John J. Sullivan is a partner in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice in the Washington, DC office, where he was a partner before beginning five years of public service in senior positions in the Defense and Commerce Departments. He is also a member of the International Trade and Government Relations practices.
John’s practice covers on all aspects of global commerce, including litigation and arbitration, export and import regulation, foreign investment in the United States and U.S. economic sanctions. He has filed briefs and presented oral argument in courts across the country. Internationally, he has advised clients on trade and investment issues in markets around the world. John currently serves by appointment of the Obama Administration as Chairman of the U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue.
John’s distinguished career in public service culminated in his nomination by the President to be U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce in 2007. After unanimous confirmation by the Senate, John served as the chief operating officer of the Department’s 13 bureaus and 38,000 employees implementing U.S. government economic, telecommunications, and environmental policies. He also served by appointment of the President as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
As Deputy Secretary, John played a substantial role in the development and administration of U.S. trade law and policy. He co-chaired the transparency component of the Bush Administration’s Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) with China and participated as the senior Commerce Department representative in the Fifth SED with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson in Beijing in December 2008. He led trade missions composed of representatives of dozens of major companies to open foreign markets for U.S. exports; participated by appointment of the President as a senior member of the U.S. delegation to the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem in May 2008; and, as a co-chair of the U.S. delegation, moderated the discussions between U.S. business leaders and senior members of the Iraqi government at the Iraq Business Dialogue in Baghdad in November 2008. John was also the senior official at Commerce with responsibility for the Department’s participation in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
Before serving as Deputy Secretary, John was the General Counsel of the Commerce Department following his nomination by the President and unanimous confirmation by the Senate in 2005. As chief legal officer, he oversaw the work of more than 400 lawyers in all aspects of the Department’s trade advocacy and litigation, export controls policy and enforcement, foreign investment reviews by CFIUS, and patent and trademark policy and litigation. John participated extensively in the litigation and settlement of the Canadian softwood lumber trade dispute. He also chaired the U.S.-China Legal Exchange.
John began his service in the Bush Administration at the Department of Defense, where he served as Deputy General Counsel from 2004 to 2005. He was responsible for all of the Department’s litigation world-wide and provided counsel on major criminal and civil investigations, acquisitions, and congressional oversight. In recognition of his accomplishments, he was awarded the Secretary of Defense’s Medal for Exceptional Public Service.
John was a partner in Mayer Brown’s Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Group prior to joining the Defense Department. He joined the Firm after serving in 1992 as Deputy General Counsel of President George H. W. Bush’s re-election campaign and in 1991 as Counselor to Assistant Attorney General J. Michael Luttig in the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice.
John was a law clerk for Associate Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court of the United States, and before that for Judge John Minor Wisdom of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Fifth Circuit. He received his law degree in 1985 from Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Teaching Fellow, and Book Reviews Editor of the Columbia Law Review, and his bachelor’s degree in 1981 from Brown University.