Tahlia Townsend


Co-chair of the International Trade Compliance Practice Group, Tahlia is trusted by Fortune 50 multinationals, leading universities, international law firms, emerging companies, and small businesses to provide prompt, practical, effective guidance and thought leadership on trade sanctions administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) and on U.S. export controls under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), and to develop tailored, risk-based programs for compliance with, obtain licenses for international activities regulated under, and conduct directed and voluntary investigations into potential violations of these trade control regulations.

Lauded by her clients for responsiveness, practicality, and a level of care and service that is "terrifyingly good," and valued for the additional skills she brings to bear from her training in physics, chemistry, computer science, and litigation, Tahlia has assisted clients in sectors such as aerospace, banking, defense, insurance, logistics, venture capital, legal services, electronics, optics, communications, and education with a wide variety of trade compliance issues, large and small. A sample of those matters includes

  • Developed and drove implementation of a global program for OFAC compliance for a Fortune 200 company with operations all over the world.
  • Conducted hundreds of investigations into potential violations of U.S. trade sanctions and export controls and prepared scores of thorough and clearly written disclosures to the Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance (DTCC), the Office of Export Enforcement (OEE), and OFAC, almost all of which were resolved without penalties.
  • Advised on the use of OFAC general licenses or prepared applications for specific licenses to authorize a wide range of exports and re-exports, including of oil-industry-related engineering services, medical devices, food additives, contact lenses, legal services, and activities conducted by U.S.-owned foreign companies under General License H.
  • Advised on and developed procedures for complying with General License H, OFAC's "facilitation" prohibition as applied to U.S. ex-patriot board members; legal representation of Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs); reinsurance of projects involving Cuba Restricted List entities; and payment of fees by foreign students from, hiring of foreign academics from, and attending conferences or collaborating on research with universities and academics in embargoed regions.
  • Prepared self-classification memoranda, Commodity Jurisdiction (CJ) requests, and Commodity Classification Automated Tracking System (CCATS) requests for a wide range of products, including infrared lenses, laser-driven light sources, data cables, unmanned aerial vehicles, aircraft components, metal alloys used in aerospace applications, and fabric used in the manufacture of aerostats, and prepared applications for ITAR Technical Assistance Agreements (TAA), Manufacturing License Agreements (MLA), ITAR temporary and permanent export licenses, and BIS export licenses for a wide range of products and programs.

Tahlia is a popular speaker at public conferences and in-house events from Tel Aviv to London to San Francisco, teaches international trade compliance at the University of Connecticut School of Law, and is often asked to train U.S. and international business leaders and legal and compliance personnel on export and trade sanctions controls and compliance procedures.

In addition to her trade controls practice, Tahlia is an accomplished federal civil litigator who has been recognized for her accomplishments by Benchmark Litigation and Super Lawyers. Her litigation matters have included a successful defense of a former foreign president against claims that he violated international law; representation of a museum in a dispute over Incan artifacts claimed by a Latin American nation; successful pro bono representation of prisoners in civil rights matters involving religious liberty and freedom from involuntary medication; suits against government officials for authorizing torture and unconstitutional military detention without charge; successful defense of title to one of Van Gogh's most famous paintings against a claim that Russia unlawfully expropriated it; and defense of a foreign sovereign nation in a dispute over title to medieval artifacts.

Tahlia earned her J.D. from the Yale Law School and served as law clerk to Judge Robert N. Chatigny and Judge Mark R. Kravitz, both of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. Tahlia obtained a bachelor's degree in physics and chemistry, taught English at the Lauder Javne community school in Budapest, performed research in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, and studied French, German, and Hungarian.


  • Yale Law School  (J.D.)

Bar Admissions

  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia

Court Admissions

  • US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • US District Court (District of Connecticut)