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David R. Merritt
David R. Merritt

2022 Up & Coming Attorneys: David R. Merritt

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Advertisements are when many consumers of TV, radio, podcasts and print or digital media tune out, but David Merritt tunes in. Advertising — the legal aspect of it — is what Merritt does for his clients as an attorney in Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP’s trademark and advertising group.

Merritt, who was named partner at the firm this year, helps major technology, clothing, food and consumer goods brands ensure their consumer-facing communication complies with relevant federal regulations and limits their potential litigation exposure. He also represents these brands in federal trademark and advertising litigation matters, advertising inquiries from the Federal Trade Commission and with advertising disputes before the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau.

When he encounters advertising in his own day-to-day life, he takes notice of the good and the not-so-good.

“I notice things both from a standpoint of ‘I see why they said that that way,’ or ‘They really shouldn’t have said that.’ A lot of companies have a hard time complying with the law while making advertising seem natural,” Merritt said. “I like to help our clients say things that sound normal while limiting exposure. Advertising lawyers can ruin marketing, but they can also help marketers stay out of trouble. There has to be a balance between the two.”

Some of his pro bono work doesn’t stray far from the consumer goods world. Merritt has handled legal work for Houston White, a Minneapolis barber, clothing designer and multifaceted entrepreneur who strives to help other Black-owned businesses in the Twin Cities.

“He has far surpassed the need for my help, but it’s been fun to watch him grow,” Merritt said of White’s growing business.

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