Robert A. Friedman



Robert Friedman is an experienced international lawyer and former official with the U.S. Department of State.

Mr. Friedman helps clients address a range of complex legal, regulatory and policy issues that involve international trade and investment, government regulation of cross-border transactions, and compliance with U.S. laws based on foreign policy and national security.  He advises businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, and trade associations on matters related to economic sanctions, export controls, foreign direct investment, customs laws, data privacy and cyber security, market access, anti-money laundering, and national security regulations.

Mr. Friedman leverages his experience as a legal counselor and senior policy advisor to top Executive Branch officials to deliver practical and strategic results for clients facing a range of challenges that often entail domestic and international dimensions. Mr. Friedman’s clients range from start-ups to Fortune 50 companies and span diverse industries including defense, aerospace, telecommunications, finance, private equity, semiconductors, infrastructure, technology, and manufacturing. He has significant experience serving as regulatory counsel in connection with mergers and acquisitions and has obtained national security-related regulatory approvals for foreign investments from interests around the world.

As a legal adviser at the Department of State, Mr. Friedman participated in high-stakes bilateral and multilateral negotiations in over 20 countries across five continents and handled diverse legal issues related to treaty negotiation and interpretation, U.S. and multilateral economic sanctions, trade controls, weapons of mass destruction, outer space, and cyber security.  Mr. Friedman was the lead State Department attorney in negotiations with the Cuban government on re-establishing diplomatic relations.  He served as key legal adviser on several international arms control and nonproliferation treaties, including developing the legal architecture to address the threats posed by chemical weapons in Syria.  Mr. Friedman was also a senior policy advisor to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations managing participation in the White House-led interagency policymaking process on issues related to China, Russia, North Korea, Europe, cyber security, nonproliferation, and arms control.

Foreign Investment, National Security and Cross-Border Transactions 

Mr. Friedman regularly represents clients before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS); the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) in proceedings related to the mitigation of foreign ownership, control, or influence (FOCI) under national industrial security regulations, and he works with service providers and infrastructure owners in negotiating security agreements with the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (formerly known as Team Telecom) agencies (DHS, DOD and DOJ) regarding FCC-regulated businesses.  His experience includes representation of:

  • Globe Telecom to obtain CFIUS clearance for its acquisition of the cloud management solutions business of Cascadeo Corporation;
  • Electro Optic Systems to obtain CFIUS clearance for acquisition of the satellite communications business of Audacy Corporation;
  • Telefónica in the sale of certain U.S. data center assets to Asterion Industrial Partners;
  • TPG Telecom in its merger with Vodafone Australia;
  • Partners Group in its acquisition of utility locate provider On Target Utility Services;
  • A consortium of private equity sponsors regarding FCC and Team Telecom implications for potential acquisition of leading telecommunications infrastructure company;
  • A global manufacturer of aerospace platforms in the national security aspects of its potential acquisition of a U.S. company performing classified contracts for the U.S. government;
  • Various investors in U.S. critical infrastructure and emerging technology businesses, including information and communications technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and data analytics;
  • Numerous U.S. companies considering foreign investments from interests around the world, including Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Economic Sanctions, Export Controls and Trade Compliance 

Mr. Friedman counsels companies regarding compliance with a broad range of cross-border legal and regulatory matters, including U.S. and multilateral economic sanctions, export controls (ITAR and EAR), and foreign military sales issues, and represents them before the Departments of the Treasury (OFAC), Commerce (BIS), State (DDTC), and Defense to obtain licenses necessary to consummate investment, financial, and export transactions, including:

  • Counseled a leading U.S. semiconductor company on compliance with export controls in connection to its global supply chain;
  • Represented a top proprietary trading company in responding to an OFAC subpoena;
  • Advised U.S.-based venture capital firm on national security and international trade matters, including related to portfolio company investments, compliance with U.S. sanctions and export controls, and foreign investment regulations.
  • Advised data analytics company in design and implementation of export control compliance program;
  • Counseled global telecommunications network supplier regarding compliance with economic sanctions and export control regulations restricting trade with Cuba, Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Sudan;
  • Represented international shipping company in investigation related to compliance with economic sanctions, export controls (ITAR), and national security regulations (NISPOM);
  • Designed trade compliance and supply chain security infrastructure for artificial intelligence company;
  • Counseled international manufacturing company on compliance with anti-boycott regulations;
  • Successfully obtained export license for shipment of computer equipment and software to Cuba for leading environmental group;
  • Assisted U.S. company with international operations to properly classify goods, technology, and software under the Export Administration Regulations;
  • Advised leading e-commerce retailer on compliance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and contracting requirements under the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the Security Assistance Management Manual related to foreign military sales and direct commercial sales programs;
  • Advised a top telecommunications trade association on national security regulations related to Chinese equipment suppliers and sanctions compliance considerations in contract negotiations with foreign vendor;
  • Counseled leading media distribution company on sanctions compliance related to provision of programming content in foreign jurisdictions;
  • Obtained favorable State Department and OFAC guidance for international non-governmental organization’s proposed grant program for entities in Cuba.

Trade Policy, Market Access, Customs and Tariffs   

Mr. Friedman represents companies before the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and foreign governments in matters related to market access disputes, trade negotiations, import tariffs, and customs laws and regulations, including:

  • Advised multiple foreign companies on U.S. market access considerations, including trade policy, customs laws and regulations, and data privacy.
  • Represented national appliance distribution company in responding to trade tariffs imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, including engagement with United States Trade Representative, and successfully obtaining product exclusions;
  • Represented international premium foods company in tariff classification protest before U.S. Customs and Border Protection;
  • Counseled global communications infrastructure company on trade policy, foreign investment and national security regulations related to international operations in Australia;
  • Advised industry-leading satellite communications company on non-tariff trade barriers imposed by India significantly impacting U.S. operators;
  • Represented global submarine cable supplier in public international law, treaty and comparative law matters, including those involving the law of the sea;
  • Counseled multiple foreign companies in telecommunications and private equity industries on investment survey filings mandated by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Prior to his Executive Branch service, Mr. Friedman worked as a litigator at Venable LLP, as a non-resident Fellow at the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law, a law clerk on the Senate Judiciary Committee staff of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and an Aide to then-Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

Mr. Friedman is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in the School of Foreign Service’s Center for Security Studies.  He serves as a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, as a Security Fellow at the Truman National Security Project, on the Board of Governors of the Washington Foreign Law Society and a Regional Board Member of the Anti-Defamation League in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Friedman graduated cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center, has a Master’s in Government, with honors, from Johns Hopkins University, and received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Emory University.


Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., cum laude

Johns Hopkins University, M.A., with honors

Emory University, B.A.

Bar and Court Admissions

District of Columbia

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and District of Columbia Circuits

U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia and District of Maryland



At HWG, we’re always looking for smart, talented people to add to our team.


  • 1919 M Street NW, Eighth Floor
    Washington, DC 20036-3537
  • 1033 Wade Ave, Suite 100
    Raleigh, NC 27605-1155