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International Policy

Our International Policy team was born in 1962 when we began counseling newly independent states entering the United Nations. Since then, our practitioners have become trusted advisors to sovereign governments and multinational businesses on how best to advance their objectives in Washington DC, Brussels and beyond.

As developing markets mature, so too does demand for legal services from both government and business. The enduring relationships we have formed with government officials in capitals around the globe enable us to successfully engage on behalf of private businesses to help overcome challenges, whether they involve routine contracts, multibillion dollar infrastructure projects or matters of national security.

Combining legal expertise with political due diligence, we help our public and private sector clients anticipate and counteract threats to their priorities, navigate regulatory requirements and grow their investments.

Why Choose Us

The line between domestic and foreign policy is blurring in an increasingly globalized economy. Clients operating in multiple markets increasingly seek our counsel to address challenges they face involving their investments, disputes and regulatory matters. The resolution of these challenges can include a government recourse. Our differentiator is our ability to successfully engage that public policy mechanism, in concert with our legal expertise, to resolve our clients’ problems.

Our Experience

Decades of work for, and with, sovereign governments provides us a strong network of contacts around the world. Generally, the first stage of our work places us in the position of legal or policy adviser to a government on a broad range of issues. As the relationship matures, we are often asked to help stimulate investment. As deals begin to flow, disputes may arise, necessitating additional legal services.

Crossroads of Diplomacy and Business

Supported by our global platform and network of senior government and private sector relationships, we are skilled at “business diplomacy,” i.e., helping you navigate the political systems around the world to create the conditions in which your investments can grow.

Sovereign Advice and Counsel

We are proud to have the most experienced sovereign representation practice in the US, having served as trusted legal and political advisors to more than 100 sovereign governments and entities. Our strength lies in the global perspective of our practitioners.

Our lawyers are adept at interpreting and applying constantly evolving US and European laws and policies in the areas of international law and arbitration, trade, export control and sanctions, rule of law, human rights, international business transactions, immigration, financial services, tax, anti-money laundering and asset recovery. We combine years of experience helping governments address the numerous congressionally-mandated annual reports from the US Department of State and other federal departments and agencies that contain country-specific reviews which, if negative, can carry considerable consequences. More broadly, our defense, financial and national security experts liaise with the Departments of Defense, Commerce, the Treasury and State – and the congressional committees of jurisdiction – to address foreign policy-related needs and concerns.

Business Diplomacy

We help international businesses enter foreign markets and overcome obstacles that can arise while operating there. In doing so, we partner with you to develop a market entry strategy and identify resources, including on-the-ground support and home government assistance. Such efforts may also include building a positive political profile for your business before your home and target countries. Moreover, we help you resolve challenges that may arise by employing legal remedies (such as arbitration or local legal action), trade remedies (found in multilateral or bilateral agreements) and political solutions.

Capacity-Building and Assistance

Governments can find themselves in a state of transition. We partner with many countries to help them chart a path through various reform efforts, ranging from economic development to strengthening the rule of law. We have helped improve the investment climate in Iraq, supported the international integration of Kosovo, brought US universities to Qatar and China, advised the winning opposition party in Georgia’s 2012 parliamentary election on election protection and relations with the US, and helped governments in Africa and Latin America develop the legal and political frameworks to combat trafficking in persons. We also help our clients secure US and EU foreign assistance and other outside technical and financial support to advance their reform agendas.

Investment Promotion and Trade Facilitation

Trade and investment are high on the list of any sovereign government. Our firm plays a key role in helping governments reform domestic law and policy to attract investment, develop investment promotion strategies and identify potential investors. We also help governments strengthen their trade relationship with the US, which can involve securing free trade agreements, bilateral investment treaties or nuclear export agreements, as well as qualifying for and maintaining preferential trade benefits. Finally, we counsel sovereign wealth funds and state-owned enterprises as they navigate laws governing their investments in the US and EU, including review by the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Legal Claims Against Sovereign Governments and Officials, and Traditional Legal Matters

It is not uncommon for plaintiffs to utilize the US courts and laws such as the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA) to challenge the legitimacy of actions taken by foreign states within their own sovereign territory. Ignoring such claims, no matter how frivolous, poses the risk that a judgment will be entered by default against the foreign state and its officials. A default judgment – which can be multimillions of dollars – allows the plaintiff to seek enforcement of that judgment against the financial and other assets of the foreign government held in the US.

Not only can this be costly, but it can also often cause reputational damage to the foreign state.

Our lawyers have decades of experience successfully defending against ATS and FSIA lawsuits brought against foreign states and officials from across the globe. We are uniquely qualified to secure immunity and successfully invoke relevant defenses due to our deep relationships and capabilities with the US Department of State and other agencies of the US government. We also represent the interests of sovereign governments and their leaders before the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and various other international tribunals.

Human Rights

We share decades of experience advising sovereign governments, multinational corporations and other enterprises on issues relating to international law and international human rights obligations that can carry both financial and reputational consequences. Our team serves as counsel in human rights cases before prominent international tribunals including the UN Human Rights Committee, the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. We also successfully defend clients against the extraterritorial reach of ATS and FSIA lawsuits brought against states and multinational corporations.

Boundary and Territorial Sovereignty Disputes

Boundary disputes between nations often have considerable social and economic consequences, and can drag on for decades. A government must determine the strength of its claim as a matter of international law, develop effective negotiating strategies, and determine whether the resolution of the dispute through the International Court of Justice or an international arbitral tribunal is in its best interest. However, boundary disputes are not purely legal matters. They also involve complex diplomatic and political elements encompassing governments beyond those in the dispute. If carefully managed, these third parties can align to strengthen a government’s claim.

We represent governments on boundary disputes in some of the most important and challenging cases of the last four decades. We have addressed disputes in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, North America, Latin America and the Arctic. Many of our practitioners are former US government officials, some who were directly responsible for boundary negotiations and arbitrations with other foreign states. This affords us a unique ability to develop and initiate well-executed legal, political, and diplomatic actions to resolve a dispute efficiently and effectively.

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Our lawyers, senior advisors and policy advisors work across borders and across disciplines as one team to tackle issues. They include former:

  • US Senators
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • US Secretaries of the Treasury and Transportation
  • European Commission staff
  • World Trade Organization officials
  • US Ambassadors to Brunei, Egypt, India, Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore and Zambia
  • US Chief of Protocol
  • Czech Ambassador to the US
  • Croatian Ambassador to the US
  • Senior official from China’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, and the State Commission for Economy and Trade
  • Senior officials from the US Departments of State, Justice, the Treasury, Transportation and Homeland Security