David Mortlock is Chair of Willkie’s Global Trade & Investment Practice Group and Managing Partner of the Washington office. He advises clients on international trade and government regulation of cross-border transactions, particularly the intersection of economic regulation and national security. Chambers USA (2023) ranks David among the leading individuals nationally practicing in the area of International Trade: Export Controls & Export Sanctions, which highlights his breadth of experience when acting for clients on trade sanctions and controls matters. Clients have described David as “a fantastic, creative problem solver" who is “incredibly knowledgeable in his subject” and “very practical and efficient in his advice.”

David helps clients pursue their business goals in compliance with foreign policy and national security-based regulation, including:

  • Compliance with and registration under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”);
  • Compliance with U.S. economic sanctions, export controls, and anti-money laundering regulations;
  • Navigating the CFIUS review process, including both voluntary and mandatory filings;
  • Internal investigations for potential violations of statutes and regulations;
  • Self-disclosures of apparent violations to enforcement agencies;
  • Criminal and civil enforcement actions;
  • Development of compliance programs;
  • Due diligence for compliance by investment targets, vendors, and other partners; and
  • License requests with the Departments of the Treasury, Commerce and State.

David has worked with financial institutions, private equity firms, hedge funds, media companies, and many other institutions to navigate cross-border transactions, build compliance programs, conduct internal investigations, and address government investigations and enforcement actions. His recent experiences have included:

  • Representing a major international financial institution before the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the New York Department of Financial Services, and the Federal Reserve Board, including the negotiation of a consent order and disclosure of apparent violations;
  • Conducting an internal investigation for an international company in response to a subpoena from the Office of Foreign Assets Control;
  • Filing an extensive disclosure of apparent violations with the Office of Foreign Assets Control on behalf of a major international company and negotiating a resolution;
  • Filing numerous notices with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and shepherding clients through the review process to obtain CFIUS approval of major transactions; and
  • Appearing as an expert witness in international arbitrations regarding the application of U.S. sanctions to commercial disputes.
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David is formerly the Director for International Economic Affairs at the White House National Security Council, in which capacity he advised the President and his National Security Advisor on sanctions, corruption and other international finance and trade issues. He helped lead the interagency process to develop and implement sanctions on Russia and Venezuela as well as changes of sanctions for Iran, Cuba, Syria and Burma. He also developed and coordinated implementation of the U.S. international anticorruption strategy.

David also worked at the U.S. Department of State, where he focused on sanctions policy as Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy; Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment; and Attorney-Advisor for Sanctions and Terror Finance. In these roles, he oversaw the creation and implementation of sanctions for Iran, Burma, North Korea and Syria; oversaw economic policy for the Middle East and North Africa; and provided legal guidance for the terrorism finance program.

Prior to his tenure at the State Department, David was an attorney at a large international law firm. 

David clerked for the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

David has been widely quoted regarding his expertise on foreign policy and national security regulation of commercial transactions, including in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, Politico, NBC News, and Reuters, and has appeared on BBC News to discuss regulations involving Cuba, Iran, and Russia.

Selected speaking engagements include:

  • Sanctions Discussion with Former Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, Atlantic Council (February 2019)
  • How Iran Will Cope with US Sanctions, Atlantic Council (November 2018)
  • Deterring Russia; Proposed Sanctions Legislation, Atlantic Council (July 2018)
  • “Sanctions Compliance Roundtable: How to Assess the Effectiveness of Your Sanctions Compliance Program,” ACI’s 11th Annual Advanced Forum on Economic Sanctions Enforcement and Compliance, Washington, DC (April 2018)
  • 7th Annual New York Forum on Economic Sanctions, American Conference Institute (December 2016)
  • “The Future of Russia Sanctions,” A World of Sanctions conference, sponsored by the Center for Near Abroad Strategic Studies (April 2016)
  • “OFAC Sanctions and Compliance,” 2016 Spring International Trade Export Licensing & Compliance Conference, sponsored by the Society for International Law (April 2016)

David's arrival at the firm was reported in Law360 here, in Global Investigations Review here, in Main Justice here, and in Bloomberg Law here. (January 2016)




Georgetown University Law Center, J.D. (magna cum laude), 2004 Cornell University, 2001

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