- Member Spotlight
Paul Maco, Bracewell LLP, Washington, DC
Paul Maco, a long-time NABL member of 36 years, was once a DJ with the underground sound of the Lehigh Valley at WVLR in Pennsylvania. During his third year, he also interned at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s New York office.
He joined the SEC’s enforcement division immediately after passing the New York bar exam, as the first in his family to graduate from law school at New York University. His real introduction to municipal bonds involved spending several weeks in a conference room as part of the team drafting the Staff Report on Transactions of the City of New York. After leaving the SEC, he worked for Hawkins, then for Debevoise and Plimpton, then for Boston and Mintz Levin, before returning to the SEC in Washington, DC to work for Chairman Levitt, joining the office of Vinson & Elkins, and then joined Bracewell’s public finance group.
Reflecting on his introduction to NABL, Maco stated, “Sam Stone, who I had worked with on a few Oklahoma financings, encouraged me to join NABL and co-chair a panel on Short-Term Tax-Exempt Financings. I still have the outlines, drafts, and correspondence for the 1982 and 1983 panels.” He described NABL as a unique opportunity to meet, work with, and learn from public finance lawyers from across the country by serving on panels, committees, and the NABL board.
He recognizes the professional and personal benefits of his interactions with NABL leadership and the organizations he has served. He recalls his colleague Greg Sandomirsky at Mintz Levin, who gave him the opportunity to manage a major revision of the Federal Securities Law chapter of Fundamentals of Municipal Bonds, to participate in the drafting and editing of the first and second editions of Disclosure Roles of Counsel, to chair the special committee on federal securities law, to prepare the NABL comment letter on the 1988 proposing release for Rule 15c2-12, and to serve as a NABL leader.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Born same day and year as David Byrne (May 14, 1952). Clearly not switched at birth. Allentown, PA is a long way from Dumbarton, Scotland. In 1964, my family moved from nearby Bethlehem to Mount Laurel, NJ. I returned to Bethlehem to attend Lehigh University and graduated with a major in Government in 1974. Among other activities I was a disc jockey on Lehigh’s radio station WLVR (“the underground sound of the Lehigh Valley”) and played club lacrosse. I spent the fall semester of 1972 in Washington D.C. in American University’s Washington Semester Program with an internship with Bethlehem area Congressman Fred B. Rooney. At that time Bethlehem Steel hired college students for the summer, and I was fortunate to spend the summer of 1973 working in “the Steel’s” beam yard. Each experience provided an education not encountered in a classroom. I went on to law school (the first in my family to do so) at New York University and interned during my third year at the New York office of the Securities and Exchange Commission. I joined the SEC’s enforcement division in August 1974 right after taking the New York bar exam. I disappeared into a conference room for several weeks as part of the team drafting the Staff Report on Transactions of the City of New York. Aside from Jim Lebenthal’s ads over entrances to the New York Subways, this was my introduction to municipal bonds. After the SEC, I joined Hawkins, moved on to Debevoise and Plimpton, then left New York City for Boston and Mintz Levin, returned to the SEC in DC to work for Chairman Levitt, joined the D.C. office of Vinson & Elkins in October 2000 and moved in 2012 with the public finance group to Bracewell.
My wife Lisa, who had also moved from New England to DC, is a former economist and software engineer and now a portrait photographer. We will celebrate our 25th anniversary this August. We have a daughter Claire and a son Patrick. We are an avid sailing family. Claire is in the yachting industry in San Diego, and Patrick is in his final year of law school at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. We visit both as often as possible.
What inspired you to join NABL 36 years ago?
After working on the team for the tax-exempt commercial paper program for the Municipal Assistance Corporation in early 1982, Sam Stone, who I had worked with on a few Oklahoma financings, encouraged me to join NABL and co-chair a panel on Short-Term Tax-Exempt Financings. I still have the outlines, drafts, and correspondence for the 1982 and 1983 panels.
You have been a volunteer for NABL for many years including being a speaker, working on different committees, and writing the securities law column in The Bond Lawyer from March 2001 until June 2022. How has volunteering and giving back to the public finance community impacted your career?
I have benefitted both professionally and personally. NABL has given me as much if not more than I have given to NABL. I had the fortune of good timing and good employers. I could not have given to NABL without them. They allowed me to give time, on occasion quite a bit, to NABL and its undertakings. Greg Sandomirsky and my colleagues at Mintz Levin gave me the opportunity to take over their ongoing revision of the Federal Securities Law chapter of Fundamentals of Municipal Bonds, participate in drafting and editing the first and second editions of Disclosure Roles of Counsel, chair the special committee on federal securities law preparing the NABL comment letter on the 1988 proposing release for Rule 15c2-12 and serve on the NABL Board. Likewise, when I returned to private practice in 2000, my partners and colleagues at Vinson & Elkins, particularly Jerry Turner and Monty Humble, supported my taking on the federal securities law column in 2001 and later the third edition of Disclosure Roles of Counsel. When we moved to Bracewell, support from my partners and colleagues continued, as it does to this day.
NABL provided the opportunity to meet, work with, and learn from public finance lawyers from across the country on panels, committees, and the NABL Board. What I value most though, is getting to know not just bond lawyers but good people from dissimilar backgrounds and parts of the country, with different practices, personalities, and politics. I have benefitted greatly from that, both professionally and personally, and am grateful for it particularly in today’s national climate.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
Careful listening in any discussion can be more important than what you say. When I came to understand that people I admire did so, I began to take it seriously.
Which book and/or podcasts have you enjoyed and would recommend to others?
No recent book has made as deep an impression on me as Nicolas Buccola’s The Fire is Upon Us, James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr. and the Debate over Race in America. I haven’t been a big fiction reader for a long time, but I enjoyed the ability to take a break from reality in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall Trilogy. Two books foundational to understanding the evolution of modern financial markets I have recommended to colleagues are: Liaquat Ahamed’s Lords of Finance and Charles D. Ellis’s The Partnership, The Making of Goldman Sachs. Both great narratives providing valuable insight.
Although Lisa encourages me frequently, I haven’t yet made the leap to podcasts, rather continue my long-time habit of reading daily the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Washington Post, and, yes, the Bond Buyer, though now electronically.