Fatema K. Merchant



Fatema Merchant is a partner in the Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

Ms. Merchant's practice focuses on international trade and white collar criminal defense work, which includes the U.S. government’s regulation of international trade, cross-border transactions and foreign investment. She has extensive experience conducting internal investigations and responding to U.S. as well as foreign government investigations and enforcement efforts, compliance counseling, and transactional due diligence related to anti-corruption, export controls, economic sanctions, anti-money laundering, and customs laws and regulations. Ms. Merchant regularly assists clients with developing, implementing, and evaluating effective compliance programs across a broad spectrum of legal risk areas. She counsels clients across industries on regulatory filings stemming from cross-border transactions, including filings with the U.S. State Department and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

At Sheppard Mullin, Ms. Merchant is the Co-Chair of the D.C. Diversity Working Group. She also serves on the pro bono committee and is actively involved in various pro bono matters, including representation of asylum seekers.

Prior to joining Sheppard Mullin, Ms. Merchant worked in the D.C. office of another international law firm, where she was also seconded as a Special Assistant Attorney General with the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General. At the OAG, Ms. Merchant negotiated settlements, prepared dispositive motions, handled pleadings and discovery, and argued motions. She served as co-counsel in a jury trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, securing a favorable verdict for the District.

Ms. Merchant recently served as President of the Capital Area Muslim Bar Association (CAMBA). She was recognized on the Lawyers of Color's Hot List in 2014 and by Super Lawyers as a Washington D.C. Rising Star in 2015-2018. Ms. Merchant was also featured in The American Lawyer and on a podcast titled “Multiple Identities: Intersectional Challenges in the Legal Profession,” discussing challenges faced by lawyers of color and her work on diversity & inclusion issues in the legal profession.


•Washington, D.C. Rising Star, Super Lawyers, 2015-2018
•Lawyers of Color's 2014 Hot List


•New Rule Expands FCC Jurisdiction Related To Foreign Media
Law360 , September 27, 2018
•Movements Without Motion In Russian Sanctions Policy
Law360 , February 9, 2018
•Close, but no cigar? Trump, Cuba and the way forward...
WorldECR , March 6, 2017
•The Future of Russia Sanctions: It’s Getting Murkier and Murkier
Bloomberg BNA , February 2017
• Compliance Takeaways From PayPal's OFAC Settlement, Law360, April 2, 2015
• Accounts and Accountability: Arab Bank Found Liable for Transactions Under the Anti-Terrorism Act, WorldECR, Issue 35, October 2014
• China Outbound Newsletter, Sheppard Mullin, September 2014
•“Russia Sanctions: Iran Deja Vu Or Jamais Vu?” The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, May 2014
• FCPA Overreach? Courts Address Personal Jurisdiction In Cases Against Foreign Defendants, The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel , May 2013
• New Challenges For Compliance Programs, Law360, June 30, 2011
• The FCPA’s Increasingly Global Reach, Law360, May 19, 2011
• The Effect of Sentencing Guidelines Amendments, Law360, December 2010
• Amendments to Organisational Sentencing Guidelines Take Effect, International Law Office, November 15, 2010
• DOJ Issues Guidance on Government-Compelled Grants, International Law Office, August 16, 2010

Global Trade Law Blog Posts

• Comment Deadline Extended: Export Controls on Emerging Technologies, December 11, 2018
• FCC’s Foreign Media Reporting Requirements: Extension of FARA or New Domain? September 20, 2018
• Digital Cops and Cyber Robbers: OFAC Guidance on Crypto Currency, April 12, 2018
• Lurches, Leaps, Feints, and Flops: Movements Without Motion in Russian Sanctions Policy, February 8, 2017
• Could the Crypto-Rouble Spell Crypto-Trouble for Sanctions?, January 10, 2018
• FARA and the First Amendment: How will the United States Calibrate its Response to Foreign Propaganda? November 17, 2017
• Today, President Trump Decertified the Iran Deal and Announced Tougher Sanctions on Iran, October 13, 2017
• Our Armchair Santeria on Cuba Policy: What Will President Trump do on Cuba? May 31, 2017
• Still Following the Money: FinCEN, Money Laundering, and the Bank Secrecy Act, May 24, 2017
• The Foreign Agents Registration Act: Rising Out of Obscurity, April 6, 2017
• The Future of Russia Sanctions: The Awkward Edition, January 13, 2017
• Negotiation By Tweet: The Uncertain Future of U.S.-Cuba Relations, December 7, 2016
• Obama’s Not Slowing Down On Cuba: New Steps Forward Open Doors (and Humidors!) for Collaboration, October 17, 2016
• Espionage and Export Controls: The iPhone Hack Highlights The New World of Warfare, September 1, 2016
• Buying Russian Bonds: Risky Business or Safe Bet?, June 9, 2016
• Hotels and Hospitality in Cuba: OFAC and Obama Paving the Way, April 20, 2016
• Implementation Day: Do the Rules Let You Play in the New Ballgame for Business in Iran? July 16, 2015
• A Break From the Past: Historic Deal with Iran Marks A New Day in U.S.-Iran Relations, July 14, 2015
• Government Contracting Abroad: Beware Compliance Risks, June 24, 2015
• Paying the Piper: PayPal Inc. Settles Sanctions Violations with OFAC for $7.7 Million, April 1, 2015
• Havana Hold Your Hand: Reaching Out to Cuban Entrepreneurs, January 16, 2015
• New Year, New Orleans, Old Tricks, January 15, 2015
• A New Latitude: Charting a Course for Cuba, December 17, 2014
• DOJ Issues Opinion, Provides (Some) Comfort on Successor Liability, December 4, 2014
• Take the Mansion, But Leave the Thriller Jacket: DOJ Settles with Equatorial Guinea Veep for $30 Million in Assets Bought With Corrupt Proceeds, November 6, 2014
• Accounts and Accountability: Arab Bank Found Liable for Transactions Under the Anti-Terrorism Act, October 9, 2014
• Who’s a “Foreign Official”? Supreme Court Could Clarify Key FCPA Term, September 18, 2014, also published on JD Supra
• Don’t try this at Home or Abroad: Export Controls and Sanctions Violations Lead to $21 Million in Penalties for Dutch Company Fokker Services B.V., July 15, 2014
• Where Two Worlds Collide: The Impact of Sanctions in Space, June 12, 2014
• Beach Houses and Bribes: DOJ Seeks Over $700,000 From Former South Korean President, May 1, 2014
• Spacing Out: BIS Issues Report on Export Controls and the Space Industrial Base, April 3, 2014
• It Doesn’t Pay to Steal: In Largest Ever Kleptocracy Forfeiture Action, DOJ Seizes $458 Million, March 10, 2014
• Export Control Reform Series Episode III: Harmonizing EAR Exceptions and ITAR Exemptions, August 5, 2013

Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade Blog Posts

• What’s New Out There? Highlights from the Federal Register, September 29, 2014

Media Mentions

•US Tees Up Final Duties On S. Korean Steel Component
Law360 , March 20, 2017
•Multiple Identities: Intersectional Challenges in the Legal Profession
December 2016
•Why a Big Law Associate Chooses to Wear Muslim Hijab
ALM Media , June 29, 2016
•A 'Good Deal' For Son of Equatorial Guinea Leader Accused of Kleptocracy
Main Justice; Politics, Policy And The Law , October 16, 2014
•Sheppard Mullin Chases the Cool Quotient in D.C.
The National Law Journal , September 8, 2014
•Russia Sanctions: The View from Space
World ECR , May 2014

Speaking Engagements

•Panelist, International Contract Law: Key Issues to Consider When Conducting Business Overseas, ABA Center for Professional Development, October 11, 2017
•Panelist, 100 Days of Trump: A Cuban Legal Perspective, ABA Teleconference, co-hosted by ABA Young Lawyer’s Division International and Litigation Sections, May 3, 2017
•Panelist, ABA YLD Midyear Program Doing Business with Cuba, Miami FL, February 3, 2017
•Panelist, Pathways to International Law, ABA International Section's Spring Meeting, New York, April 12, 2016
•Panelist, Pathways to International Law, ABA International Section's Spring Meeting, April 28, 2015
•Panelist, Women and Minorities: Willing Partners or Reluctant Allies? July 15, 2014
•Panelist, Export Control Reform Level Set: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed?” Momentum Webinar, July 8, 2014
•Panelist, Doing Business in India: Anti-Corruption Best Practices, Momentum Webinar, May 29, 2014


•Global Compliance and Investigation Essentials
Sheppard Mullin San Francisco , April 30, 2019
•Women and Minorities: Willing Partners or Reluctant Allies?
July 15, 2014
•Doing Business in India: Anti-Corruption Best Practices
May 29, 2014


•Nota Bene Episode 7: India’s Emergence in the Global Market with Fatema Merchant
October 17, 2018

Areas of Practice (9)

  • Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade
  • CFIUS: Foreign Investment in the U.S.
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
  • International Trade and Investment
  • International Reach
  • South Asia
  • Litigation
  • Securities Enforcement
  • Blockchain Technology and Digital Currency

Education & Credentials

Contact Information:
202.747.2306  Phone
202.747.3855  Fax
University Attended:
Al-Jamea-Tus-Saifiyah Arabic Academy, B.A., 2003
Law School Attended:
American University Washington College of Law, J.D., 2008
Year of First Admission:
2017, Texas; 2010, District of Columbia


•American Bar Association, International Section
•ABA International Anti-Corruption Committee
•ABA India Committee

Arabic and Gujarati and Urdu

Peer Reviews

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*Peer Reviews provided before April 15, 2008 are not displayed.

Documents (13)

Documents by this lawyer on Martindale.com

Washington, District of Columbia