Raising the Bar

by CoVaBizMag

Coastal Virginia’s Top Lawyers Of 2017

It’s easy to go through life assuming you may never need to hire a lawyer. But unexpected events happen, and it’s important for individuals, and especially businesses, to be prepared. For this reason, we publish an annual list of Top Lawyers. And while we’re not in a position to give legal advice, we recommend keeping this list of top lawyers in 34 categories on hand—just in case.

Meet our Top Lawyer in the category of Business Law on page 52, and learn the ways in which social media is changing the face of law on page 54.

How were the Top Lawyers determined?
Top Lawyers is a nomination-based project in which we ask lawyers in the area to vote for other lawyers in various specialties. We ask the lawyers to vote for lawyers who exemplify excellence in their specialties. Nominations were collected from June 13–July 29, 2016, and more than 1,100 attorneys were nominated.

This list is a service to readers, giving them a participating lawyer’s perspective regarding the top lawyers in over 30 specialty areas. To complete this nomination project, CoVa Biz contracted DataJoe Research to conduct nominations using an online ballot for collecting, vetting and tallying the votes. DataJoe Research is a survey/research company specializing in data collection and verification, and conducts various nominations across the United States on behalf of publishers.

Top Lawyer of Business Law

Mark Baumgartner Works To Solve Problems And Help His Clients Find Common Ground In An Ever-Changing Business Market
By Barrett Baker

Mark Baumgartner grew up in Hawaii but left the comforts of the Aloha State to join the Marine Corps in California. He spent four years there as a jet mechanic, then decided to go back home to be a boat captain and dive instructor for several years. He later ran a photography business, then ran a wholesale company that brought SCUBA diving equipment in from mainland U.S., Malaysia, China and Taiwan to sell to dive shops and hotels in Hawaii.

So how did he end up in Coastal Virginia as a lawyer? “Well, I definitely wasn’t following in my father’s footsteps,” Baumgartner says with a laugh. “He was a scientist, and I was the rouge from the technical mold. It sounds cliché, I suppose, but helping people solve their problems was what eventually led me to law school. I had a great time with the businesses I had and enjoyed all of the challenges they presented. But I also saw issues that kept recurring, whether it was with business transitions to successors, businesses being bought and sold and all of the stumbling blocks along the way. I thought I’d get involved on a broader scope to see if I could help.”

Baumgartner decided to check out the “other side of the United States” and applied to law school at William & Mary. He loved his time in Williamsburg but eventually missed the ocean. So after graduating, he moved to Virginia Beach in 2000 and joined the firm of Pender & Coward. He’s been there ever since.
Much of his business dealings revolve around real estate. It might be that someone has a piece of property and they want to develop it, but they are having trouble with regulatory approvals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, or they are having problems getting a permit from the city. Or it could be that someone is just in the beginning stages and looking to acquire a piece of property. Or maybe someone has gotten into a deal and suddenly there is a problem—they’re not getting along with their partners, or they’re getting pushed out of the company.

“The great thing about my job is there is no average day, and that’s what keeps it interesting,” Baumgartner says. “There are always new challenges, new twists; the business market is developing, trends change, opportunities change, so it really is interesting. But at the base of it all, it’s always people with problems that need to be solved in one way or another, and hopefully I can find enough common ground to make win/win solutions for everyone.”

Baumgartner professes the best part of his job is getting to know his clients and their businesses so he can structure specific solutions. “It really is true that there is no cookie-cutter solution for all the issues that come up,” he says. “The same deal approached by two different people will have two different outcomes, different solutions and different goals. And until you really get to know what your client’s full needs are, it’s hard to structure a transaction or solution that really fits their goals. It’s a lot of fun getting to know people, and it’s always a unique surprise when you start digging a little deeper into what peoples’ particular motivations, needs and outcomes are.”

On the flip side of that, he says it sometimes takes time to resolve problems. “Business likes to move fast,” Baumgartner says. “And if there’s a dispute involved, particularly if litigation is required, it’s a long process. So it’s sometimes frustrating not to get the results you want as quickly as you might like.”

Quick outcome or slow, the thing that makes Baumgartner good at what he does is his knack for looking at the big picture. “I have a pretty broad base of experience from my background, both on the business side and the legal side,” he says. “So I’ve got a knack for taking a step back and viewing things from both sides of a transaction, or maybe from a completely different point of view, and using that to find a way to forge a solution that hopefully makes everyone happy.”

For a complete list of our Top Lawyers, feel free to view them in detail in this digital publication excerpt from the CoVaBiz Dec/Jan 2017 issue.

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