Areas of Practice
  • University of Michigan Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, Administrative Editor, Editorial Board, Michigan Law Review
  • Wellesley College, B.A., with honors, Wellesley College Scholar
Judicial Clerkships
  • Hon. Judge Oliver Gasch, US District Court for the District of Columbia
Bar & Court Admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida

Susan G. Esserman

1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
TEL: +1 202 429 6753
FAX: +1 202 429 3902


Susan G. Esserman is a partner in Steptoe’s Washington office, where she leads the firm’s International Trade Policy practice.  Ms. Esserman provides advice to domestic and foreign clients on expanding access to global markets and represents clients in international trade litigation and dispute resolution matters.  She brings to bear a strategic perspective arising from her experience in the US Government in four high-level positions: as a US trade negotiator, in trade enforcement as the decision maker in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, and in the role of General Counsel of two US Government agencies.  A significant focus of Ms. Esserman's practice involves US-India and US-China matters.

Ms. Esserman previously served as Deputy US Trade Representative, the second ranking official at USTR, with the standing of Ambassador, and she held three additional senior posts at USTR and the Department of Commerce.  As Deputy USTR, Ambassador Esserman was responsible for US trade policy and negotiations in the WTO and with Europe, India, Russia, the former Soviet Union, Africa, and the Middle East.  As USTR General Counsel, she played a lead role in devising US litigation strategy in the critical early years of WTO dispute resolution.

Ms. Esserman also served as the decision maker in hundreds of antidumping and countervailing duty cases as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Import Administration.  During her tenure, she played a lead role in developing comprehensive US antidumping and countervailing duty trade legislation and regulations implementing the WTO Uruguay Round Agreement, which govern US trade cases today.  As Acting General Counsel of Commerce, she counseled the Secretary of Commerce and senior Department officials on a wide range of issues, including trade laws, regulatory reform, litigation strategy, ethics, Freedom of Information Act requests, congressional reviews and oversight, intellectual property, and procurement issues.

Ms. Esserman has been active in firm management.  She has served multiple terms on the Executive Committee, as long-time chair of the firm’s International Trade and Investment practice, and as co-founder and leader of the firm’s Women’s Forum. 

Ms. Esserman is a leader of the firm’s pro bono efforts to assist survivors of human trafficking.  She is the Founder and Director of the University of Maryland SAFE (Support, Advocacy, Freedom, and Empowerment) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors.  The SAFE Center is the first ever university-based program to combine comprehensive services for sex and labor trafficking survivors (legal, case management, medical, mental health, and economic empowerment) with research and advocacy to combat trafficking.

Prior to her government service, Ms. Esserman was a partner at Steptoe where she focused on international trade litigation and policy. 


  • Chambers Women in Law Awards: USA for Outstanding Contribution to Advancing Gender Diversity (Private Practice), 2017
  • Band 1, Chambers Asia-Pacific, International Trade/WTO (Asia-Pacific Region),  2009-2018
  • Band 1, Chambers Global, International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (US), 2006-2017
  • Chambers USA, International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (Nationwide),  2006-2017 (Band 1, 2016-2017)
  • Washington, DC Super Lawyers, 2007-2011, 2014-2017
  • The Legal 500 US, Dispute Resolution: International Trade, 2016-2017
  • The Legal 500 US, Litigation: International Trade, 2013-2015
  • Best Lawyers in America, International Trade and Finance Law, 2012-2018
  • BTI Client Service All-Stars List, International Trade, 2016
  • Nation's Outstanding Women Lawyers List, National Law Journal, 2015 (honoring 75 of the most highly accomplished women in the legal profession in the United States)
  • Named a Top Lawyer in International Trade by Washingtonian Magazine, 2013
  • Who's Who Legal, Trade & Customs, 2011-2013
  • Euromoney's Expert Guide to the World's Leading International Trade Lawyers, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2015
  • Euromoney's Expert Guide to Women in Business Law, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015
  • Euromoney's Expert Guide to the Leading Practitioners: China (International Trade), 2011
  • Euromoney's Expert Guide to the Best of the Best USA, 2008, 2010

Select News & Events

Selected Publications

More Publications »

Professional Affiliations

  • Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and Chair of the Nominating Committee, US-India Business Council
  • Board of Managerial Trustees, International Association for Women Judges
  • Council on Foreign Relations
  • Wellesley Business Leadership Council
  • Visiting Committee, University of Miami Law School