Donald R. Pongrace is co-leader of the firm’s public law and policy practice which comprises more than 75 lawyers and advisors. He currently focuses his attention on policy issues relating to Sub-Saharan Africa and U.S. domestic policy issues at the federal, state and tribal levels, providing strategic advice to, and advocacy on behalf of, major corporations, foreign governments and tribal groups. Mr. Pongrace also leads the firm’s American Indian law and policy group.

Practice & Background

As a leader in a major international law firm, Mr. Pongrace is frequently called upon to advise and counsel clients in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa, and he maintains a robust network of government officials worldwide. During his tenure at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, he has been involved in significant policy issues around the world. He represented major U.S. financial information interests in connection with the resolution of market access issues in China and in the subsequent inclusion of a chapter on such issues in the General Agreement on Trade in Services at the World Trade Organization. He established the firm’s public policy practice in Brussels during the period in the history of the European Union (EU) in which the Berlin Wall came down and the Single Market was established, assisting U.S. and multinational interests in understanding and adjusting to these major policy shifts in the critical European market. His work on the federal aspects of tribal policies in the United States includes serving as lead counsel on the two largest Indian water settlements in U.S. history and one of the largest trust mismanagement claims in U.S. history.

From 1989 to 1993, Mr. Pongrace served as the managing partner of the firm’s Brussels office. Prior to transferring to Brussels for the office’s opening in 1989, he worked in the Washington, D.C. office for four years, focusing on various public policy issues. In Brussels, he represented clients in multilateral trade and investment projects and U.S.-EU bilateral economic relations.

Mr. Pongrace’s public law and policy and American Indian law and policy practices are both ranked Band 1 by Chambers under the Nationwide Native American Law and Nationwide Government Relations categories, respectively. He is also personally ranked Band 1 in the Chambers Nationwide Native American Law category.

Mr. Pongrace received his B.A. magna cum laude in 1979 from Bates College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his J.D. magna cum laude in 1985 from American University, where he was note and comment editor of the American University Law Review. From 1985 until 1986, he was a law clerk to the Honorable H.E. Widener Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

Awards & Accolades

  • Legal 500 – Government Relations (2017)
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business – Native American Law (2014-2017)
  • Law360 – 2016 Native American Law MVP.

Speaking Engagements

Speaker, “Tribal Land Use Planning, Regulation and Management,” Tribal Economic Development in the Southwest Conference, Law Seminars International (April 17, 2015)