Walter J. Skipper – Quarles & Brady
More and more companies are going global, expanding their operations into China, Russia, India and other countries.
Walter J. Skipper, a business law attorney at Quarles & Brady, is very familiar with that and has helped clients with transactions around the world. In addition to the previously mentioned countries, he has done deals in Albania, Brazil, England, France, Norway and Sweden, — to name a few.
“A lot of our clients, even in Wisconsin, as they are growing, they are becoming more multinational,” Skipper said. “We have one client that operates in about 30 countries and its business plan is to branch out to about 60.”
Recognizing you can’t be familiar with the laws in each country, Skipper stressed the importance of having ties to lawyers around the world.
“We have connections probably with lawyers in every country of the world,” he said.
For example, he said some clients have trademarks in 120 to 150 countries where the firm has to make filings for them. They have connections to attorneys in those countries to help inform them, so they can make filings on their clients’ behalf.
His time and energy also has gone into helping the profession by serving as chair and a board member of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Business Law Section. During his time, the section was involved in a six-year project to update Chapter 180, the corporate code, which hadn’t been changed in about 20 years.
But it’s the business law that is the biggest challenge. Skipper recalled working on the purchase and sale of a Polish operation. The unique part of the deal was that in order to form a company in Poland, you have to own or lease real estate there.
“In order to be able to do this, we actually acquired a one-foot-by-one-foot area in a munitions plant,” he said, noting once the lease was in place the U.S. company could conduct business in Poland.
Skipper’s work is not limited to large multinational corporations. He also counsels small, individually-owned companies and everything in between. On any given day, he said he might get calls about estate planning, real estate, tax planning, litigation, employment law, buying companies, selling companies, collection problems, securities questions or disclosure law questions.
“That’s one of the things I like,” Skipper said. “I never know what it’s going to be about. Every day I come in with a list of 10 things I hope to do. Rarely do I get everything done; instead, I get 25 new things.”