WorldTradeLaw.net is a Limited Liability Company based in the state of Florida in the United States. It is owned and run by husband and wife team Simon Lester and Kara Leitner (see below for a more detailed background on us). You can contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out this form.
After spending a number of years working as international trade lawyers, we started this web site in January of 2001. Our goal in setting up the site was to create a research tool for people interested in international trade law issues. Based on our own experience in researching these issues, we felt that there would be great value in a web site which would serve as a portal to the wide variety of information scattered in various places throughout the web. In addition, we recognized that the web is the perfect medium for providing timely analysis of legal issues, because information can be made available quickly to people all over the world.
The web site has two aspects. First, there is the free portion of the site, which is available to anyone who surfs the web. This aspect of the site consists of several elements, including the following: well-organized and easy-to-access primary source documents related to international trade law; a full-text search engine for GATT/WTO decisions; a large collection of links to other sources of information on the web; and a discussion forum.
Second, we also offer our own analysis of certain trade law issues through an annual subscription service we call "Dispute Settlement Commentary." Through this service, we provide summary and critical analysis of all new WTO Panel and Appellate Body reports within 1-3 weeks after they are circulated to the WTO Members. In addition, we have completed this same summary and analysis for all past WTO reports, and have created an index of legal provisions and terms for these reports.
The site is intended to be of use to anyone around the world who is interested in trade law issues. We have tried to develop features that appeal to a wide variety of people who might be interested in trade law, including: trade lawyers in private practice; government officials and employees of international organizations; professors and students; trade policy experts; think tanks; and non-governmental organizations. We note that while we have both been affiliated with certain entities in the past (Mr. Lester at the WTO and prior to that in private practice; Ms. Leitner in private practice), the web site and the Dispute Settlement Commentary service are entirely independent of any other organization. Our hope is to be as objective as possible when we provide information. For primary source documents, this task is easy -- we simply organize the documents in a user-friendly manner. For the value-added we provide through our Dispute Settlement Commentary service, it is more difficult. However, we strive to offer a balanced view of each decision. With the summary part of each Commentary, our goal is simply to set forth a clear and concise synopsis of all of the issues decided. In the analysis section, we offer a critique of selected issues in each decision. In doing so, we make every effort to be objective, and do not favor particular parties in disputes. Rather, we try to offer our view as to the best legal conclusion for each issue. A quick read of a few of our Commentaries will hopefully demonstrate that we have adhered to the principle of "equal opportunity" in our criticism -- we have been critical of the Appellate Body, of panels, and of arguments made by a wide range of interested parties.
As a final note, we are always looking for ways to improve the site, so everyone should feel free to contact us if they have suggestions.
Mr. Lester graduated from Harvard Law School in 1996. After graduation, he worked for a Washington, D.C. law firm for several years, where his practice included advising companies and governments on matters before the World Trade Organization, and on matters before the U.S. Trade Representative's Office; cases before U.S. government agencies in matters involving anti-dumping actions; and U.S. federal court appeals of government agency decisions. In addition, he helped organize a conference on WTO dispute resolution held in Washington, D.C.
In February 1999, he began working as a Legal Affairs Officer at the Appellate Body Secretariat of the World Trade Organization, where he worked until January 2001. While there, he assisted the Appellate Body Members with all aspects of the conduct of individual appeals and arbitrations before the Appellate Body. He also lectured to government officials and students on the functioning of the Appellate Body and the WTO dispute settlement system.
Mr. Lester has written a number of law journal articles, which have appeared in such publications as the Stanford Journal of International Law, the George Washington International Law Review and the Journal of World Trade, as well as several op-ed pieces in the Journal of Commerce. In addition, he has taught courses on international trade law at American University's Washington College of Law.
Ms. Leitner graduated from Harvard Law School in 1995. After graduation, she worked for a Washington, D.C. law firm for several years, where her practice included advising companies and governments on matters before the World Trade Organization, and on matters before the U.S. Trade Representative's Office; cases before U.S. government agencies in matters involving anti-dumping, countervailing duty and safeguard actions; and U.S. federal court appeals of government agency decisions.
In 1999, she moved to Geneva, where she worked for a year and a half, acting as the Geneva presence for a Brussels international trade law firm, while continuing to consult for her previous Washington firm. While in Geneva, she devoted her time to working on WTO issues, including assisting governments with complaints before the World Trade Organization, and advising industries affected by WTO issues. In addition, she founded Geneva Women in International Trade, a chapter of the Organization of Women in International Trade.