Corporate coach: Lawyer teaches private equity course to UM law students


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Corporate attorney Brad Wyatt is pleased to see the IPO market opening back up.

“It provides our private equity clients with an alternative exit strategy for their portfolio investments in a way that’s often very favorable for incumbent management,” he says. “IPOs are very fast paced and exciting to work on. I love helping young companies build the professional infrastructure they need to go public and then watching their businesses take off with the new capital.”    

A partner in the Ann Arbor office of Dickinson Wright, Wyatt is a member of the firm’s Corporate Practice Group and advises companies in securities and corporate matters.

Last year, the firm completed three public offerings, and Wyatt is currently working on three IPOs for small-cap companies with Dickinson Wright’s Corporate Practice Group Chair, Mike Raymond.   

A member of the Michigan and Texas State Bars, the Michigan State Bar Securities Committee and the Michigan Venture Capital Association, Wyatt represents private equity and venture capital funds in
fund formation, capital-raising, and acquisition and disposition of portfolio companies and counsels funds with regard to securities compliance and registration requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act, Investment Advisors Act and related SEC rules.    

Selected by DBusiness Magazine as one of this year’s Top Young Lawyers, Wyatt shares his expertise by teaching a course in Private Equity at the University of Michigan Law School. Approached by Professor Erik Gordon, who heads the U-M Zell Institute for Entrepreneurship and the Law (ZEAL), Wyatt jumped at the chance.

“The class is immensely enjoyable because the students are bright and engaged,” he says. “Also, preparing for the course helps me sharpen my skills.”     

His students must be adept in both regulatory and contracting matters and ultimately synthesize the two to create actual deal documents, he notes.

But if they can grasp the challenges, corporate law is a good career field. 

“It requires a high level of energy and commitment, but you get to work with fantastic people and completing deals results in a strong sense of accomplishment,” he says. “The ZEAL program is very unique in that it focuses on highly practical applications of the law. I believe it gives our students a leg up in the legal industry.  When they complete a ZEAL course, they are ready to jump in and make practical contributions to solve complex legal problems.”   

In 2011, Wyatt worked with a team of attorneys from across Michigan in drafting a transition order that provided exemptive relief from registration requirements to qualifying private fund advisors.

Ultimately adopted by the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation, the transition order served as a model for adoption of similar rules and orders in other states.   

“Working on the transition order was very rewarding,” he says. “I enjoyed working with the regulators, who actively sought industry input and gave careful and thoughtful attention to the matter. I also had the privilege to work with other leading private equity and securities professionals from across the State. Ultimately, we crafted a solution that made Michigan more attractive to venture capital and private equity. I think we’re seeing the fruits of those efforts with the growth of private equity and venture capital in the State.”     

Over the past two years Dickinson Wright has done a tremendous amount of private equity fund formation work, led by Rick Bolton, Chris Maeso and Andrew MacLeod. 

“I’m fortunate to work with them on those deals to help ensure securities law compliance for the funds,” Wyatt says.    

The securities laws are dense and complicated, he notes – but they serve a very important purpose by setting the groundwork for capital formation and, ultimately, economic growth.

“Compliance with the securities laws takes concerted effort and attention,” he says. “However, I enjoy helping companies craft compliance strategies that promote full and fair disclose while making business sense. I spend a lot of time with my students covering not only the particulars of the securities laws, but emphasizing practical compliance solutions.”     

In his own student days, Wyatt earned his undergrad degree in international politics, cum laude, from Brigham Young University, and his J.D. from The College of William and Mary-Marshall Wythe Law School, where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif.

“At first I was attracted to law by the persuasive arts – not to be confused with the dark arts,” he says. “I ‘tried’ my first case as a ‘prosecutor’ in seventh grade – and was hooked. I loved playing the part of a lawyer, especially the closing argument.  As I learned more about law, corporate law drew my attention because it gave me the opportunity to build something using my legal skills. I love putting deals together and helping companies grow.” Wyatt tries to share his passion for the law with his students and spends time helping them develop strategies to balance their legal careers with the other aspects of their lives.      

The Denver native — who in 2005 was honored with the Angel of Freedom Award for pro bono service in immigration matters — lives in Brighton, with his wife Corie, two daughters and two sons, ranging from 1 to 11 years old.

“Corie is a native Michigander, which brought us here to establish our home,” he says. “I enjoy the vibrancy of this area — there’s always something cool going on and someone smart, kind and engaging to talk to.  And the U-M students . . . did I mention they are amazing?”