John Rizzo

John Rizzo

Senior Counsel, Steptoe & Johnson LLP

John Rizzo is Senior Counsel in Steptoe's Washington office, where he is a member of the National and Homeland Security practice and the firm’s International Department.

Mr. Rizzo provides legal advice and policy counsel to clients on matters related to national security.  His work includes advising companies on the business risks related to their international operations; counseling companies involved in international mergers and acquisitions on the foreign investment review process conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States; and advising clients on the legal and policy-related aspects of working with the Intelligence Community.

Prior to joining Steptoe, Mr. Rizzo spent 34 years in the Office of General Counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where he provided legal counsel, policy guidance, and leadership on the most difficult and time sensitive national security issues facing the United States.  From 2001 until 2002 and from 2004 to 2009, he served as the Chief Legal Officer at CIA and dealt with the most challenging legal issues in the post 9/11 era.  During that time, he was responsible for all legal matters at CIA including national security and international law; administrative and contract law; and criminal and civil litigation.  Also during his tenure, he served as the Deputy Director for the Office of Congressional Affairs and was the principal interlocutor with the House and Senate Congressional Committees investigating the Iran-Contra Affair.  Early in his career, he was the principal drafter of the CIA regulations for the conduct of intelligence activities in the United States – regulations which remain in effect today.

He was the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the highest recognition accorded to a career CIA officer.  In 1996, he was awarded the Thomas C. Clark Award from the Federal Bar Association as the most outstanding lawyer in government, to date he was the only Intelligence Community attorney to receive the award.

Mr. Rizzo is a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution.  He is a frequent speaker and has served as a guest lecturer at a number of law schools around the country.


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