On March 28th, Mike Labriola came to talk about the transactional practice at the firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Here is a summary of the event, including background on the speaker and the main points discussed.
Background: Before Mr. Labriola came to law school he was a public accountant for several years. He came to UVA law and graduated in 2005. He participated in Wilson's summer associate program while he was a student and joined the firm's DC office.
Summary: Mr. Labriola says that the work at Wilson is very diverse due to the large number of clients they have. He estimates that the firm represents 350 public clients, and over 3500 private clients. The bulk of these companies are in the tech/biotech industry. The majority of the firm’s focus is transactional in nature and Mr. Labriola’s specialty is corporate securities.
He said what drew him to Wilson is the fact that the firm is well regarded (has represented more IPOs than anyone in the world) and the firm is very willing to let young associates get involved. Tech companies by nature are generally leanly staffed and rely on outside counsel for a lot of their legal needs. This enables associates at a firm like Wilson to work on more than just a discrete piece of legal work that the company’s general counsel doesn’t want to do. A core principle of Wilson is that they are full service and want to remain with a company over the long haul. This means that associates develop a long term working relationship with companies and have the opportunity to take a business advisor role in addition to offering legal advice.
Wilson has many other practices in addition to transactions, including antitrust, white collar, and general litigation. The main thrust of the firm is transactions so all the other practices are intimately tied to that practice.
He gave general advice to those who are interested in transactions as well. He said that all the litigation-like topics that are covered in law school are important because transactions is about avoiding litigation if at all possible. It is important to know the litigation implications of all the aspects of a deal.
Mr. Labriola closed the discussion by talking about the interplay between IPOs and mergers and acquisitions and how market factors and regulation have cut back on the number of IPOs which increases the amount of time he devotes to M&A. He said that the main duty of transactional lawyers is to protect the client from making mistakes today that are going to have serious negative effects down the line. As a transactional attorney you help the client avoid the landmines that exist in the negotiation and implementation of deals by working closely with them and understanding their legal and business needs.
End Note: Thanks to everyone who made it to the talk, we had a great turnout for a great event. We are planning on continuing the employer spotlight series by bringing in speakers who are in fields that the VLBS membership is interested in. If you have suggestions for the series or know somebody who would like to participate in the series let us know.