In the Trenches: A beer lawyer's work takes on a touch of green

Marcus Reed is a beer attorney with Portland's Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP

Marcus Reed is a beer attorney with Portland's Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP.

Editor’s note: In honor of Portland’s ongoing commitment to beer — last week was Beer Week, the National Organic Brewer’s Festival is coming up on June 29, the Brewer’s Festival will attract tens of thousands of ale-lovers next month — we decided to check In the Trenches to see how a beer-focused attorney works toward sustainable means. Meet Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP’s Marcus Reed.

I’m a beer lawyer. That is, I’m a business lawyer who represents breweries and the companies that help breweries bring beer to the masses.

Like other “beer geeks,” my passion for craft beer goes beyond mere consumption — the obsession is fostered by the variations in style, the subtlety of flavor, the artisan process, the sociable community, and the constantly evolving scene. Naturally, my role as a corporate lawyer led me to an interest in the business of beer.

So what does a beer lawyer do?

I assist brewers and other beer-entrepreneurs in bringing their companies to life, and then guide them through the complex and often unfamiliar legal aspects of running a business, including liability protection, real estate, finance, contract, employment, litigation, regulatory compliance, and other issues. Through the Beverage Industry Networking Group, a traditional networking group that has become a one-stop resource for brewers, I connect clients with exceptional service-providers and tradespeople. The goal of the beer lawyer is to make the client’s job easier, so the brewery can focus on what’s most important: making great beer!

Portland is the ultimate town for the beer lawyer, because the beer business is as potent and diverse as its products. From the most humble of Portland’s approximately 60 breweries, such as Humble Brewing (yes, that’s their name), to the publicly traded, lovable colossus Craft Brew Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: BREW), aka Widmer Brothers Brewing, no two brewery businesses are the same. Each has a unique ownership structure, identity, philosophy and ambition.

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