Joseph C. Bell

Joseph C. Bell

Pro Bono Senior Counsel
Washington, D.C.

Email [email protected]​

Phone +1 202 637 5780

Fax +1 202 637 5910


Practice groupGlobal Regulatory

Throughout his nearly 50-year career, Joe Bell has been a constant innovator, applying his law and policy interests to a wide range of issues. His current practice, mostly pro bono, is principally devoted to natural resource policy and concession negotiations in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

He has represented governments in mining and agricultural concession negotiations and has advised regarding tax and royalty policies, stabilization agreements, and other economic issues related to large concessions. He has also advised with respect to the establishment of natural resource management funds and general issues of transparency and governance.

He was an advisor in 1989-90 to the Polish Ministry of Finance. The Polish government subsequently decorated him for his support and work "at the initial and most difficult stage of [Poland's] transformation." Later he established the Warsaw office of Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). In the same period, he was active in Ukraine and was a co-founder of the Project for Economic reform. During the 1980s he was a leading advocate for the introduction of competition into the electric and natural gas industries, responsible for some of the earliest decisions opening the market. Prior to private practice, he worked for the U.S. Justice and Treasury Departments, the Federal Energy Administration, and the Cabinet Task Force on Oil Import Control. He also taught at the Duke Law and Public Policy Schools.

He is Chair of the International Senior Lawyers Project, co-chair of the Advisory Board of the Natural Resource Governance Institute, a founding director of the Polish American Freedom Foundation, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2010 he received the American Lawyer Life Time Achievement Award, and in 2015 the president of Poland awarded him the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit.

Awards and recognitions


Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit
Republic of Poland


Lifetime Achievement Award
American Lawyer


Distinguished Service Award
Federal Energy Administration


Outstanding Service Award
U.S. Department of Justice


Chambers USA, Energy: Electricity

The Best Lawyers in America, Energy Law


Energy & Natural Resources, Projects
Washington, DC Super Lawyers

Education and admissions


J.D., Yale Law School, 1968

M.A., Harvard University, Economics, 1965

B.A., University of Colorado, summa cum laude, 1962


Chair, Advisory Board, Revenue Watch Institute

Director, International Senior Lawyers Project

Founding Director, Polish American Freedom Foundation

Member, Council on Foreign Relations

Member, International and American Bar Associations

Member, Woodrow Wilson Council

Bar admissions and qualifications

District of Columbia

Massachusetts (retired)

Representative experience

Advised the government of Liberia with respect to calculations of mining royalties.

Member of IMF advisory team to Ethiopia.

Through ISLP advising Ministry of Mines in Afghanistan on mining negotiation (ongoing).

Latest thinking and events

Published Works

Critical Issues for a Revenue Management Law Escaping the Resource Curse

Published Works

Sao Tome and Principe Enacts Oil Revenue Law, Sets New Transparency, Accountability, and Governance Standards Oil, Gas & Energy Law Intelligence

Published Works

Sao Tome and Principe: Threshold Country The Africa Journal

Published Works

Standard Market Design: What Went Wrong? What Next? The Electricity Journal

Published Works

Systematic Risk Factors in Russia and Eurasia

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