Achieving full potential with post Brexit exporting
We met Jonathan Strassberg, a lawyer who is using his extensive experience on both sides of the Atlantic to help UK companies overcome the hurdles of exporting beyond the EU.
Tell us about yourself
I am a Commercial US Attorney at Law and a solicitor of English & Wales. I’ve lived in the UK since 2007 and am now a citizen. My first years in the UK were spent in Scotland, primarily Edinburgh, where I started the True Course practice in 2012. My two sons – now 14 and 16 – were adopted from Vietnam when they were 3 ½ months old. Given that my wife is Brazilian, we have a very international family.
Give us an outline of your career to date
I graduated law school from the Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan in 1986; after which I practised as a commercial litigator in Manhattan and Chicago. In 1992 I split my time between practising law and running a property development business in Princeton, New Jersey. This lasted 16 years, until the financial crisis, which hit the US in 2007. With the property business in free fall, we took the opportunity to move to Scotland to secure dual citizenship and explore life in Europe. I worked for a property company in Edinburgh from 2010 until 2014, while I was laying the foundations for True Course Ltd.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I wanted to work with animals, mainly mammals. I would strut around my kitchen bragging to my parents that I would be a mammalian ethologist. My father just shook his head. He had his sights on medicine or dentistry as a career for me. From the age of 20, however, when I took my first pre-law course at university, I knew that I was destined for law. I loved it and studied all I could.
What does your company True Course do?
True Course Ltd is both a legal service and business consultancy that helps UK and European companies trade with, expand to and operate in the American market. Though I am primarily a lawyer, I work with complementary professionals in cross-border tax, insurance, banking and other disciplines to provide clients with most of what they need to know to hit the ground running in America.
What motivates you to run your own company?
It allows me to practise law the way I always wanted to. For most all of my clients, I act like an in-house lawyer for their US interests. This makes me an integral part of their team, which I greatly enjoy. I take a very commercial rather than strictly academic view of business law. My 16 years running a property company has certainly helped in this regard. Running my own firm allows me to avoid the burden of billable hours, which helps me provide the kind of value to my clients I believe they need and deserve.
What is the hardest thing about living in a different country?
I find it quite easy and natural to live in the UK. I’ve had an affinity for this country since I studied here for the summer in 1984. Indeed, in many respects, I feel more at home here than I did in America. I think it’s the greater sense of calm and greater reliance on common sense I find here, as opposed to New York. Having said that, I often do miss the food in New York, as well as the 24 hour diners!
How did you first get in touch with TAEFL?
I met Mark Runiewicz at a Going Global Exhibition in London. He contacted me to assist with a client.
What advice would you give to a company considering exporting to the US?
Education, Education, Education! Research, Research, Research! Talk as much as possible to as many professionals and other business people who already export. Start small and build from there. Never assume you know the answer to a new issue. Always double-check yourself.
What are you looking forward to the most about the roadshow events?
Seeing the look on people’s faces when they suddenly understand an issue or concept that they didn’t understand before. I truly enjoy helping people understand and get their arms around the fundamental concepts in export and cross-border expansion.