Susan Kohn Ross

Legal Expertise

Represent domestic and foreign companies and entities, in both the administrative and commercial setting, regarding the importation and exportation of goods before U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Departments of Justice, Commerce and State, Federal Maritime Commission, U.S. Trade Representative and International Trade Commission, as well as the Court of International Trade and various other federal and state courts and agencies which regulate the flow of goods, addressing issues such as corporate compliance programs (creation and maintenance); classification, valuation and admissibility of goods; export licensing determinations and compliance; voluntary disclosures; corporate governance and compliance, including internal investigations and crisis management; cargo security/C-TPAT/AEO; FDA compliance, qualification and labeling/advertising of goods; free trade agreements (e.g., NAFTA, CAFTA-DR, Chile -US FTA, AGOA, GSP, et al.); regulatory audits; cargo claims (ocean, air, land and truck; misdeliveries; lien rights); intellectual property rights (trademarks, copyrights and patents; ITC exclusion orders); penalties, seizures and liquidated damages cases; antidumping and countervailing duties and related issues; country of origin marking; regulatory investigations (criminal and civil); international contracts; international litigation and alternative dispute resolution; Buy American; cybersecurity (including establishing best practices and dealing with breaches), and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance.


Representative Matters

  • Regularly represents clients throughout the world regarding international issues through her own relationships and through MS&K's international law firm alliances on such topics as logistics/shipping contract negotiations, free trade agreement qualification/compliance, duty reduction analyses and transfer pricing.
  • Represented multiple clients faced with claims by Customs and Border Protection that their goods were transshipped and so purportedly made in China and subject to significant antidumping duty assessments; in each case, the matter was resolved in the clients' favor; in many cases there were shipments arriving at multiple ports, each making different bond demands; every case included the organizing and presentation of factory production records, often from multiple sources, and negotiations at CBP Headquarters and the Ports of Entry. 
  • Represented companies of all sizes, public and private, regarding trademark, copyright and patent infringement relative to the importation and exportation of apparel, luggage, shoes, cosmetics, toys and electronic products.
  • Coordinated debt work-out for creditor whose debtor-customer was proceeding via pre-bankruptcy debt resolution.
  • Assisted national brand manufacturer of children's clothing to establish its website and be compliant with U.S. export restrictions.
  • Assisted various companies of different sizes regarding first sale, buying agency and duty reduction/free trade agreement compliance.
  • Advised several beauty product companies regarding FDA issues, including approved color, ingredient and packaging (box, insert and website) challenges.
  • Worked with several garment companies to implement Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act compliance, including revisions to commercial agreements and qualified testing programs.
  • Aided private label company to resist claims from Central American workers seeking payment for payroll and benefits claimed to be due when the factory at which they were working closed, leaving the workers owed compensation from the factory owners.
  • Represented a client with operations in China and the U.S. against claims of corporate espionage and defamation.  Coordinated the investigation and enforcement actions including working with Chinese investigators and counsel to find the source of the misdeeds and formulate the means to make it cease.
  • Represented the largest integrated shrimp operation in the world and several of its American buyers against claims by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that the imported goods were transshipped and so subject to antidumping duties, and successfully resolved the matter before the agency in a matter of months without the need for litigation; coordinated the political, diplomatic and commercial efforts brought to bear on the situation.
  • Represented several clients against claims by Chinese officials that cultural property - dinosaur eggs and other dinosaur geological artifacts - had been stolen, including both civil and criminal charges and allegations.  Succeeded in having the criminal charges reduced to a marking misdemeanor.
  • Represented an arm of the military of an Asian country in a dispute with its U.S. freight forwarder who was holding arms and materiel needed to protect the country in a border war. The arms and materiel were released within a few days and without the need for litigation or any other form of court action.
  • Represented a seller of health supplements against a claim by the FDA that the packaging, labeling and website claims (of the company and a third party) were improper, and successfully resolved those claims in a matter of weeks.
  • Conducted an audit of a client’s export operations and ITAR compliance program, and negotiated the acceptance and approval of the results with the Dept. of State in the face of a disclosure of past violations.
  • Represented a foreign-based client who was launching a product in the U.S. on a deadline when the FDA made claims about the impropriety of its product packaging and labeling. The matter was successfully resolved in two weeks and the product launch party was held as originally planned.
  • Conducted internal audits for various clients of their import operations and coordinated transfer pricing issues reconciliation between the relevant tax and Customs regimes.
  • Represent companies, public and private, regarding trademark, copyright and patent infringement issues and FDA and customs compliance relative to importations of apparel, footwear, beauty products, luggage, and other furnishings.
  • Frequently work with clients to determine when and how to qualify their sourcing to take advantage of free trade agreement and/or Buy American opportunities for increased duty savings and/or lowered cost of goods.
  • Frequently work with clients who are under investigation by government agencies and are facing civil fines and/or criminal prosecution to coordinate the cases and reach favorable outcomes, often including misdemeanor pleas to threatened criminal charges.
  • Counseled a Fortune 100 company regarding its international contracts and internal controls so as to ensure compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Susan Kohn  Ross

Partner - Los Angeles

Email Susan Kohn Ross


  (310) 312-3206


  (310) 231-8406
» Download vCard

Industry Focus

Customs and International Trade; Import and Export; Food and Drug; Buy America; Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

Education Collapse

  • Southwestern Law School, J.D., 1977
  • University of California Los Angeles, B.A., 1967

Court Admissions Collapse

  • California
  • United States Court of International Trade
  • United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court 

Professional Recognition Expand

  • "Leading International Trade Lawyers Nationwide," Chambers USA (2016)
  • “Who’s Who Legal: Trade & Customs 2015," Who’s Who Legal (2015)
  • "Leading International Trade Lawyers Nationwide," Chambers USA (2014)
  • "Outstanding Woman in International Trade of 2013," Women in International Trade-LA (WIT-LA)
  • "Leading International Trade Lawyers in California," Chambers USA (2012, 2013)
  • "The International Who's Who of Trade & Customs Lawyers," Who's Who Legal (2009-2011, 2013, 2014)
  • AV® Preeminent™ Rating, Martindale-Hubbell

Publications and Presentations Expand

Professional, Business, and Civic Affiliations Expand

  • Chair, District Export Council of Southern California (2014-2016)
  • Industry Leadership Council, American Associations of Exporters and Importers (AAEI)
  • Advisory Board Member, California Fashion Association
  • Advisory Board, International Trade Compliance Institute (ITCI)
  • Director-at-Large and Legislative Advisor, Foreign Trade Association of Southern California
  • American Bar Association, International Law Section, Steering Committees for Customs Law and Export Controls and Economic Sanctions Committees, former Co-Chair, National Security Committee, former Vice-Chair Customs Law Committee.
  • Women in International Trade, Los Angeles and Orange County Chapters
  • Past Chair and Past Vice Chair, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Customs Law Committee
  • Former member of Sub-Committee, Homeland Security’s Departmental Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of Customs & Border Protection dealing with the Container Security Initiative and C-TPAT
  • Former member, U.S. Treasury Department’s COAC Sub-Committee on Border Security
  • Former member, the NAFTA Advisory Committee on Private Commercial Disputes and Customs, and U.S. NAFTA Advisory Committee
  • Former member of Sub-Committee formed by Homeland Security’s Departmental Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of Customs & Border Protection addressing 10 + 2/Importer Security Filing issues