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Marquis Tapplin
Marquis Tapplin says his 15 years as a server, trainer and operations manager in the restaurant and hospitality industry were excellent preparation for working with clients and doing due diligence. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Fine dining skills translate to transactional practice

Name: Marquis Tapplin

Title: Associate, Taft

Education: B.A., gender and women studies, University of Minnesota; J.D., Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Marquis Tapplin’s previous career helped lead him to his calling as an associate in Taft’s finance practice group.

Tapplin said his 15 years as a server, trainer and operations manager in the restaurant and hospitality industry, including a decade in fine dining, were excellent preparation for working with clients and doing due diligence.

“You find yourself using very similar skills — a high level of detail, a high level of execution and a lot of collaboration,” Tapplin said.

His wine knowledge also may assist in client relations.

“When you close a deal sometimes it’s nice to have a bottle of wine and have someone on the team who knows exactly what we should be drinking,” Tapplin said.

With his undergraduate major in gender and women studies, Tapplin challenged himself “to learn about struggles that I had not endured and was not part of.”

He encourages others to do the same. “It develops empathy, understanding and enriches character,” Tapplin said. “In this profession in particular it’s very useful.”

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

A: With a smile. I enjoy enthusiasm and feed off of positive energy, so I’m open to talk about anything you find interesting as long as the conversation starts with a smile.

Q: Why did you study law and pursue it as a career?

A: My whole life I’ve had a fascination with the law. “Law & Order” was one of my favorite shows. As I got older I started having a fascination with business, the structuring and the inner workings. My passion for making people happy and helping people realize their goals seemed to mesh well with a legal practice where you could do the same but helping with their business goals. The realization there isn’t a lot of African American representation in the legal sector, especially on the transactional side. I felt like that was my calling, like I needed to be there so I’m ecstatic that I finally am.

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

A: I’ve just purchased the “Game of Thrones” books. I was a big fan of the TV show. I read the news a lot, biographical things and science journals.

Q: What’s a pet peeve of yours?

A: A lack of personal accountability.

Q: What do you like best about your work?

A: Learning something new every day.

Q: What do you least like about it?

A: Nothing yet. I’m still the wide-eyed law school graduate.

Q: What do you like doing away from work?

A: I like to make music. I play piano and guitar. I like watching movies and television shows because they give me the ability to wind down. And I like running.

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

A: My hometown is Minneapolis. I would take them to First Avenue, a lot of good local talent plays there; Mall of America, to show how gigantic that is; the Stone Arch Bridge. I live by Minnehaha Falls so that probably be involved, and the lakes.

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

A: Growing up it was Thurgood Marshall. [U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina] “Mimi” Wright was kind enough when I was in law school to make time on a number of occasions to give me guidance and advice.

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

A: That corporations are bad and that you’re helping them do bad things. What we are ultimately doing is helping people who have invested their lives in many cases into their business to realize their goals, dreams and ambitions.

Q: What’s your favorite depiction of the law or the legal profession in popular culture?

A: “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It doesn’t necessarily deal with lawyers but a lot of the themes deal with justice in a unique science fiction way.

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