Clif Burns focuses his practice on export controls, economic sanctions, customs, national security and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. His clients are in a broad range of industries including lasers, software, medical devices, telecommunications, networking hardware, military equipment, financial services, travel and hospitality, and agriculture. In particular, he counsels clients in these areas on compliance matters as well as, in the case of violations, handling internal investigations, voluntary disclosures and criminal defense. In addition, he regularly assists in due diligence in these regulatory areas in connection with mergers and acquisitions as well as representing M&A clients in international transactions with national security implications before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

Mr. Burns' export control work encompasses a broad range of areas and includes matters involving the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) administered by the Department of Commerce, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) administered by the State Department and the country-based economic sanctions program administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department. Mr. Burns also has broad experience in developing compliance programs for each of these three regulatory schemes, conducting due diligence for compliance with these schemes, and submitting voluntary disclosures of prior unlicensed exports. Customs matters have included judicial and administrative contest of penalties and seizures by Customs (most notably and arguing US v. Nitek Electronics, Inc., where the Federal Circuit overturned a significant penalty claim by Customs against an importer), advising importers on the proper classification and country of origin of imported and exported items, submitting voluntary disclosures on behalf of importers, and advising on the applicability of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on specific imports.

Companies represented by Mr. Burns are located in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and the United States.

Mr. Burns speaks French fluently. Mr. Burns is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. He was Editor-in-Chief of the Northwestern University Law Review and a law clerk for the Hon. Robert A. Sprecher on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Professional Affiliations

    • District of Columbia Bar Association
Read More


  • Export Law Blog
  • "Weatherford Woes," The Deal, published, September 2007
  • "Recent Developments Regarding DDTC’s Rules on Brokering," The International Lawyer, Summer 2007
  • "Going Bananas: Chiquita Tried to Protect Its Workers and Got Mashed by Prosecutors," Legal Times, published, April 2007
  • "Turning Yourself In: Export Enforcement Trends," Industry Week, March 2007
  • "Voluntary Disclosures of Export Violations," The Corporate Counselor, February 2007
  • "Enforcement of ITAR Part 130 Adds Problems for Brokers," The Export Practitioner, December 2006
  • "Expansion of Brokering Rules Gives Headaches to Exporters," The Export Practitioner, August 2006
  • "Proof or Consequences: False Advertising and the Doctrine of Commercial Free Speech," 56, University of Cincinnati Law Review, 1988

Speaking Engagements

  • "Anticipating Risk with Evolving Regulations," Export Control Coordinators Organization's 29th Annual Export Compliance Seminar, Washington DC, April 18, 2017
  • Panelist, "Ethical Issues that Arise from AML and Sanctions Compliance Challenges and Best Practices for Resolving Them," 7th Annual Forum on AML & OFAC Compliance for the Insurance Industry, January 20, 2017
  • Panelist, Asia-Pacific Economic Integration Conference, presented by JETRO and USC Marshall School of Business, Los Angeles, Calif., June 10, 2016
  • "Export Control in a Reformed Environment," Keynote Speaker, Export Control Coordinators Organization Annual Export Compliance Seminar, Richland, Wash., April 19, 2016
  • "Developing and Implementing Best Practices in Order to Avoid Engaging in Sanctionable Activity, Meeting the Heightened Expectations for Sanctions Compliance Programs, Working with OFAC in the Wake of Staff Reductions at the Agency, Managing Conflict of Law Issues, and Selecting the Right Vendors for Your Company's Specific Needs" and "Ethical Issues that Arise from AML and Sanctions Compliance Challenges and Best Practices for Resolving Them," American Conference Institute's 6th Annual Forum on AML & OFAC Compliance for the Insurance Industry, New York, NY, Jan. 21-22, 2016
  • Dinner Guest Speaker, Association of University Export Control (AUECO) Conference on the Impact of Export Controls on Higher Education and Scientific Institutions, Washington DC, June 8, 2015
  • “A Deep Dive Into the Export Administration Regulations and Export Control Reform. How to Implement an Effective Export Management and Compliance Program Post-Reform,” Co-Presenter. American Conference Institute's 4th National EAR Boot Camp, Oct. 22-23, 2014
  • “When and How to Secure a License from the US Department of Commerce: A Practical Guide to Using Form 748P AND SNAP-R, and Preventing Delays,” Co-Presenter, American Conference Institute/The Canadian Institute’s 3rd Industry Forum on U.S. Export & Re-Export Compliance for Canadian Operations, Jan. 29, 2014
  • “How to Classify Your Data, Technology, Products, Parts and Components: How to Structure Your Analysis and Determine the Correct ECCN Number,” Co-Presenter. American Conference Institute's 3rd National EAR Boot Camp, Oct. 9-10, 2013
  • "Don't Get Left Behind: Implementing Export Control Reform," Webinar, April 9, 2013
  • “Understanding OFAC in the Context of Emerging Payment Systems,” American Conference Institute’s 4th National Forum on Balancing Innovation with Consumer Protection in Emerging Payment Systems, Sept. 27, 2012
  • Society for International Affairs, "Compliance Insiders: Industry Best Practices and Effective Tools," April 3, 2008
  • Journal of International Law Annual Symposium, "International Trade Sanctions," University of Pennsylvania Law School, Feb. 29, 2008
  • TRACE International, "ITAR Part 129 Compliance Issues," Sept. 2005 and Sept. 2006
  • National Defense Industries Association, "Arbitration and Government Contracts," Nov. 2005