Quinn emanuel trial lawyers

Shon, Debbie

Debbie Shon

Partner *
*Admitted in California; not admitted in the District of Columbia


Debbie Leilani Shon is a partner with the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP litigation law firm.  Based in Washington, D. C., she chairs the Firm’s International Trade Litigation Practice Group.  Debbie has represented U.S. and international corporations, regional trade organizations and governments on myriad sensitive and complex matters and disputes including: defamation; disputes among and between general and limited partners; general business litigation; RICO; extortion; anti-dumping and countervailing duties; economic and trade sanctions; cyber espionage; all forms of trade litigation; and, national security issues. She also is the architect of the first significant change in US trade laws in nearly 40 years.

Prior to joining Quinn Emanuel, Debbie served as the Vice President for International Trade Law and Global Public Policy at a Fortune 200 steel corporation.  Debbie was principally responsible for the management of the Company’s international trade enforcement litigation and directed the Company’s engagement on global public policy issues.  She also served as the CEO and Chief Counsel of the world’s leading live entertainment and ticketing services company for Greater China. Debbie was responsible for the P/L,  legal affairs and government relations and public policy for the company in the region.  

Drawing upon her experience as a former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative and her years of litigating cases, Debbie served as strategic counsel to corporations on mission critical issues related to market entry, acquisitions, and customs matters.  She also counseled management on sensitive legal and political regimes.

In addition to her work with corporations, Debbie served as an advisor to governments and regional trade organizations.  In Eritrea, Debbie served as an advisor to the National Democratic Alliance of Southern Sudan, and advised the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria, on the international trade issues and regional trade alliances.  She advised the Government of Vietnam on its revised commercial code and its accession to the WTO.  Debbie also worked with the Organization of American States (OAS) to identify critical issues in the then ongoing Doha Round of WTO negotiations. 

Debbie was affiliated with the corporate commercial departments of US- and Sydney-based law firms and served as regional counsel for several Fortune 500 companies and major Australian and Asian based companies.  Debbie negotiated joint ventures, strategic partnerships and advised on mergers/acquisitions in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the People’s Republic of China, and the Philippines. 

Debbie is the recipient of the California State Bar Board of Governors Wiley W. Manual Pro Bono Award for her work in the community after the civil unrest in Los Angeles and most recently received the 2016 USC Asian American Leadership Award. She was also the first female NBA registered agent.  Before practicing law, Debbie served as the Legislative Director to the Dean and Founder of the Congressional Black Caucus in the US House of Representatives. 

She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and the Georgetown University Law Center.

  Representative Clients

  • United States Steel Corporation
  • Federal Express
  • Pepsi
  • Banta Corporation


  • Georgetown University Law Center

  • University of Southern California
    (B.A., Political Science, International Relations)


The State Bar of California; Admitted in California only (practicing under the direct supervision of a member of the District of Columbia Bar); United States Court of Appeals: Ninth Circuit, Federal Circuit; United States District Court: Central District of California, Northern District of California, Eastern District of California, Southern District of California; United States Tax Court; Court of International Trade

  Prior Associations

  • United States Steel Corporation:
    • Vice President, International Trade & Global Public Policy, 2014-2015

  • Shon Global Strategies:
    • Founder & President, 2002-2008; 2011-2014

  • BYS Investments LLC:
    • Managing Director & General Counsel, 2011-2012

  • University of Southern California:
    • Adjunct Law Lecturer, 1997-2008

  • Latham & Watkins:
    • Senior International Commercial and Corporate Counsel, 1997-1999

  • Allens Arthur Robinson:
    • Senior International Commercial and Corporate Counsel, 1995-1997

  • Executive Office of the President of the United States:
    • Assistant U.S. Trade Representative, 1993-1995

  • Manatt Phelps & Phillips:
    • Partner, 1983-1993

Publications and Lectures

Professional Activities

  • Fellow, The American Bar Foundation
  • Aspen Institute

  • The Smithsonian, Asian Pacific American Advisory Board

  • Customs and International Trade Bar Association

  • International Trade Commission Trial Lawyers Association