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Law360: Q&A with Elliot Feldman

News / October 6, 2009

Washington, D.C., partner Elliot Feldman was profiled in the October 6, 2009, edition of International Trade Law360 for his role as leader of Baker Hostetler's international trade practice. Click to read the full article (courtesy of Law360).

Feldman, a regular contributor to the firm's China-U.S. Trade Law blog, advises foreign governments, international organizations, American and foreign corporations, and individuals on matters of trade policy and litigates international trade disputes in all relevant forums in the United States and, occasionally, in foreign countries. He has been a frequent legal adviser to the government of Canada in World Trade Organization cases and also represents clients in Europe, Latin America, Australia and Asia, including acting as counsel to the People's Republic of China.

Asked what attracted him to his practice area, Feldman said: "I taught political science and theory, as well as strategic decision-making, in universities for 15 years before going to law school, seeking to change professions before I reached the age when Gauguin gave up banking and became a painter. For the last five of those teaching years I was on the Executive Committee of the Center for International Affairs at Harvard and developed relations with diplomats around the world. Were I to have any value added as a beginning lawyer after all those years, it was going to be in international law, especially (but not exclusively) in trade."

Commenting on the most challenging case he's worked on, Feldman said, "We represented Australian interests (and their American subsidiary) who sought, in a safeguard action, to arrest a surge of wheat gluten into the United States from Europe. The legal principle behind safeguards is that the exports of all countries must be treated equally, so any limitation we might win on European exports ought to have applied equally to the exports from Australia." Feldman continued: "Through a careful and novel interpretation of the statute, we won a presidential proclamation (mentioned on an episode of 'The West Wing') that increased Australian exports while cutting the European exports in half."

Asked what he believes are the most challenging legal problems currently facing clients in his practice area, Feldman replied, "Navigating more creative protectionism resulting from the global recession, and resisting pressures to settle trade disputes with cash."

Finally, asked what advice he would give to a young lawyer interested in getting into his practice area, Feldman advised: "Learn a foreign language, preferably one spoken in an Asian country (whether Chinese or Japanese or Vietnamese, as examples), and study accounting and economics."