On September 30, four Greensboro business attorneys spoke with Elon Law students about the practice of business law and the skills needed to excel in the area. Participants included John Overfield of Coltrane, Aycock & Overfield PLLC, Paula Sinozich of Connors, Morgan Sinozich, Adam Tarleton of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP, and Craig Taylor of Carruthers & Roth, PA.
The Business Law Association and Office of Career Services at Elon Law sponsored the event.
Taylor stressed the importance of being detail-oriented while working in the field of transactional law. He also told law students that it is important to develop the ability to communicate technical aspects of the law to clients in clear and concise ways.
“One of the things clients appreciate is the ability to take complicated legal documents and break them down in a way that makes sense to business owners,” Taylor said.
Overfield discussed his experience in business, as well as in business law. For the first ten years of his law practice, he also had partial ownership of a clothing store. Developing perspective from the entrepreneurial side, as well as the legal side, is important in business law Overfield said. He advised students to develop “life skills” as well as law skills.
Overfield also noted that he has lived by the idea that “it’s a small town and a long life,” so you should not burn your bridges.
“You need to remember that you need to be able to walk away from the transaction and be very happy with the way you conducted yourself,” Overfield said.
In order to succeed in business law, Senozich encouraged students to develop strong writing and speaking skills, and to adopt a flexible approach for handling various types of business law. Because transactional law is constantly changing, Senozich said, being flexible in one’s practice is key in order to adapt to economic fluctuations and a broad range of clients and circumstances.
The most important skill Senozich stressed to students during the forum was humility. Lawyers should strive to be humble and not come across as arrogant to clients.
“Even though you know a lot, even the best lawyers can be humbled by a certain experience,” she cautioned.
Tarleton described several aspects of the practice of business law. He told students that business law is “a lot of common sense and interpersonal work” as well as being “research oriented.” Noting that business law is not just transactions, Tarleton encouraged more students to set their sights on the practice area, saying business lawyers can do both litigation and transactional work.
The skill Tarleton suggested law students acquire early on in their career is being able to identify and focus on the important elements of each client’s legal circumstance and to be thorough, because the most important thing lawyers need to remember is that “we’re servants to our clients.”
By Ashley Smith, L’12