Akin Gump Launches Cuba Initiative with Hire of U.S.-Cuba Relations Professional

(Washington, D.C.) –Akin Gump today announced the launch of a cross-practice, multi-office initiative devoted to advising clients in an array of matters related to Cuba. The launch of the initiative, which builds on the firm’s existing strengths in Cuba and other emerging markets, dovetails with the arrival to Akin Gump of Anya Landau French, a noted international relations professional with significant experience in U.S.-Cuba affairs, who will join the firm as a senior advisor.

With more than 15 years’ experience focusing on U.S.-Cuba relations, Ms. Landau French advises clients on access into the Cuban marketplace. A former aide to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and international trade advisor to the Senate Finance Committee, she has made more than two dozen trips to the island since 2000. Most recently, Ms. Landau French served as a senior fellow at the nonprofit Center for Democracy in the Americas.

Ms. Landau French will join a team of professionals with a deep history of advising companies that are either seeking entrance into the Cuban market or already engaging in authorized trade there. This includes advice on anticipating and adapting to recent and imminent transformations of Cuba’s rapidly changing business and political landscapes.

As part of the initiative, these professionals, gathered from across the firm, counsel clients on a number of issues pertaining to the many sectors of the economy that stand to be impacted by improved U.S.-Cuba diplomatic and economic ties, including hospitality, transportation, communications, health care, agriculture, mining, financial services, building supplies and renewable energy, among others.

“Akin Gump has been advising clients seeking to enter the Cuban market for years, and the launch of this initiative is an outgrowth of that,” said Scott Parven, a partner in Akin Gump’s public law and policy practice and head of its Cuba policy initiative. “Our focus on Cuba harkens back to a time several decades back when the firm was positioned to help clients seeking entrance into another newly opened market—Russia. Then, as now, the firm assembled a team of professionals with not only legal and business acumen, but also in-depth knowledge of relevant economic and diplomatic policy, to help clients navigate a new and swiftly changing environment.”

Parven continued, “As it pertains to Cuba, Anya’s unique background in both government and the nonprofit sector, coupled with her extensive on-the-ground experience and the broad skillset of our full team, will prove to be a tremendous asset to our clients. There are so many opportunities that exist for businesses seeking to enter the Cuban market, and we’re excited to help them.”

Added Ms. Landau French, “While many businesses are understandably keen to explore the possibilities that exist following the thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations, the foundation of any successful strategy will involve the development of mutual trust and understanding with Cuban counterparts. I look forward to the opportunity to work alongside others on Akin Gump’s Cuba team to apply the knowledge and experience I’ve gained throughout my career to help clients develop a strategy that will help them thrive in this new environment.”

About Anya Landau French

While serving in Sen. Baucus’s office, Ms. Landau French focused on trade and worker adjustment policy and U.S.-Cuba relations and helped draft and pass the 2006 SAFE Port Act. During her time in the Senate, she developed widespread knowledge of Treasury Department sanctions enforcement and helped connect U.S. exporters directly to Cuban counterparts at the ministries of Foreign Relations, Trade and Investment, including Alimport, the sole Cuban purchaser of authorized U.S. agricultural products.

Ms. Landau French is the editor of, and longtime contributor to, The Havana Note, an online publication covering the social, cultural, political, military and economic dimensions of U.S.-Cuba relations, and is a frequently published author on U.S.-Cuban relations, whose writings have appeared in a number of major, national outlets. She is a former associate at the Center for International Policy, where she worked closely with Wayne S. Smith, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana (1979-1982), and has served as a fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a senior fellow at the Lexington Institute and as Cuba Program Director at the New America Foundation.

Ms. Landau French received her M.A. from George Washington University in 2001, and her B.A. from Guilford College in 1995.

 Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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