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


  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals, Federal Circuit


  • French (Fluent)

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. 

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March 11, 2019 Crowell & Moring Expands International Trade and Global Employment Practices with Four Senior Lawyers; CMI Breaks New Ground in Shanghai