Giovanna M. Cinelli is the leader of the international trade and national security practice. As a practitioner for more than 30 years, she counsels clients in the defense and high-technology sectors on a broad range of issues affecting national security and export controls, including complex export compliance matters, audits, cross-border due diligence, and export enforcement, both classified and unclassified.
She handles complex civil and criminal export-related investigations and advises on transactional due diligence for regulatory requirements involving government contracts, export policy, and compliance, as well as settlement of export enforcement actions before the US departments of State, Commerce, Treasury, and Defense, and related agencies. Giovanna has conducted dozens of export investigations and has negotiated six consent agreements before the Department of State. She advises clients on matters before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and addresses mitigation requirements that may apply as part of CFIUS clearances for cross-border transactions. Giovanna is a member of the Morgan Lewis CFIUS working group.
Additionally, Giovanna has developed and assisted clients with the implementation of business-related strategies with adherence to strict requirements addressing US government national security and critical infrastructure concerns, as well as Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requirements.
Giovanna serves as an expert witness on export issues affecting litigations and arbitrations, both in the US and abroad, involving controlled goods, technologies, data, and services. Her testimony has addressed complex licensing and compliance issues related to the conduct of trials and arbitration proceedings both in the United States and globally, and she has been called to testify as an expert witness on matters affecting compliance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations. She has addressed the challenging issues associated with the extraterritorial application of US export laws and regulations within litigations and arbitrations, and has assisted clients when navigating the conflicting requirements these laws may create.
Giovanna regularly speaks and writes on international arms trade, technology transfer, national security cross-border requirements, and export issues. She has participated in panel discussions related to CFIUS and technology transfer hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations. She has appeared on CNN’s “Burden of Proof” and MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” as an expert in international technology transfer, arms exports, and related national security issues. As a member of the Defense Trade Advisory Group for nearly two decades, Giovanna engages regularly with the Department of State on matters affecting defense trade. She was a member of the Regulations and Procedures Technical Advisory Committee and is in her third term as a member of the Department of Commerce’s Virginia/DC District Export Council.
Concurrent with her private practice, Giovanna served as a Naval Reserve intelligence officer, where she specialized in Soviet-era submarine platforms, national security, and intelligence issues. She is fluent in French and Italian, and a violinist with the Washington Opera Society.
Recipient, Law360 Distinguished Legal Writing Award, Burton Awards (2023)
Ranked, International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions, USA, Chambers Global (2015, 2016, 2018–2023)
Ranked, International Trade: Export Controls & Economic Sanctions, Nationwide, Chambers USA (2018–2023)
Top Advisor, Foreign Investment Watch (2020–2022)
Recognized, 25 Most Respected Sanctions Lawyers in Washington, DC, Global Investigations Review (2019)
Recognized, Export Compliance, Chambers Lawyers Research
Ranked Highly Commendable, Export Controls Law Firm of the Year, USA and Sanctions Law Firm of the Year, USA, WorldECR (2018)
Leader in Their Field, Export Controls and Sanctions, Chambers USA (2014, 2015)
Recognized, Top Rated Litigator, The American Lawyer (2022)
Recognized, Washington, DC Super Lawyers (2012–2014)
Member, Aerospace & Defense Editorial Advisory Board, Law360 (2018–2020)
Chair, Women in Aerospace (WIA), the premier organization in the United States providing opportunities for women in the aerospace and aviation field (member, 2010–present; vice chair, 2014; chair, 2015)
Member, US Department of Commerce, Virginia/DC District Export Council, Federal Government Advisory Committee (2011–present)
Member, US Department of State, Defense Trade Advisory Group (DTAG) (1992–2008); vice chair (2006–2008); reappointed, 2014–present (Federal Government Advisory Committee)
Member, Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Board of Advisors for the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (2019)
Fellow, National Security and Visiting Fellows at the National Security Institute (NSI) at George Mason University (2022)
Visiting Fellow, National Security and Visiting Fellows at NSI at George Mason University (2019–2021)
Member (1992–1999) and vice chair (1999-2001), US Department of Commerce, Regulations and Procedures Technical Advisory Committee (RPTAC) (Federal Government Advisory Committee)