Writer: Felipe Rivas
2 min read June 2021 — Theodore Blum, managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Atlanta office, is bullish about the future because his firm has built the appropriate foundation to take advantage of the coming opportunities, he told Invest: in a recent interview.
How did you manage the pandemic and what were the lessons learned?
Our number one priority was keeping the connections among our employees strong. Our technology team enabled us to create innovative platforms for virtual interactions. From my standpoint, it was important to reduce big group virtual meetings where people tend to be shyer and more passive, so instead, we brought people together in smaller groups where they could have active dialogues and check on each other to make sure they were doing well. There were also a lot of one-on-one initiatives. It was all designed to keep people close while we were physically apart.
There’s also been a lot of discussion over the last year about whether the physical office is here to stay or whether the office is a thing of the past. We don’t think it’s a thing of the past, but the realities of how we use office space will certainly continue to evolve. Regardless, one of the great takeaways is that we can use technology to be more efficient, we can bring people together to be more connected, and we can have hybrid approaches to collaborating. We learned that people can work from their office or from wherever they are. To me, that is a great takeaway of COVID-19 and it will be the one carrying us forward. It’s not going to be either the office or remote, we’re going to see new paths to finding new ways to work together.
Where have you seen the most changes in demand for the services you offer?
I think that just about every facet of our business is in demand right now. There has been a wave of activity as the economy continues to rebound from the past year. The mergers and acquisitions market is booming. We’re seeing an uptick in strategic expansion, capital formation, financial transactions, capital markets, and joint ventures – transactions of all types and sizes are booming. We’ll see what happens but the stock market has been robust. In the financial markets, both debt and equity are hot.
In the legal area, litigation is going to heat up. The courts were closed all last year. As they start to open, more litigation activity will result. Restructuring and refinancing have been on fire and will continue to be. I see a lot of new roads toward opportunity in markets such as biotechnology, healthcare and medical device development — all these areas are going to be great. Fintech is also going to be incredible. All of our services are going to be strong this year.
What are the most common mistakes that clients make when it comes to corporate matters?
When we’re talking about doing deals, a major mistake is getting too emotionally invested. You need a level of detached, analytical assessment at all steps of any process to make sure a deal is right for your business. Managing your proclivities, whether negative or overly positive, and trying to keep yourself moderated is key for people who are looking at investing or when counseling businesses that are pursuing strategic transactions.
What do you think is going to happen with business travel after COVID?
I took my last 2020 business trip in February and then I was in lockdown until early this Spring. This year is going to be different – it already is! I think that though business travel will pick up, we’ll be able to eliminate a lot of unnecessary trips. For example, if I’m doing an acquisition and I want to do the due diligence, it used to be the case that a bunch of people would fly to the target company’s headquarters in, say, South Dakota, or wherever the transaction was happening. Now, instead of a full team flying unnecessarily, you can get on a video call and cover the more technical or administrative parts of the deal. Then, team members involved in the deal can travel to meet with the client and other side as needed – those in-person can be the owners of the businesses and the people who must spend the time connecting and building the relationships that are invaluable to the acquisition. We’re going to see much more focused, efficient, and targeted travel. No doubt, my business travel will be up drastically.
What is your outlook for the firm and the legal industry in Atlanta for the next 12-18 months?
I am so bullish on the firm’s opportunities here in Atlanta. Our firm is uniquely positioned to drive opportunity in terms of advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, and advancing opportunity for more people, expanding the footprint of our global firm to our local and regional marketplace, and bringing integrated, practical legal solutions to clients here in Atlanta who will be well served by us. We have worked very hard to put in place a strong foundation over the last few years by recruiting great people, building a great culture, advancing diversity, finding technology tools to help us be better at what we do, and expanding our expertise in different market segments that we think are relevant and important to our clients. All those things have helped us position ourselves to ride this new wave of opportunity and decision-making and growth in the future.
Atlanta has always been a city with great cooperation between business leaders and civic leaders working together to advance opportunities for folks and I think Greenberg Traurig is well situated for that. I think we’ve been that way for quite a while. Now we just have to keep driving forward!
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