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 U.S. Government in four high-level positions: as a U.S. trade negotiator, in trade enforcement as the decision maker in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, and in the role of General Counsel of two U.S. Government agencies. A significant focus of Ms. Esserman’s practice involves U.S.-India and U.S.-China matters.
Ms. Esserman previously served as Deputy U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty trade legislation and regulations implementing the WTO Uruguay Round Agreement, which govern U.S. 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.