Profile in Brief-- John Trentacosta Client service all-star

By Katherine Gilbride

Legal News

"Action speaks louder than words," said Mark Twain, "but not nearly as often."

Twain's quote holds true for Detroit attorney John Trentacosta whose books and actions speak loudly to clients, recently landing him on the BTI Client Service All-Star list. Attorneys receive this recognition based solely on unprompted feedback from more than 250 general counsels at Fortune 1000 organizations.

Trentacosta attributes his success to taking action and emphasizing client service in everything that he does.

"Whether you're handling a lawsuit, a business transaction, or any type of other legal project, first and foremost you are being hired to assist a client with a legal project and a legal need," says Trentacosta.

Another factor placing him on the list is his use of words. He is an esteemed and widely published author. Trentacosta was editor and contributing author of "Michigan Contract Law" and co-author and general editor of "Michigan Legal Forms-Uniform Commercial Code," among many other publications.

"I like writing and I think that part of delivering good service to your client is showing that you have the skill set and expertise in the area they are hiring you for," says Trentacosta, "I've always had an interest in contract law and the Uniform Commercial Code and in order to enhance and develop my expertise in that area, and ultimately to convince clients that I had an expertise in that area, I thought one good way to do it would be to write a book."

As a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP, Trentacosta practices in the area of business, commercial, contract, international and litigation. He was the founder of Foley & Lardner's Automotive Industry Team, and is active in the firm's other business practice groups. An expert in the automotive industry, Trentacosta predicts business will succeed despite current economic conditions.

"I think Detroit will remain very important in automotive circles," says Trentacosta, "not necessarily as the center of manufacturing where there are factories and a lot of folks working on the assembly line. We are moving now towards more of the design and white-collar type presence."

In fact, the financial distress over the past three years has increased business for Foley & Lardner. Trentacosta particularly sees a future in supply chain law.

"The financial distress has kept our bankruptcy lawyers busy and also has exacerbated the tension and the problems in the supply chain such that there is more supply chain litigation and there is more focus on the strategies that the companies are employing as they develop advantages," says Trentacosta. "The automotive supply chain has created a lot of new legal issues, challenges and strategies that you have to develop."

In response to the automotive industry becoming an international market, Foley & Lardner opened offices in Brussels, Tokyo and Shanghai. Always putting his clients first, Trentacosta traveled to the Shanghai office to develop relationships and better service the international clients.

"It was fascinating -- it's like New York on steroids," says Trentacosta, "The activity is constant; people everywhere on bikes and taxies, there is energy in the air that is unlike any city I have ever been to."

Despite his love for travel, the attorney always has a place in his heart for Michigan.

"I spent three years living in Washington D.C while I was in law school and it made me appreciate some of the things about Michigan that I was taking for granted. I even hear that from my kids."

Keeping up with client's needs, Trentacosta is currently working on an outline for a third and final book that focuses on the area of supply chain law.

"A lot of the legal issues that are very important in the area of automotive supply chain have come to the forefront in the last few years," says Trentacosta, "I think that there might be an opportunity to take some of that knowledge and learning that virtually all of us involved in automotive the past few years can take a look at and develop into a concise book on supply chain law."

In the next few years Trentacosta hopes to continue doing trial work on complex supply chain cases, finish his third book, and travel more to the Brussels office and other international offices to see what he can do by way of developing business and serving clients in those locations.

Published: Tue, Jul 27, 2010