Thomas M. Susman

Thomas A. Susman

Tom Susman is director of the American Bar Association’s Governmental Affairs Office in Washington. Before assuming this position in May 2008, he was a partner in the Washington office of Ropes & Gray for over 25 years, where his practice emphasized government relations, antitrust, and information and privacy law. Before joining Ropes & Gray, he served on Capitol Hill as chief counsel and general counsel to the Antitrust and Administrative Practice Subcommittees and to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and prior to that he was in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Susman has been involved in counseling, litigation, and lobbying involving access to government information and privacy, and he frequently has advised clients on issues relating to access to commercial information. His experience with the Freedom of Information Act began at the DOJ with advising agencies on implementing the new statute in 1968, and while counsel in the Senate he participated in development of the 1974 FOIA amendments.

He testified on FOIA reform proposals before the U.S. Congress in the 1980s, 1990s, and in 2005, and wrote a number of works on information and privacy, including the 2005 BNA Portfolio “Business Uses of FOIA.” He has taught classes and courses on FOIA to government lawyers, government access professionals, and law students. He has represented clients pro bono in FOIA cases against the CIA, State Department and Commerce Department.

Susman also has been recognized for his work in championing the public’s right to know. In 2009, he received the American Library Association’s James Madison Award, and in 2008, he was awarded the inaugural Robert Vaughn FOIA Legend Award by the Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University Washington College of Law.

Susman graduated from Yale University and received his J.D. from the University of Texas Law School.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Updated March 2009.