John P. Carlin

Partner | Washington D.C. • New York | (202) 463-1000(212) 336-8600
(202) 463-1000
(212) 336-8600

John P. Carlin, former Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Security Division (NSD) and former Chief of Staff to then-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, chairs Morrison & Foerster’s Global Risk and Crisis Management practice group and is co-chair of the National Security practice group. John, who served as a top-level official in both Republican and Democratic administrations prior to joining Morrison & Foerster, regularly advises industry-leading organizations in sensitive cyber and other national security matters, internal investigations, and government enforcement actions.

John is routinely called upon to advise leading U.S. and global companies across numerous industries—including in the technology, healthcare, energy, defense, finance, fashion, media, pharmaceutical, and telecommunications sectors—regarding crisis management, cyber incident response and preparedness, regulatory strategy, FARA, and CFIUS. Clients appreciate that John, who served until 2016 as the DOJ’s highest-ranking national security lawyer, can offer an insider perspective on their matters and is able to quickly engage the appropriate government actors in the event of a cyberattack or other significant incident affecting their business.

Selected Significant Representations

  • Advised on breach incidents. Advised global companies, including Fortune 50, in response to cyber incidents.
  • Cybersecurity training. Advised international consulting companies on their privacy and data security issues and provides onsite training exercises to board and executive members.
  • Breach and ransomware response. Advised companies on ransomware policy, as well as response to incidents.
  • CFIUS strategy. Advised major foreign investment companies on both their near-term and long-term CFIUS strategy, including advising on the implications of recently enacted reform legislation that will significantly affect the way CFIUS reviews are conducted.
  • FARA review. Counseled both organizations and individuals in sensitive and high stakes matters relating to FARA, and offering extensive practical, risk-based guidance on the law’s applicability as well as in conducting domestic and cross-border FARA investigations and engaging with the DOJ on multiple matters relating to FARA.
  • Compliance and risk assessment. Conducted compliance and risk assessments as well as advised on cybersecurity incidents and legislative issues to global technology firms.
  • Sanctions and TradeConsulted on the impact of U.S. sanctions policy to major international corporations.
  • Export Controls. Conducted investigations and advised on compliance policies and procedures.  
  • Crisis incident simulation. Provided various crisis incident simulations as well as table-top exercises to members of executive teams to international companies.

In his previous role as Assistant Attorney General for National Security, for which John was nominated by the President and overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis, he oversaw nearly 400 employees responsible for protecting the nation against terrorism, espionage, and cyber and other national security threats. Under his leadership, the NSD:

  • Created a threat analysis team to study potential national security challenges posed by the Internet of Things;
  • Launched a nationwide outreach effort across industries to raise awareness of national security, cyber, and espionage threats against American companies and encourage greater C-suite involvement in corporate cyber security matters;
  • Oversaw DOJ’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, responsible for investigating and prosecuting espionage cases, cases involving the illegal export of military and strategic commodities, and cases involving certain cyber-related activity;
  • Brought an unprecedented indictment against five members of the Chinese military for economic espionage;
  • Investigated the attack on Sony Entertainment’s computer systems;
  • Brought charges, in conjunction with the FBI, against seven Iranians working for Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated entities for conducting a coordinated campaign of cyber attacks against the U.S. financial sector;
  • Prosecuted major sanctions and export controls matters, including significant civil and criminal penalties against major global actors and noteworthy cases against malicious cyber actors;
  • Oversaw the efforts of the National Security Cyber Specialist Network and the National Security/Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council program;
  • Led DOJ’s participation on the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States;
  • Disrupted multiple terrorist plots and national security threats, bringing those involved to justice; and
  • Prosecuted the Boston Marathon bombing case; and
  • Provided legal oversight of the NSA’s surveillance activities and represented the government before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Prior to assuming his role in the NSD, John served as Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel to Robert S. Mueller, III, former director of the FBI, where he helped lead the FBI’s evolution to meet growing and changing national security threats, including cyber threats. He also held positions as National Coordinator of DOJ’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Program and Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, where he prosecuted cyber, fraud, and public corruption matters, among others, trying more than 40 cases to verdict.

John is an inaugural Fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs’ Homeland Security Project, focused on the unique challenges and choices around protecting the American homeland. He also chairs the Aspen Institute’s Cybersecurity and Technology policy program, which provides a cross-disciplinary forum for industry, government, and media to address the rapidly developing landscape of digital threats and craft appropriate policy solutions.

John, who joined DOJ through the Attorney General’s Honors Program, is a five-time recipient of the Department of Justice Award for Special Achievement, was awarded the National Intelligence Superior Public Service medal by the Director of National Intelligence, and has drawn bipartisan praise, with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling him “a trusted and tireless leader” and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey calling him “a superb civil servant.” He earned his Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School, where he received the Samuel J. Heyman Fellowship for Federal Government Service and served as Articles editor for the Harvard Journal on Legislation, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Williams College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

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