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Mark Jacobson (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Antitrust success means ‘getting the basics right’

Name: Mark Jacobson

Title: Member, Cozen O’Connor

Education: B.A., American studies and political science, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School

Mark Jacobson, member of Cozen O’Connor’s Minneapolis office, “avoided antitrust courses like the plague” in law school.

Tapped for a big antitrust matter in his first job with a Washington, D.C., firm, however, Jacobson found he enjoyed antitrust work, where he serves as both an adviser and a litigator.

Jacobson brought the specialty to Minneapolis when he returned and it continues to be a pillar of his practice some three decades on.

“I like that the rules are not hard and fast so there’s a lot of judgment,” Jacobson said of antitrust work. “When you advise in antitrust matters you work closely with the business people so you’re balancing the business needs and interests of the client with the legal risks and restrictions.”

Jacobson also likes learning about his clients’ businesses and their industries but strives to avoid “being an expert in every little thing.”

“The hard part is clearing out the complexity and figuring out the basics and how they apply,” Jacobson said. “That’s the key to success as a litigator, being able to find the answers and express them as simply and clearly as possible.”

Jacobson’s practice also includes complex litigation. Among his clients are Medica, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Total Wine & More.

Jacobson also serves as a member of the board and executive committee of the Center for Victims of Torture and co-chairs its development committee and has represented numerous refugees seeking asylum as a pro bono advocate.

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

A: Just start talking. I find people pretty interesting. I generally find that we have more in common than you might think.

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

A: I really wanted a career where I could learn about other people, what they do and how they do it. I thought that probably meant law or journalism and chose law, and that probably was a better career choice.

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

A: One I haven’t quite finished yet is a book by Adam Grant called “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.” It’s fascinating.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A:  Poor writing. Brief, clear writing is really important in my work. Clear writing helps you analyze things clearly, facts and the law.

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

A:  Working on complex things with talented attorneys. I like figuring out a winning argument or winning trial theme, which is not always as easy as it sounds.

Q: Least favorite?

A:  Fighting about things that don’t matter. Like deadlines and minor discovery disputes.

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

A:  Just about anything with my family. And fishing, summer and winter.

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

A:  If we had time I’d take them up to the North Shore. If it’s winter and they’d never been ice fishing I’d take them up to my cabin and bring them out on the ice.

When I was at the University of North Carolina and told people that we drive cars out on the ice in the winter they looked at me like, “Hey how stupid do you think I am? Nobody would do that.”

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

A:  Steve Higginson, a judge 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and a high school friend of mine. He’s shown me that you can work hard and succeed and still be a really good person.

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

A: It’s the perception that everything is very complex and that it’s all about understanding the nuances. Usually it’s all about getting the basics right.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the law, the legal professional in popular culture?

A: I saw both of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg movies, “RBG” and “On the Basis of Sex,” and they were great.

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