Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky


Chair, International Trade, Investment and Market Access Practice Group

Barshefsky, Charlene

Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky is WilmerHale's Senior International Partner. She joined the firm after serving as the US Trade Representative—the chief trade negotiator and principal trade policymaker for the United States—from 1997 to 2001, and acting as deputy USTR from 1993 to 1996. As the USTR and a member of the President's Cabinet, she was responsible for the negotiation of hundreds of complex market access, regulatory and investment agreements with virtually every major country in the world. She is best known internationally as the architect and chief negotiator of China's historic WTO Agreement, as well as global agreements in financial services, telecommunications, intellectual property rights, high-technology products and cyberspace. She is recognized as a central figure for international business and international economic and trade issues. Her 25-year legal career in the field has encompassed international litigation, commercial negotiations, investment and regulatory advice, and dispute resolution, and she has written and lectured extensively both here and abroad.

Ambassador Barshefsky has been honored by both Harvard and Yale law schools; her negotiations are the subject of several Harvard Business School case studies and numerous profiles and she is the recipient of a number of honorary degrees and industry awards.


Ambassador Barshefsky's practice centers on international business transactions, the structuring and negotiation of commercial agreements and the removal of trade and regulatory impediments to exporting to or investing in markets throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America. She is exceptionally skilled in crafting market penetration strategies for goods, services and investment, and devising practical solutions to market access barriers, including negotiation with private parties and foreign governments worldwide. She also formulates sophisticated government relations strategies to complement, when necessary, the overall substantive legal approach. She advises companies in connection with trade litigation and dispute resolution in the US and abroad, as well as commercial and regulatory issues in the United States for foreign corporations. 

Honors & Awards

Publications & News


March 19, 2018

U.S. Department of Commerce Provides Further Guidance Regarding the Process for Submitting Exclusion Requests to the Section 232 Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum Imports

The U.S. Department of Commerce has published an interim final rule establishing procedures by which organizations may submit requests for exclusions from the Section 232 tariffs.

March 16, 2018

WilmerHale Recognized for Outstanding International Lawyers and Practices in Chambers Global 2018

In the 2018 edition of Chambers Global, 33 WilmerHale lawyers were named among “The World's Leading Lawyers for Business."

March 9, 2018

President Trump Issues Proclamation Imposing Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum Imports

Yesterday President Trump signed two Proclamations that impose 25 and 10 percent tariffs on imports of certain steel and aluminum products, respectively, other than those imported from Canada and Mexico.

March 6, 2018

President Trump Expected to Impose Section 232 Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum Imports

President Trump stated on March 1 that his administration would impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports for an indefinite period.

November 9, 2017

Key Takeaways From WilmerHale's Recent Women in Energy and Infrastructure Conference

On November 2, WilmerHale held its inaugural Women in Energy and Infrastructure–Powering the Future conference in Washington DC. The event and pre-conference dinner drew more than 100 attendees and provided a forum for women thought leaders to discuss legal and policy issues impacting energy and infrastructure companies and exchange ideas related to powering development. Speakers included senior government officials, in-house counsel, government affairs representatives, agency and Congressional staff, and other influencers.

August 16, 2017

WilmerHale Lawyers Named Among the 2018 Best Lawyers in America®, Nine Recognized as Lawyers of the Year

Best Lawyers in America®—the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal industry—recognizes 107 WilmerHale lawyers and names nine partners as Lawyers of the Year in its 24th edition.

June 9, 2017

The Legal 500 United States 2017 Recognizes 125 WilmerHale Lawyers Across 28 Practice Areas

The Legal 500 United States has released its 2017 rankings, recommending 125 WilmerHale lawyers—including 12 who are named to its elite “Leading Lawyers” list and two on its “Next Generation Lawyers” list—and 28 practice areas in its 11th edition.

May 26, 2017

WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices Recognized in 2017 Edition of Chambers USA

Chambers and Partners announced its rankings for the 2017 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, with WilmerHale listed among the nation's best in 50 practice area categories. Chambers also ranked 86 WilmerHale lawyers as leaders in their respective fields.

April 19, 2017

President Trump Signs Buy American and Hire American Executive Order

On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed an important executive order promoting “Buy American” and “Hire American” policies.

March 24, 2017

WilmerHale Lawyers Selected for Inclusion in The Legal 500 US Hall of Fame

Charlene Barshefsky, Reed Freeman, Robert Finkel, Robert Novick, Seth Waxman and William Lee are the six WilmerHale partners who have been selected for inclusion in the inaugural Legal 500 US Hall of Fame.

Recent Highlights

Ambassador Barshefsky is an advisor to a number of Fortune 100 and other multinational corporations in connection with their trade and investment activities in China, Europe and the United States, including in such areas as financial services, telecommunications, high-technology goods and services, consumer products, agriculture and intellectual property rights.

Professional Activities

Ambassador Barshefsky is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Board of the America-China Society, a Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association and a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Trilateral Commission. She serves on the Boards of Directors of American Express Company, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., Intel Corporation, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. She is a trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.