Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is pleased to announce the expansion of its foreign investment and international trade practices with the addition of Laura Black, former Director of Policy and International Relations in the Office of Investment Security at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Black joins the firm as a senior counsel and will be based in Washington, D.C.
Black brings more than a decade of experience in international trade and foreign investment at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. She was the chief drafter of, and led the process for scoping, drafting, and finalizing, the full set of regulations implementing the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA), the first expansion of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’ (CFIUS) authority in three decades. In drafting the new regulations, Ms. Black led a 12-agency working group to understand each agency’s views on the greatest risks to national security and interacted extensively with the business community to understand their concerns through both informal meetings and the formal notice and comment process.
She has played a leading role in the development of other investment regimes both within and outside the United States. Ms. Black was actively involved in the development of proposals for a widely anticipated regulatory program for outbound U.S. investment in critical industry sectors. She also spearheaded recent U.S. government engagement with foreign governments, including with countries in Europe, Asia, the Western Hemisphere and the Middle East. Over the past two years, more than 30 countries have taken action to establish or strengthen their investment review mechanisms.
“It’s difficult to overstate Laura’s insight into the CFIUS regulations and underlying policy objectives driving investment reviews.” said Christian Davis, the partner who leads Akin Gump’s CFIUS practice. “She brings a depth of knowledge and understanding to our team that is simply not available at any other firm.”
As a result of her deep Treasury experience, Black was selected as a civil service senior advisor to both Republican and Democratic political appointees. She served as a Senior Advisor to the General Counsel during the Bush administration, as well as a Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development during the Obama administration. She has also worked closely with political officials in both the Biden and Trump administrations and served as the point person between the Biden administration transition team and the Offices of International Affairs (including CFIUS) and Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, including the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
“In an environment where foreign investment receives ever-growing scrutiny around the globe, Laura’s background and experience are perfect complements to our existing strengths, as various countries are increasing their scrutiny of inbound and outbound investment,” said Thomas J. McCarthy, head of Akin Gump’s international trade practice. “In addition to her deep understanding of U.S. regulations, she brings deep experience working with colleagues instituting investment security regulations in countries across Europe and Asia. That experience and context will be invaluable to our clients engaged in transactions around the world.”
Ms. Black will help clients, including funds and multinational corporations, situate investment screening within a broader national security context and provide strategic guidance and planning. She will also advise clients on matters including international investment risks, multijurisdictional reviews of transactions, cross-border M&A, and emerging policy issues involving outbound investments by U.S. entities.
“Akin Gump’s differentiated offering sits at the intersection of law and policy and leverages its fully integrated international trade and corporate practices. That is particularly important as organizations navigate a complicated economic and geopolitical landscape,” said Ms. Black. “Drawing on my experience at Treasury and my role at CFIUS, we can provide clients very specific insight into how Treasury and the interagency groups operate, ensuring their compliance with critical investment and security requirements. I am thrilled to bring this additional perspective to the firm, and look forward to working with my very talented new colleagues.”
In addition to her experience working across the Treasury Department, Black performed the duties of the Executive Director for the United States on the Board of Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank and subsequently served as a senior counselor to the Senate-confirmed U.S. Executive Director. During her tenure, she worked with the delegations of the 47 member governments to advance policy initiatives and expand the Bank’s work with the private sector. Prior to entering public service, Black was an attorney at a leading international firm with a practice focused on cross-border M&A.