Mickey Kantor

Former Secretary of Commerce and Global Trade Expert

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Former Secretary of Commerce and Global Trade Expert

Mickey Kantor, formerly United States Secretary of Commerce and United States Trade Representative, is a partner in Mayer Brown LLP, an international law firm headquartered in Chicago.  He was the Presidential Appointee to the National Legal Services Corporation.  Mr. Kantor represents companies in corporate and financial transactions on a worldwide basis.  Mr. Kantor is based in the firm’s Los Angeles, CA office.


Currently Mr. Kantor is a Board Chair of Lexmark International, Inc.; Board Co-chair of Vision to Learn; Board Co-chair of the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy; Board Chair of the RDK Next Steps Fund; Board member of Pacific Council on International Policy; Board member of the L.A. Coalition of Economy and Jobs; Board member of the National Equal Justice Library; Board member of the Los Angeles Civic Alliance; Board member of the Japan House; Board of Advisors of Drug Strategies; and Member of Board of Directors, Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law.

Former Positions

He formerly served and is founder of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and formerly served on the Board of CBRE, Board of ING Americas; Board of Visitors for Georgetown University Law Center; Board of Councilors for Annenberg School of Communications, University of Southern California; Board of the International Advisory Board of Fleishman-Hillard; member of the Chairman’s Advisory Group of the National Center for APEC; Trustee of the International Commercial Diplomacy Project of Council on Foreign Relations.

International Trade Advisor

Mr. Kantor joined President Clinton’s first cabinet on January 21, 1993 as the United States Trade Representative.  He was the President’s chief advisor on international trade policy.


Among the successful initiatives were negotiations resulting in the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) and its side agreements on labor and the environment, helping to work with Congress for the passage of the NAFTA implementing legislation.  He served as chief negotiator to the 117-nation Uruguay Round to create the world’s largest trade pact and convened three successful APEC meetings of leaders of the Asia-Pacific region containing the world’s fastest growing markets.  He also led trade initiatives as part of the Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994 which resulted in the creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and he worked with the European Commission to establish the trans-Atlantic market and the trans-Atlantic business dialogue.

Mr. Kantor worked with President Clinton to conclude more than 200 agreements to expand trade, including an auto and auto parts agreement with Japan and bilateral agreements in areas ranging from textiles to the protection of intellectual property rights.

Secretary of Commerce

Mr. Kantor was sworn in as the 31st United States Secretary of Commerce on April 12, 1996.  As Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Kantor carried forward President Clinton’s mandate to provide economic opportunity for American workers and businesses.  At the helm of the Department of Commerce, former Secretary Kantor worked to generate new jobs through increased exports and expanded markets abroad, to create a strong civilian technology infrastructure to promote sustainable development, to spur entrepreneurship, to stimulate the economic development of distressed communities throughout the nation and, through the regular reporting of vital statistical information, economic data and census data, to assist the private sector in keeping America strong and competitive.

Private Practice

Mr. Kantor’s prior law practice includes 17 years at the firm of Manatt, Phelps, Phillips & Kantor in Los Angeles.  He also practiced for several years as a legal services attorney representing migrant farm workers.

Political Consultant

Mr. Kantor served as National Chair for the Clinton/Gore ‘92 Campaign and as a member of the Transitional Board of Directors.  He has a long history of public service, including membership on the Christopher Commission which was formed in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles.  Mr. Kantor has been a board member of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Center for Law in the Public Interest, and the California Commission on Campaign Financing.  Mr. Kantor also has served as consultant to the American Bar Association Special Committee on Crime Prevention and Control, the White House Conference on Children, and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

Awards and Honors

Among the many awards and honors he has received are the following:  the Civic Medal of Honor by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Order of the Southern Cross Award by The Government of Brazil, 2001, the William O. Douglas Award by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Thomas Jefferson Distinguished Public Service Medal from the Center for the Study of the Presidency, the Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award from the Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation, and Elihu Root Distinguished Lecturer, Council on Foreign Relations.


Born in Nashville, Tennessee on August 7, 1939, Mr. Kantor received a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University in 1961.  After four years of service as a naval officer, he went on to study law at the Georgetown University Law Center, and received his degree in 1968.

Mr. Kantor is married to former NBC Correspondent Heidi Schulman, has three children, Leslie, Douglas and Alix and three grandchildren, Ryan, Jackson and Zack.

The Politics of Trade

What Trade Policy Means for Business and Industry - Especially Yours

Globalization and the American Quality of Life

No Books Found

“I was honored to have Mickey in my administration, not only because I knew him and trusted him, but because of his extraordinary gifts in public service. His commitment to service runs far and deep ... I really think he may well be the most effective trade ambassador our country has ever had.”

- President Clinton |

"arguably the finest trade negotiator in the world and a terrific resource for the firm."

- | Chambers Global 2006

“blessed with fantastic political insights and connections”

- | Chambers USA 2007

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