Neil Grayson | Partner, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
Neil Grayson is a partner at one of the largest law practices in the state, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. He heads the firm’s Financial Institutions Practice Group. He has developed a new focus area on mobile payments, and continues to seek new ways to apply his expertise. One of those ways is in support of public education. Grayson is passionate about public education, and has been a board member at Public Education Partners for five years.
After more than two decades with his firm, Grayson said he still enjoys the work so much that his wife has teased him about already living the life of a retired person. Grayson talked with UBJ about how to keep the work fresh, and the social interests that are important to him professionally and personally.
What was your biggest accomplishment this year?
I handled a particularly large and complicated merger of Yadkin Bank and VantageSouth Bank, which created the largest community bank in North Carolina. It was easily the largest and most complicated deal I’ve done since I’ve practiced law.
How do you know a good deal when you see one?
I wish I always did. But I do know what the key is: the integrity of the people, and their business acumen. If you don’t have that, it’s not going to be successful. The company has to have good people in it.
What’s fun about your job?
Searching for new clients, building the practice, and figuring out how I can help people. My practice has changed a lot in the last 10 years. It’s not so much doing client work as it is now building relationships. Lawyers don’t think like businesspeople that often, but when you do, you think about what services you can offer, and who else on my team can help. The most fun is being creative – walking into the office not thinking “what do I have to do today,” but “what can I do today?” I’m in a big law firm, but I view my practice as a small business owner.
I think we’ve hit another turning point, so my biggest focus is going to be to expand the practice, enter into new areas. I may not even know what they are yet.
Second is being more involved in public education and supporting public education in Greenville. My wife is on the school board and head of advocacy and the state PTA and other related organizations. I tag along with her on conferences as a spouse, and I enjoy it.
How do you avoid burnout?
I don’t have a perfect answer. Let’s just say it hasn’t hit me yet. But I have begun shifting a lot toward educational matters, nonprofits, and a lot of pro bono work, things that maybe 10 years ago I would have said I can’t fit in. So maybe the answer is keep evaluating what you do and make sure it’s up to par with what you want. I reinvent my practice to keep doing what I enjoy.