Government Experience

  • Department of Defense—Attorney Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Army


  • Seattle University, B.A. (1966)
  • University of San Francisco School of Law, J.D. (1969)

Donald E. Sovie

Retired Partner

Donald E. Sovie is a retired partner in the law firm of Crowell & Moring, and he practiced in the firm's Orange County office. Don's practice focus was regulatory compliance and defense, with a focus on FCPA, government contracting and export controls; substantial experience in responding to grand jury investigations involving environmental compliance issues, government contracts matters and FCPA. Don had 30 plus years of experience in U.S. Government contracting and compliance matters, as well as domestic and international transactions, including drafting, negotiation, administration and dispute resolution, compliance with export controls, and FCPA. He had substantial experience in due diligence reviews for M&A associated with companies engaged in government contracting and global business activity and a deep background in complex issues arising out of the Federal Contracting process, including protests and dispute resolution.

Prior to joining Crowell & Moring in 1990, Don was an Associate Counsel for Ford Motor Company. During his 12-year tenure at Ford, he was responsible for commercial and government contract transactions, drafting and negotiating agreements with the U.S. Government and foreign governments for major weapon system programs and implementation agreements with foreign and domestic industry participants. He successfully handled the defense of grand jury investigations into compliance with Federal laws and regulations. During the first nine years of his career he served as a JAGC prosecutor and defense counsel and specialized in procurement matters while serving in positions of increased responsibility in the U.S. Army, as a JAGC attorney, senior trial attorney and advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Research, Development & Acquisition).

Don opened the Orange County office of Crowell & Moring in January 1991, where he maintained a substantial practice advising contractors and subcontractors concerning development, purchase, sale, and export of defense and commercial products associated with global businesses. His practice emphasized counseling on resolution of disputes, and matters of compliance with Federal law and regulations, and representation in related civil and criminal proceedings. Don had a track record of successfully resolving complex transaction and performance disputes involving advanced technology.

He had success in resolving criminal enforcement actions and response to investigations and subpoenas from offices of the District Attorney, United States Attorney, and U.S. Department of Justice without resulting prosecutions of compliance issues under State and Federal Law, and individual claims and appeals involving the ASBCA, State and Federal court, ADR or arbitration. He provided effective advice, due diligence and representation of companies expanding global business subject to U.S. export controls, FCPA compliance, U.S. government contracts and Exon-Florio notification. These matters frequently required internal investigations, oral, or written advice to the officers of the company or Board of Directors regarding best compliance practices, corrective and preventative actions, remediation, cooperation with the government agencies, and defense of the company's past practices. (See Representative Litigation, ADR, and Investigation Response.)

Don contributed to publications and made numerous presentations in the areas of government contracting and subcontracting, export control and foreign corrupt practices compliance, commercial and international venture,s and protection of intellectual property rights. (See Representative Presentations and Speeches.)

Don was an active member of the American Bar Association (Sections on Criminal Justice, Intellectual Property, International, and Public Contract Law), the State Bar of California (Sections on Business, Intellectual Property and International Law), and the National Contract Management Association. Don was a Board Member of the California Chamber of Commerce Council for International Trade and was appointed by the US Department of Commerce to serve on the Southern California Region District Export Council.

Representative Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

  • FLIGHT TEST PROGRAM - CHANGES, DELAY AND DISRUPTION: We represented the claimant, the prime contractor to the U.S. Navy for the aircraft flight test programs. We advised and led an inter-disciplinary team of the company's technical specialists, comprising contracts, finance, engineering and flight test operations management, resulting in a year-long evaluation, drafting and presenting approximately fifty million dollars of claims for equitable adjustment. In the end, with our assistance in presentation and negotiation, the claims were settled for a substantial eight-figure sum satisfactory to the client, without litigation.
  • MISSION CONTROL CENTER: We represented the defendant, the prime contractor to NASA for the graphic and data display system at NASA's Mission Control Center. Our client was sued for breach of contract and unpaid requests for price adjustment. Defense of the claims involved use of experts on issues of "state of the art" and "industry standards" for optical and electronic resolution in projection equipment. This case was brought in state court, but resolved following a seven-day mini-trial through binding arbitration under AAA rules. The result was a verdict for our client on all counts.
  • RF ANTENNA DEFECTS: We represented the defendant, a satellite system manufacturer, against claims arising out of a series of "best efforts" subcontracts for build-test-build and manufacture of one-of-a-kind, state of the art satellite antenna components which were rejected after delivery. We utilized expert testimony by the inventor of the RF antenna subsystem and presentation of the results of destructive physical analysis to establish that component failures were latent defects, caused by the subcontractor's manufacturing process defects, not defects in our client's antenna design. The matter was resolved with no liability to our client.
  • WHITE COLLAR DEFENSE AND REGULATORY COMPLIANCE: Don served as national and local counsel responding to Grand Jury Investigations and related civil and criminal proceedings at the State and Federal levels. He successfully closed 3 criminal investigations without prosecution, in different state and federal jurisdictions and related administrative proceedings for an international company engaged in environmentally sensitive operations across the United States. His team, comprised of inside and outside resources, successfully resolved questions of environmental compliance and reporting obligations under NPDES Permits issued by State Water Resources Agencies in California, Connecticut, and Mississippi. Other matters involved allegations of trafficking in counterfeit goods, allegations of false claims under contracts for services in Iraq, among other matters. See FCPA below. These matters frequently required internal investigations, oral, or written advice to the officers of the company and the Board of Directors regarding best compliance practices, corrective and preventative actions, remediation, cooperation with the government agencies, and defense of the company's past practices.
  • FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT COMPLIANCE AND DEFENSE: Don served as outside FCPA counsel to one of the largest U.S.-based multinational corporations, doing business in over 30 countries. He was a frequent lecturer on FCPA compliance issues and practices. His practice involved desk reviews and counseling regarding red flag issues arising out of business activity in more than a dozen different countries. He conducted internal reviews at foreign subsidiaries in Mexico and several locations in the Asia Pacific Region. He counseled company counsel and compliance offices regularly on FCPA matters. Don's practice emphasized working with and through company counsel and internal resources and engaged outside forensic teams as needed. In complex matters, Don presented the company's position, made proffers of written and testimonial information available to the company, and represented senior company officials as witnesses in parallel investigations at SEC and DOJ.


Speeches & Presentations

  • "Subcontractor Flow-Downs and Preventing 'Overflow,'" ABA Public Contract Law Section Annual Meeting (2006). Co-Authors: Donald Sovie, Brian Russ and Derek A. Hahn.

Client Alerts & Newsletters

Press Coverage

Firm News & Announcements

July 26, 2005 Crowell & Moring and Donald Sovie Receive Patriot Award