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Alumni Spotlight: Arthur Vorbrodt ’17L Arthur Vorbrodt is a senior counsel in the Transactions Practice Group at Foley & Lardner in Dallas.

Vorbrodt_Arthur_23938 Alumni Spotlight: Arthur Vorbrodt '17LArthur Vorbrodt ‘17L

Arthur Vorbrodt ‘17L was born in New York City and raised in Allendale, New Jersey. He graduated from Rutgers University in 2013, where he double majored in History and Political Science. During his time in college, Arthur was a member of Theta Chi fraternity, which focused on various charitable and philanthropic initiatives benefitting its non-profit partners, including Hope for the Warriors. At W&L, Arthur was a managing editor of the Washington and Lee Law Review and the senior articles editor on the German Law Journal. During his 1L summer, Arthur clerked at a New Jersey Superior Court for Judge Mark Ciarrocca. During his 2L summer, he was a summer associate at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in 2016, which subsequently merged with Foley & Lardner LLP, where he works today in the Dallas, Texas office as a senior counsel in the Transactions Practice Group. Outside of work, Arthur enjoys downhill skiing, fly fishing, golf, tennis, and working out.

Discuss your career path and how it led you to working at Foley & Lardner.

Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP (which subsequently merged with Foley & Lardner LLP) participated in W&L’s OCI program and extended me an offer to interview. After a number of interviews on the east coast (Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C.), the Texas interview program was the last stop of my 2015 summer of interviews. The Texas culture and, in particular, the firm’s culture stood out so significantly that I was compelled to move to a new city in which I had no family, friends, or contacts, notwithstanding having competing offers close to home. During my summer, I was given the opportunity to work for both the litigation and transactional groups. Given my prior interest in business and preference of transactional over litigation work following my summer experience, I ultimately decided to pursue a career in mergers and acquisitions. As a history and political science double major in undergrad, I’ll be the first to tell law students not to shy away from a career in corporate law, as a business background is not a prerequisite to an otherwise successful career in this field. Virtually all of the requisite skills are learned in school and on the job through experience, mentoring relationships, and self-teaching.

What sort of legal issues do you handle on a day-to-day basis?

My practice is primarily comprised of advising private equity firms in acquisitions and sales of businesses in the “middle-market” ($50M-$500M enterprise value). These acquisitions require a client’s attorneys to draft, negotiate, and advise on definitive documentation memorializing the acquisition, which dictate all of the terms and conditions of the purchase and sale, and allocate risk on a number of business and legal issues between buyer and seller. In addition to mergers and acquisitions, I typically serve as outside general counsel to a number of the firm’s clients. This requires a broad knowledge of the issues routinely faced by companies, including securities compliance, benefits, labor and employment, real estate, finance, litigation, etc. You name it, I’ve probably seen it.

What do you like about your current job?

It throws you head-first into the world of business and is probably the closest you’ll get to being a “businessman” without a business degree. As an M&A attorney, you work on transactions in a wide variety of industries. This gives you a baseline understanding of how these industries operate and the unique issues they run into on a regular basis. You also find yourself advising high profile businesspeople who turn to you for counsel—to me, there is nothing more flattering than being the first phone call by a CEO/CFO when they have a problem.

What are some practices you have in your daily life as an attorney to maintain wellness?

I cannot emphasize the importance of having hobbies outside of the office, exercising regularly, and focusing on your eating habits. Any job as an attorney, regardless of the size of the institution, is time-intensive and it is very easy for the job to become your identity. Even if it feels like there are not enough hours in the day, an attorney must make time for “routine maintenance”—work out, play sports, find hobbies, or otherwise find ways to take your mind off of the job for some part of the day. The benefits of this “routine maintenance” are immediately recognizable, particularly if you’ve been working for some time without it, and it allows you to think more clearly and perform your job more efficiently.

Which W&L classes and/or experiences do you think were most helpful in preparing you for this job? 

Journals and business and tax classes. I will always opt to work with an associate who has journal experience. In addition to requiring law students to practically memorize the bluebook (which I admittedly have not opened since law school), being on a journal teaches law students a skillset applicable to all fields of law—attention to detail. Our clients pay a premium for our services and providing legal advice is only one of many aspects of our “product”—while a client may not appreciate the value of a well negotiated indemnity provision, they will most certainly notice a typo in their name, poorly-formatted documents, disorganized deal processes, etc., which could immediately have them calling into question the underlying quality of legal services provided. Put differently, attention to detail is a critical aspect of the business of the practice of law (in addition to being a competent attorney).

As to classes, any law student seriously considering a business law route should take individual, corporations, and partnership tax classes in addition to business organizations. Tax structuring is at the forefront of every transaction, and an associate that understands the distinctions and tax advantages and disadvantages of certain structures allows them to immediately grasp critical issues in a transaction and ensure that the goals of the client are achieved (of course, with significant help of their tax colleagues). Also, I would highly suggest taking any available M&A practicum—any introduction to the basics of M&A will help you immediately stand out from your peers. Finally, I’d highly recommend a basic accounting class. An M&A lawyer finds themselves advising on financial/economic terms on a regular basis so, the sooner you can intelligibly discuss these topics with your client, the better.

What advice do you have for prospective law students?

Don’t approach law school lightly and embrace the opportunities it provides. Unless you are a career academic, these are the few years you will spend studying legal theory as opposed to practicing law (the two are very different). Take the classes you are interested in and try your best to excel in the classes you take. That said, don’t shy away from classes that are notoriously “difficult”—this is likely the only time in your career where you’ll be able to devote significant time to learning complex legal matters, so dive in and take full advantage of the opportunity you are afforded. Just as anything else in life, you get from law school what you put into it.

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