Press Release

Morrison & Foerster Further Strengthens Premier National Security Practice with the Addition of Leading Russia Sanctions Official

Michael Dobson, who was instrumental in U.S. sanctions against Russia and throughout Latin America, brings to the firm significant experience in sanctions at a critical time for global industry and finance

11 Dec 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 11, 2018) – Morrison & Foerster, a leading global law firm, is pleased to announce that Michael Dobson has joined the firm in Washington, D.C. as an of counsel in the National Security Practice. Mr. Dobson most recently served as a Senior Sanctions Policy Advisor in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), where he was one of the U.S. government’s leading sanctions officials in the development and implementation of U.S. sanctions policy toward Russia, as well as Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, among others. Mr. Dobson worked closely with John E. Smith, former OFAC Director, who came to the firm several months ago as a co-head of the National Security Practice.

“Mike’s decision to join our National Security Practice makes MoFo among the only firms in the world with two leading OFAC officials representing clients full-time, and certainly the only firm with two such recent OFAC officials on board,” said Brad Wine, co-chair of the firm’s Litigation Department. “This experience – coupled with the fact that, in John Smith and John Carlin, we have the top sanctions enforcement authorities from the civil and criminal sides of the U.S. Government – clearly positions MoFo as the leading global law firm for banks and other clients looking for assistance with sanctions regulatory or enforcement matters.”

Mr. Dobson is the latest former government official to join Morrison & Foerster’s growing National Security Practice that complements the firm’s robust anti-money laundering, corruption, and cybersecurity practices. In addition to Mr. Smith’s arrival in July, the firm announced in October that Joseph A. Benkert, a former leading civilian official in the Department of Defense who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Security Affairs, had joined the group as another vital pillar of the firm’s burgeoning CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) practice. Other key additions since the start of last year include John P. Carlin, a co-head of the National Security Practice and the former Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, Robert S. Litt, former General Counsel for the Director of National Intelligence, and David A. Newman, who served as the Associate White House Counsel and on the Staff of the National Security Council.

In his role at OFAC, Mr. Dobson developed strategies and tactics for achieving U.S. sanctions policy objectives, and applied that understanding of policy goals to shape executive orders, regulations, general and specific licenses, and interpretive guidance across multiple sanctions regimes, including Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Belarus, and narcotics trafficking, with an emphasis in the latter on Latin America. Mr. Dobson provided policy and organizational direction to interagency efforts to anticipate and mitigate unintended consequences of sanctions. He was also responsible for representing OFAC in interagency meetings, congressional briefings, private sector outreach, and international engagement efforts.

“The U.S. government’s escalating sanctions implementation and enforcement are significantly impacting U.S. and global financial institutions and operating companies. Our clients across the world­ – in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Gulf – will greatly benefit from Mike’s experience and insights as they navigate how to meet these challenges,” said Mr. Smith. “Mike’s joining us further solidifies MoFo’s unmatched ability to advise clients on national security matters. Clients will particularly benefit from Mike’s experience in Russia sanctions as the U.S. sanctions policy toward Russia is likely to rapidly evolve in the coming months.”

Prior to his time at OFAC, Mr. Dobson spent six years as an associate at another major law firm in Washington, D.C., where, among other things, he counseled clients on sanctions, export controls, and anti-corruption matters. He received his B.A. in political science and sociology from The George Washington University and his J.D. from The George Washington University Law School.

“The opportunity to work again with John, and to join the firm’s growing National Security Practice and its impressive bench of former government officials, made my decision to come to MoFo an easy one,” said Mr. Dobson. “I look forward to working with my new colleagues to further build out the practice and to meet the needs of our clients in the United States and abroad.”

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