corporation of the performing assets of a failed bank in Japan
  • Represented Walmart Inc. in its phased acquisition of the Seiyu Group of Japan, including over 400 department stores
  • Represented Imation, Inc., a NYSE-listed supplier of optical and magnetic data storage media products,  in the acquisition of the optical media business and assets of a large Japanese supplier of industrial materials and equipment
  • Advised a Hong Kong-based toy manufacturer in the reverse takeover of a publicly-traded US toy-distribution company involving reincorporation of the target as a Hong Kong company while preserving its NASDAQ listing
  • Represented a large Norwegian company in the successful restructuring and reincorporation in Hong Kong of its joint venture with a large PRC state-owned company
  • Represented Imation, Inc. in the successful acquisition of a multinational group that owned the famous “Verbatim” trademarks and brand
  • Advised a major US health insurance company in the formation as an English-law partnership of a managed-care joint venture in South Africa with one of the largest global mining companies and an insurance affiliate of the latter 
  • Represented The Valspar Corporation in the acquisition from a subsidiary of French petroleum giant Total S.A. of a global packaging coatings business with operations in 19 countries in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific 
  • Advised one of the largest US suppliers of services to the banking industry in the establishment, together with a large Indian software developer, of a joint venture incorporated under Netherlands law for the development of software and solutions for bank automation

News & Resources


Protecting Against Business Email Scams and Recovering Funds Wired to the United States
Recent Trends in Wire Fraud Scams: Uncovering and Tackling the Latest Tactics in Hong Kong
PRC Companies in International Arbitration: Who shall bear the arbitration costs?
PRC Companies in International Arbitration: Is third-party funding feasible?
PRC Companies in International Arbitration: Is it costly to arbitrate in Hong Kong?
中国企业的国际仲裁(系列三):在香港仲裁 ,费用真的很高吗?
PRC Companies in International Arbitration: Interim Measures Arrangement between Mainland and HKSAR and its Practical Notes
Hong Kong Mainland Cooperation in Arbitration Matters
Mainland—Hong Kong Interim Relief in Support of Arbitration
Hong Kong High Court Stays Litigation in Favor of Arbitration
Hong Kong Email Wire Fraud Epidemic - How to retrieve funds and prevent wire fraud
Hong Kong and Overseas Businesses Defrauded of over HK$1.8 billion (US$231m) in 2016
Hong Kong - The Gold Standard of International Arbitration in Asia
International investment law claims—going up in smoke?
Guide to Protecting Against Email Wire Fraud Scams and Recovering Funds Wired to Hong Kong
Restructuring investments to gain the protection of a BIT
Philip Morris Asia Limited (Hong Kong) v. The Commonwealth of Australia: Permanent Court of Arbitration Tribunal Publishes Redacted Version of Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility
China Drafts First Nationwide Labor Contract Law
Globalization and the Legal Profession in the Asia-Pacific Region
Silence is Golden: Making Tax Efficient Investments in Japan
Dispute Resolution in Asia-Pacific: eUpdate Series
International Cyber Crime and Asset Recovery

News & Press Mentions

200 Dorsey Lawyers Selected for Inclusion in 2024 Best Lawyers in America, Lawyers of the Year, and Ones to Watch
Dorsey Wins China Business Law Journal 2022 Cross-Border Deal of the Year Award
Dorsey Represents R&F Properties in Sale of 70% Stake in the Integrated Logistics Park near Guangzhou Airport
Dorsey Partner Steve Nelson Comments on Belt and Road Initiative
Dorsey Partner Steve Nelson Comments on USMCA
Dorsey Partner Steve Nelson Discusses the New NAFTA: USMCA
Dorsey Partner Steve Nelson Remarks on Trump Mexico Trade Deal
54 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2019 and 2019 Lawyers of the Year
Dorsey Partner Steve Nelson Recalls Flying on Delta 747s
51 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis Selected for Inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2018 and 2018 Lawyers of the Year
Dorsey Advises Powerlong Real Estate Holdings Limited with Issuance of High Yield Bonds
Dorsey Partner Steve Nelson Comments on Philip Morris Arbitration
Veteran Dorsey International Lawyer Steven C. Nelson Returns to Minneapolis
Dorsey & Whitney's Hong Kong Leader Returns to Minneapolis After 16 Years
45 Dorsey Lawyers in Minneapolis and Fargo Selected for Inclusion in "The Best Lawyers in America®" 2016 and "Best Lawyers of the Year"
Local Counsel Key for Asian Market Access

Select Presentations

  • “Exit Provisions in Strategic Alliance Agreements,” Negotiating and Drafting Strategic Alliance Agreements, American Conference Institute: New York, November 1996.
  • “Alternatives to Direct Investment in India: Licensing and Distribution,” Doing Business in the New India, American Conference Institute: New York,  December 1995.
  • “Strategic Issues in the Litigation of an International Commercial Dispute,” Litigating and Arbitrating International Commercial Disputes, American Conference Institute:  New York, May 1993.
  • “Administration of the Agreement:  Settlement of Investment Disputes,” Business Implications and Legal Rules for the World’s Largest Common Market: NAFTA, American Conference Institute:  Washington, D.C., December, 1992.
  • “Drafting the Joint Venture Documents:  Key Provisions,” Negotiating and Drafting Transnational Joint Ventures, American Conference Institute:  New York, November 1992.
  • “Dispute Settlement,” Negotiating and Drafting International Commercial Contracts, American Conference Institute:  New York, November 1992.
  • “Negotiating and Drafting Agency, Distribution and Franchise Agreements,” Negotiating and Structuring International Commercial Transactions, ABA National Institute: Chicago, November 1990.
  • “Practicing Law in the Common Market:  The Impact of 1992 on the Legal Profession,” 1992 in Europe:  A Practical and Legal Guide to Doing Business in the Single European Market, ABA National Institute:  New York, June 1990.
  • “International Sales,” Counseling the U.S. Multinational:  Issues and Problems for the 1990’s, ABA National Institute:  New York, January 1989.
  • “Alternative to Litigation of International Disputes,” Resolution of International Commercial Disputes, ABA National Institute:  Miami, November 1987.
  • “Planning for Resolution of Disputes in International Technology Transactions,” Symposium on International Technology Transfer, Federal Bar Association & ABA Section of Public Contracts Law:  Boston, March 1984.

Industries & Practices

International Arbitration & Litigation
  • Asia-Pacific
  • China
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Construction & Design
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Food, Beverage & Agribusiness
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • International Arbitration & Litigation
  • International Trade
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Mining

Professional & Civic

Professional Achievements

  • American Bar Association (Chair, Section of International Law and Practice, 1988-1989; Member, Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice, 1998-2000)
  • Union Internationale des Avocats (First Vice-President, 1989-1993)
  • International Bar Association (Council Member representing the American Bar Association, 1996-2000; Chairman, Bar Issues Commission, Committee on International Trade in Legal Services, 2000-present)
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Member, NATO Board of Appeals, Brussels, 1980-2003)
  • University of Minnesota Law Center (Adjunct Professor, International Law, 1980-1985)


  • Listed as a Best Lawyer in America©, 2013-2024
Steven C. Nelson