Robert Nichols

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Covington & Burling LLP
One CityCenter
850 Tenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-4956
Tel: 202.662.5328






  • Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M., 1997
    • With distinction
  • Arizona State University College of Law, J.D., 1994
    • cum laude
    • Arizona State Law Journal, Member
    • Order of the Coif
  • Northern Arizona University, B.S., 1991
    • summa cum laude

Judicial Clerkship

  • Hon. Raymond Finch, U.S. District Court, Virgin Islands

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

Robert Nichols is a senior partner in the firm's Washington, DC office and a member of the Government Contracts practice group.

Mr. Nichols has nearly two decades of experience representing contractors in the defense and aerospace, information technology, large-scale construction, and international development sectors.  His expertise and practice includes both litigation and advisory work in the areas of:

  • Bid protests
  • Claims
  • Audits and Investigations
  • Cybersecurity
  • Suspension and debarment actions
  • Prime-sub disputes
  • Procurement-related legislation
  • Negotiating contract terms
  • Contractor mergers & acquisitions
  • Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales
  • Security clearance issues
  • Compliance counseling
  • Risk mitigation techniques for contractors working overseas

Mr. Nichols has been an active lecturer and author.  He has taught courses on international government and commercial contracts for Federal Publications Seminars and at various top defense and aerospace companies.

Representative Matters

  • Advise major contractor on cybersecurity compliance and legal risk mitigation issues.
  • Lead counsel for a State Department contractor in successfully defending that agency’s award of a contract for embassy life support services valued at up to $1 billion.
  • Lead counsel for a foreign contractor in complying with and negotiating government contracting requirements related to the development of portions of Miami International Airport.
  • Lead counsel for an NGO in what is believed to be the largest USAID suspension and False Claims Act case ever brought, followed by a complex transaction to novate 1,000+ programs and transfer approximately 3,000 employees to an acquirer.
  • Lead counsel for a development contractor in successfully protesting an agency’s improper use of the “low-price, technically-acceptable” procurement method in a $2 billion poverty reduction program.
  • Representation of a top five defense & aerospace contractor on a range of bid protests, claims, and overseas contracting matters.
  • Lead counsel for Fortune 50 aerospace contractor in seeking a “present responsibility” determination by its military customers following a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, a consent agreement with the State Department, and special interest from the Senate Armed Services Committee.
  • Lead Counsel for Middle East contractor for various investigations and proceedings by the Department of Justice, Inspectors General, the U.S. Army and United Nations debarment offices, and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.
  • Representation of a Dubai-based energy company selling fuel to the Defense Department for military bases in the Middle East.
  • Representation of multiple major defense contractors in successful defense of GAO bid protests relating to armored fighter vehicle procurements valued in excess of $40 billion.
  • Lead counsel for a Fortune 50 contractor in $90 million claim against the government, settling the case at full value after extensive negotiations with USAID and the National Security Council.
  • Advising some of the largest overseas contractors and NGOs in developing worldwide compliance programs, acquiring US subsidiaries, and navigating the regulatory environment to build US government contracts business.

Previous Experience

  • Judge Advocate General, Honors Program of the U.S. Army Corps Engineers

Honors and Rankings

  • Law360, Government Contracts MVP (2013)
  • Legal 500 US, Litigation - International Trade (2013)
  • Washington DC Super Lawyers, Government Contracts (2013-2014)
  • Who's Who Legal, Public Procurement (2014)

Pro Bono

  • Pro bono outside general counsel to the Army Engineer Association.

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Ethics Resource Center, Fellow
  • GW Law Government Contracting Industry Advisory Board, Member
  • GW University Cybersecurity Initiative, Member
  • Founder and former Advisory Board Chair of the publication “International Government Contractor”
  • American Bar Association, International Procurement Committee of the Section of Public Contract Law, former Chair

Publications and Speeches


  • "A Comparison of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Versus Direct Commercial Sales (DCS)," Co-Author with the General Counsel for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (9/30/2014)
  • "Cybersecurity for Government Contractors," West Briefing Papers (April 2014), Co-Author
  • "Myth-Busting the LPTA Conundrum," The Government Contractor (12/18/2013), Co-Author
  • "Contracting In A Perfect Storm Of Enforcement Risk: Part 2," Law360 (6/13/2013), Co-Author
  • "Contracting In A Perfect Storm Of Enforcement Risk: Part 1," Law360 (5/22/2013), Co-Author
  • "Reflections on Legal and Policy Developments in Cybersecurity," Law360 (4/25/2013), Co-Author
  • "Contractor Responsibility: Toward An Integrated Approach to Legal Risk Management," Thomson Reuters (March 2013), Co-Author
  • "New U.S.-Iraq SOFA Lifts Contractor Immunity," International Government Contractor (December 2008), Author
  • "Iraq Reconstruction: Political Situations Creating Legal Risks for Contractors," International Government Contractor (August 2008), Author
  • "Flowing Down Clauses to Non-U.S. Subcontractors: An Approach for Ensuring a Meeting of the Minds," International Government Contractor (April 2008), Author
  • "Iraq Reconstruction Contracting: Widespread Difficulties in Record-Keeping and the Contractor’s Burden Of Proof," International Government Contractor (May 2005), Author
  • "Public-Private Partnerships: Evolutions in the U.S. Public Procurement System and Lessons Learned From the UK and the EU," International Government Contractor (March 2005), Co-Author
  • "Iraq Reconstruction: Key Procurement Issues," Briefing Papers (February 2005), Author
  • "Europe’s Movement Toward a More Competitive Market For Defense Procurement," International Government Contractor (November 2004), Author
  • "Iraq Reconstruction: Government Contracts Year in Review," Year In Review Conference Briefs (2004), Author
  • "Iraq Reconstruction: US Government Procurement Practices in a Coalition Environment," Public Procurement Law Review (2004), Author
  • "Iraq Reconstruction: Needs, Opportunities, and the Contracting Environment," BNA's Federal Contracts Report (October 2003), Author
  • "Issues in Developing Breach Claims: Under the General Dynamics Compensation Cap Decision," BNA's Federal Contracts Report (April 2002), Co-Author

Presentations and Speeches

  • "Bid Protests: Creative Thinking for Better Capture Efforts," Webinar (3/21/2013)

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