Counsel


I recently received an inquiry from a law school classmate that prompted a great discussion topic. The gist of the note was twofold – 1) how did you go from being an aspiring trial law student to an in-house contract lawyer and 2) how do you continue to stay passionate about your work. With permission, I thought the best way to respond was to use those questions as blog entries.

A little bit of history…While at the FSU College of Law, I was a member of the Mock Trial Team and fortunate to serve as president of the team my last year. We entered trial competitions and advocated against other law school students. It was a close nit group, a lot of work, a ton of fun and the best preparation for a career as a trial lawyer one could get while still in law school. After a few competitions, I just knew I was cut out for trial work! When it came time to enter the “real world,” I quickly found out that while many people sue, few actually go to trial. As a baby lawyer who wants to try cases, you either go to a government job handling criminal cases (state attorney/public defender) or carry a seasoned lawyers briefcase, learn the ropes, and pray you get a shot one day. Neither one of those options really appealed to me, so I began looking elsewhere.

I landed my current position right out of law school in a manner that most of the time doesn’t work…I sent in a blind resume to a company and hoped for the best. For a variety of reasons, I wanted to return home, but just knew that the legal market in Daytona Beach, FL would probably not allow that to happen. I can honestly say that many years of hard work, prayer and Divine Intervention landed me with a job I enjoy. While I had offers from traditional firms, many lawyers I spoke with wanted to get out of a firm and go in house, and there were few in house folks who wanted to go back to a firm. I figured I would skip the firm experience and land in a place where many hope to finish. My background synced up perfectly with an open position and 9 years later, here I am!

The boardroom is now my courtroom. Preparation for a successful negotiation is similar to how one would prepare to try a case – know the issues, know the parties and try to masterfully convince others to see a set of facts the was you view them.  While trail law and contract law seem to be polar opposites, there are many similarities – both sides have clients; both sides have different perspectives; both sides want successful outcomes.

Staying passionate about my work is a topic for the next post….that one could take a while.

Striving for The Best!-mwr

Juggling a full time job, family, lots of other commitments and very little spare time has taken its toll on my blogging availability. I don’t want to be one of those bloggers (no offense if you do this) who blogs a few sentences or random thoughts that pop in their head. I desire to post some thought provoking content that challenges us to think, reflect and achieve greatness. So, my revised goal for this site, at least for the time being, is to post one meaningful entry per week. I am going to resist the urge to post a bunch and attempt to save the content for weeks when my schedule gets the best of me. Your participation, in the form of suggestions, comments, quotes, etc., is helpful as this web based process ebbs and flows. I value your active involvement more than you know.

 

As I pen this entry, I am somewhere between a very cold Indianapolis and a hopefully warm and sunny Florida. I’m returning from a fantastic legal conference called TRAC – The Racing Attorney Conference. I have had the pleasure of being a panelist at this great event for the past two years and have found it to be a very useful experience. This year about a hundred lawyers and industry experts gathered in the infield of the Brickyard to discuss the topics that we face daily in the motorsports industry. While the newfound knowledge was great, making personal connections and contacts is the highlight for me. Too often I negotiate deals with my counterparts across the country and never get to meet them face to face or learn about them past the particulars of a deal.

 

Establishing personal relationships are the most effective way to do business. Negotiations, contracts and general business go much smoother when you can sit across the table or on a call with someone who is more than just “the other side.” I pushed myself to meet new people during my time in Indy in an effort to be working with a friend the next time I am fortunate enough to negotiate a deal. We talked about business and the law some, but I was genuinely more interested in their background, family, and other interests. I also renewed relationships with my friends from many wonderful companies involved in this small world we call “the motorsports industry”. No matter what your industry, profession or current situation, go out of your way to make strategic acquaintances. These friendships will never be wasted time and may just make your job more enjoyable down the road.

 

Striving for The Best!-mwr

Today is an historic day in the life of America. Regardless of your political affiliation or feelings about an election outcome, as Americans we must honor our government and the leader of this land. We must not minimize our duty, responsibility and even respect to those in authority.  It is an unbelievable sight to watch this very peaceful passage of power every 4 or 8 years. Though the campaign trail may at times feel like a war zone, there were no shots fired, political coups or unnecessary violence leading up to this transition. We are blessed to live in the United States of American and today we should clearly remember that fact.

 

As Americans, we have a duty to do the following:

1)       Support Your President. This means you must stand behind the man who is in authority over this country. (Romans 13:1-7) You do not have to support each policy or action, but supporting the office of the President is critical to the strength of America.

2)       Pray for Your Government and Its Leaders. Take time each day to thank God for this county and ask Him to give supernatural guidance, wisdom and direction to the leaders placed in power.  

3)       Get Involved and Make Your Voice Heard. Though the election is over, policies and decisions will be made that directly affect you. It is up to us to let you government know how you feel and what you believe.

 

I thank God that I am a citizen of the United States of America. This is the greatest country on earth and on this inauguration day, I am proud to be an American.

 

Striving for The Best! –mwr

With Thanksgiving now past and the turkey, stuffing, gravy, corn, mac & cheese, broccoli, cheese & rice casserole, sweet potato, pumpkin pie, peanut butter pie, and on and on and on… induced coma subsiding, it seemed appropriate to pick up this blog again by listing a few things for which I am thankful. The last few days have been spent with family and a lot less of the internet, computer, Blackberry and even cell phone. The virtual “radio silence” is always a welcome time for me. It gives me a chance to clear my head and re-focus my life objectives towards the things that really matter. With that said, some of the things I am most thankful for are:

1) Wife – An awesome woman who stands beside me no matter what. I clearly “married up” and appreciate her more than I could ever express!
2) Children – I thought life was great until heaven greeted us with 2 bundles of joy. Now 3 and 1, my girls are the love of my life and always remind me that this world is full of endless possibilities!
3) Family – Having the support of 2 families is an invaluable asset to my wife and I. They are always there for love, support, encouragement, advice and when needed, a swift kick to the rear!
4) Health – A most valuable possession.
5) Faith – My ultimate source of strength and guidance. My life would not be what it is today absent the hand of God protecting, preparing and guiding.
6) Friends – Life would be an unbearable journey if unable to share it with people who truly care and love you. I cherish the relationships established and future connections to be made.
7) Country – I’ve always been proud to be an American. The greatest country on Earth. The best place to be – land of the Free and home of the Brave.
8) Provision – Not the things we like, but the things we need – food, shelter and love. If all we had were these three, we could still make it just fine.

The list could continue for pages and pages until it got down to the things that I merely like and want, but I will stop with my thankfulness for the things I truly need. Hope your Thanksgiving was a good as mine.

Striving for the Best! -mwr

Note: My attempt to post this on Friday failed, but I was literally in a place with no WiFi. My Sprint air card would not even work… on Thanksgiving morning, I had to make a run to the closest Starbucks (20 mi.) to use their WiFi and pull a contract for review (yes, in-house lawyers even work on holidays). At least the “WiFi run” allowed me to sip a Venti Carmel Macchiato while plugging away on the laptop. At 10am, we were only the 4th car through the drive-thru.

My new friend, Charlie, posed a question that is gripping the nation right now – should the government bail out the US auto manufacturers? While this post has taken me a while to craft, it corresponds with the start of a lame duck Congressional session on this exact issue. I’m no expert on this subject, but have watching with great interest. It’s no secret that the motorsports industry has had a long standing partnership with the auto manufacturers. I have business associates, turned friends, who are employed by the “Big 3” and been involved with all of them. This issue came to the forefront for me a few months back when GM announced it would not renew its NASCAR track sponsorships. Even this weekend, GM’s announcements have even created a stir in the NASCAR garages. This Washington Post article details some of the issues we face – “Big three apply brakes to NASCAR Sponsorship.”

 

To get back to Charlie’s question, here is the quandary I struggle with – should the US taxpayer bear the burden to prop up businesses that can not sustain themselves? Regardless of the reason for why they are not profitable, when a small business does not make money the owner inevitable has to shut their doors. Even closer to home, (more…)

I am asked often “What do you do every day?” Here’s a glimpse of a semi-completed project I have been working on daily for over 2 years. There is not enough room on this site to bore you with all the details (including numerous ups and downs) of how we progressed to this stage, but I’ve profiled the Daytona Live! project in Daytona Beach a few times on this blog – here and here and here. With construction now “vertical,” everyone on the outside is beginning to see the fruits of our labor.

 

The office building, which will be the new world headquarters for International Speedway Corporation, NASCAR and Grand Am, is under construction and changing the landscape of W. International Speedway Blvd in Daytona Beach.  I snapped a few quick pics this morning so you could see the building a few months into construction. When complete, it will be 185,000 square feet spread out over 8 stories.

The other construction project I have been involved with on the fringe is our new church in Ormond Beach. Troy has dedicated his blog to progress on that project, so click on this link if you want to see the progress there too.

  

There are other aspects of my work that I will blog about in future posts, but there is a look into a project that has consumed the better part of 2 years!

 

Striving for the Best! -mwr

Inexperience is a simple way to describe not having experience, YET. Everyone faces the quandary of having minimal experience in various situations. It occurs when you start a new job or begin a career. This position doesn’t just happen to young people. In fact, older people are sometimes the worst at dealing with the inexperience that accompanies a situational change. No matter the circumstance, inexperience can be a valuable position, if properly utilized.

 

Highly effective individuals consciously use their inexperience as a benefit and not a hindrance. The first few years of your career or few months of new employment are periods when you can ask questions and get away with not “knowing the ropes.” Don’t take this to the extreme, but you will generally learn more and receive help from others if you simply take the time to ask intelligent questions. Use this time to evaluate yourself and the organization you have joined. It will prove critical to your future success as a professional and with that particular establishment.

 

Your inexperience will also present the opportunity to look at a situation from a fresh perspective and offer insightful direction, change or even an appreciation for what is already in place. (Penelope has a great blog about the first 90 days of a new job). I spoke to a friend of mine today who just took a new job, in a new city. As soon as he stepped foot in the building, he knew there were problems. (Here’s another great blog about the interview vs. actual job difference.) However, the existing people who have been invested for years have been looking the other way. Tough decisions had to be made, so… (more…)

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