Our People

J Christopher Smith


Chris is a senior English and New York lawyer with extensive experience and expertise in international transactions, disputes and associated government relations matters, particularly involving emerging markets and the energy sector. 

After private practice in Moscow since 2004, Chris joined the AAR Consortium in 2011, his first of three posts as General Counsel for businesses owned by Russia's Alfa Group and, in AAR's cases Access Industries and the Renova Group. At AAR, Chris managed arbitrations between AAR and BP plc over their joint venture TNK-BP, and advised on the 2013 sale of AAR's stake to Rosneft for US$28.8 billion. After that, Chris helped set up L1 Energy in London as the oil & gas arm of the Alfa shareholders' private equity group LetterOne. At L1 Energy, Chris led the legal team on the acquisition of the DEA Group in 2015 and on the related UK Government order to sell DEA's UK assets. He also advised on L1 Energy's prospective acquisition of interests in the Permian basin, and the similar challenges that deal faced in early 2017 with the Trump administration. 

Most recently, Chris co-led the legal and commercial teams at DEA, including on the successful acquisition of Mexico's Sierra Oil & Gas, which signed just days after the election of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Chris is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators, with resposibility for AIPN's Europe region. Chris earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School and an AB in literature from Dartmouth College. He also engaged in post-graduate study in Russian and East European Studies at the University of Texas.