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Sam Knowles

Sam Knowles


Global Co-Chair, Government Contracting Sector


Sam Knowles co-chairs DLA Piper's Government Contracts practice.

Sam Knowles provides counselling and litigation services to both large and small companies on a range of Government Contracts matters, including bid protests, prime-subcontractor disputes, audits and investigations, mergers and acquisitions, compliance assessments, procurement integrity and ethics, and state/local government contracts issues. Sam also focuses in the areas of GSA Federal Supply Schedule contracting, commercial item contracting, and intellectual property issues under US Government contracts. In addition, Sam speaks Spanish and has leveraged his language skills to counsel clients in Puerto Rico on federal grants and contracting issues.   

Sam is a trusted advisor to his clients, lending his perspective on complex issues. His approach to practicing law is informed by a number of experiences, both personal and professional. Sam previously worked for a large aerospace and defense contractor as part of its business management team while he earned his law degree in the evenings. In that role he regularly interfaced with in-house and outside counsel. He draws on that experience as a “consumer” of legal services to address complex issues in a practical and efficient manner for his clients. Early in his legal career at DLA Piper, Sam earned his LL.M. at George Washington University in the evenings, balancing his coursework with the demands of a busy practice.  He also draws on his tenure as a middle and high school Spanish teacher and wrestling coach, which provided any number of challenges, rewarding experiences, and life lessons.      

Bar admissionsDistrict of ColumbiaMaryland
CourtsUnited States Court of Appeals for the Federal CircuitUnited States Court of Federal Claims


Representative Matters

  • Represented a prime contractor technology and telecommunications company in a dispute with a subcontractor related to a contract with a large county government to provide telephone services to the penitentiary system. The matter was favorably settled and involved litigation in state court, alternative dispute resolution, and a bid protest of the follow-on County contract. 
  • Represented a healthcare workforce solutions provider in successfully protesting a $1B U.S. Customs and Border Protection award decision at the U.S. Government Accountability Office.  The CBP took corrective action after the protest was filed and the protester’s incumbent contract was extended.   
  • Successfully protested a US$340-million procurement for disability examination services by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  The VA took corrective action by re-evaluating proposals and making a new award determination, which included awarding the contract to our client. The protest directly resulted in the company receiving a contract valued at over $300 million.
  • Advised a consortium of energy and utility companies related to a competitive award to privatize a local government utility. The matter involved guidance and counselling related to the administration and procurement rules for billions of dollars of federal grant funds. 
  • Represented a Fortune 100 technology company in its strategic acquisition of a privately held technology and solutions company.  
  • Represented a European aerospace and defense company in a GAO bid protest. The matter involved several rounds of protests as both the intervenor and protester and ultimately resulted in the company receiving an award from the Air Force and successfully recovering a portion of its legal fees.  
  • LL.M., Government Procurement, George Washington University Law School 2012
  • J.D., University of Maryland School of Law 2006, cum laude
    Student Honor Board
  • M.B.A., Thunderbird School of Global Management 2000
    Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society


    M.A., Spanish, Middlebury College, 2000


    A.B., Spanish, Davidson College, 1994



Chambers USA

  • Band 5, Nationwide Government Contracts (2023-2024)

The Legal 500 United States

  • Recommended, Government Contracts (2024)



  • Legal issues and trends impacting the aerospace and defense industry, 30 November 2022
  • Speaker, ''History and Recent Trends in Commercial Item Contracting,'' US Department of the Navy, Office of General Counsel Symposium, May 25, 2016
  • Co-Presenter, "Debriefings in Federal Procurement: Key Issues and Strategies," L2 Federal Resources, LLC Webinar – Washington, DC (January 31, 2013)
  • Co-Presenter, "The Five W's of Bid Protests," L2 Federal Resources, LLC Webinar – Washington, DC (September 20, 2012)
  • Conference Presenter, "Implicaciones del Tratado de Libre Comercio Entre EE.UU y Colombia: Como hacer negocios con el Gobierno de EE.UU cuando no se es una empresa estadounidense" (Implications of the Free Trade Agreement Between the US and Colombia: How to do business with the US Government when you are not a US company), Medellin, Colombia (May 30, 2012), Bogota, Colombia (May 31, 2012)

Prior Experience

Prior to joining the firm, he worked for a major Aerospace and Defense contractor for six years, working in both the International Marketing and Contracts business areas. In those roles his responsibilities included contract negotiations with commercial and Government customers, export and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance and new business development. Prior to that he taught Spanish, and coached soccer and wrestling at a private school in Pennsylvania.