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“It’s like navigating uncharted waters every day,” says Heather Marx, speaking about her practice in customs, imports and trade remedies. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Trade practice grows as trade wars escalate

Name: Heather Marx

Title: Vice chair and office managing partner, Cozen O’Connor

Education: B.A., political science, Gustavus Adolphus College; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center

With trade wars and tariffs making headlines, Heather Marx’s specialized practice in customs, imports and trade remedies is generating a lot of questions from clients.

Her practice advises domestic and international clients on strategies for foreign-based manufacture, import and distribution of goods and how to safeguard against growing trade barriers, according to Marx, vice chair and office managing partner of Cozen O’Connor’s Minneapolis office.

Clients ask for advice about import and manufacturing strategy and whether to leave China and relocate production, Marx said.

“It’s like navigating uncharted waters every day,” Marx said. “We’ve taken on the mantle of trying to provide guidance for our clients and our colleagues.”

The practice evolved organically, Marx said, as clients expanded import and distribution businesses, and has increased her work before U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Administration.

Such a practice is rare in the Midwest, with most similar firms near major coastal ports, said Marx, an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Q: What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Just start talking. I can talk to anyone anywhere about pretty much anything — work, family, anything from the news or sports. I enjoy finding out about people.

Q: What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A: I wanted a challenge, something at the intersection of communication, logic and creativity. It’s incredibly satisfying to work through complex evolving areas when the answers are hard to find and might require me to break new ground.

Q: What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A: “The Secret Life of Bees.” I’ve read it countless times. It’s a beautiful reminder that there is so much good in humanity.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: Cellphone usage at a social event. We should be respectful enough to put the phone away and give undivided attention.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A: The team of people that I’m fortunate enough to practice with. They’re brilliant and supportive and being surrounded with that level of professionalism and personality I’m constantly pushing to do better.

Q: Least favorite?

A: Anything administrative, the billing, the timekeeping.

Q: What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A: I have two young daughters who bring me instant perspective. Anything I do with them makes me smile. I love to travel whether for business or vacation.

Q: If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A: I grew up in Winona, on the banks of the Mississippi. It has one of the best bakeries, so we’d get chocolate frosted cake donuts and enjoy them at the levy.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A: I’m the first person in my family to finish law school let alone college. I’ve had amazing mentors who have provided me truly invaluable guidance. I’m committed to paying that forward and serving as a mentor for the talented associates here and my students.

Q: What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A: When we’re dealing with the litigation practice in the customs arena, people often think the primary focus lies in going through a formalized process. I’m driven by finding smart business solutions and using the processes to help clients achieve business goals rather than going through litigation just to litigate.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the law, the legal professional in popular culture (books, films, TV)?

A: Many scenes from “The Pelican Brief” were filmed at my alma mater at Georgetown University Law Center. The main library was virtually unchanged from its on-screen depiction when I studied there. Walking into that gorgeous space for the first time knowing that I had worked hard enough to be part of its legacy was a moment I’ll never forget.

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