Mitchell S. Roth is a principal at Much Shelist and he took some time to answer a few of our questions.
Why did you become a lawyer?
I received my bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois and went on to become a CPA. To be honest, a part of me didn’t want to leave the academic world at that time and I had always been intrigued by business law. So law school seemed like a natural course. My love for and comfort with the numbers side of things (objective v. subjective) led me to the challenge of law school where skills in writing and analysis are paramount. A business degree along with a law degree (combined with my years of working in the middle market in Chicago) have provided a unique blend of experience that has benefitted me and the clients I’m fortunate to work with every day.
What advice do you have for law students?
Never forget that the education you are receiving is invaluable – no one can take that away from you and it’s a skill set that can and will be used in whatever career you ultimately choose. There are always going to be ups and downs in the market, but my advice is to stay the course. Today, we sit in a very difficult environment where there are less available positions for graduating attorneys than at any time I can remember. The profession will suffer as many highly qualified candidates will be forced to choose a different path. It pains me to see students give up on their dream of practicing law. The market will get better and job opportunities will open up. If you want to be a lawyer, patience and persistence are imperative. My first job out of school certainly wasn’t perfect, but that experience led to new and exciting opportunities.
Unfortunately, law school doesn’t prepare you for practicing law. The learning curve is long and difficult. Hard work and perseverance will lead to rewarding skills and success as an attorney, but may also lead to many unforeseen opportunities, whether with a client, with a third-party business or in an unrelated industry. Times have changed since I was a young attorney. Progressing towards partnership is no longer formulaic, as promotion today is truly based on merit.
What is the biggest change that you’ve seen in your particular practice?
In the last couple years, there was a dramatic decrease in business activity, especially in the M & A arena. Now that recovery appears to be in sight, we are starting to see deal volume in the middle market pick up again. We are also seeing many financial institutions come back to the market and lend at multiples they guaranteed would never be seen again. Such aggressive activity is more prevalent at the higher end of the middle market, but it’s also beginning to reach the next lower tiers. With increased liquidity from the banks and large amounts of liquidity waiting to be put to use from financial and strategic buyers, the next couple of years will likely see robust deal volume. That will be extremely positive for the legal profession and the economy as a whole. I expect this trend will lead to hiring not only by law firms, but also in the larger business community. Given the current levels of high unemployment, I am hopeful that this growth will happen quickly.