(March 5, 2020, Washington, DC) — Steptoe & Johnson LLP is pleased to announce that Jeff Weiss, who spent more than 15 years in senior legal, policy, diplomatic, negotiation, and political roles in the US government across three administrations – including at the White House, USTR, and Commerce – has joined the firm as a partner in the Washington office. Weiss will practice in the firm's International Trade Group, which was just named a Law360 Practice Group of the Year for the sixth time in 10 years, and will serve as co-leader of the firm’s International Trade Policy practice.
Weiss draws on his government experience to navigate complex global trade issues at the intersection of international trade, regulation, and standards, and to develop and execute policy strategies. He advises and advocates for clients on the Hill and before the administration on a broad spectrum of matters related to international trade and investment, including: technical regulations, standards, permitting and infrastructure, conformity assessment procedures, digital economy, market access, and maritime and logistics. He provides counsel on issues arising under free trade agreements and in other international fora, the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as US trade law. At Steptoe, he will work closely with the firm's Brussels and London offices to help clients navigate UK and EU trade negotiations, European regulation, and Brexit.
Prior to going into private practice, Weiss served in a number of trade-related positions across the US government. From 2013-2017, he served as deputy director for policy and strategic planning at Commerce, where, he served as a senior advisor to the Commerce secretary on a wide range of economic policy issues, including port and supply chain issues. He was the lead US digital economy negotiator at the G20 talks hosted by China in 2016 and Germany in 2017, and led the development of the US strategy for international cybersecurity standardization. Weiss also previously served as the associate administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the White House Office of Management and Budget. In this role, he led development of US regulatory and standards policy and White House review of significant executive branch regulatory actions, and served as the US co-chair of the regulatory cooperation councils with Canada, the European Union, and Mexico.
Earlier in his government career, Weiss served at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) as senior director for Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), assistant general counsel, and assistant legal advisor at the Mission of the United States to the WTO in Geneva. While at USTR, Weiss served as the lead US negotiator and policymaker on Technical Barriers to Trade at the WTO TBT Committee, Non-Agricultural Market Access Negotiations, and in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.
"Jeff is a policy integrator who leverages his broad, high-level experience across the federal government and globally to address a wide range of client issues through trade policy," said Phil West, chair of Steptoe. "With decades-old trade policies and free-trade agreements being replaced or rewritten, Jeff's arrival will add further depth to our talented team of international trade lawyers who are working with multinational corporations to understand and navigate the new barriers and opportunities in the global movement of goods and services."
At Steptoe, Weiss joins Ambassador Susan Esserman as co-leader of the International Trade Policy practice. Esserman served as deputy USTR and USTR general counsel, and as assistant secretary of Commerce for import administration. Other key practice members include Dick Cunningham, who has participated in US trade policy debates for more than 40 years, and Eric Emerson, the head of the firm's International Trade and Investment Group, who led the firm's Beijing office for five years. In November 2019, Steptoe's Brussels office welcomed former EU ambassador to the United States, Ambassador David O'Sullivan.
Weiss commented: "Steptoe has long been known for its leading trade practice. Given my diverse US government experience and the cross-cutting nature of my trade practice – which dovetails with the increasing prominence of regulatory, standards, digital, and logistics issues in the trade and investment arena – what also attracted me to the firm was the strength of Steptoe's regulatory practice, in particular transportation, energy, cybersecurity, chemicals, and environment. That, coupled with Steptoe’s international offices and global presence, will enable me to assist clients with the full-range of strategic and market access issues in the United States and across the globe, including Brazil, China, the EU, India, Korea, and Japan. Overall, Steptoe is the ideal fit for me to grow my practice."
Weiss received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Duke University, where he was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his J.D. from Harvard and his M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
In more than 100 years of practice, Steptoe has earned an international reputation for vigorous representation of clients before governmental agencies, successful advocacy in litigation and arbitration, and creative and practical advice in structuring business transactions. Steptoe has more than 500 lawyers and other professional staff across offices in Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington. For more information, visit www.steptoe.com.