For Gravel & Shea Partner Peter Erly, the practice of transactional law is an optimistic endeavor. “When clients call me,” he says, “it’s usually for a positive reason.” The desire to help businesses and individuals during an exciting – and often new – experience along with a deep appreciation for the intricacies of the law brought Erly to a practice heavy in mergers and acquisitions, financing and business formation.
Erly began his practice at a boutique securities law firm in Atlanta, Georgia, where he spent five years immersing himself in the laws that regulate when and how investments occur. When Erly and his wife moved to New England in 1987 to be closer to family, he joined Gravel & Shea.
Almost immediately, he got involved with a drafting committee developing the Vermont Securities Act. “As an attorney, there’s no better way to learn the law. You know every provision, its history, and exactly why it is where it is,” Erly says. He has remained heavily involved with statutory drafting committees throughout his career, co-chairing the committee that drafted the first limited liability company (LLC) statute in Vermont. His work helped bring about the statutory requirement that LLCs be created by written rather than oral agreement, a requirement that has reduced confusion and headaches for many companies. Erly recommends drafting committees to younger attorneys so that they can learn the law and have a voice in the way laws are written rather than later wondering why a certain provision exists as it does.
That deep knowledge base coupled with years of experience in a wide variety of business transactions is largely responsible for Erly’s success and, he explains, the only way to confidently parse out for a client the types of things they should be worried about during a merger or acquisition and the things they can let go. Erly tries to put himself in the client’s shoes and understand what they would want in this situation, which is often clear and uncomplicated explanations of both the process and what to anticipate from other parties. He works with investment bankers all the time, but he says, “If this is the client’s first time engaging in the sale of a company, they might not have a frame of reference about what to expect from the banker or the transaction.” Providing that frame of reference is his job.
That opportunity to walk a business through an exciting time in their history keeps Erly at the table.