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President’s Corner June 2023

In this issue: Four key things NABL does well to make members better public finance professionals

Greetings!  I am honored to serve this year as President of the National Association of Bond Lawyers.  NABL plays an important role in the daily life of the United States.  I know I am a better bond lawyer because of NABL.  I suspect many of you also are better public finance professionals because of NABL.

As NABL President, I am focusing on four (4) things NABL does well to make all of us better public finance professionals, namely:

(1) NABL educates and informs its members and other members of the public finance community

(2) NABL advocates for laws that make public finance better

(3) NABL builds tools that make public finance better; and

(4) NABL builds friendships and professional connections.

In this column, I want to focus on how NABL builds tools that make public finance better.  I want to illustrate NABL’s tool-building efforts by highlighting five NABL publications, namely, NABL’s Disclosing Risk Factors in Municipal Securities Offerings, NABL’s Tax Law Deskbook, NABL’s Tax Law Treatise, NABL’s Securities Law Deskbook, and NABL’s Bond Basics.

NABL’s committees are the arsenal where NABL builds tools that make public finance better.  This year Brian Teaff, Alison Benge, and Marybeth Orsini are leading the Tax Law Committee; Brandon Pond, Rebecca S. Lawrence, Drew Slone, and JoLinda Herring are leading the Securities Law and Disclosure Committee; and Jon Jurich, Dawn Bookhardt, and Jeff Qualkinbush are leading the General Law and Practice Committee. 

NABL’s Disclosing Risk Factors in Municipal Securities Offerings, which we expect to publish in July, illustrates how committee members come together to bring clarity to public finance topics.  Kim Magrini led a group of nearly 30 NABL volunteers to craft a white paper that explores legal and practical considerations in (a) identifying and disclosing risk factors in offerings of municipal securities and (b) developing policies and procedures for disclosing risk factors; the goal of the paper is to assist NABL members when they advise issuers and underwriters.  This tool ranges from the theoretical (by first discussing the legal framework involved when analyzing risk factor disclosure issues) to the practical (by offering, in an appendix, considerations related to common risk factors). 

Getting the right answer to legal questions that arise in public finance hinges on identifying the proper primary sources of legal authority.  NABL makes identifying those sources easily by publishing its tax and securities law deskbooks and treatises.  I know I consult these tools on a daily basis to get the right answer.  This year NABL’s Tax Law Deskbook and Tax Law Treatise are being edited by Sella Perri, Kim Betterton, and Ed Rojas, and NABL’s Securities Law Deskbook is being edited by Jade Turner-Bond, Ernie Lanza, and Heather White. 

Last but not least is NABL’s Bond Basics.  This tool, aimed at NABL’s younger members but helpful for all NABL members, was rolled out earlier this year and is a primer on bond terms and structures.  The project leader, Kareem Spratling, and over a dozen other NABL volunteers also have worked with NABL’s Director of Governmental Affairs, Brian Egan, to roll out Bond Basics to those outside of NABL who are interested in public finance by integrating it into the new NABL website architecture.  Brian’s vision is that Bond Basics will become something like Investopedia for municipal bonds.  When you google terms like “tax-exempt bond” or “Tower Amendment”, you will land on the NABL website.  Brian has high hopes that Bond Basics will aid educational efforts with stakeholders in our industry, including, in particular, young staffers on Capitol Hill.  Recent meetings that Brian and I have had with those staffers show that these hopes are well-founded.

Each of the tools I have described here provided NABL members an opportunity to sharpen their skills and to give back to the public finance community.  Importantly, each of the tools relied on NABL volunteers to reach fruition.  Learn about current NABL volunteer opportunities, and sign up to participate.