Robert A. Friedman

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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 and may require engagement with multiple branches of government. Mr. Friedman has advised clients in diverse industries including defense, aerospace, telecommunications, finance, private equity, infrastructure, technology, and manufacturing, and he has significant experience obtaining 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. 

At Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis, Mr. Friedman regularly represents clients before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS); the Defense Security Service (DSS) 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 network security agreements with the Team Telecom agencies (DHS, DOD and DOJ) regarding FCC-regulated businesses.  His experience includes representation of:

  • 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.

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 global telecommunications network supplier regarding compliance with economic sanctions and export control regulations restricting trade with Cuba, Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Sudan;
  • 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:

  • Represented national appliance distribution company in responding to trade tariffs imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, including preparation of product exclusion requests and engagement with United States Trade Representative;
  • 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 and on the Board of Governors of the Washington Foreign Law Society.

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.



Education

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
Maryland

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

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