Kevin Wolf, Leading Architect of U.S. Export Control Reform, Joins Akin Gump

(Washington, D.C.) – Kevin J. Wolf, a former senior U.S. Department of Commerce official who served for the past seven years as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration, has joined Akin Gump as a partner in its international trade practice in Washington, D.C., the firm announced today. He is accompanied by Steve Emme, who served for five years as Senior Advisor to Assistant Secretary Wolf.

In his role as Assistant Secretary, Mr. Wolf was the senior official overseeing the regulation of export controls and the intersection of technology and national security issues. He brings to Akin Gump substantial experience—gained during his tenure in public service as well as nearly two decades spent in private practice—in the laws, regulations, policies and international arrangements surrounding U.S. export controls.

Working closely with his colleagues at the Departments of Defense and State and the National Security Council, Mr. Wolf was a central strategist, negotiator and implementer of the President’s Export Control Reform (ECR) Initiative, the unique and unprecedented effort to overhaul the U.S. government’s export control system. He also served as the primary Commerce Department senior official responsible for working with the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Mr. Wolf is the latest top-tier practitioner to join Akin Gump’s global international trade practice, which also saw the recent arrival of EU trade partner Jasper Helder to the firm’s London office.

“Building on Jasper Helder’s arrival to our London office last November, Kevin represents another tremendous addition to our market-leading international trade team,” stated Akin Gump chairperson Kim Koopersmith. “A great many of our clients are affected by U.S. export controls and sanctions rules, and it’s hard to overstate the benefit of having someone of the caliber of Kevin, who wrote the book on U.S. export control regulations, available to advise them. His arrival to our trade team further cements our ability to provide services to clients around the world, and I’m delighted to welcome him to Akin Gump.”

Added Akin Gump international trade head Tom McCarthy, “What Kevin achieved in the field of export controls while serving as Assistant Secretary is truly remarkable: He took an area of law greatly in need of reform and led its transformation into the dynamic regime that exists today. He also brings a truly global outlook, having cultivated substantial experience working with businesses and organizations with operations in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The opportunity to welcome someone with that track record and depth of knowledge to our team was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I couldn’t be more excited that he is joining us.”

In addition to his efforts with the ECR Initiative, during his tenure at the Department of Commerce, Mr. Wolf was responsible for, among other things: administering a licensing system that processes nearly 40,000 license applications and other submissions a year; resolving an array of disputes with other government agencies and exporters; working with law enforcement officials on investigations and enforcement matters and policy; setting licensing and other policies covering an array of countries, end users and end uses; and working with industry representatives and foreign governments on various U.S. and multilateral policy, regulatory and enforcement issues. Mr. Wolf also brings considerable policy experience to the firm, having spent significant time informing and educating members of Congress on crucial issues and working to ensure the passage of laws affecting sectors that have substantial export controls provisions.

“Following my seven years in public service, Akin Gump represents an ideal fit for my return to private practice,” stated Mr. Wolf. “It has not only a client base that spans the globe and includes many of the industries most heavily affected by U.S. export control laws, but also a renowned reputation for its government-facing practices and one of the broadest and most expansive international trade platforms of any major global law firm. I am thrilled to join such a top-tier team and look forward to putting my skills and background to work on behalf of Akin Gump’s clients.”

Mr. Wolf’s practice will include advising clients around the world on international trade regulatory and related matters involving primarily the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), sanctions administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) regulations and process.

About Kevin J. Wolf

Kevin J. Wolf is a highly regarded practitioner focused on the laws, regulations, policies and international arrangements pertaining to national security, foreign policy and other controls over the export, reexport and transfer of military, dual-use and other commodities, technologies, software and services to various destinations, end uses and end users.

The Export Control Reform Initiative that he led while at the Commerce Department was a seven-year interagency effort to substantially rewrite the defense trade and most dual-use export controls to accomplish various national security and foreign policy objectives. Mr. Wolf consulted with domestic and international industry groups, trade associations and technical advisory committees to assess the impact of export controls and sanctions on industry and explore how the regulations could be improved. In addition, he led the communication efforts involved in rolling out and implementing the new system, which included outreach to U.S. and foreign companies, foreign governments and other U.S. government departments and agencies. As part of his position, he was also responsible for coordination with OFAC on export regulations and licensing policies pertaining to the countries subject to economic sanctions, principally Russia, Iran and Cuba.

Prior to his tenure at the Department of Commerce, Mr. Wolf was a partner with another large law firm. There, he focused on an array of international trade law issues, including those pertaining to international sanctions and the FCPA. In addition to routinely conducting internal investigations, audits and due diligence investigations pertaining to export control and sanctions issues, Mr. Wolf also handled high-profile, multiyear white collar corporate and civil defense matters pertaining to export control, sanctions and other areas.

Mr. Wolf is a prolific speaker on the topic of export control reform, having given hundreds of speeches and presentations on the effort and related export control and sanctions issues.

Mr. Wolf received his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1992, his M.A. in public affairs from the University of Minnesota in 1992 and his B.A. in economics and political science, with honors, from the University of Missouri in 1988.

About Akin Gump’s International Trade Practice and Regulatory Work

Akin Gump’s international trade practice offers an array of services designed to optimize clients’ ability to engage in the cost-efficient and timely exchange of goods and services across borders, in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The firm’s lawyers and advisors assist clients with issues before the World Trade Organization; the EU Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union; the EU Directorate General for Trade; EU member states’ national customs, export controls, sanctions and foreign trade administrations, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; the International Trade Commission; the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and Justice and affiliated agencies such as the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Bureau for Industry and Security; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the World Bank and other multinational development banks;  the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies and offices that deal with international trade regulation.

The firm’s broader regulatory section has more than 100 professionals covering antitrust, communications, cyber security, financial services, environmental, government procurement, health care, international trade, privacy and transportation issues.

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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