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Nicholas Townsend has extensive experience in export controls, trade sanctions, cybersecurity, privacy, and the aerospace industry. His practice includes:

  • Conducting internal investigations and audits regarding the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR)
  • Advising foreign and domestic companies on compliance with financial sanctions on Iran, Russia, Ukraine, Cuba, Venezuela, and other countries
  • Advice regarding federal, state and non-U.S. privacy, information security, computer crime, and electronic surveillance laws and regulations
  • Drafting privacy policies governing collection and use of customer data
  • Advising on data breaches, including customer notice requirements and government inquiries
  • Representing companies before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)
  • Obtaining Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) licenses and export authorizations under the ITAR and EAR
  • Writing Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and export control compliance plans

Mr. Townsend's practice also includes advising on political law compliance under federal, state, and local campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics laws.

  • Counseling on compliance with Federal Election Commission regulations and disclosure requirements
  • Advising on registration and reporting requirements under the Lobbying Disclosure Act
  • Analyzing application of executive branch and congressional gift and ethics rules and post-government employment "revolving door" restrictions


  • Designed and implemented strategy for U.S. State Department Consent Agreement audit under the ITAR and supervised audit team for audit of defense trade manufacturing and research facilities in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Aerospace corporation in negotiation of CFIUS mitigation agreement and prepared associated cybersecurity plan related to a space launch program.
  • Major European aerospace manufacturer with respect to the implementation of their Special Security Agreement (SSA) and meetings with the Defense Security Service (DSS) regarding FOCI mitigation measures.
  • Conducted export control audits and internal investigations assessing aerospace and defense companies' ITAR and EAR compliance, including audits of an active space launch facility, a jet engine manufacturer, and a helicopter OEM.
  • Major U.S. academic institutions in drafting export control and trade sanctions policies and procedures.
  • International financial institutions, insurers, and manufacturers on extraterritorial application of U.S. sanctions on Iran and counseled domestic and international clients on Cuba embargo and potential business with other sanctioned countries.
  • Defense contractors, hardware manufacturers, and software developers on compliance with U.S. government cybersecurity and supply chain security requirements, including Department of Defense (DoD) Rule on Adequate Security and Cyber Incident Reporting for Covered Defense Information (CDI).
  • Companies involved in national security and technology regarding legal restrictions on cyber capabilities, active defense and other steps they can take to protect their networks and those of their clients under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), and the Stored Communications Act (SCA).
  • Major U.S. retailers and aerospace companies on data breaches, including customer notice requirements and government inquiries regarding such breaches.
  • State-owned company in Exon-Florio proceedings related to joint venture with U.S. seismic equipment manufacturer and strategic planning, filings, and negotiations with CFIUS and its member executive branch departments and agencies.


Chambers Global
"Elite" International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions Practice — Nationwide (2022-2024)
Washington, DC Super Lawyers
“Top Rated” Aviation & Aerospace Attorney in Washington, DC (2018-2023)
"Rising Star" Aviation & Aerospace, International (2015-2017)
The Legal 500 US
International Trade (2022)



  • J.D., Harvard Law School, 2006, with honors
  • B.A., Political Science and Psychology, University of Michigan, 2003, with highest honors


  • District of Columbia


  • Member, Space Law Committee, ABA Forum on Air & Space Law
  • Member, ABA International Law Section Export Controls and Economic Sanctions Committee

  • Member, Society for International Affairs

  • National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), Cyber Division
  • Member, Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Data Protection Committee of the ABA Public Contract Law Section