“Fundamentally, there’s not a lot of difference between running a Burger King business and a large law practice,” said Cal Smith on this week’s Drinks With The Deal podcast. Smith’s parents built a business of Burger King franchises along I-95 in Georgia when he was growing up, an experience that helped shape his approach to being a lawyer.
Both law firms and fast food businesses are “all about staffing and client service,” Smith, co-head of M&A at King & Spalding LLP in Atlanta, said.
Smith also discussed the perspective he gained in client services during in his time as an in-house lawyer at Georgia-Pacific Corp. before the Atlanta-based pulp, paper and building products company was sold to Koch Industries Inc. in 2005.
“What I really enjoyed was the ability to go deep and to focus on one client,” Smith said of the experience. “I got to know what made the business tick, where the challenges were, where the opportunities were.”
He tries to do the same as outside counsel.
“I like to think of myself first and foremost as a business guy. I do much more counseling work that is driven by business needs, desires, opportunities and challenges,” he said. “If you do not have a business hat on doing what I do, you’re not going to be successful.”
Here’s the podcast with Cal Smith: