Interviews with NABL Members from NABL News
Wayne D. Gerhold, Law Offices of Wayne D. Gerhold, Pittsburgh, PA
Wayne D. Gerhold
Law Offices of Wayne D. Gerhold
Tell us a little about yourself - your family, your hobbies, etc...
I have been practicing law since November, 1971 after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in May, 1971. My undergraduate degree was a B.A. in Political Science from Allegheny College in 1968. I am admitted in Pennsylvania and Ohio. My wife Catherine is also an attorney. We have two children. Our son has lived in Chicago since 2004, is married and has one daughter. Our daughter is married and is a clinical psychologist in Harrisburg.
I am an amateur astronomer and I have traveled to many parts if the world, such as Costa Rica, Alsace, Easter Island and most recently southern Illinois to watch the total eclipse of the sun. It is not uncommon for my long-term clients to first ask “where are you” when they call me.
What first interested you in law?
I became involved in public finance in March, 1980 when I was appointed the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania State Public School Building Authority/Pennsylvania Higher Educational Facilities Authority. In 1982 I was appointed the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. In 1985 I was an investment banker and later a financial advisor for a variety of bond issues. In 1989 I began working as a bond counsel in Pittsburgh and was a partner in two law firms until 2001. I then formed my law firm, the Law Offices of Wayne D. Gerhold.
What was the best career advice anyone ever gave you?
I considered a career in the law since high school. In college my plan was to go to law school as a means of later working in the foreign service and becoming an ambassador to a smaller third world country. Well I do not remember the best advice, but I do remember the worst advice - the worst career advice that I ever got was the admonition to learn how to golf. I was frequently told, “You will never make it as a lawyer unless you learn to golf.” I still don’t golf but I do enjoy riding my bicycle.
What has been your favorite moment of your career so far?
The work of which I am the proudest was when I was the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. In the early 1980’s, during the Reagan Administration, the industrial base of western Pennsylvania collapsed. Hundreds of thousands of families were affected. I drafted legislation, known as the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, and worked to get it passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Governor had always supported the legislation. I also convinced the General Assembly to appropriate $30,000,000 to create a revolving loan fund that would be made to homeowners as a second mortgage to satisfy their first mortgage obligations and buy them time to get back on their feet. The PHFA staff did an excellent job to develop and implement the program which continues to this day.
What advice would you give to the young associates and law students who are interested in a career in municipal finance?
My advice to young associates and law students who may be interested in a career in public finance is that there is no one single way to approach the process. The most common way is to work with one or more partners who will mentor an associate. On the other hand, my approach was to read all of the documents and attend document review sessions when I worked for SPSBA/PHEFA and PHFA. I also worked as an investment banker and later financial advisor. A bond counsel career can also be started by working as in-house counsel to a paying agent or trustee.
What made you want to become involved with NABL, and how long have you been a member?
I have been a member of NABL since 2000. In 2003, 2004 and 2005, I was the Chair of a Panel at the National Association of Bond Lawyers Bond Attorneys’ Workshop dealing with internet disclosure and Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement actions. I continued to be invited to be a panelist on the Securities Hot Topics Panel in 2006, 2007 and 2008 serving as a speaker concerning SEC enforcement actions and new developments relating to disclosure. I also Co-Chaired a special presentation related to several aspects of the use of the internet in the municipal bond area, including internet bidding, internet electronic Continuing Disclosure and Material Event filing. In February, 2008 I served as a panelist at the National Association of Bond Lawyers Bond Attorneys’ Tax and Securities Law Institute held in San Francisco.
As chair of the BAW Bonus Session, "GASB - RECENT ACTIONS OF THE GOVERNMENTAL ACCOUNTING STANDARDS BOARD AND THEIR EFFECTS ON THE MUNICIPAL BOND PRACTICE", what can you tell us about the new session?
This September, I am Chairing a new BAW Bonus Session, “GASB – Recent Actions of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board and their Effects on the Municipal Bond Practice." A co-panelist, Jeffrey J. Previdi, the Vice Chairman of GASB, will be providing a discussion of recent and proposed Financial Accounting Standards Statements and how they will affect public finance concepts. Major recent actions affecting financial reporting include almost all types of leases, now considered to be “financings”, what is considered to be “debt” for disclosure purposes and how it should be disclosed. In addition, new guidelines are being developed concerning how conduit debt is defined under GAAP and how it is to be reported in financial statements. Finally, GASB is considering whether there are metrics with respect to the operation of state and local governments which would disclose “severe financial distress” and require reporting in financial statements.
The NABL Board is considering my appointment to a final two-year term as the NABL representative to the GASB Advisory Committee, “GASAC”. I am particularly interested in meeting other NABL members who may be interested in replacing me in two years. I found the learning curve to be steep at first and want to have the opportunity to mentor that person prior to their actual appointment to GASAC.
How has your participation and membership in NABL been of value to you and your practice? And from the questionnaire made famous by Bernard Pivot and James Lipton, “What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Finally, my membership in NABL has enhanced my professional abilities as bond counsel plus I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet and work with other NABL members on many projects. At this point in my career, my wife is regularly suggesting the I retire, and when she finally wins that battle, I plan to be a blues pianist.