Gorelick and Barshefsky Named Washington's Most
June 29, 2010
Jamie Gorelick and Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky selected for work and reputations that
put them in an Elite Tier
The National Law Journal recently published a list of the 33 Most Influential Women in
Washington and WilmerHale Partners Jamie Gorelick and Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky
were included among the elite. These women, selected by editors of The National Law
Journal, were recognized for their distinguished work and respectful influence.
Jamie Gorelick has been a pioneer as a leading criminal and civil litigator, one of the first
women partners in Washington, and has since been a leader in pro bono service, President
of the DC Bar, and a senior lawyer in the public sector heading the two largest law firms in the
world—at the Departments of Defense and Justice. She embodies the core values of the
legal profession that have in turn influenced lawyers in Washington and throughout the world.
The National Law Journal quoted O’Melveny & Myers partner Walter Dellinger III saying,
"Jamie combines really good values, great judgment, a sharp mind and extraordinary
management skills. There is no one I would rather entrust with a complex and difficult matter."
Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, WilmerHale’s Washington DC-based senior international
partner, is used to making headlines. Since the early 1990s, she has been in the spotlight for
having negotiated hundreds of market opening and investment agreements around the world,
including China’s World Trade Organization agreement; her agreement to open the
Vietnamese market, which normalized relations between Vietnam and the United States; and
her pursuit of pro-growth trade policies in the Middle East. Her negotiations have been the
subject of case studies at Harvard Business School, and she has been widely lauded by law
schools and legal publications alike, including as the recipient of numerous honorary
degrees. She was quoted in the The National Law Journal feature saying, gender
discrimination has “never been an issue for me. I think women actually have an advantage in
negotiations. We tend to be highly intuitive."
by Robert D. Johnston
During one of the most intense periods of conflict over international trade in American history,
Charlene Barshefsky rose to prominence as arguably the nation’s chief advocate of free trade.
The Cabinet-level United States Trade Representative from 1997 to 2001, Barshefsky played
a crucial role in forging a new era of economic globalization under the leadership of President
Ambassador Barshefsky is married to Edward B. Cohen, a lawyer who served in the Interior
Department during the Clinton administration. They have two daughters, Mari and Devra.
Barshefsky grew up, along with her brother Alvin and her sister Annette (married name
Weinshank), on the North Side of Chicago. Her father Gustave, a chemical engineer who died
in 1995, was a Polish immigrant, and her mother Miriam, a retired substitute teacher, is an
immigrant from Russia. Barshefsky graduated from Von Steuben High School in 1968 and
then proceeded to the University of Wisconsin, where she specialized in political theory and
received her bachelor’s degree in 1972. A law degree from Catholic University, where she
finished seventh in her class, followed three years later.
Before joining Clinton’s economic team, Barshefsky worked for eighteen years at the
Washington law firm of Steptoe and Johnson, where she eventually earned half a million
dollars a year as co-head of the firm’s international law practice. Although she had no political
experience, Clinton’s first trade representative, Mickey Kantor, tapped Barshefsky as his
deputy responsible for Latin America and Asia in 1993; she became Kantor’s second-in-
command in late 1994. She quickly won widespread plaudits as a tenacious negotiator,
gaining the title of “Stonewall” after some particularly difficult trade talks with Japan. When a
plane crash took the life of Commerce secretary Ronald H. Brown, Kantor assumed Brown’s
position; Clinton then named Barshefsky acting trade representative in April 1996. After
concerns about her previous legal representation of Canadian lumber interests were put to
rest, the Senate confirmed Barshefsky as the permanent trade representative in March 1997.
During the Clinton years the post of trade representative went from the political margins to the
center not only of economic, but also of foreign, policy. Barshefsky frequently has remarked on
how trade relationships are now the most significant way that nations associate with each
other. Barshefsky and her fellow Clintonites combined this insight with a crusading zeal for
free trade agreements that, they argued, would bring peace and prosperity to the post-Cold
During her years in office, Barshefsky negotiated landmark trade agreements around the
globe. Her accomplishments include pioneering accords with countries such as Vietnam and
Jordan. Pushing beyond the North American Free Trade Agreement, Barshefsky negotiated
an economic zone known as the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Her biggest success came
in a historic agreement with China that opened up many of that giant country’s markets and
facilitated China’s entry into the World Trade Organization.
Barshefsky’s prodigious feats were not accomplished without controversy. Labor unions
protested the loss of well-paid jobs, and environmental groups decried the lack of protections
for nature in the new global agreements. Human rights advocates expressed their concerns
about cooperating with countries like China on economic issues without pressing their
governments on such matters as torture and lack of political freedom.
The protest against the policies of globalization advocated by Barshefsky culminated in the
tumultuous “Battle for Seattle.” In late 1999 the World Trade Organization met in that city to
hammer out large-scale free trade agreements for the new millennium. A disparate group of
protesters, united in their conviction that multinational corporations stood to benefit
disproportionately from such agreements, blocked the streets of Seattle and prevented many
delegates from attending meetings. While the core of the anti-globalization movement was
determinedly non-violent, some self-proclaimed anarchists did set out to damage corporate
property; the police, in turn, themselves responded with considerable violence. Combined
with significant conflicts within the WTO, particularly between poor and rich nations, the
protests led to the WTO’s failure to act on its grand agenda.
While Barshefsky herself did not often call attention to matters of gender, being a woman
became a significant part of the media profile she developed while holding political office.
Although few if any commentators commented on Mickey Kantor’s ties, Barshefsky’s imported
designer silk scarves were not infrequently noted—as was her hairstyle. And while few male
government officials are asked how much they help with their children’s homework,
Barshefsky was, proudly noting that she almost never missed school plays or concerts and
that she toted Macbeth on her trans-oceanic flights so that her daughter could call on her for
help with the Bard. That said, Barshefsky herself observed in a long 1996 New Yorker profile
that she had found the prospect of taking such an immensely time-consuming government
job “very threatening,” a possible “dreadful mistake” because of the time it would take away
from her children, who were nine and four when she took office.
Barshefsky herself also actually suggested that, because she was particularly attuned to
personality and body language, being a woman possibly provided an edge at the bargaining
table. And while Barshefsky attributed most of her success to her rank and general
negotiating skills, even one of Barshefsky’s female friends commented on the “intuitive”
nature of Barshefsky’s negotiating style. Barshefsky never did consider it necessary or
important to take up a public mantle of feminism. She did, however, get into temporary hot
water at the White House when she blamed the United States’s 1999 bombing of the
Chinese embassy in Belgrade on men’s inability to ask for directions.
In contrast to her gender the media has made almost no substantive exploration of her ethnic
or religious identity. Barshefsky is known to be Jewish. She has spoken, for example, of
helping a daughter learn her bat mitzvah Torah portion while on an expensive international
airphone. Yet the most visible public invocation of Barshefsky’s Jewishness ironically almost
seemed to negate it. Before the start of fall classes in 2002, Harvard President Lawrence
Summers controversially reflected on what he regarded as the resurgence of antisemitism at
his university and around the world. The Jewish Summers--who had himself served as
secretary of the Treasury--argued that the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment contrasted with the
historically significant lack of concern when Bill Clinton appointed a “very heavily Jewish”
lineup of economic policymakers that included not only Barshefsky but also Treasury
secretary Robert Rubin and Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. In this narrative, the
career of Charlene Barshefsky became simply one more sign of the successful assimilation
of Jews into the top leadership of the United States.
Upon leaving the Clinton administration in 2001, Barshefsky joined the Woodrow Wilson
International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Later in 2001 she became a Senior
International Partner at Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering, a law firm with heavily Democratic
connections. She continues to appear frequently on television as a commentator on
international business matters, and her negotiation strategies are used as lessons at such
prestigious institutions as the Harvard Business School. Barshefsky serves on a number of
corporate boards and is also active in the Council on Foreign Relations, the America-China
Society and the Trilateral Commission.
Lawyers good and bad: award-winners and
Hansen Awarded Alec L. Cory Scholarship for
Outstanding Pro Bono Service
San Diego, Calif. – Kathryn “Katia” Hansen of Oceanside is the 2007 recipient of
the Alec L. Cory Scholarship for Outstanding Pro Bono Service at California
Western School of Law.
The San Diego law firm Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP awards the
scholarship annually in honor of Alec L. Cory, the firm’s founder. Hansen was
presented with the scholarship by Procopio partner Jeffrey Isaacs at California
Western’s 2007 Student Awards Luncheon on March 22nd.
A candidate for concurrent Juris Doctor (California Western School of Law) and
Master of Social Work (San Diego State University) degrees this year, Hansen
received her B.A., cum laude, in Behavioral Science from National University in
Hansen’s extensive public service and social advocacy volunteer work for
nonprofit organizations during the past 10 years has been nothing short of
remarkable. In addition to investigating alleged child abuse and neglect and
helping immigrant victims of domestic violence in San Diego County, she has
worked with victims of human trafficking in Thailand. She also worked for the
United Nations Development Programme in Lithuania, addressing challenges
unique to a new democracy.
Hansen is a member of California Western’s chapter of Amnesty International and
its Society for Public Law and Policy. Upon completion of her concurrent degrees,
she plans to continue working in the public interest and social advocacy field
specializing in holistic work with families who have been victims of domestic and
About Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP
Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP was established in 1946 and is now
one of the largest business law firms in the San Diego region. With offices in San
Diego and Carlsbad, Procopio’s more than 110 experienced attorneys provide
comprehensive legal services in the areas of construction; corporate and
securities; emerging growth and technology; employment, labor and benefits;
environmental, land use and governmental affairs; finance, restructuring and
bankruptcy; health care; intellectual property; international law; litigation; Native
American law; patent prosecution and counseling; real estate; tax; trademarks
and copyrights; and trusts, estates and probate.