A Conversation With: Ben Ried

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Ben Ried, 43, joined Eckert Seamans in 2018 and recently traveled to Peru to work with firms there seeking to enter or increase their presence in U.S. markets.

Ried earned his bachelor’s degree in anthropology, graduating magna cum laude, from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and earned a law degree from the Widener University School of Law, where he also graduated cum laude.

He and his wife and their three children live in Mechanicsburg.

Q: You recently traveled to Peru to work with companies establishing businesses in the U.S. What are some of the challenges these companies find in navigating that process and how do you help them?

A: The challenges are when, for example, they export their products and they have agreements that deliver their products to the United States, but once the product is in the United States, if the importer takes some issue with the quality of the product or the terms of the sale based on the product as it’s received, companies don’t have a U.S. lawyer or law firm that could help them resolve the differences. They’re fine in Peru, they have their attorneys and they have it worked out through the ministry of foreign commerce or trade organizations that help exporters. So, getting their products out of Peru is fine, but sometimes there are issues getting products into the United States and they need attorneys to represent their interests.

On the flip side, what challenges do U.S. companies find in trying to establish businesses in Peru?

If there are any issues U.S. businesses face, it’s just finding the right partners and being connected with trusted law firms in Peru. I had meetings with prominent law firms in Peru and they’re eager to refer some of their clients to me for work in the United States and would love to have me refer U.S. firms that are looking to improve their market status in Peru or enter for the first time.

You also work with clients who are beneficiaries of tax-exempt financing. How do you help them feel more comfortable throughout the process?

An important part is being attentive and making the client feel comfortable that you have the ability and expertise to represent their interests and handle the work. Also, it’s showing you’re prepared to be the lead for them. I’m the one who has the knowledge and expertise and does these nuanced transactions on a regular basis; many of my clients, they might borrow money once every three, four, five years, maybe even less frequently than that. They’re not familiar with it, so they rely on me. A lot of our clients are Pennsylvania issuers; there’s a lot of less-urban clients who want to feel like they’re dealing with a person who values their experiences and really just wants to be an asset to get the job done for them.

This wasn’t your first trip to Peru. Tell us about the time you went there with just a backpack and came back with a family.

I graduated from college in 1997 and moved to the San Francisco Bay area, saved some money and decided I wanted to go live in a foreign country for a year. I had a degree in anthropology and remembered learning about Inca culture and South American countries, and just randomly picked Peru. I flew to Peru and was teaching English, translating, working for a nonprofit, kind of working odd jobs to support myself and my adventures. I met my now-wife not long after being there. One year turned into about four years, and I came back with a family. We moved back to the states in 2003 and obviously have strong ties to Peru. A lot of my wife’s family is there, so we travel back regularly.