Sally Harpole is a full-time independent arbitrator and mediator based in San Francisco, specializing in international and complex commercial disputes.

Since 1977 Sally has advised and represented companies in most major industry sectors relating to their projects in China. She has extensive experience in foreign investment, trade and dispute resolution matters involving China, including joint venture, merger and acquisition, shareholder and corporation matters, technology transfer and licensing, infrastructure projects, manufacturing, sales and distribution, import/export trade matters, natural resources, energy, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, textiles, real estate, entertainment (including film, television & live entertainment), advertising, sports, hotel management and other areas.

As an attorney qualified in California and Hong Kong, Sally led the China practices of multinational law firms in Beijing and Hong Kong for 23 years. In 2001, she established her own solicitor firm in Hong Kong. After 36 years in Greater China (Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei), Sally relocated to San Francisco where she continues her work as arbitrator and mediator specializing in Asia-related dispute resolution.

International Arbitrator and Mediator

Sally Harpole has been appointed as arbitrator and/or mediator in over 120 international commercial cases in Asia, Europe and North America. She was one of the first non-Chinese nationals to be appointed to the CIETAC Arbitrators Panel in 1989. For further details on Sally’s arbitration and mediation activity see the “Arbitration and Mediation” tab.

Law Professor and Lecturer

Sally served as a Visiting Professor and Senior Fellow of Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University Law School (Asian Study Tour 2003-2010), where she designed a comparative law program introducing the legal systems of Hong Kong and Mainland China.

In 2010, Sally was invited to deliver the annual Clayton Utz International Lecture. Her presentation focused on the role of language in Asia based arbitration.

Sally Harpole has lectured at several universities on the subjects of dispute resolution and international law, including

  • Beijing University of International Trade and Economics (formerly, Beijing Foreign Trade Institute)
  • Chinese University (Hong Kong)
  • City University (Hong Kong)
  • Dalian Institute of Technology
  • Guangzhou Institute of Foreign Trade
  • Hong Kong University
  • Kobe University (Japan)
  • Nankai University (Tianjin, China)
  • Nanjing University (Nanjing, China)
  • Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade

Sally often serves as a judge and coach for the Willem Vis International Arbitration Moot law student competition. She has judged the final round of this competition in both the Vienna and Hong Kong venues.

Conference Speaker

Sally Harpole is a frequent chairman, organizer and speaker of conferences on dispute resolution and the legal aspects of doing business in China and greater Asia. In these capacities, she has been featured in events sponsored and organized by

  • American Arbitration Association / ICDR
  • American Bar Association
  • American Chamber of Commerce
  • Asia Law & Practice
  • Beijing Arbitration Commission
  • Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Association
  • Club Español de Arbitraje
  • CPR
  • Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre
  • The Hong Kong Law Society and The Hong Kong Bar Association
  • International Bar Association
  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration
  • ICCA
  • Inter-Pacific Bar Association
  • Japan Association of Arbitrators (JAA)
  • Kuala Lumpur Regional Center for Arbitration
  • Practicing Law Institute (PLI)
  • Singapore International Arbitration Centre
  • Stockholm Chamber of Commerce
  • Vietnam Ministry of Justice


Sally Harpole has published numerous articles and book chapters on the subjects of direct investment, dispute resolution and other law topics relating to Hong Kong and Mainland China, which appeared in the ICC arbitration journal, the China Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, The Asian Leading Arbitrators’ Guide to International Arbitration and China Business Disputes.

From 1992 to 2003, she was General Editor and Special Editor of the CCH China Business Law Guide.  She currently serves on the Board of Editors of World Arbitration and Mediation Review.

Academic Degrees

  • University of California, Berkeley, California – A.B. Degree (honors, Phi Beta Kappa)
  • University of Washington, Seattle, Washington – Juris Doctor Degree (Asian Law Program, Moot Court Honors)
  • Harvard Law School Program for Instruction of Lawyers – Mediation Certificate
  • Straus Institute Advanced Mediation Training Certificate
  • Chinese Law Certificate, University of East Asia, Macau


Sally is a native speaker of English and is fluent in Chinese and Spanish. She has reading fluency in French.