A DAY IN THE LIFE
A DAY IN THE LIFE
As we like to say, everyday is a good day to be a bond and CED attorney. But we at Sanford Holshouser want you to know a little more about what it’s like to be an attorney at our Firm. No two days are the same, but let’s walk through three different types of days to give you a peek into the life of your friendly neighborhood bond and CED attorneys. We should also say that these three days are based loosely on real events and give you a flavor for the different types of work we do (though most days will not be quite as action-packed as these).
DAY ONE—ON THE ROAD
The scene is set—Brian and Bob wake up early and meet at their Carrboro headquarters dressed to the nines. Suit, tie, cummerbund (ok, maybe no cummerbund). We’re on our way to a closing in the morning in the Piedmont. A client has a bond anticipation note (BAN) that it’s closing on today, and we want to walk them through the process in person and explain all of the documents that they’re about to sign.
The BAN closing may be relatively simple, but its not boring. This financing means expanded water and sewer for a small community in North Carolina. It means economic opportunity in that community. It means a better quality of life. It often is, as in this case, issued in anticipation of a USDA water and sewer loan with a longer average maturity. The BAN will help our client get funds to get the project started while still being able to take advantage of a longer repayment period and low interest rates (so our client in a rural area can afford the loan). We don’t always travel as a group, but sometimes it’s a convenient way to discuss Firm topics that affect us all or projects we’re working on together.
Bob grabs the donuts for the closing and the copies of documents we made yesterday that the client’s officers will need to sign. Brian makes sure that we’ve got enough pens, viable directions, and double-checks his gas meter. We hop in the car for a three-hour trip to the document-signing meeting. We start our trip talking about the various news of the day, discussing aspects of the public finance practice, considering community and economic development opportunities, and we listen to a few podcasts.
Around 9am, we take a call in the car over Bluetooth. It’s one of our larger-size municipal clients, and we’re having a call to discuss the various RFPs for a possible bank placement financing that just came in yesterday. We work with the client (particularly the Finance Officer and Manager of the unit), the unit’s financial advisor, and the unit’s attorney. The bids came in a little higher than the Finance Officer might have liked, and the finance officer wants to know the steps to achieve a public sale through limited obligation bonds. The financial advisors and the friendly neighborhood bond attorneys talk through the plusses and minuses of a public offering. The Finance Officer and Manager decide to sleep on it and make a decision tomorrow.
We arrive at our destination. The Lender has a representative at the meeting, the Town Attorney is present, as is the Town Manager and the Town Clerk. We walk our client’s representatives through the documents they need to sign, sometimes notarize, and sometimes place the Town seal upon. We give the brief explanation of what each document does and why it’s important. We get a question from the Town Attorney about the Town’s certificate concerning litigation and other matters, so we spend a little more time on that one until everyone is clear on its meaning. After everything is signed, we’ve assembled a rough draft of the deal book for the Lender, who walks out the door with a copy of the signed documents she needs.
On the way home, we make sure to stop and visit with a current client’s Finance Officer for a barbecue lunch (we’re always on the lookout for good local places—one of the many benefits of travelling). Our client wants to talk through the various ways that they can revitalize their downtown, so we talk through several different downtown development options—some of which include debt finance and some are more centered around establishing a municipal service district or a grant program. After hearing the options, the Finance Officer thinks two of them are viable in her community and she asks us to draft a memo for her Town’s Board of Commissioners.
We have one more stop on the way home, and that’s a meeting with a prospective client. We think it’s important to constantly build and maintain relationships; it’s an important part of our strategy for long-term business viability. We also just like to visit people in their offices to hear about their issues. The prospective client talks with us about recent events around health in rural areas, and we make some notes to ask around to our friends about different strategies they use to improve health outcomes in their community. We often collect these ideas that may not lead to any work for our Firm, but are simply interesting to us and that we think can contribute to the quality of life for all North Carolinians.
Around 5pm we return to the office. We answer the messages from the day, catch up on emails, and begin planning the next day. Sometimes we leave a little earlier or later depending on whether there’s a deadline or something urgent or a family event. We leave today around 5:15pm to have dinner with our families, watch the Carolina Tar Heels take on ACC-rival Syracuse, and then hit the hay.
DAY TWO—IN THE OFFICE
The friendly neighborhood bond and CED attorneys arrive at the office around 8:30am (clock-watching is not as important as doing the work well). At 9am, we gather for our weekly office meeting. Everyone’s wearing some combination of jeans, a polo, a dress shirt, khakis, loafers, or sneakers. We keep the emergency tie and suit nearby in case Gotham City comes calling and needs a new public safety building financed, pronto, otherwise everyday is a causal dress day unless we have a scheduled client or prospective client event.
We check in on interesting articles we’ve read, talk about things we want to add to the website, possible topics for blog posts, check in on our business strategy, and talk through our existing client and project portfolio and their needs. We think that everyone in the Firm needs to participate in the overall business strategy, who we should invite to lunch next week, professional development, client development, and running the business—that’s why we think our weekly meetings are so important and why we carve out time for them.
We’ve all got a lot of tasks to get through today. Bob is compiling a Digital Dealbook for a Limited Obligation Bonds (LOBs) deal we just closed on, drafting an installment financing contract, and readying a Town Council resolution for an upcoming general obligation bond election issue. Brian is working through documents on another installment financing and reviewing the real estate documents from a Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program grant.
It’s a quiet day in terms of phone calls and emails, but a few come in. One of our clients wants us to talk them through why a County has the responsibility to fund schools and sheriffs, so we talk through the various parts of the North Carolina Constitution as well as the General Statutes. Another client asks us about the recapture provisions of their downtown development grant. A third wants us to tell them about the steps needed to have a general obligation bond referendum. Bob also revises a draft blog post on the importance of fund balance and gets a copy ready for to be reviewed before it’s posted in the next few days.
DAY THREE—LATE NIGHT WITH THE COMMISSIONERS
Day Three is a lot like the office day, except we’re dressed like Day One. We start with similar work as the office day, but we’re also having a local lunch today with some friends of the Firm to talk about the interesting things they’re seeing in their general local government practice. We talk about the FCC’s recent broadband ruling, Medicaid at the county level, and possible changes to North Carolina’s sales tax structure. It’s a lot of fun and we head back to the office, where we resume a normal office-type day.
However, this is not a typical “office” day as one of the counties we work with asked us to attend a joint meeting of the County School Board and County Commissioners this evening at 5:30 pm. We have an evening meeting to attend about once a week. One of us from the Firm attends, but no individual attorney covers all of the meetings. The County’s office is only about 45 minutes away, so we leave around 4:30 from the office to attend the joint meeting (we decide to listen to various music this time). We’ve represented this client for several years, so we want to get there a little early to say hello to our friends before the meeting.
The County held a referendum last year on over $22 million of general obligation bonds for schools and the School Board would like to begin building as soon as possible, as well as locking in construction costs (they’re worried that they may go up soon). We attend the meeting to answer the questions about the process and make sure there’s no additional delay until after the meeting—we are asked to the podium to talk about the process of issuing general obligation bonds and whether reimbursement for expenses already made can be built into the future general obligation bonds (we talk about the reimbursement resolution they passed a few weeks ago). After about fifteen minutes, the agenda item is closed and we get back on the road, getting back to Carrboro around 8pm.