Law360 Profiles Akin Gump Int’l Trade Practice as a Practice Group of the Year

Law360 has published a profile of Akin Gump’s international trade practice on the occasion of its selection as a Law360 International Trade Group of the Year.

The profile features the firm’s work on behalf of a coalition of blueberry importers and distributors facing a Trump administration investigation. The firm saved the billion-dollar industry from tariffs, and its successful defense “set a strong precedent for seasonal imports facing government-initiated probes,” according to Law360.

The investigation, which also included other perishable produce imports, “looked as if one domino fell then the rest of them were also going to fall,” said Akin Gump trade partner Matthew Nicely, who worked with the coalition.

The “marathon 10-hour hearing” before the U.S. International Trade Commission, the profile notes, which the Akin Gump team helped respondents prepare for, persuaded commissioners that foreign blueberries were not a threat to domestic growers.

Akin Gump’s work—and skill—in coordinating counsel across multiple parties is cited by Law360 in similar work for vinyl flooring importer HMTX Industries LLC, which filed suit against the Trump administration for alleged abuse of Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 in waging its trade war against China.

Nicely is leading the firm’s Sec. 301 litigation work in concert with Supreme Court and appellate practice head Pratik Shah, a collaborative relationship that Nicely says is an example of Akin Gump’s cross-sector partnerships: “Trade is integrated into the fabric of the firm at Akin Gump in ways that I have not seen at the other law firms that I've been at during my career.”

In that vein, partner and former practice head Hal Shapiro: “It's really connecting a bunch of very entrepreneurial, highly talented, highly energized folks, but having them really all working together, and actually having a pretty good time along the way.”

The profile notes Akin Gump’s trade practice’s 460+% percent growth in lawyers since 2007 and the firm’s expansion of the practice to three continents. The latter, says practice head Thomas McCarthy, “gives us advantages for continuity of work for clients because people in those different offices can be doing work during other people's nighttime. [Our] coordination is driven in part by the need to continue to accelerate and advance projects toward deadlines.”

He noted that the firm’s global collaboration also serves clients’ growing need for global coverage, with trade increasingly shaped by geopolitics. In fact, global politics will likely remain front and center in the practice in 2022, with Sec. 301 litigation oral arguments on February 1.

Said McCarthy, “Zooming out, the great power struggle between the U.S. and China will continue to define this practice for a while. That's going to be something that unfolds over years, and it's clear that it's not a single administration; it's a deeply held U.S. concern on a number of fronts.”

To read the full profile, click here.