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Thomas Susman


Mr. Susman is Director of the Governmental Affairs Office of the American Bar Association, which serves as the focal point for the Association’s advocacy efforts before Congress, the Executive Branch, and other governmental entities on diverse issues of importance to the legal profession.

Prior to joining the ABA in 2008, he was a partner in the Washington Office of Ropes & Gray LLP for over 27 years, where his work included counseling, litigation, and lobbying on a wide range of issues.

Mr. Susman was editor of the first edition of the American Bar Association’s LOBBYING MANUAL and is co-editor of the 5th ed. (2016); taught Lobbying and the Legislative Process as an adjunct professor at The American University’s Washington College of Law; and chaired the Ethics Committee of the American League of Lobbyists (ALL) for over a decade. He has taught the Lobbying Ethics certification course for ALL and its successor association since the program’s inception. His articles on lobbying address ethics, contingent fee lobbying, and legislative reform proposals. He also co-authored (with Craig Holman) the OECD report “Lobbyists, government and public trust: Promoting integrity by self-regulation.” Mr. Susman was counsel to the ABA Task Force on Federal Lobbying Laws and is an Advisor to the American Law Institute’s project on government ethics.

Before joining Ropes & Gray, Mr. Susman spent 12 years in various capacities in the U.S. Senate, including Chief Counsel to the Antitrust Subcommittee, General Counsel to the Judiciary Committee, and Legislative Director for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In private practice his lobbying clients included The Business Roundtable, the American Library Association, General Mills, DuPont, Gillette, the Navajo Nation, and numerous other associations and businesses. He has served as an advisor on lobbying regulation to the chairman of the Senate Ethics and Transparency Committee in Chile, participated in a Parliamentary leadership in the Czech Republic on lobbying disclosure, co-chaired a panel on lobbying for the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum, and participated in a European Parliament lobbying disclosure forum.

Mr. Susman’s community and bar activities have included: member of the ABA’s House of Delegates and on its Board of Governors; Fellow of the American Bar Foundation; Life Member of the American Law Institute; Chairman of the National Judicial College; President of the District of Columbia Public Library Foundation; and member of the Board of the National Conference on Citizenship.

Susman received a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of Texas Law School, where he was Editor-in-chief of the Texas Law Review. Following law school he was law clerk to Judge John Minor Wisdom on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, followed by service in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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