LQ Corporate Law Feeds On Change


    Any business is good business for the world of corporate law.

    “Whether it is good times or bad, both generate legal work,” said Stephen Waterbury, partner at Warner Norcross and Judd, of economic booms and busts.

    Waterbury said he personally has kept busy because of mergers and acquisitions that have taken place over the past years.

    “They are a significant reason why the larger Michigan law firms are doing pretty well,” he said. “Acquisitions generate a good deal of legal work, not only among the transactional business attorneys but also among various legal specialists: employee benefits, environmental, real estate and intellectual property, for example.”

    With the mergers and acquisitions, Waterbury said there has not been an instance where a company has just left the state without making changes.

    “I’m not aware of a single significant client that has just shut its doors and ceased business without the business being sold to someone else,” he said. “I’m not aware of any client that has pulled up its roots and transplanted its entire business outside the state of Michigan.”

    Waterbury said that while there has not been much movement with investing in brand names and trademarks, patent lawyers throughout the state are busy.

    Michigan remains a center of innovation, and in particular of manufacturing innovations,” he said. “Historically, Michigan businesses may have underinvested in seeking patent protection for manufacturing innovations and other innovations. That seems to be changing. Even with a soft Michigan economy, Michigan patent attorneys have very full plates.”

    In addition to patent attorneys, Waterbury said brownfield redevelopment specialists, environmental specialists and tax credit specialists are also busy.

    “Our state has encouraged the redevelopment of those properties through changes in the law,” he said of brownfield sites that have infrastructure.

    “There’s a steady stream of putting abandoned industrial sites back on the industrial roles.”

    Waterbury said real estate developments in general are also a strong area for corporate law at this point.

    “Our real estate attorneys are heavily involved in significant real estate projects across the state and are intensely busy.  Real estate development and large-scale construction activities are driven by a long-range time frame, and the strong level of such activities seems to reflect confidence in the long-term prospects of Michigan,” he said.

    With all the fluctuation in the economy and various industries, Waterbury said he does not foresee the business practice slowing down anytime soon.

    “As long as change is happening, lawyers are busy.”     LQX

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