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It’s the little things that matter most

By: Rick Benedict//September 19, 2012//

It’s the little things that matter most

By: Rick Benedict//September 19, 2012//

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Wisconsin Law Journal photo/Kevin Harnack

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.”

If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you have done?

Accounting or finance

How many countries have you visited? Which ones?

Canada, Italy, Mexico

What can you spend hours doing that’s not law-related?

Watching sports

What was your favorite toy as a child?

Anything Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Ghostbusters

What famous person you would most like to have a drink with?

Winston Churchill

What is your favorite thing to do in Wisconsin?

Brewers’ games

What is the first concert you went to?


Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Ummm …

How would your mother describe you in one word?


What are you craving right now?

Exercise and then Tito’s vodka


What kind of stories do you want to read more of?

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