Kierstan L. Carlson


Kierstan Carlson helps corporate and individual clients navigate a wide range of white collar and complex civil litigation matters. She has substantial experience as the lead associate coordinating responses to subpoenas and civil investigative demands, and conducting parallel internal investigations. She is experienced in all aspects of federal civil litigation, particularly pre-trial motions and discovery.

Kierstan’s practice also involves helping businesses rebound from and improve in the wake of criminal prosecutions and civil enforcement actions. She advises clients on implementing and auditing compliance programs, and managing potential suspension and debarment issues.

Kierstan earned her undergraduate degree from Brown University and graduated cum laude from the American University Washington College of Law. During law school, she served as an articles editor for the American University International Law Review, a student attorney in the Criminal Justice Clinic, and a Meyers Distinguished Teaching Fellow for the Legal Rhetoric Program. She also worked as a law clerk at the United States Attorney’s Office in Camden, New Jersey. Prior to law school, Kierstan worked as a paralegal and international trade policy analyst.

Maritime Environmental Crimes

Kierstan has significant experience representing vessel owners and operators, charterers, cargo owners, and facilities in U.S. Coast Guard and federal grand jury investigations involving violations of MARPOL, the Clean Water Act, and other environmental laws.

She also lectures on criminal enforcement of environmental laws against companies in the maritime sector and related risk management strategies.

Civil and Administrative Penalty Actions

Kierstan defends clients in investigations and litigations against the government involving civil and administrative penalties. She has experience in an array of matters, including:

  • CBP enforcement action against large surety company for collection of unpaid duties
  • SEC investigation against nutrition supplement company involving alleged violations of whistle-blower protection laws
  • OFAC investigation involving alleged violations of economic sanctions by liner shipping company
  • Jones Act penalty litigation against DHS and CBP on behalf of natural resources exploration company

Kierstan also represents companies in complex civil litigation matters, such as cases involving business torts, civil frauds, and the Alien Tort Claims Act.

Procurement Fraud

Kierstan has represented clients in procurement fraud investigations and litigation involving violations of the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Act, and other fraudulent conduct in connection with federal government contracts and loan programs. She also has conducted internal investigations of procurement fraud by corporate officers on behalf of clients’ boards of directors.

Pro Bono

Kierstan devotes a substantial amount of time to pro bono work. She is passionate about representing clients in asylum matters pending before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and federal immigration courts, particularly cases involving clients who have been persecuted based on their LGBT status or who are fleeing from gang violence. She also has represented pro bono clients in child custody and landlord-tenant matters. In recognition of her commitment to pro bono, she was named to the 2017 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll, and awarded “High Honors” for her dedicated hours of service. In 2018, Kierstan received the Human Rights First “Pro Bono Star Award” for demonstrating extraordinary commitment to the cases for asylum or related forms of immigration protection that she took on a pro bono basis through Human Rights First’s program.

Outside the Firm

A long-retired D1 lacrosse player, Kierstan is now a SoulCycle enthusiast and enjoys yoga, hiking, and skiing.

News & Views

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  • 2018, Washington, D.C. “Rising Star” in White Collar Crimes, listed in Super Lawyers
  • 2017, listed in Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll



  • American Bar Association
  • Virginia Bar Association
  • Women's International Shipping & Trading Association
Professional Activities

Kierstan is participating in a Women’s Initiative through Koch Industries, which is designed to promote the use of women lawyers from law firms on the company’s approved list of outside counsel. She also is a member of the Women's International Shipping and Trade Association (“WISTA”). 

Internally, Kierstan is a member of the Firm’s Associates Committee, Pro Bono Committee, and Women’s Forum.



  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. Circuit Court - District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Virginia
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • United States Court of Federal Claims
  • United States Court of International Trade
  • Virginia


  • Brown University, AB
  • American University, Washington College of Law, JD, cum laude