Frances Pao-Han Kao

Frances Pao-Han Kao

Senior Counsel


Frances P. Kao focuses her practice on international dispute resolution, corporate counseling, and compliance, with a special focus on Asia-Pacific.  As a former litigation partner at Skadden Arps, Frances started the firm’s U.S. dispute resolution and regulatory compliance practice in Asia-Pacific.  She was based in the firm’s Hong Kong office and gained extensive experience in international arbitration including in the Peoples Republic of China, United Kingdom, France, Sweden and Singapore.  Frances advised international and U.S.-based businesses on establishing business operations and continuing operations in Asia, particularly China and Korea.  Her clients included Fortune 50 companies in the technology, pharmaceutical, sports, energy, food and retail industries.

Frances has significant experience in arbitration and mediation.  She draws on over twenty years of practice representing public and private companies, as well as their officers, directors and executives in commercial litigation, arbitration, and investigations.  Frances also acts as a neutral in private mediations and arbitrations focusing on complex commercial disputes, franchising issues, real estate disputes and oil and gas issues.  She is a certified commercial arbitrator for FINRA and the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

Frances has been recognized in the Legal 500 Directory and in the Chambers Global Guide. An active volunteer in the legal aid community, Frances has represented death row inmates on a pro bono basis during state and federal post-conviction proceedings.  Frances also operates a business that develops, designs, and builds universal design, accessible, and community-enhancing housing incorporating state-of-the-art technology and design.

Frances received her Bachelor of Special Studies in History from Cornell College and her J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law.   She is a native Mandarin Chinese speaker.


  • Represented Asian petroleum and chemical company on issues arising out of its NYSE-traded entity.
  • Represented Asian offshore oil company and U.S.-based oil company’s foreign operations in the expert determinations of economically recoverable reserves.
  • Represented Asian offshore oil company and U.S.-based oil company’s foreign operations in a UNCITRAL arbitration related to their delivery obligations under a take-or-pay gas sales contract and in a UNCITRAL arbitration related to the meaning of the force majeure provision of a take-or-pay gas sales contract.
  • Represented various entities and individuals in the investigation of white collar crimes, both franchisors and franchisees in various actions, including multi-unit franchisee bankruptcies and in trade secret actions.

Professional Activities


  • Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, (Member, Board of Directors 2009-2013)
  • IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (Member, Board of Overseers 2006 – 2013)
  • Business & Professional People in the Public Interest, (Member, Board of Directors 2009-2012)
  • Legal Assistance Foundation, (Member, Board of Directors 2004 – 2012)
  • Resolution Systems Institute, (Member, Board of Directors 2010 – 2012)
  • American Bar Association, (Chair, Standing Committee on Paralegals 2004 – 2006; Committee Member 2001-2004))


  • Cornell College, (Member, Board of Trustees; Chair, Business Affairs Committee 2010-Present)
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium, (Caribbean Reef Diver; Weekly Feeding & Presentations)

Publishing & Speaking

Representive Publications & Speaking

  • “Caregiving,” AARP Panel Member, November 12, 2015.
  • “Early Dispute Resolution and Risk Management Techniques, Global Reference Guide 2012.
  • Litigation & Dispute Resolution,” Financier Worldwide, June 2012.
  • “Failed PRC Reverse Mergers: Strategies to Maximize Stakeholder Recoveries,” Corporate
  • Livewire, March 2012.
  • “Managing Internal Investigations and US Securities Laws Considerations,” Beijing, PRC, July 2011.
  • “Leading Developments in Chinese Law,” UCLA Asia Institute, March 5, 2010.
  • “Unique Aspects of International Arbitration,” Chicago Bar Association, June 10, 2010.
  • “Into the Hot Tub: A Practical Guide to Alternative Expert Witness Procedures in International
  • Arbitration,” International Lawyer, Vol. 44, No. 3, Fall 2010.
  • “No, a Paralegal is Not a Lawyer,” Business Law Today, Vol. 16, No. 3, Jan./Feb. 2007.

Practice Areas

  • Compliance & Corporate Governance
  • International Dispute Resolution
  • Mediation & Arbitration


  • J.D. Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1992
  • Bachelor of Special Studies, Cornell College, 1985

Admissions and Qualifications

  • Illinois
  • Certified Commercial Arbitrator
  • Certified FINRA Arbitrator

Prior Experience

  • Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom LLC-Partner (1987-2012)