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


August 10, 2015

Looking East: The Future of Asia and Free Trade

An article by Charlene Barshefsky published in the September 2015, Vol. 1 No. 4 issue of the Octavian O Report.

July 1, 2015

WilmerHale Named a Leading National Firm in the United States by The Legal 500

The Legal 500 United States has released its annual rankings, selecting WilmerHale as one of the preeminent law firms in the country.

May 19, 2015

WilmerHale Practices, Lawyers Ranked Among Nation’s Best by Chambers USA

Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business announced its final rankings for the 2015 edition, with WilmerHale ranking among the nation's best in 46 practice area categories. Chambers also ranked 86 WilmerHale attorneys as leaders in their respective fields.

March 12, 2015

WilmerHale Lawyers, Practices Recognized in 2015 Edition of Chambers Global

Thirty-two WilmerHale lawyers are named among "The World's Leading Lawyers for Business" in the 2015 edition of Chambers Global. In addition to these individual accolades, the firm is recognized in 17 practice areas that span six different regions.

January 6, 2015

US-China Trade and Investment: 2014 JCCT Yields Significant Market Access Commitments by China

The 25th US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT)—an annual, high-level economic summit—took place December 16-17, 2014 in Chicago, with US and joint China-US “Fact Sheets” released afterwards listing China’s commitments

May 23, 2014

Chambers USA Ranks Top WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices in 2014 Edition

We are pleased to announce the names of the individuals and practice areas that are ranked in the 2014 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business.

April 25, 2014

WilmerHale Attorneys Recognized in Annual Washington DC Super Lawyers Listing

The annual edition of the Washington DC Super Lawyers magazine, published by The Washington Post Magazine, released its 2014 listing which includes 37 WilmerHale attorneys.

March 14, 2014

Chambers & Partners Recognizes WilmerHale in its 2014 Global Edition

Thirty-one WilmerHale lawyers have been named among the “World’s Leading Lawyers for Business” in the 2014 edition of Chambers Global. In addition to these individual accolades, 13 of the firm’s practice areas were also recognized.

January 27, 2014

New US and EU Guidance on Interim Agreement for Iran Sanctions Relief

As we have discussed previously, on November 24, 2013, the United States and the other members of the P5+1 (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China) reached agreement with Iran on the JPOA, an initial understanding on the disposition of Iran's nuclear program.

January 7, 2014

WilmerHale’s Strategic Response Group Profiled in The Washington Post

Speaking Engagements

April 10, 2012

Doing Business in China

Palo Alto, California

December 1, 2011

Doing Business in China

Waltham, Massachusetts

June 11, 2008

World Justice Project Conference: Multi-disciplinary Conference on the Rule of Law

Boston, Massachusetts

October 11, 2007

WilmerHale Webinar: The New Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law


April 20, 2007

Antitrust Practice ABA Luncheon

Washington, DC

December 5-6, 2006

Asian Ventures 2006 Consumer Tech Conference

San Jose, California

March 16, 2005

WilmerHale Event: Doing Business in China

Boston, Massachusetts

April 28, 2004

Milken Institute 2004 Global Conference

Beverly Hills, California

September 28, 2003

2003 Forbes Global CEO Conference


July 24, 2003

Re-energizing America's Trade Policy with Asia

Washington, DC

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.


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JD, Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, 1975

BA, University of Wisconsin, 1972

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia