Richard Sofield of Wiley Rein. Courtesy photo.

Richard Sofield, who spent the last decade overseeing the Justice Department’s participation in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, has joined Wiley Rein as a partner in Washington.

Sofield spent nearly 25 years at Department of Defense and at Main Justice. On Saturday he formally left his post in the DOJ’s National Security Division, where his title was director of the Foreign Investment Review Staff. At Wiley, he will be part of the international trade and telecom, media and technology practices and work with the firm’s government contracts team.

He said President Donald Trump’s signing of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) helped to prompt his move, since he knew the changing regulatory landscape would create a demand for expertise like his own.

“This wasn’t part of the original plan,” Sofield said Monday. “But in working on the drafting of FIRRMA, I saw a tremendous opportunity to serve clients who are going to need counsel.”

With the implementation of FIRRMA, the scope of what is meant by a “covered transaction” warranting federal scrutiny will expand, CFIUS’ period of review is extended, and a fund will be created to accommodate CFIUS’ growing purview.

Sofield said he considered several other firms for his move into private practice, but found Wiley, with its long-standing CFIUS and national security practices, to be a “natural fit.”

“Rick’s deep government experience leading reviews of numerous transactions involving national security risks makes him a superb addition to the firm,” said Peter Shields, Wiley Rein’s managing partner, in a statement. “We know that our clients will benefit greatly from his in-depth knowledge of CFIUS and Team Telecom processes and nuances.”

As part of the Foreign Investment Review Staff, Sofield counseled the National Security Division’s leadership on reviews of foreign acquisitions of domestic entities that could affect national security. He monitored approved transactions and identified unreported transactions worthy of review, and advised the Federal Communications Commission on the Justice Department’s views of the national security implications of transactions involving FCC licenses.

In the final year of Sofield’s tenure, notable transactions that received significant CFIUS scrutiny included Broadcom’s blocked bid to take over Qualcomm, a proposed merger of China-based Ant Financial Services Group and Texas’ MoneyGram International Inc., and the Trump adminitration’s action in September 2017 to prevent a Chinese private equity firm from acquiring an Oregon-based company.

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