Sam Witten is a former senior legal and policy official with the US Department of State who helps private clients and foreign governments address multinational issues.

Mr. Witten's practice spans public international law, national security law, corporate social responsibility, compliance issues, international extradition, and other international law enforcement cooperation. He has had extensive experience advising clients on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. His clients have included the Governments of South Africa, Israel, and the Federated States of Micronesia. He advises the International Wood Products Association (IWPA) and IWPA members on Lacey Act, CITES, and economic sanctions issues. He has also represented clients in arbitrations at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes and under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Before joining the firm, Mr. Witten served at the US State Department as Deputy Legal Adviser (equivalent to Deputy General Counsel) and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. As Deputy Legal Adviser, the top career legal position at the State Department, he supervised the Department's legal work on East Asian and Pacific matters; economic and business issues; human rights; environmental matters; international law enforcement cooperation; and Latin American matters. As Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, he managed the US Government's worldwide refugee relief programs, including heading the State Department's diplomacy on these issues at the United Nations. Earlier roles in a 22-year career at the State Department included Assistant Legal Adviser for Law Enforcement and Intelligence, Acting Director of the Office of War Crimes Issues, and Legal Counsel to the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. Mr. Witten earlier was a Trial Attorney in the Foreign Commerce Section of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, specializing in transnational antitrust issues and investigations, and was an associate in the corporate and regulatory practices at another international law firm.

Mr. Witten's pro bono activities include service on the Advisory Board of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and work on refugee and immigration issues for other national non-profit organizations.


  • Multinational company in an internal investigation concerning potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations which was self-reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Department of Justice.
  • Corporate managers in FCPA training programs conducted in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and Africa.
  • Investors in reviewing target companies during due diligence in mergers and acquisitions.
  • US and international wood importers on compliance with Lacey Act and CITES.
  • US companies and businesses on US economic sanctions, including as outside counsel to the International Wood Products Association.
  • Respondent in World Bank sanctions proceedings
  • US companies in audits of defense trade manufacturing and research facilities in the US and abroad under a US Department of State Consent Agreement.
  • US Government contractors on compliance programs and reporting obligations related to various Federal Acquisition Regulation provisions on human trafficking (e.g., FAR 52.222-50, Combatting Trafficking In Persons).
  • SEC filers with compliance with Dodd-Frank SEC reporting rules on conflict minerals.


Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Creates Higher Hurdle for Certain Imports into the United States
United States Fish and Wildlife Service Revokes Trump-ERA Incidental Take Rule Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Proposes New Permitting Program
Environmental Edge: Climate Change & Regulatory Insights
Wood Products Trade Enforcement Where Things Stand
International Wood Products Association Meeting
The Justice Department Announces Successful Enforcement Action Against Trafficking in Protected Wildlife
Myanmar Sanctions and Export Controls


Latin Lawyer 250
Pro Bono (2018-2022)
Presidential Meritorious Executive Awards
State Department Superior Honor Awards


  • J.D., Columbia Law School, 1983, James Kent Scholar
  • B.A., University of Maryland, 1979, magna cum laude
  • District of Columbia
Government & Military Service
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, US Department of State
  • Deputy Legal Adviser, US Department of State
  • Acting Director, State Department Office of War Crimes Issues, US Department of State
  • Assistant Legal Adviser for Law Enforcement and Intelligence, US Department of State
  • Legal Counsel to State Department Office of Counterterrorism, US Department of State
  • Staff Director, US Arbitration Team, US-UK Aviation Arbitration Over Heathrow Airport User Charges
  • Attorney-Adviser, Office of the Legal Adviser, US Department of State: Offices of Law Enforcement and Intelligence; Economic and Business Affairs; United Nations Affairs; and International Claims and Investment Disputes
  • Trial Attorney, Antitrust Division Foreign Commerce Section, US Department of Justice
  • U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, The Honorable Stanley Brotman
  • Executive Council, American Society of International Law
  • Adviser, American Law Institute's Restatement Fourth of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States
  • Member, International Law Section, DC Bar Association
  • Past Chair, DC Bar Association Public International and Criminal Law Committee
  • Past President, Washington Foreign Law Society
  • Advisory Board, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

  • Past President, Kol Shalom Congregation, Rockville, MD

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