Melissa L. Duffy


Melissa L. Duffy


Washington, D.C. | 1900 K Street, NW, Washington, DC, United States of America 20006-1110
+1 202 261 3388 | +1 202 261 3333


Melissa Duffy focuses her practice on international trade matters, specifically matters relating to export controls, trade sanctions, digital trade controls, CFIUS and other national security issues for clients involving a variety of agencies, both civil and criminal. Ms. Duffy advises multinational companies across a wide range of industries, including technology, financial, manufacturing, consumer goods, and energy. She utilizes her considerable experience in the international trade field to counsel clients on day-to-day compliance operations, as well as to provide various forms of advocacy before U.S. trade regulators, such as preparing requests for regulatory guidance, submission of export and sanctions license requests, advising on rulemakings, preparing commodity classification and jurisdiction requests, and investigating and preparing complex voluntary disclosures. Ms. Duffy has extensive knowledge on Cuban, Iranian, and Russian sanctions, as well as matters involving the Middle East.

Ms. Duffy is highly regarded in her area of practice, presenting and publishing regularly on international trade and technology regulations. She has also been consistently been recognized by The Legal 500 and appointed to Law360's International Trade Editorial Advisory Board. She has given presentations and chaired numerous conferences and webinars held by the International Bar Association, the American Conference Institute, and Bloomberg and various industry associations. Ms. Duffy has provided commentary for Law360 and authored articles for World Export Compliance Review (WorldECR) Journal, World Export Compliance Manager, Buttersworth Journal of International Banking and Financial Law, The Export Practitioner and International Government Contractor. She has also been quoted several times in major news outlets, including The Washington Post and was interviewed by BBC World News and The Associated Press (video) on China trade relations. She is also actively involved in trade bar organizations.

In recognition of her significant work on pro bono matters, Ms. Duffy has made the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll numerous times, an initiative sponsored by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Dechert, Ms. Duffy was a partner at another international law firm. Ms. Duffy also worked as a special assistant to the deputy general counsel during her tenure as a lawyer in the Office of General Counsel Honors Law Graduate Program of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

  • Conducted a year-long trade compliance investigation for a global tech company, involving a Commerce Department subpoena and a federal criminal inquiry, concerning the company’s Middle East operations and sanctions compliance.
  • Advised EU-based gases and engineering company on its U.S. sanctions compliance strategy in connection with a merger with a U.S.-based company.
  • Counseled multinational companies with operations and investments in Russia on compliance with new sanctions laws and contingency planning for potential escalation in sanctions.
  • Represented clients in parallel criminal and civil export control investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security, including resolution of criminal cases through the sentencing phase.
  • Counseled major U.S. and foreign corporations on a broad variety of export, sanctions and antiboycott compliance matters involving the Commerce Department, State Department, Treasury Department (OFAC) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission:
    • Prepared complex voluntary disclosures for clients; submitted to the Commerce, State and Treasury Departments
    • Advised clients on boycott requests and reporting requirements
    • Drafted commodity jurisdiction requests
    • Drafted technical assistance agreements
    • Counseled clients on compliance with encryption export control requirements
    • Advised clients on complicated export licensing matters
    • Prepared advisory opinion requests submitted to the Treasury Department
    • Participated in a company-wide international trade compliance audit for a multinational Fortune 500 client
    • Represented clients in numerous meetings with senior officials at the Commerce, Defense, Justice, State, and Treasury Departments relating to export control and sanctions licensing, product classification, and enforcement matters
  • Participated in week-long trip to Cuba with a group of U.S. sanctions practitioners to meet with Cuban government officials and representatives from local industry regarding sanctions-compliant opportunities for U.S. persons in Cuba (February 2016).
  • Developed global compliance manuals for a foreign bank relating to sanctions, anti-money laundering and diamond trafficking.
  • Advised a U.S. bank on Russia sanctions compliance and due diligence into Russian affiliated investors relating to a major infrastructure finance project.
  • Counseled an EU-based bank on compliance with U.S. sanctions and anti-money laundering laws in relation to certain investment activities disclosed in the Panama Papers matter .
  • Advised a U.S. bank, for purposes of a financing agreement, on compliance with the “temporary sojourn” license exception applicable to U.S. origin aircraft.
  • Provided U.S. compliance analysis to a foreign bank regarding sanctions against North Korea, in the context of a trust established to collect defaulted syndicated loans.
  • Counseled EU-based private equity fund on U.S. sanctions applicable to a proposed investment involving a sectoral sanctioned Russian energy company.
  • Advised a major foreign oil and gas company on compliance with U.S. laws applicable to an ongoing project in Russia that became subject to sectoral sanctions.
  • Regularly support the firm’s corporate department in negotiating contract language relating to sanctions, anti-money laundering, and anti-corruption in financing and other agreements.
  • Seconded to work as in-house counsel for four months at an international satellite services company; drafted an export compliance manual and forms; provided in-house training; and implemented international trade compliance procedures.
  • Prepared a white paper for circulation within the White House and senior levels of administrative agencies on behalf of clients, relating to military electronics and export control reform; resulted in an overhaul of the relevant Commerce Department regulation.

Pro Bono Matters

  • Provided legal advice to nonprofit organizations on a range of topics, including revision of corporate bylaws, intellectual property issues, personnel matters, and reviewing or drafting of lease agreements and other contracts.
  • Represented an individual and his family in a political asylum immigration proceeding, resulting in green cards issued to the family.

Includes matters prior to joining Dechert.

  • Principia College, B.A., 2000, with Honors
  • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 2004, cum laude, Managing Editor - Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, Georgetown Barristers' Council Best Oral Advocate 2003-2004
  • District of Columbia
  • New York
External Articles
  • "Department of Justice Revises Policy on Voluntary Self-Disclosures of Sanctions and Export Violations," ABA Criminal Justice Section’s The State of Criminal Justice 2020 (July 2020).
  • "Compliance masterclass: Mapping your company’s export-controlled technology," World Export Compliance Manager 4 (2020).
  • "Beyond Brexit: navigating the US-UK trade partnership in uncertain times," World Export Compliance Review (WorldECR) Journal, 89 (2020).
Speaking Engagements
  • 12th Advanced Export Controls Forum on International Technology Transfers— American Conference Institute, Conference Chair (June 12, 2020) 
  • New U.S. Export Restrictions for Russia: Confronting the Intersection between Military and Civilian Customers — American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, Webinar (May 14, 2020)
  • European Forum on US Export Controls  C5, Brussles, Belgium (November 19, 2019)
  • Private Funds Nuts and Bolts Webinar- Update: Trade War with China and Emerging Technology Export Controls — Dechert LLP, Webinar (August 14, 2019) View the webinar here.
  • New Legislation: The ECRA of 2018 & the NDAA of 2019 - Global Implications for Export Controls Restrictions and New Compliance Expectations — 11th Industry Forum on International Technology Transfers, Cloud Computing & Deemed Export Compliance, Washington, D.C. (February 6, 2019)
  • Managing the Practical Impact of Re-Classification on Your Supply Chain—How to Identify and Resolve EAR Risks Posed by Third Party Relationships — ITAR and EAR Boot Camp, Chicago (June 5-6, 2018)
  • How Exporters are Managing De-Controlled Encryption Products, the Internet of Things, and the Interplay with Foreign Requirements — 8th Advanced Industry Forum on Global Encryption, Cloud & Cyber Export Controls, San Francisco (March 27, 2018)
  • Investing in Asia Conference — International Bar Association, New York (December 7, 2017)
  • Iran and Russia: Future Proofing Your Sanctions and Export Compliance Programs — Compliance Week, Washington, D.C. (November 7, 2017)
  • Cloud Computing and Your Business — 10th Industry Forum on International Technology Transfers, Cloud Computing & Deemed Export Compliance, Washington, D.C. (October 16, 2017)
  • Export Control Reform – Unfinished Business — The Knowledge Group, Washington, D.C. (September 19, 2017)