Photograph of Robert Clifton Burns

Robert Clifton Burns

Senior Counsel

Robert Clifton Burns is a senior counsel in Crowell & Moring’s Washington D.C. office. Clif focuses his practice on export controls, economic sanctions, customs, national security, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He represents clients in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, and the United States.

His clients are in a broad range of industries including medical devices, military equipment, financial services, travel and hospitality, and agriculture. Clif counsels clients on compliance matters as well as, in handling internal investigations, voluntary disclosures, and criminal defense. In addition, he represents M&A clients in international transactions with national security implications before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

Clif’s export control work encompasses a broad range of areas and includes matters involving the Export Administration Regulations administered by the Department of Commerce, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations administered by the State Department, and the country-based economic sanctions program administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department. He also has experience in developing compliance programs for each of these three regulatory schemes, conducting due diligence for compliance with these schemes, and submitting voluntary disclosures of prior unlicensed exports.

Clif was an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center from 2004 until 2016. He was editor in chief of the Northwestern University Law Review and a law clerk for the Honorable Robert A. Sprecher with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

He speaks fluent French. 


  • Northwestern University, B.A. (1975) with honors
  • Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, J.D. (1978) cum laude


Admitted to practice: District of Columbia, U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Seventh, Federal, and D.C. Circuits

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Russia Sanctions Led American Express To Cut Financial Lifeline In Ukraine Wall Street Journal (April 22, 2022)
Press Coverage
Labor of Law: How Can Companies Pay Employees in Russia? (March 31, 2022)
Press Coverage
"Analysis of the Evolving US Sanctions on Russia and the Impact on the Loan Market," LSTA University Webinar 2022. (March 9, 2022). Speakers: Caroline E. Brown, Dj Wolff, Carlton Greene, Nicole Sayegh Succar, Anand Sithian, and Robert Clifton Burns.
Speed, Complexity of Russia Sanctions Regime Unprecedented, Lawyers Say Export Compliance Daily (March 3, 2022)
Press Coverage
Could Bitcoin Be Putin’s Economic Savior? That’s Unlikely, Experts Say NBC News (February 25, 2022)
Press Coverage
"Export Controls Year in Review 2021," Crowell & Moring Webinar, 2022. (February 2, 2022). Speakers: Jeffrey L. Snyder, Robert Clifton Burns, Nimrah Najeeb, Chandler S. Leonard, Brian McGrath, Laurel Saito, Rachel Schumacher
"(Supply) Chain Reaction: Preparing for and Mitigating the Impacts of Supply Chain Delays: International Trade," Crowell & Moring Webinar, 2022. (January 26, 2022). Speakers: Nicole Simonian, Clif Burns, Michelle Linderman, Jackson Pai, Maria Vanikiotis, Frances Hadfield, and Chandler Leonard.
"UPDATE: [Close of Comments on Commerce Cyber Rule]," International Trade Bulletin (January 20, 2022). Contacts: Kate M. Growley, CIPP/G, CIPP/US, Alexander Urbelis, Robert Clifton Burns, Chandler S. Leonard, Rachel Schumacher
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Close of Comments on Commerce Cyber Rule," Privacy Law Alert (December 6, 2021). Contacts: Kate M. Growley, CIPP/G, CIPP/US, Alexander Urbelis, Robert Clifton Burns, Chandler S. Leonard, Rachel Schumacher
Client Alert / Newsletter
Millions of Euros From The EU Are Ending Up In Tajeddine Network Bank Accounts L'Orient Today (November 24, 2021)
Press Coverage

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Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with offices in the United States, Europe, MENA, and Asia that represents clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and transactional and corporate matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation and government-facing matters, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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