Gregory Bishop, L'99

Gregory Bishop

Gregory Bishop is a Partner at Williams Mullen, as well as chair of the firm’s Corporate Section and a member of the firm's board of directors. He is a Richmond Law alum, and he participated in our Business Law over Dinner event on mergers & acquisitions law. We asked him to share his career path and thoughts on an M&A practice with our students.

Can you describe your career path since leaving law school?

I have been with Williams Mullen my entire legal career. I began as summer clerk and was hired as an associate in the Corporate Section doing entry-level work (due diligence, drafting simple agreements and corporate documents, etc.). After a couple of years I ran smaller transactions. Then I started running larger M&A transactions and leading a team. Now I lead our Corporate Section, which has about 80 lawyers. I am also on the firm’s board of directors.

What does a typical day look like in your practice?

Leading the Corporate Section and being in firm management means that I have to wear a lot of hats. That is particularly true given that I also have an active M&A practice. So, the day normally begins around 7 a.m. by checking the status of various M&A transactions with team members who are working on those deals. I also take time to make sure that my email in-box gets cleaned (I hate for emails to languish). After this the phone starts ringing. I deal with calls about staffing (from other lawyers), client bills (e.g., “my bill states that this work was done, but it is not finished”), on-boarding new lawyers, helping transition work for lawyers who are leaving, conference calls related to on-going deals, and on-and-on! I also try to fit in coffee or lunch meeting with business contacts and prospects throughout the day. My workday normally ends around 7 p.m.

What is the best part of your practice? What is the most challenging part?

Although cliché, the best part of my practice is developing relationships with colleagues and clients. I cannot put it any simpler than that. Once I develop those relationships I am much better at helping them develop strategies and solve problems. The most challenging part of my practice is trying to predict the future. In M&A you never know where the next deal is going to come from, so you have to have a robust referral network (among many other things). Conversely, you never know if you will have enough staff to handle the deals you get. So, struggling to keep that balance is extremely challenging (and nerve wracking!).

What advice do you have for students who are interested in your practice area?

First and foremost, “be there” for the team. Time is the enemy of all deals (as investment bankers often say). So, there is immense pressure for every member of an M&A team to get work done as fast as possible. However, as lawyers, we are supposed to protect our clients from risks, which is particularly difficult in an environment requiring speed. That means we are normally required to work that much harder to serve that duel (and often conflicting) objective – speed and risk mitigation. If every team member is not available, then the whole team gets slowed down. By always being available and delivering timely, excellent work product you will make yourself indispensable.

Thanks, Greg!