Reports Legal Elite

2014 Virginia Legal Elite - Business Law

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Brian Farmer Photo by Mark Rhodes

Brian Farmer
Hirschler Fleischer, Richmond/Fredericksburg

Title: Chairman, Business Section
Other legal specialties: Co-managing partner, Investment Management Practice Group
Birthplace:  Richmond
Education: Bachelor’s (Phi Beta Kappa) and law degrees, University of Virginia
Spouse:  Cindy
Children:  Three: two preschoolers and one kindergartner.  My wife and I are truly in the weeds.  
Hobbies or pastimes:  Travel, cycling, backgammon
First job as a lawyer:  Judicial clerk for the Hon. J. Calvitt Clarke, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia
Fan of:  Pro cycling, college basketball
Favorite vacation spot:  Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania — was fortunate to travel there with a group of friends several years ago.  Beautiful and other-worldly.
Recently read books: “Thank You for Arguing” by Jay Heinrichs
Civic involvement: Member of the board of trustees of the City of Richmond Retirement System
Career mentor:  Judge Clarke

How can the legal environment for business in Virginia be improved?
Virginia’s university system is the envy of other states; I hope we can find ways to continue to support these institutions that yield so many economic and quality of life benefits. I also would welcome a more rational approach to state taxes.  Many states tax service industries — like investment management — much differently now than they did a decade ago. In some instances our tax laws have become disincentives for companies to locate or remain in Virginia.

Your practice focuses on the investment management industry. How is it changing?  
The industry has witnessed major change since the financial crisis. One driver is investor demand for exposure to assets beyond traditional stocks and bonds. Another is technology, with new products and trading methods that increase liquidity but also volatility.  Finally, regulation (Dodd-Frank, Basel III) has changed the role of banks and imposed massive and costly new regulation across the industry. Our clients (pensions, endowments, fund managers, registered investment advisors, broker-dealers) have all seen their businesses profoundly reshaped.

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