Current Archival Research Fellow

Dr. Vafai earned his Juris Doctorate (JD), from the University of Tehran School of Law,  Master of Laws (LLM) with honors from Yale University, his Doctorate in Juridical Science (JSD) and his Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Harvard University.  His publications include the first English translation of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, published by the Oceana Publications.  Dr. Vafai is a member of the New York State Bar Association and the Academy of International Business.


International Transactions with Iran

The Iranian Judicial Review

Corruption in Iran



On January 17, 2016, in a statement following his signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, President Obama addressed that country’s people, stating that “yours is a great civilization, with a vibrant culture that has so much to contribute to the world – in commerce, and in science and the arts.” While the former U.S. President’s evaluation of the Iranian people’s greatness is indisputable, there are questions concerning doing business with Iran which transcend conventional legal issues and commercial problems.

Given the juxtaposition of Iran’s duopolistic government structure and ideologically oriented decision-making processes, questions arise as to what extent multinational corporations, including U.S. companies, should reasonably expect to conduct commercial transactions with that country. Specific issues arise related to Iranian banks, international credit recognition, terms of payment, and the conceptual legality of interest in Iran. In addition, more practical issues arise related to the governing law of contract and proper dispute resolution mechanisms. Furthermore, U.S. regulatory constraints limit the efficacy of certain contracts between Iran and U.S. companies. This article attempts to illustrate the structural, legal and operational issues concerning doing business with Iran and, where possible, means for mitigating such issues.

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...doing business with Iran comes down to a choice between the commercial retreat we know and the untutored wildcard we don’t.

Dr. Vafai is recognized as a leading practitioner in the areas of Iranian law, foreign direct investment, licensing, and international oil and gas law. As a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C., Dr. Vafai conducted research in issues related to corrupt business practices in Russia. Dr. Vafai has taught in a number of universities in Iran and the U.S., including Tehran University School of Law, Rutgers University Graduate School of Business Administration, The University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson Administration, The University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson Administration. Dr. Vafai was also a Visiting Legal Scholar at Columbia University's School of Law. He was the editor of the Harvard Environmental Law Review and the winner of the Yale University Ford Foundation’s James Raymond Goodrich Prize for Legal Scholarship. Dr. Vafai served of Counsel with Lally & Misir LLP, with whom he advised clients in Russia, Azerbaijan, and New York.