Brenda A. Jacobs - Sidley Austin LLP
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Brenda A. Jacobs

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2006

Providing strategic and legal guidance to multinationals, trade associations and governments on customs and trade law and policy, compliance, negotiations, litigation, and legislation. She represents clients before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Treasury Department (Office of Foreign Assets Control), the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Congress.

Projects recently handled by Ms. Jacobs include: advising a major footwear brand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations; assisting in the representation of Chinese solar cell manufacturers against an antidumping and countervailing duty petition; advising on the interpretation of and compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, including the preparation of Section 15(b) reports (recalls); conducting an internal investigation for a U.S. brand on potential third party Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations; assisting foreign producers, and U.S. importers and purchasers, in responding to antidumping and countervailing duty petitions and developing strategies to reduce exposure to such duties; and advising firms on compliance with U.S. sanctions programs and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, including handling internal investigations and establishing compliance programs.

A licensed customs broker, Ms. Jacobs has extensive experience assisting companies in obtaining Customs rulings, preparing protests and responding to penalty proceedings, including intellectual property rights violations, and in drafting contracts, including vendor-purchaser and licensing agreements. She also advises on rules of origin and valuation issues and on matters pending before the WTO, particularly the Dispute Settlement Body, and assisting industries and governments in identifying viable claims and litigation strategies under WTO agreements. She is a co-author of a report for the World Bank on non-market economy countries.

Ms. Jacobs previously served as Senior Counsel for Trade Agreements at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She was one of the primary U.S. Government negotiators of the 1986 Protocol extending the Multifiber Arrangement. Before that, Ms. Jacobs was a legal advisor in the U.S. International Trade Commission’s General Counsel’s office, responsible for legal issues arising during antidumping, countervailing duty, safeguard, and Section 337 (patent and trademark) investigations.

Ms. Jacobs is a frequent speaker on current trade topics at seminars and conferences around the world.


  • Recipient of the Commerce Department’s General Counsel’s Award for Exceptional Performance, 1987
  • Listed in Chambers Global 2010-2012 and Chambers Asia Pacific 2010-2012 as “a leader in the field” of International Trade
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America, International Trade and Finance Law, 2006-2015
  • Listed in Who's Who of Trade and Customs Lawyers, 2011-2013
  • Recommended in International Trade in the Legal 500 US 2014

Cornell UniversityBS 1977George Washington University Law SchoolJ.D. 1980
Trade Policy ForumAmerican Bar Association, International SectionCustoms & International Trade Bar Association

Client Comments

"If you need to understand free trade, contact Brenda Jacobs. She is absolutely the best in the industry."

-Ray Hindle
Global Sales Director
Youngone Corporation

"Brenda Jacobs was as much a partner in the work as she was counsel. She always made herself available and typically responded promptly to any question or email. Brenda was able to understand my company's unique situation and crafted all of our initiatives around my size, budget, and timelines. It was refreshing to work with someone who was an expert in the area of focus, and was clearly respected by individuals we had to meet with and influence. Brenda is a true professional."

-Mark Harris
President and Co-Founder
Cellcorp Global Inc.

"Brenda Jacobs is the consummate professional and is very knowledgeable in her field."

-Michelle Wardian
Youngone Corporation

"Brenda is a wonderful lawyer. She is extremely knowledgeable, efficient, and prompt. Her work is always thorough. It is a pleasure to work with her!"

"Brenda Jacobs is counsel to USA ITA (United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel), an industry-wide association of manufacturers and retailers that champions the rights of importers. Ms. Jacobs is gutsy, competent, persevering, articulate, and resourceful, but, above all, a fierce and loyal advocate of our cause. Whether appearing in trade court or the halls of congress, she is a dedicated and tireless worker who can be relied upon to safeguard the interests of her client. Indeed, we are well served by Brenda Jacobs, Esquire. "

-Robert Zane
USA ITA (United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel)

"Brenda is my go-to person on trade and trade policy. She bears a wealth of information, not only about the facts, but the "why's" of the case, as well. She is a skilled attorney!"

-Peter McGrath
JCPenney Purchasing Corporation

"The Oriental Rug Importers Association (a Non-Profit Trade Association) has worked with Brenda Jacobs successfully for over 10 years. Brenda Jacobs is a consummate professional; she is easy to work with and very prompt in responding to any requests we make of her. She has been very successful working on a variety of trade and labor issues relating to the Oriental Rug Industry. Ms. Jacobs has an invaluable list of high-level contacts who she can call on for a host of different issues. Ms. Jacobs takes pride in completing the job to the client's satisfaction. Overall, I would highly recommend Ms. Jacobs as a fair, honorable, and hard-working attorney who will get the job done in a timely fashion. "

-Lucille Laufer
Executive Director
Oriental Rug Importers Association

Office Location

1501 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Practice Areas

International Trade and Finance Law