Interviews with NABL Members from NABL News
Christopher B. Langhart, McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, LLC, Roseland, NJ
Christopher B. Langhart
McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, LLC
Roseland, New Jersey
Tell us a little about yourself - your family, your hobbies, etc...
I live in Westfield, New Jersey with my wife Sarah and our three kids, Lucy 14, Philip 12 and Andrew who is 8. We have lived there for 15 years after moving to the suburbs from New York City. As for hobbies, my free time is now taken up by driving our kids to and from basketball practices and games. I can put any Uber driver to shame. I do enjoy the quality time in the car with my kids though as it’s one of the rare times we are free from phones, video games and other distractions. I’ve also learned that watching your kids both struggle and succeed from the stands is a unique form of torture. Beyond that, when I find some free time, I like to run, which is a generous term, and curling up with a good book is an old school pleasure I still enjoy.
What first interested you in law?
I have always been an environmentalist at heart and I initially decided to go to law school to become an environmental lawyer. Reading the Clean Water Act and the NEPA statute quickly cooled that passion. However, I have been able to keep that interest alive to some degree by working with the many water and sewer agencies I represent in New Jersey. That only makes up a portion of my practice, but I find structuring bond issues to benefit facilities that help preserve and protect our environment and water supply extremely satisfying.
How long have you been a member of the NABL? What’s your best experience thus far?
I first joined NABL back in 2005 or so but I really got involved in 2009 when I offered to be a speaker at the Fundamentals conference in Memphis. It took a little persistence to get that slot, but it turned out to be very beneficial. I met many of the attorneys that I now work with at NABL at that conference and formed a new circle of friends. The best experience has been the relationships I’ve developed. I look forward to each conference as an opportunity to catch up with my fellow bond attorneys and talk about family, work, the professional issues we face and trying to balance it all in a way that is manageable.
How has your participation and membership in NABL been of value to you and your practice?
The immediate benefit of joining NABL is that you acquire a built-in network of professionals who are dealing with the same type of issues you are, and who can provide a broad range of suggestions on how to approach certain issues. For example when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was released last year there was a fair amount of amount of discussion as to how to describe the proposed law in offering documents. It was easy for me to pick up the phone and talk to different NABL tax lawyers around the country and get a sense of how their individual firms were handling the language. Soliciting information from different attorneys was very helpful in crafting the language our firm ultimately ended up using. The model opinions, position statements and blue book that are available on the web-site can or through NABL are also extremely helpful in drafting strong documents.
As Vice-Chair of NABL's Education and Member Services Committee, what initiatives are you hoping to work on in the upcoming year?
There are two things we are working on that I think will help make NABL accessible. First we would like to attract younger members into NABL and have them become involved in NABL activities. I think there is a perception that NABL is a bit of a closed community with only a certain set of people who regularly participate in our activities. I don’t want that to be the case, and we are really making an effort to find out what our younger members want so that we can get them actively involved in our various committees and sub-committees.
We have also discussed hosting mini-conferences by region in an effort to have more events at different locations throughout the country. We hope this will allow people who may not have the time or resources to travel to one or two big conferences to attend smaller more regional events with people they know. I think the more comfortable we can make our events for attendees the more likely they are to stay with the organization.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming more involved with the association?
I think if you are planning on making public finance your profession you need to be a part of NABL. Every year NABL provides conferences and teleconferences that are designed to keep public finance professionals on top of the issues we face. I remember being in Boston at a NABL conference and hearing representatives from the SEC talk about a new MCDC program that was about to be implemented. Being informed about the program from the start, and continuously thereafter, helped our firm give the best possible advice to clients responding to the MCDC program. The municipal bond world has gone through some serious changes recently and being a part of NABL helps you keep abreast of current issues and provides perspective on the events that affect our industry.
As a member of the 2018 Fundamentals of Municipal Bond Law Seminar, what are you most excited about this year’s program?
There will be a session called Tying It All Together which will simulate a bond transaction from start to closing, and illustrate the roles of all the involved parties in the transaction. I think the session should provide some practical knowledge for how deals get done and closed in the real world. I think when you start out in this business half the battle is identifying what it is you should be concerned about in your particular role. This presentation should help identify those concerns. And I am always excited about the snacks between sessions.
From the questionnaire made famous by Bernard Pivot and James Lipton, “What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?”
My sideline to sideline speed has greatly diminished these past few years so playing middle linebacker for the Miami Dolphins now seems like a long shot.
In the alternative I would like to teach courses about public finance at some point. Speaking at NABL conferences and various other events has made me realize that I enjoy public speaking and being able to pass along all the knowledge I have gained over the years. Listening to someone’s real life experiences is an easy way to learn about the profession and I think it is one of the benefits provided by the Fundamentals conference.