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January 2009
A Strategic Fit
By Brandee Dishner

Meet David Bishop, Dain Dulaney and Matt Joyner, partners in the recently amalgamated Bishop, Dulaney & Joyner, a dynamic team of business lawyers in a boutique corporate law firm, operating out of a SouthPark location and providing highly personalized legal and business advice to business owners, entrepreneurs and investors.

Each partner has nearly twenty years of experience in practicing law, each with a specific focus, which adds fuel to the collective efforts of the firm to provide superior service to privately held small businesses, entrepreneurs and investors. Additionally, each have owned and operated businesses, gaining valuable    experience in operations, tax, accounting, investment banking and business valuation. This experience enables them to provide practical legal solutions that are both cost efficient and effective.

 

Assembling the Pieces

In September 2008, the three partners joined their separate practices and became one firm. While small law firms typically consist of a handful of attorneys practicing in different areas of the law, all the attorneys at Bishop, Dulaney & Joyner are all business attorneys.

“By joining forces, we have enough depth to reassure our clients that we can provide timely service. At the same time, each partner has a different style and expertise that gives us the breadth to handle a broad spectrum of corporate legal matters,” explains Bishop.

The three partners have known each other for years. They have even worked for opposing clients. All three say that they came together out of mutual respect and trust.

“Finding partners with similar values was critically important to me,” says Joyner. Dulaney adds, “When we connected, I knew that we could do something together that would be very different. More than that, these are guys that I trust.”

Beyond sharing the same values, the partners also have a common approach to working with clients. “Each of us has hands-on experience working in a business other than a law firm,” says Joyner. He adds, “That experience enables us to approach legal issues with an awareness and appreciation of business considerations.”

 

Multi-faceted Piece

As an attorney and a CPA, David Bishop strives to integrate the financial, tax and business valuation aspects of a business transaction. A Charlotte native and a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law, Bishop points to his experience as a tax consultant, investment banker and business appraiser as helping him approach transactions from multiple perspectives. Bishop regularly advises clients on buying and selling businesses and providing equity compensation plans to employees.

“Clients expect me to have a good grasp of the legal issues,” says Bishop. “But what they really want is someone who has a broad perspective, good judgment and will stand by them even when the going gets tough.”

Attesting to Bishop’s ability to bring these qualities and more to the table is Ornamental Post & Panel’s John Iyoob: “David’s biggest strength is diversity. He is not just an attorney; he can help you with tax law, business evaluation and business sale.”

He continues, “His versatility brings added value. Being able to deal with one attorney for many different business issues makes it convenient for business owners like myself.”

Bishop points to his background as an example of the law firm’s philosophy: “We truly want our clients to recognize that we have the experience to cover all the bases. We want them to feel confident working with us and to know that we take their interests to heart.”

In addition to being a frequent speaker/writer on merger and acquisition and succession topics, Bishop is also co-contributor to the Mergers and Acquisitions Handbook for Small and Midsize Companies, a John Wiley publication.

 

Bringing the Pieces Together

A graduate from the Wake Forest School of Law and a native of Charlotte, Dain Dulaney’s professional resume includes extensive experience as in-house counsel as well as general counsel for a publicly traded company. In addition, he has experience as a transactional and corporate attorney with several area law firms, both large and small.

While Dulaney assists all types of businesses, he continues to have a particular focus on advising high growth ventures, especially technology businesses, as they respond to the challenges of rapid growth, eventually leading toward a successful exit.

His practice areas include mergers and acquisitions, angel, venture and mezzanine financing, private placements, board and shareholder representation, employment-related issues, technology licensing, securities and general corporate matters.

Dulaney’s knack for seeing the big picture enables him to advise small business, middle-market owners and entrepreneurs on the legal aspects of purchasing and selling a business and raising capital. When asked, his partners agree, “Dain is the go-to guy to help these high growth businesses with the legal and business structure to raise capital.”

Jim Riggi, CEO of MedFlow, was introduced to Dulaney in November 2007 by the company’s former CEO. He says, “We were looking to be bought out and he brought Dain in to manage the process on behalf of the company. I learned that Dulaney was extremely knowledgeable in contracts related to high tech software companies, and we decided to retain him as our legal counsel from that point forward.”

Now a year later, Riggi confidently says choosing and continuing to work with Dulaney as he joins Bishop and Joyner “has turned out to be a very rewarding decision.” He continues, “This is the first time in 10 years that I can depend on my legal support to understand the business issues as well as the legal issues during contract negotiations with clients and vendors. Our negotiations are always complicated because our business issues are complicated. I can trust them to be comprehensive and insightful and I don’t have to worry about missing any important points.”

 

The Triumvirate

The firm’s goals could not be reached without the efforts of Matt Joyner, a Chapel Hill native and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Joyner came to Charlotte after clerking for the Hon. J. Dickson Phillips Jr. on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

After initially practicing as a commercial litigator in large and medium-sized firms, Joyner went in-house with a multinational manufacturing company as division counsel and later served as general counsel and vice president of administration. This change gave Joyner experience in the daily operations of the company beyond legal, including human resources and benefits as well as environment, health and safety.

“Now that I am working as an outside business attorney, I draw on my in-house experience with managing multistate and multinational manufacturing and distribution companies,” says Joyner. “With this background, I am not ‘just a lawyer’ and this benefits my clients.”

Joyner concentrates his practice on the formation of limited liability companies, the purchase and sale of companies, and the preparation and negotiation of contracts.

Jack Humble, president of Classic Dyestuffs, a company that offers dyes and chemicals to various industries, has known Joyner for almost 15 years.

“Several years ago we adopted a strategy to differentiate ourselves and expand our non-textile business interests, Humble says. “In the past 12 months our business has more than doubled as a result of this strategy. Joyner has been an integral part of this success, providing expert legal advice and drafting concise contracts that both protect our business interests while being a win-win situation for all contract parties.”

It All Fits

While middle market businesses are just as likely a client for the firm as first-time business owners, the group has seen a new wave of interest in entrepreneurial ventures with the turn of the economy.

“We sometimes joke that we are also lawyers for ‘Plan B’. Whether it is a franchise or starting a business from scratch, people want to make their vision a reality and that is where we come in,” Dulaney says.

“I remember being approached by with a pair of entrepreneurs who wanted to buy and run their own business and they had found an opportunity to purchase a company with over 50 employees and revenues in excess of $10M from an owner who wanted to retire,” recounts Dulaney.

The entrepreneurs needed to raise millions of dollars in capital and had found a private equity group and bank that were willing to fund the acquisition. Dulaney didn’t hesitate to take on the project.

He says, “I was able to work with the entrepreneurs as they negotiated with multiple parties, including the owner and management team of the company, to complete the acquisition of the company on one side and afford the investors and lenders the best possible terms possible on the other side.”

I was able to help them structure the terms of the funding and complete the acquisition so that they could realize their dream and start the hard work of running and growing a company,” he says with obvious satisfaction.

Joyner shares, “I represent clients who are starting businesses, running businesses or buying and selling businesses. Over the last few years I have particularly enjoyed helping Charlotte bankers take the next steps in their careers, away from the banks.

“Wachovia and Bank of America bring people into Charlotte from all over the country. They work for the bank a while and realize they need to come up with ‘Plan B’ for their careers. At that point they and their families like living in Charlotte and want to stay here.”

“It is very rewarding to have helped those folks start new businesses and buy existing businesses so they can stay in Charlotte and have a little more control over their lives and destinies,” Joyner says.

As business attorneys, David Bishop, Dain Dulaney and Matt Joyner recognize that they play a small but important role in helping business owners realize their destinies.

As Bishop explains, “We can’t take credit for the successes of our clients, but if we do our job right, we will be there to counsel them along the way, from inception to exit. Their successes are our rewards.”

 

Brandee Dishner is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.
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