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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. His practice includes policy development, compliance counseling, advocacy, litigation, and arbitration.

Mr. Witten's practice spans trade and investment issues, corporate compliance, international arbitration, and national security law. His practice also includes international law enforcement cooperation, corporate social responsibility, and public international law. His clients include the Governments of South Africa 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 represents 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 at the State Department in a 22-year career 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 at another international law firm.

Mr. Witten's pro bono work includes service on the Advisory Board of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and the Board of Advocates of Human Right First.

Experience

  • 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 company internal controls of target companies during due diligence in mergers and acquisitions.
  • US 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.
  • 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 interpretation and implementation of new Foreign Acquisition Regulation on human trafficking.
  • SEC filers with compliance with Dodd-Frank SEC reporting rules on conflict minerals.

Perspectives

Global Anti-Corruption Insights: Summer 2018
Update on Recent Enforcement, Litigation, and Compliance Developments
The US Department of Agriculture Announces Upcoming Rulemakings Relating to Its Enforcement of the Lacey Act
Advisory
President Trump Announces Withdrawal From Iran Deal
Advisory
Assessing Halliburton's FCPA Settlement and Lessons Learned (pdf)
Energy Law Report, Vol. 18, No. 2
Lacey Act Compliance Update: Lessons from the DOJ-Young Living Settlement
Webinar, International Wood Products Association and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer
More

Recognition

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

Credentials

Education
  • JD, Columbia Law School, 1983, James Kent Scholar
  • BA, University of Maryland, 1979, magna cum laude
Admissions
  • District of Columbia
Government and 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 Economic and Business Affairs, United Nations Affairs, and International Claims and Investment Disputes
  • Trial Attorney, Antitrust Division Foreign Commerce Section, US Department of Justice
Activities
  • 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
  • Board of Advocates, Human Rights First
  • Advisory Board, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

  • Immediate Past President, Kol Shalom Congregation, Rockville, MD
Overview

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