Russell solves problems for clients, with an emphasis on complex international matters. A substantial part of his practice focuses on compliance with U.S. international trade laws, including import/export regulations, export controls (EAR and ITAR) and OFAC sanctions. His work has included helping a client avoid criminal and civil penalties related to alleged nuclear isotope trafficking to Iran, negotiating the exit of a U.S. citizen trapped in China and setting up multiple foreign operations for U.S. clients. He helps clients facing aggressive U.S. enforcement agencies, multi-million dollar disputes with foreign partners and complex class action and constitutional litigation. Russell chairs Taft’s International Trade and China practice groups and also has significant experience assisting on international mergers and acquisitions.

Russell brings extensive international experience to Taft, including a decade as a diplomat with the U.S. State Department in China, Argentina and Washington D.C. His last diplomatic tour was as Political Unit Chief at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Russell regularly assists Chinese and other foreign companies with the legal aspects of investing in the U.S. and in resolving disputes here. He continues to be active in China matters and is a participant in the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ Public Intellectual Program.

Russell believes that few international disputes are purely legal—most require a sensitivity to cultural, political and bureaucratic considerations (along with a deep understanding of the underlying law). He strives to “speak the language” of other parties, metaphorically and literally, whether a client is dealing with a U.S. or foreign enforcement agency, a foreign supplier or customer or just an adversary in the U.S. He always strives to resolve disputes in the client’s favor without undue expense of time or money.

Russell’s other practice areas include constitutional and appellate litigation, national security law and immigration law. He is also actively involved in promoting the growth of purpose-driven companies and impact investing in Indiana. Co-founder of Taft’s social impact group, he advises social entrepreneurs on how legal structures, such as benefit corporations, can express and promote their values. This includes identifying the appropriate legal form for such entities, advising on expansion and fundraising and assisting with B Corp certification. 

Before joining the State Department, Russell was a visiting scholar at the Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge and worked as a public defender and criminal defense attorney in Indianapolis. Shortly after law school he led an appeal, including conducting an oral argument before the Indiana Court of Appeals, that resulted in a reversal on constitutional grounds for a defendant convicted of murder. He regularly takes on pro bono matters, ranging from assisting a non-violent drug offender obtain clemency to helping an activist apply for political asylum.

All Service Areas


  • Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington (2003)
  • Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law, Cambridge University, England (Visiting Scholar)
  • Oberlin College (B.A., East Asian Studies, Chinese Language Concentration) (1998)


  • State - Indiana
  • State - New York
  • Federal - Southern District of Indiana
  • Federal - U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Affiliations

  • Indianapolis Bar Association


  • Indy Chamber

    Member, Board of Directors

  • Benefit Company Bar Association

    Co-Chair, Funding and Investment Structures Committee

  • Indiana Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition


  • National Committee on United States–China Relations

    Fellow, Public Intellectuals Program

Community Involvement

  • The International Center

    Member, Board of Directors

  • Matchbook Learning of Indiana

    Chair, Board of Directors

  • America China Society of Indiana

    Member, Board of Directors

  • Congress for the New Urbanism


  • Strong Towns


  • Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Series

    Graduate, Class LX