Charlene Barshefsky

Charlene Barshefsky
United States Trade Representative
In office
April 12, 1996  January 20, 2001
Acting: April 12, 1996 – January 20, 1997
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Mickey Kantor
Succeeded by Robert Zoellick
Personal details
Born (1950-08-11) August 11, 1950
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Wisconsin, Madison
Catholic University of America

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.[1] She is also an advisor at Moelis & Company.

Early life, education, and career

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, a Russian immigrant and retired substitute teacher.[2] She has one brother, Alvin Barshefsky, and one sister, Annette Weinshank.[2] In 1968, Barshefsky graduated from Von Steuben High School.[2] 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.[1]

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.[1]

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

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.[1] She also sits on the advisory board for America Abroad Media.[3]

Barshefsky lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband. They have two daughters.

Honors and awards


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