Tyler Cullis (’13) Finds His Niche in Sanctions Policy and National Security Law
Building on expertise gained in school, the DC-based alum eyes opportunity as sanctions against Iran are lifted.
Tyler Cullis, a Boston University School of Law Class of 2013 alum, currently holds three positions, but that doesn’t slow him down from pursuing additional opportunities that align with his passion for national security law and US sanctions policies. Based in Washington, DC, Cullis is a legal fellow at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and an associate attorney at boutique law firm Ferrari & Associates, all while starting up a political risk and consultancy group, of which he is a partner.
At BU Law, Cullis found he was most interested in international law, particularly in the area of national security. Throughout his third year, his courses focused primarily in those areas. He worked with a student group on campus that focused specifically on the sanctions on Iran, to which he devoted a lot of time. The research he conducted during that time surrounding sanctions in Iran laid the foundation he would later use to secure a job at NIAC.
The National Iranian American Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on strengthening the relationship and understanding between the American and Iranian people. Cullis’ work at NIAC is focused primarily on the US sanctions policy towards Iran. Since joining in March 2014, Cullis has established himself as an expert on US sanctions and foreign relations law. At NIAC, he provides legal analysis and legislative and advocacy outreach. Cullis regularly writes for NIAC’s website, with articles ranging from policy analysis and strategic development. Most recently, Cullis wrote about the United States choosing to take a backseat in the burgeoning commercial engagement with Iran.
Cullis’ experience at NIAC has opened a lot of doors for him in the field of international law. Since graduating less than three years ago, Cullis has published in The New York Times, CNN, The Hill, and Huffington Post, just to name a few. His articles have been cited by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, and the Atlantic, among others. These experiences have helped Cullis build his reputation as an expert in the field of US economic sanctions with Iran. “There are often reporters trying to make sense of what’s going on the sanctions world, and now I’m someone they can call up to explain that to them,” Cullis says.
Cullis also works as an associate attorney at Ferrari & Associates, a firm that provides legal representation in US economic and trade sanctions matters under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. In this role, Cullis provides legal representation to major US and foreign companies regarding sanctions-compliance matters, particularly in regards to Iran.
For Cullis, timing could not have been better. Although Iranian sanctions and the overlap with national security law can feel narrow, this seemingly niche area has been a hot topic of debate over the past few years and will likely continue to be moving forward. “On the one hand at NIAC, I deal with sanctions as a policy matter, while at Ferrari & Associates, I deal with sanctions as a legal matter. The consultancy group is becoming a marriage between the two.” Cullis says. “Iran is a major emerging market for which US and international sanctions have recently been lifted, so there is a lot of interest. While remaining compliant with surviving US sanctions on Iran, the consulting group is keen on helping interested parties understand the political, legal, and business-related risks related to re-entering Iran.”
“Building an expertise in something is critical,” Cullis says when asked about what advice he had for current law students and recent graduates. “When I was seeking employment, the thing that really struck a chord was that I had a demonstrated interest and expertise.”
When looking toward the future, Cullis has every reason to be optimistic. “I continue to see a need for the expertise that I have developed in Washington, DC. Economic sanctions are now a critical part of the US national security toolkit, and I aspire to grow into the role that I’ve thus far successfully created for myself.”
Reported by Gianna Fischer (CAS’16).