There are stacks of printouts, splayed folders and a crumpled survey for a real estate transaction from “a few months ago” on his desk.
There’s Madison transaction attorney Ed Lawton, swearing he just cleaned up his office.
But in the chaos are the finer points of the business transactions, securities dealings and landlord-tenant disputes that have made him a go-to source at Axley Brynelson.
“I just freak out about a lot of the little things,” Lawton said. “As a result, I tend to focus on them because they’ll stress me out too much to not have them in order.”
Reflecting on the bank acquisition of a company “with substantial debts” last summer, Lawton said he built a mental checklist of significant liabilities and assets and then ran the buyers through outcomes against outside legal requirements.
For an outsider, Lawton said, it could seem boring, but the multitude of layers and negotiations for that deal and others make transactions increasingly lively as they develop.
Tapping into his accounting background, Lawton also regularly lends a pro bono hand to new business startups, answering general legal and tax questions and offering a framework for negotiating with buyers and defining a price for services.
“They have experience performing the service or making the product,” he said, “but their background in all of the other stuff that goes on in a business, they don’t have that.”