Charlene Barshefsky

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Charlene Barshefsky
Charlene Barshefsky official portrait.jpg
United States Trade Representative
In office
April 12, 1996 – January 20, 2001
Acting: April 12, 1996 – March 18, 1997
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byMickey Kantor
Succeeded byRobert Zoellick
Deputy United States Trade Representative[1]
In office
May 1993 – April 1996
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byJulius L. Katz[2]
Succeeded byRichard W. Fisher[3]
Personal details
Born (1950-08-11) August 11, 1950 (age 70)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Edward B. Cohen[1]
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison (BA)
Catholic University (JD)

Charlene Barshefsky (born August 11, 1950) served as United States Trade Representative, the country's top trade negotiator, from 1997 to 2001. She was the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative from 1993 to 1997. She is a partner at the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.[4] She is also an advisor at Moelis & Company.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Barshefsky was raised in a Jewish family on the North Side of Chicago, to Gustave, a Polish immigrant and chemical engineer, who died in 1995, and Miriam, (who died in 2011) a Russian immigrant and retired substitute teacher.[5] She has one brother, Alvin Barshefsky, and one sister, Annette Weinshank.[5] In 1968, Barshefsky graduated from Von Steuben High School.[5] In 1972, Barshefsky graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a bachelor's degree, double majoring in English and political science. In 1975, she earned her J.D. from the Columbus School of Law of The Catholic University of America.

Barshefsky was nominated by former President Bill Clinton to serve as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative along with Rufus Yerxa and Richard W. Fisher. In 1999 she was the primary negotiator with China's Zhu Rongji, laying out the terms for China's eventual entry into the World Trade Organization in December 2001. Her negotiations have been analyzed in Harvard Business School case studies.[4]

Legal practice[edit]

As of June 2012, Barshefsky is a senior international partner at WilmerHale. Her legal practice focuses on international business transactions, commercial agreements, and regulatory impediments to exporting and investment. Specifically, her expertise lies in "crafting market penetration strategies for goods, services, and investment and devising practical solutions to market access barriers". Her clients include Fortune 100 and other multinational companies that services like trade litigation, dispute resolution, and government relations strategies. She also advises foreign corporations on commercial and regulatory issues in the United States.[4]

Barshefsky has written and lectured extensively on both U.S. and foreign trade laws and public procurement regimes. She was a partner at the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson. She previously served as vice chair of the International Law Section of the American Bar Association as well as a member of its governing council and chair of its Publications Committee.

Personal life[edit]

Outside of her legal practice, Ambassador Barshefsky participates in several professional organizations; she is a board member of the America-China Society, a fellow of the Foreign Policy Association, and a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Trilateral Commission. She also serves on the boards of Intel, American Express, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Estée Lauder, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[4] She also sits on the advisory board for America Abroad Media.[6]

Barshefsky lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband. They have two daughters, one of which is married.

Honors and awards[edit]

  • Named one of "The Decade's Most Influential Lawyers" (40 lawyers total) by The National Law Journal in the regulatory category.[7]
  • Included in BusinessWeek's list of "Top Female Corporate Directors"[8]
  • Named one of "50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America" by The National Law Journal in 2007
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from Chambers & Partners in 2007
  • "Top Lawyers in Washington, D.C." in international trade by the Washingtonianmagazine for 2007, 2009, and 2011
  • Outstanding Achievement award at the Euromoney Legal Media Group's "America's Women in Business Law Awards"[4]


  1. ^ a b Nomination of Charlene Barshefsky : hearing before the Committee on Finance, United States Senate, One Hundred Fifth Congress, first session, on the nomination of Charlene Barshefsky to be U.S. Trade Representative, January 29, 1997
  2. ^ PN267 — Charlene Barshefsky — Executive Office of the President
  3. ^ PN729 — Richard W. Fisher — Executive Office of the President
  4. ^ a b c d e "Biographies - Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky". WilmerHale. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Jewish Woman's Archive: "Charlene Barshefsky" by Robert D. Johnson retrieved November 19, 2012
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-16. Retrieved 2014-06-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky Honored as One of the Decade's Most Influential Lawyers by the National Law Journal". WilmerHale. 30 March 2010. Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  8. ^ "Two Wilmerhale Partners Recognized as "Top Female Corporate Directors" by Businessweek". WilmerHale. 21 October 2009. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2012.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Mickey Kantor
United States Trade Representative
Succeeded by
Robert Zoellick