January 25, 2017

Former FCC Chief Counsel for Cybersecurity and Senior Adviser for Cybersecurity to the Secretary of Commerce Clete Johnson Joins Wilkinson Barker Knauer - January 25, 2017

Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP is pleased to announce that Clete Johnson has joined the firm as Partner. Since 2006, Clete has served in a wide variety of cybersecurity leadership roles on Capitol Hill, in the national security and intelligence communities, in the regulatory arena, and in the Executive Branch oriented toward establishing cybersecurity policies that improve government-industry collaboration.

Most recently, Clete was Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Senior Adviser for Cybersecurity and Technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he coordinated the Department’s cybersecurity initiatives and the Department’s support for the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. He was also the Department’s representative for National Security Council staff deliberations on cybersecurity, encryption, and other policy issues at the intersection of technology and security.

Previously, Clete was appointed by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler as the FCC’s first Chief Counsel for Cybersecurity. In this position, he helped develop the FCC’s cybersecurity mission, focusing on creating new legal mechanisms for government collaboration with private sector stakeholders to improve the security and reliability of communications infrastructure. He was also the primary drafter of the charter for the Cybersecurity Forum for Independent and Executive Branch Regulators, a coordinating body of regulatory agencies which is presently chaired by the FCC.

Prior to his time at the FCC, Clete was Senator John D. Rockefeller IV’s designated counsel on the Senate Intelligence Committee and counsel for defense, foreign policy, and international trade. In these roles, he was a leading staffer on bipartisan Senate cybersecurity initiatives and the primary staff drafter of the legislation that codified the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s collaborative process to work with industry to develop and update the widely-praised Cybersecurity Framework.

Before serving in governmental capacities, Clete worked for Patton Boggs LLP, where he practiced in the areas of international trade, defense, and security. Earlier, he served as an Army officer in Germany, Korea, and the Balkans. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law, where he was the editor-in-chief of the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, and he received a master of science degree in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard, where he graduated magna cum laude, cross-enrolled at MIT for service as Executive Officer of its Army ROTC Paul Revere Battalion, and played varsity football.

Bryan Tramont, Managing Partner of Wilkinson Barker Knauer, remarked that “We live in an increasingly connected and dangerous world, where disruptions in communications networks can be devastating to our clients, to the public, and to our national security. Clete has played an influential role in just about every cybersecurity development over the past decade, and we are thrilled to have Clete lead our team in an era in which cybersecurity is moving to the forefront of many practice areas and is of increasing concern to all of our clients across all sectors of the economy. I have long admired Clete as a policy thinker and a leader, and his diversity of experiences, intellect and character make him the perfect fit to lead the firm’s cybersecurity team.” Clete commented, “Wilkinson Barker Knauer is always ahead of the curve in spotting legal issues that arise from emerging technologies. The firm understands that, as cybersecurity threats continue to mount, it is imperative that we provide our clients insightful advice and advocacy in navigating this complex environment. This will be indispensable to advancing dynamic network security practices while also promoting innovation and competition. I look forward to joining this team of extraordinary experts.”

Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, one of the largest law firms in the nation dedicated primarily to the practice of communications and energy law, is ranked as a “first tier” firm by Chambers USA (Telecom, Broadcast, and Satellite: Regulatory), and Legal 500 (Telecoms and broadcast: regulatory), and was twice named “Law Firm of the Year” in communications law by U.S. News - Best Lawyers (2012 & 2014). The firm, with offices in Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colorado, advises clients ranging from global Fortune 100 companies to small start-ups in regulatory, transactional, privacy, consumer protection, intellectual property, corporate and litigation matters involving all aspects of communications and energy law, at both the state and federal levels.

Mr. Johnson lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife, Sheila, and their two children and is resident in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. He can be reached at (202) 383-3405 and at

More at

Back to Announcements